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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Have a Quaker New Year !
Just consider it.

first posted in 2010

The Best Money Can Buy

No matter who wins the presidential election in 2012, there will be the most money ever spent to buy government.

We will make the Roman Empire look like a piker in comparison. We will set benchmarks hard for future societies to comprehend.

I hope it will disgust us so thoroughly that we demand reform.

If not, I look forward to the bread and circuses that will reward us, the mindless masses who let the work of Washington, Jefferson, and the other Founding Fathers go down to destruction.


Fighting The Jerries

I am a Jerry.
"Jerry" is slang used by my children, and it is left-over from the Great War... "Jerry" is derived from "Geriatric" and means one of advanced years, and the Great War is a future antagonism for our offspring:  what to do with us, the aged encumbrances?

I do not intend to have a home health provider.
My daughter turned to me the other day... I was giving her a hard time about something, I suppose... and said that I had better not act like that in the undefined future time when she has some sort of hideous and "ironic" custody  of me (as if I were witless and the workhouses were out of commission, so in the meantime she had to stand on street corners with a hurdy-gurdy and I capered - as well as an octogenarian could - in some grotesque monkey suit, while she sought an old-age home for me), and I need some care provider. All in jest... I said, no. That's not the way it will be.
As they -  "they" being the jackals of Youth - stand about in the corridor, discussing which cuckoo's nest of an institution or home to put me in, I shall be laying plans.

As they go before the judge to testify to my diminished mental capacity, I shall stand and smile and nod my head like a good old Jerry. As I go to my home for one last time, I shall dump the documents from the banks I have already emptied out into a club bag, take a few books and some clothes, get a limo and beat it to the airport to make my connection for the Islands. If some young relative stumbles in on me, the money I spent on martial arts for the elderly will have been a good investment. Shall they arrest me for battery? And why should I care, since they have conspired to deprive me of my life? Nope. I shall dispose of the young interloper with the same aplomb Frank Sinatra disposed of Henry da Silva in The Manchurian Candidate,  kicking through the wood paneling and breaking tables... and I am into the taxi and making my way to Margaritaville.

And they will say... we thought he was such a good Jerry...he was a Jerry that knew his was funny the way he shuffled around in his slippers...but - and here we agree with Nurse Ratchett - the only good Jerry is an institutionalized Jerry.
Use the knowledge of Stem Cell research to give life to those who are at a point where they see that they are not immortal and do not wish to live in this social prison anymore. Let them set their sails to the wind and escape to the Islands for a blaze of glory!

Great God, let us be free! Let all the spirits of Mankind be free at last!
reprinted and enhanced.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Borgesian Bloopers 2 Revisited

In the site Long Story Short Pier there is a page

and upon this page is a game of sorts, played according to the following rules:
1 Grab the nearest book.
2 Open the book to page 23.
3 Find the fifth sentence.
4 Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

So I decided to do it.
The page was almost 2 years old and the fun had faded long ago for the dear departed players, who are now scattered to the four winds, but I decided to play it. So I went for Borges. I used the first Argentinian edition of Spanish-English published in Buenos Aires by Emece Editores, S.A. in 1965. On page 23, the fifth sentence begins:

" The afternoon was intimate, infinite. He lay back against the tree and picked up the book from the grass. He opened randomly, his gaze falling on page 23, where a marginal arrow pointing to the fifth sentence said 'post to Hsi P'eng' ."

Close...but no cigar.

Scott of the Antarctic and Republican Opposition to the Comprehensive Health Care

a reprint I like

Scott in winterquarters, October 1911

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

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

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


The Asagai Film Festival

 Claudia McNeil and Sidney Poitier

Turner Classics is having a Asagai Film Festival (pronounced "ah-sah'-gee" with hard "g"). I bet you do not remember any of this, but here goes:
in A Raisin in the Sun, the young woman told her mother that a young man was coming over to visit, a Joseph Asagai from Nigeria. Mama said that she had never "seen her" an African before.
(An interesting and widespread use of an English "Middle" voice, which most people think is just the way people with little education speak. Ancient Greek had a similar Middle Voice.)

Later in the day, The Bank Dick with W.C. Fields was on. In his character as Egbert Sousé, accent grave on the final "e" he says, his pratfalls obstructed two bank robbers, resulting in their apprehension. When describing the heroic deed, Mr. Sousé says that the robbers had very large, two-edged knives, that were as big as Asagai knives.

How many more films have Asagai in them?


After having seen a number of celebrities and wealthy who had had "work" done, I am beginning to understand better how people can become enslaved to certain mental creations: to the will, to the emotions, to the intellect. All these mental functions create the world, and if someone sees their self as being part of the world with grossly ballooned collagen-injected lips, that is their reality of beauty.

Reality comes in second, far behind Imagination when it comes to understanding the World.
Realism in literature or art is a fraud. Realism is just another pose.

Mideast Weaponry

The US is selling $30 billion worth of military jets to Saudi Arabia.
This is the type of thing which, when done under the George W. Bush regime, would have given me apoplexy, but since it is being done under President Obama, I guess it is smart foreign policy... it is totally in my best interests and my tax monies are well spent.

And we can be sure an equal or greater amount of military gear is being sent to Israel to offset this.

It has been a good Christmas season.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Film Reviews

I usually check Rotten Tomatoes for reviews of new films. I usually use the Audience Approval rather than that of the Film Critics. I think critics have to render judgement too quickly, and since I have to safari my way through whatever celluloid jungle I choose - or is chosen for me - I like to know other people reacted to it.

If I like a film, I spend a lot of time on it; my reviews sometimes take years to come to fruition. I have not even come to a final opinion of Fight Club yet.

Beit Shemesh

Jewish Lady in Beit Shemesh Wearing Hijab

In PRI News:
In recent days, many Israelis have come to see the once-sleepy town of Beit Shemesh as a symbol of a national conflict. It’s an internal Israeli conflict, one between extremist members of the Jewish ultra-Orthodox community and other Jewish Israelis.

I have had a post on Beit Shemesh before, one dealing with women taking to wearing the hijab.

How do you deal with believers who exhibit extreme and rigidly held beliefs?
Well, you do not deal with them. I think we have found that out by now. They cannot compromise their beliefs by the smallest iota, and hence they cannot negotiate democratically. It was rather like this year, 2011, in Washington, where we found that people with ideology rigidly held cannot enter into a democratic process of give-and-take. There are other extreme believers who come to mind; when the belief is about God and God's will, there can be no negotiation. The only negotiation which exists will exist between people who are humble enough to admit that they do not perfectly know God's will in all things, from the smallest to the end of days.

Having said that, we shall have to come to a parting of the ways, hopefully non-violent.

How Flustered Was I?

Choosing Sweets at Shatila Bakery, Dearborn, Michigan

I was reading my poem from 2008, The Tunisian Lady,

wherein I and my fellow students of Arabic at the Unity Center Mosque go to dinner, then go to Shatila bakery for desert, and then discover a Tunisian lady in some distress, and my teacher drove her home.

It was dark, and the neighborhood where the lady lived had a lot of uncut grass and dogs barking. My teacher went up on the front porch with the lady, and I was just behind them on the sidewalk. My teacher rang the door bell and the owner of the house, where the lady rented the basement, came to the door.
He was not wearing a shirt, which surprised me, not so much because he was shirtless and it was a hot summer's night, but because my teacher was a good Muslim lady herself, and this was probably a bit infra dig.
I remember distinctly saying to myself: "I hope he's at least wearing trousers!"
That's what I said to myself: trousers, not pants!

That's how flustered I was: I was so flustered that I thought I was a Brit, and not just any Brit, but a chappie into intrigues about trousers during Eights Week at Oxford. The barking dogs and the immodesty scared the Evelyn Waugh out of me!

(Now the only thing I have to worry about is whether Lowe's will pull their commercial support.)

The Beresfords of New England

TV producer Bruce Beresford-Redmond is in trouble in Cancun in an episode of "Missing Spouse".
I wonder if he is related to the fabulously wealthy John Beresford-Tipton?

Both may be scions of the same Beresford clan and trace their roots back to the Mayflower.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Epagomenal Days

Epagomenal ("added") days were extra days added onto the end of the regular ancient Egyptian calendars (and many others, even to this day) to stretch the regular span of 360 days equal the 365 days, which helped a good deal to keep the calendars on an even keel. Without those 5 extra epagomenals, things went out of whack very quickly... about 5 days a year, and by the time 6 years had gone by, seasons would be off by an entire month.

This meant, of course, that all those observatories and orreries made from tons of stones moved by back-breaking labor were no longer calibrated to the solstitial rising of Venus or whatever, and the Nile rose and flooded the land when one least expected it, and an angry populace fired the entire staff of druids en masse.

Since these added days were, in a sense, out of normal time, they could be outside the norms of society, and all kinds of hanky-panky could take place.

This last week in December is similar. The odd obsession of the mainstream Media to summarize the events of the past year can be described as nothing but an unlawful and extra-moral use of resources for frivolous and frenzied purposes.
The spirit is encapsulated by the Evening News, which in its Ancient Mariner guise of being bewitched into speaking of the past alone, becomes the Evening Olds.

This week I happened to pass by the glowing room, whence the ominous Poltergeistean aura emanated, and saw a thorough re-hash of Casey Anthony. Seriously. I mean, well, perhaps we did not really spend enough slice-and-dice time the first time through, and this was necessary.
I wondered if Casey were herself being pursued by the Furious Eumenides, whose job it was to chase malefactors to the ends of the earth... the baneful Fates with masks of Nancy Grace and Bill O'Reilly, those twin pillars of rectitude and morals.

The re-hash of the Casey news, the Dinty Moore of the times, the slumgullion of the year past, did not say anything about the Fates - which might have been interesting - but focused on pictures shot from low-flying helicopters of dogs and deputies hunting through the woods, Casey's father repeatedly saying he had not slept with his daughter (!! I missed this the first time round. See how wonderful this re-hash is!?) Apparently the putative abuse might have explained Casey's predilection for child murder.

I always get things like this mixed up, because I do not pay attention. That is why the Media has to repeat things over and over, and that is why Ms. Grace and Mr. O'Reilly have to think things through for me...
They have to because I always just say that I hope God preserves me from ever knowing how such things really feel and the pain of being in such a predicament, and I turn away like the coward I am, who trusts in the goodness of God, and does not immerse oneself in the horrific details of evil.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Israel's Internal Paradox

One of the paradoxes of long-term violence is the fact that a long-term antagonist group tends to breed its own enemies within itself:

...the King's Torah [was] written by two... settler rabbis. It attempts to justify killing non-Jews, including those not involved in violence, under certain circumstances.

The fifth chapter, entitled "Murder of non-Jews in a time of war" has been widely quoted in the Israeli media. The summary states that "you can kill those who are not supporting or encouraging murder in order to save the lives of Jews".

At one point it suggests that babies can justifiably be killed if it is clear they will grow up to pose a threat...
(emphasis mine)

What are the chances of those "babies" (!!??) if their judges are following the spirit and letter of this Law?
Recalling questions asked of General Dyer after he massacred people at Amritsar, how does a baby apply for non-combatant status or demonstrate their pacifist intent?

The sleep of reason breeds monsters.

This whole process was clear to anyone of even minimum intelligence when this rage for settlement lebensraum began: it was not only clearly against all international agreements, but it was an obvious seed for rebellion... not to mention providing a possible entry into ethnic cleansing.
Yahweh does not now, nor did He ever, preserve mankind from their own iniquities. That was up to them.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas in Fukushima

One pine tree survived the March quake and tsunami. It was recently determined that its roots are dying due to the seawater, and a project is under way to foster seedlings descended from the pine through grafting.
It was illuminated for Christmas.

And there were other Christmas trees on display:

It's a Gift to be Complex...

Shark Near the Beach

How Much Information is in a Particle? 

The information humans are interested in is however always finite, since they can hardly remember even 20 decimal digits seen only once. And the amount of information humans are capable of retrieving by experiment is still limited, since each experiment has only a finite accuracy.
Thus they simplify things to the point that all they want to know about an electron is its mass, charge and its state to a small number of decimal places.

Humankind and their simplification: to take the entire starry universe and collapse it into the eye of the beloved.

We may swim in the ocean of creation, then we walk up onto the beach and towel off and dry in the sun. Later, when it is too hot, we go back into the water. We should be living our lives between the Simple and the Complex, the One and the Many, the Limited and the Boundless.

For the most part, however, we grow out of complexity and let our fascination with complex unities to be broken up into compartments: job, family, one-day-a-week-religion, scholastic studies, professional associations, and political affiliation. We keep our lives simple and discrete, easily put into separate boxes.

Separate boxes and broken threads...
Ripped yarns in the carpet of reality where we cut off pieces of rugs from Ifsahan and walk away with souvenirs, thinking the remnants are holographic, and we can re-create the whole...

Nothing in excess. We do not like the complete evisceration of family life at the holidays when the kids spend their time mesmerized by glowing screen of electronic toys, but their autism is the aboriginal experience of Unbrokenness.

We no longer understand the Unbroken Fascinations, because we have left them behind in a ceaseless obedience to all the bosses and necessities that make demands upon our time. We resent the ease of total enchantment which our children throw into our faces with their engrossing pursuits.

The only Unlimited Enchantment these days is narcotic, and it is outlawed. People are forbidden to swim in that particular ocean. They remain on the beach and scan the horizon for sharks.

What enchantments we have left, we have commercialized into box-office receipts or weeks on the NY Times Book List or "learned criticism". Thus, we make everything mundane and tedious, so life becomes a matter of picking among  the drab alternatives.

My New Year's Resolution is to go swimming now and then.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Our House

Joy To The World

How many holidays are devoted exclusively to Joy?

Easter is a joyous day, but first we have to travel through the week of suffering and death.
Ramadan ends in a joyful feast, but first we must fast and abstain.
There are many festivals of heroic achievements, but first we must follow the steps of the heroes and heroines through suffering and deprivation until their eventual success.

How many Houses of Joy are based solely on foundations of Joy?
(foundations wherein there is no painful sacrifice?)
How many symbolic events do we celebrate that are only Filling , and not counter-balanced by an Emptying?

Life events are structured around the transitory nature of Joy and the boundless nature of Suffering. Holidays are days of escape: they are islands of happiness in the sea of painful experiences.

Abuse, fear, and suffering have ongoing effects throughout a person's future, and may warp and destroy.
Happiness tends to be a burst in the Moment, and does not "re-wire" the brain in the same way pain does; the chemistry of the brain seems to dilute and the body filters out the "joyous molecules" from our bodies.

The Winter Feast of Joy points us to a greater understanding of our Lives, one that hitherto has not been capable of being conceived: the possibility of enduring effects of happiness!


Speaker for the Arts

Reprint: it is for Christmas, and it is my favorite.

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 covering events at Nuremberg. (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 echoed 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 poster or 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,sweetheart," I muttered, as I removed the offending toe from the choke-scarf. I nailed that bogart!)

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 fell and kissed the floor, O, Pioneer, My Pioneer!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

One Thing To Remember About The Federal Debt

Not all debt is bad.

This is so obvious, is it not? Without a house mortgage, a debt, we would be living in cradboard boxes, so not all debt is bad.

In the late 1990's and early 2000's the Federal Debt was shrinking due to the budget surpluses we were experiencing so much so as that some people began to discuss the scenario of "What Happens When the Federal Debt Disappears?"

And there were some immediate problems, one of which being that the main "Safe Asset" investment in the entire world - US Treasury Bonds - would disappear,  because the US government would no longer need to borrow money due to the surpluses being run.

Ask anyone right now when the entire world is looking for safe assets what would happen when 50% or more of the safe asset investments were to disappear. Off the top of my head, I think
(1) the prices of the remaining safe assets would jump - thereby removing safe assets from the portfolios of anyone not very wealthy, and
(2) since the rating agencies are the ones who assign AAA ratings and based on experience from 2008, I would expect that this price increase would lead to riskier assets being assigned AAA ratings, watering down the meaning of AAA rating itself and making investment decisions trickier and probably leading to another situation of banks holding "troubled assets".

In fact, there is some speculation that Troubled Assets were created as a low risk asset ( which actually carried high risk ) as an extended response to this very situation of government surplus!

So much for running a government like a business... or a home.


Friday, December 23, 2011

What's Better Than Book Burning?

 Facile Decensus Averno...
Easy is the descent down the stairway to Hell (but try getting back up!)

What's better than book burning? Well, it may be the closing of libraries, those quaint and ancient receptacles of books. Detroit is closing a good 6 of the useless things, and the budget balancers will probably be driving the inmates population out into the streets of winter... where that integration of Black Ink & White Paper will draw out the rest of their homeless lives, living under highway overpasses, warming their tomes by fires in barrels where every now and then one will nod off and inflame, letting the accumulated experience and knowledge of its soul become a gift of the Magi: a burning Incense to spread over the city, seeking to infiltrate every nook and cranny of that city like so many others which resisted its literate influence while it was alive and well.

However, there are eBooks and Kindles, the Gizmos of knowledge. These are dependent on the power grid infrastructure we still refuse to spend money on... and they are capable of outside influence and working like a fifth-column, betraying our interests and actions to a soulless technocracy which seeks to mine enormous data sets in order to locate us, inform on us, and to create temptations of desire within us... so we may spend more money on more gizmos. 

All electronic gizmos are subject to the Power of government and the Greed of business.
Therefore, in a society which does not control the impulses to Power and Greed, all electronic gizmos are subject to extremely rapid (and thereby de facto invisible) control and degradation.

The Gizmo-ization of Books is equivalent to delivering old man Guttenberg into the hands of the Inquisition.
It is the Ministry of Truth in 1984 where all things bright and beautiful will be edited by hacks and appartchiks.

You don't think so? Look at how the 1% run things now; when push comes to shove, will they love Books and Literacy far more than their own schemes and complots? (Or do you think they will conspire to increase literacy and welfare?)

Why is the greatest nation in the world (as it calls itself often) incapable of balancing budgets without destroying access to literacy for many of its people? (Some people cannot afford computers or other gizmos.)
It's Fahrenheit 451, man! Like I keep telling ya!
The things which will destroy us are not signs on the wall today; the destructive things are the evolution of nasty tendencies which we are now nursing at our breasts.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Limbaugh seems to be making rude comments about the First Lady rather frequently.

There are words which we have not seen for a long time, and whose exact meaning we may have forgotten, but which are admirably suited for people such as Limbaugh:

He is a cad.


Yeah the Pipeline!

My whole family is welders. There'll be plenty of jobs on the Keystone XL pipeline for welders. Not so much for other folks. Maybe some truckers.

(I actually did do some welding in my time...)

A Process of Dreidels

We tend to forget about process and think more of individual events. This is why some of us think the world will end sometime in December 2012: the reason is the Mayan calendar, but more importantly we have been able to fix upon a definite point in time, and it is the definite point in time which is all important.

We do not like to think of events as "processes" extending back and forward in time: the end of the world is 2:15 AM on such-and-such a date. We think we shall tip over the edge; we do not think we are already sliding down it slowly bit by bit. Oh, we may say we are, but everyone believes there is a point of no return, a point when the sands of time begin to avalanche.

Our images of unhappy futures wherein we seek uncertain sanctuary from zombies and vampires and evil men is not a prediction of a date that suddenly appears in the future; it is a commentary on the "now" and the ongoing process of a life declining into despair.
Siegfried Kracauer's history of the German cinema "From Caligari To Hitler" does not indicate that films "foretold" the future. No, but they were a process in the making of the future: they were creating and fighting against an infinite number of futures.
Look at Lang's "Metropolis": for all its length and story, it did not capture the story of what was to come; it was no prophet in that sense, but it did thoroughly plumb the two obvious alternatives: Capital and Labor work together versus Capital and Labor fight each other.
It is the depth of this film which taken as part of the process of German History from 1918 to 1945  makes a enormous emphatic irony of the reality: both Capital and Labor were to be enslaved and subverted into Madness... and that was a possibility that escaped Lang, but may not have escaped the inhabitants of Caligari's insane asylum.
Lang was not aware of it, but it was right before his unbelieving eyes disguised in such a way that its toxicity did not have enough "Symbolic Gravity " to capture his awareness and make it a satellite to its heavy gravitas of enchantment!
(Ever since, we have never stopped jabbering about National Socialism; it is still our favorite perjorative. It is such a favorite curse word that it is symbolically a "black hole" to some minds.)

The Apocalypse is now, not some future time. It is always now for us. A belief system which puts things like the Apocalypse into the future is a child's toy: a dreidel spinning as we wait for it to slow and topple over: a great miracle will be happening ... there!

If we need to fix things, the fix is now. The disaster is now, the fix is now, the future is now.

Forget prophecy. Prophecy is part of an ongoing process, and points not to some future time and event, but points to now and points to itself as well as everything else around it.

What is the place of Mankind in the Universe?
Man's place is the Now. Man has the unique ability to forget the immense past and the infinite future and stand naked in the Now, as if the present were the most important thing in creation.

The infinity of the Holy means it cannot stand in the Now. Only Mankind sees things in the blink of an eye and encapsulate reality into the tiny ambit of its mind. The angels envy us our ability to love in the present; they can only love as a process. There is no climactic moment in infinite love.

The genius of Christianity is in the Holy stepping into the Now.
Every other religion allows the Holy into the world, too, but too often they portray it as Mankind doing the will of God, whereas what we are talking about is Mankind meeting God and somehow both existing in the Now alongside the Infinite.


Tea Party Ideology

If you lack standards and a well-developed code of ethics, in a pinch a bunch of images and stories from Hollywood will fill in quite nicely until something better comes along.
So Georgia's Phil Gingrey, a member of the Tea Party Caucus, told Fox News that, damn it, "This is a Braveheart moment. You, Mr. Speaker, are our William Wallace."

Keep Fit With Mitt !

Talking about Mitt Romney, I finally said that I liked his father, George Romney, a whole lot better than Mitt. (Mitt has a son named Tag... it gives one the impression that the naming of newborns is done in retail clothing or sporting goods stores...)
I had an American Motors automobile that I liked very much; that was George Romney's company. George Romney was the governor of Michigan back in the days when Republican politicians were substantial people, not merely shadows of ideologies or once successful businessmen whose idea of governance was to take from the poor and aged, give to the rich, and at each depredation pray "Give us jobs, O trickle-down gods!".

George Romney was a leader, not merely a politician... and certainly not merely a businessman whose success in business inflates his ego to the size of running the entire country. Physically, he was impressive. Mitt is not so much. Mitt sort of reminds me of Calvin Coolidge, only smiling... smiling as if he just walked into a friendly board room filled with cronies.

The source of the post title:


By the way, Mitt's campaign runs more on falsehoods than money: post-truth politics.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christopher Hitchens

Mr. Hitchens has passed.

He had the unfortunate fate to become an instantiation of the stereotype "Young Radical Who Sees The Light and Becomes Conservative" which seems to be rather important to Right Wing types. It is sort of a St. Paul on the road to Damascus conversion experience symbol, and they get a right thrill from it every time they see the miracle play being put on.

Gandhi became a symbol and became more than what he had been. Some do not. It is an interesting phenomenon.

Will The Ghost Dance Shirt Protect Us From Ourselves?

There is this:

U.S. Bio-Security Officials Sound Warning After Scientists Create Deadly New Strain of Bird Flu

The U.S. government is sounding the alarm after reports that Dutch scientists have created a highly-contagious and deadly airborne strain of bird flu that is potentially capable of killing millions, The Independent reported Tuesday.
The U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity is currently analyzing how much of the scientists' information should be allowed to be published—given the inherent risks of having the information fall into the hands of terrorists or rogue states.
"The fear is that if you create something this deadly and it goes into a global pandemic, the mortality and cost to the world could be massive," a senior US government adviser told The Independent...
"There are people who say that the work should never have been done, or if it was done it should have been done in a setting where the information could be better controlled," a source close to the US biosecurity board told the newspaper...
The mutated form of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza was created by a Dutch team of scientists led by Ron Fouchier, of Rotterdam's Erasmus Medical Centre, and the researchers are now hoping to publish the details of how they developed the new strain...
"We have discovered that this is indeed possible, and more easily than previously thought. In the laboratory, it was possible to change H5N1 into an aerosol-transmissible virus that can easily be rapidly spread through the air," he said.

Words fail me.

I was serious when I said we have to abandon all the old ways, and work to establish new ones: religion, philosophy, economics, science, politics... all have failed to provide strength and guidance to mankind. The most serious crimes against the physical and spiritual welfare of our peoples are allowed to be perpetrated by an insane Culture.

Our science kills us; our economics impoverishes us; our religions compel us and enslave us; our entertainments degrade us!

We must re-create ourselves.
Do not abandon Hope, rather abandon the ways of Exploitation and Discord... but before we abandon anything, we need to be ready to substitute something better. Otherwise, we fall into anarchy and violence.
The time for creating that "better story" of mankind for me is now, this Christmas season. After the change of the year, all things will be changed.

As a postscript, does anyone else find it odd that we are almost at the point of proving the existence of Higg's Boson at the same time we have been industriously printing our boarding pass for the extinction express? Each step forward is followed by at least two steps back into chaos.


Give me some cloth,
some lustrous cloth...
she will sew for me
a new polychrome shirt:
blue as sky,
green as forest,
purple as berry,
bright like yellow flowers...
kâ-osâwâki wâpikwana
I shall wear that new Ghost Dance shirt!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Capitol Hill Has Eyes 6

They value Ideology before Life and Well-Being of Others.

Need For New Words

Rick Perry Propaganda Pix

Politicians are now increasing the demand for new words and concepts to use to deal with their actions, actions which are incomprehensible under the old words, logic, and ways of thinking.

For example, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has famously called Social Security "... a Ponzi Scheme..." and advocated abolishing it.

When it comes to his own pension, it is a different matter:,0,4293479.story
Perry is paid $132,995 to run the state of Texas, but he also collects a monthly annuity of $7,698.96 – more than $92,000 per year – in early retirement, according to disclosure forms filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan said the arrangement is “part of [Perry’s] standard financial planning” and “is consistent with Texas state law and Employee Retirement System rules,” citing what’s known as the “rule of 80,” which allows state employees to start drawing on their retirement if their age plus years of service credit totals at least 80.
Such actions go far  beyond the old labels of "hypocrisy"; they outreach "mendacity"... but they are symptomatic of our new era in propaganda and the Big Lie.


A New Insight Into The Mind

I am instituting two new ways to investigate personalities - sort of psychotherapy in which we seek insight into our own selves by our identification with symbolic characters of our culture.

Thus far, I have worked on the following:

1) which House character are you?

2) which John Hughes character are you?

3) which Coen Brothers character are you?

4) which of the 2011-2012 Republican presidential candidates are you?

and am setting up discussion groups - modeled after Fight Club - which will meet once a week.
Each participant will state his own answers, and then the group will state their opinions. Hopefully, a heated argument will ensue...

Be not afraid !


Where in the World Is Clark Griswold?

Wherein I answer the question of the season:  Where is Clark Griswold and what is he up to this holiday season?

He and his family have gone into the witness protection program and are doing well under their new names, the Clemens. Clark chose the name to ensure complete anonymity and to keep the press and paparazzi away.
"Depending on how the syrup is processed, it may or may not contain more fructose," says Roger Clemens, a professor at USC and spokesman for the Institute of Food Technologists, whose research has focused on functional foods, food processing and nutrition.

If you recall, in the film National Lampoon:Christmas Vacation, Griswold was a food technologist working on a varnish for cereal.

Monday, December 19, 2011

End of One War

The Iraq War is over, and Iraq will not be another South Korea with a US Army presence for an undetermined number of years; we have been in Korea for over 60 years. (We have had troops of various sorts and numbers in the Philippines for over a hundred years.)

Lest we forget, the agreement to remove all troops by the end of 2011 was negotiated by the Bush administration which had started the war. That was a fitting end to it. It never paid for itself like Paul Wolfowitz promised, and we never created the odd utopia of Islamic values and American objectives that we had envisioned at the beginning.

The cost thus far is $800 billion, well on the way to over the trillion dollar mark Joseph Stieglitz wrote about some years ago: we will continue to be bedeviled by Iran in the area, and the cost of medical remediation of the wounded will continue onwards.
The karma of the slaughter of innocents and Abu Ghraib will continue to be played out, indelible symbols of our own pieces of the heart of darkness... which we will rage and rage against, believing ourselves to be always obedient to our better angels.

To all of us who wanted it, look what destruction we have wrought.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Islamic Finance

In 20 years, the same people who fear the spectre of Shari'a law will welcome the spirit of Islamic finance. Of course, it will have a different name, but it will be essentially the same. It will heal the wound of our financial cancers.

The Luck of Edouard Duval-Carrié

 Edouard Duval-Carrié

Last Sunday, December 11, 2011, we met friends for lunch in Royal Oak at the Café Muse. I had arranged for a good deal of background noise to make it impossible for myself to do much but sit, smile, look goofy, and eat... all of which I did with aplomb. (I refer to the restaurant as the Café Noise - pronounced
Café Nwaahz.)

We tried to get people interested in going to hear M. Edouard Duval-Carrié's lecture at the DIA  - Detroit Institute of Arts - on Extending the Contexts of Vodou Symbology.
"Vodou" is the word used by intelligent discussion, replacing the old "Voodoo" which is used for old horror flicks with zombies, usually starring Bob Hope and Willie Best.

I was in an odd sort of Dahomey of the mind.....

No one seemed to have any interest. They seemed to either have no interest in complex expressions of religious belief with which they were entirely unfamiliar.... or, they already knew everything relevant about Vodou and anything further would be superfluous.
They may have had Christmas shopping... or they may have wanted to watch a football game, too, come to think of it.

This was the day we started out with brunch, then the Rembrandt exhibit "The Faces of Christ" at the DIA, then followed with the lecture by M. Duval-Carrié, and finished with the German service at Historic Trinity down by Brewery Park... and the choir did not sing "In dulci jubilo, nun singet und seid froh..." - my absolute favorite - because the Rev. Dr. Jakob K. Heckert from Concordia College, who was to officiate, had been in a small "Umfall" on the highway coming from Ann Arbor to Detroit.

An odd day in some respects... totally mundane and run of the mill in others.

Edouard Duval-Carrié waited patiently for technicians to overcome the technical problems at the beginning of his lecture, which was about 25 minutes late getting started. There was a mixed group. One young lady look like the cultural attaché of Bolivia from a couple of years ago. I was mesmerized.
As the time wore on, even classic Bolivian profiles lost their allure, and I began to fidget. Then I caught sight of the name of the hall we were in "The Marvin and Betty Danto Hall"!  I was sort of shocked to see the name of a prominent Vodou goddess - Elizi Danto - up there on the DIA walls, but there it was.
So why were there so many problems and glitches getting the lecture going, if indeed Elizi Danto were connected in some momentous coincidental way with it? Was all this delay a good omen? I mean, it really did not seem to be a "good omen", but whenever one is faced with an omen which appears to be distinctly "not so good", one immediately searches for alternatives in "paradoxical" omens which appear to be "bad", but are quite "good"... if you have the courage to see it all through.

I meant to ask M. Duval-Carrié about it, but we had run out of time for a long Q&A session, and I never got a chance. (I also wanted to ask why among the work of all the new young artists he showed there were no drums?) Maybe it was best. He might not appreciate having his attention directed towards bad omens.

What was it all about?
I am not sure, but it seems that it we were in the midst of "accidents" (which is the meaning of "Umfall") and snafus and glitches: the brunch was noisy and annoying to me. I found it an event which distanced me further from people rather than reinforcing bonds of amity; the lecture was shortened and, therefore, did not satisfy entirely; the German service was troubled and had my favorite hymn edited out.

The only thing that went off without a hitch was the Rembrandt "The Faces of Christ". That's where I saw the painting of "Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery", and suddenly remembered that that woman was to be stoned for that crime against the Law, and I thought how very Taliban-esque! And then I recalled in a glowing moment that all the sins of our so-called enemies are enshrined within our own resplendent Judaeo-Christian traditions and histories: stoning of adulteresses, burning of witches, etc.

All in all, I thought this was a pre-e-e-etty good day.


Friday, December 16, 2011

A Lack of Transparency

Bloomberg sued the Fed under The Freedom of Information Act to get  the data for the story they ran on November 28, 2011, reporting that $7.7 trillion were loaned to banks without any transparency or reporting to Congress. This is an amount far beyond the original TARP funds.

The question is:   If people and lawmakers had known the terrific extent of the banking fiasco, might they not have voted for more stringent financial changes and safeguards than we ended up with in Dodd-Frank?

But we did not know...

“TARP at least had some strings attached,” says Brad Miller, a North Carolina Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, referring to the program’s executive-pay ceiling. “With the Fed programs, there was nothing.”
Bankers didn’t disclose the extent of their borrowing. On Nov. 26, 2008, then-Bank of America (BAC) Corp. Chief Executive Officer Kenneth D. Lewis wrote to shareholders that he headed “one of the strongest and most stable major banks in the world.” He didn’t say that his Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm owed the central bank $86 billion that day..
The U.S. jobless rate hasn’t dipped below 8.8 percent since March 2009, 3.6 million homes have been foreclosed since August 2007, according to data provider RealtyTrac Inc., and police have clashed with Occupy Wall Street protesters, who say government policies favor the wealthiest citizens, in New York, Boston, Seattle and Oakland, California.
The Tea Party, which supports a more limited role for government, has its roots in anger over the Wall Street bailouts, says Neil M. Barofsky, former TARP special inspector general and a Bloomberg Television contributing editor.
“The lack of transparency is not just frustrating; it really blocked accountability,” Barofsky says. “When people don’t know the details, they fill in the blanks. They believe in conspiracies.”
In the end, Geithner had his way. The Brown-Kaufman proposal to limit the size of banks was defeated, 60 to 31. Bank supervisors meeting in Switzerland did mandate minimum reserves that institutions will have to hold, with higher levels for the world’s largest banks, including the six biggest in the U.S. Those rules can be changed by individual countries.
They take full effect in 2019.
Meanwhile, Kaufman says, “we’re absolutely, totally, 100 percent not prepared for another financial crisis.”

Ade Ileke 38: The Great Blue Heron / 大 藍鷺

My brother flies above me;
he is a Great Blue Heron,
he is the North Star.
I shall enter the Spirit House,
then I shall return.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

(End) Tank of Times

End of Times (EOT) is not as descriptive as End Tank of Times (ETOT), which brilliantly makes plain how all the best laid plans of mice and men went kaput!   ("to tank" meaning to come to a sorry end, to poop out, to live on queer street, to hold the short end of the stick, to have had air and exercise, to eat medlar fruits, etc.)

End of Times is just that: an end; it is the Titanic as it sinks, period.

End Tank of Times - or even just Tank of Times - is more like letting the world of mankind exhaust itself in exploitation and financial plots and complots and treasons... then slipping over the brink. It is more like a long voyage of a large Titanic of Fools looking for just the right size iceberg.... 



My daughter asked me to devise a way to let posts be shared or posted to Facebook, and it looks as if the only efficient way to do so is to have my own Facebook account.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Check In With Stuart Smith

Oil in the Gulf of Mexico:

December 14, 2011

It’s a hauntingly familiar sight: Airplanes buzzing over the Gulf of Mexico spraying toxic dispersant in a flight path from Breton Sound bearing southeast to the Macondo Prospect, the epicenter of last year’s monster oil spill. Yet despite these regular Corexit sprayings, the oil slicks and sheen persist – visible from the air – in the waters surrounding the Deepwater Horizon site. According to On Wings of Care pilot Bonny Schumaker, who flew over the site on Dec. 9, the surface oil is fanning out “in lines and patches over an area of at least 50 square miles.”
Last month, aerial surveillance footage captured a fleet of huge oil-related vessels, some equipped with ROVs, working the waters above the Macondo Prospect. BP gave the bogus explanation that it’s conducting research on “natural seeps in the area” ....  It was a typical BP “non-denial denial” – acknowledging the problem but denying any blame – to blunt escalating public concern over fresh oil that’s been reported at the site since Aug. 19.
As I’ve mentioned here before, BP was required to conduct a survey of the seafloor prior to drilling in the Macondo Prospect. There is no record of any large natural seeps in the area that has ever been produced. Therefore, we can assume that any seeps that now exist must be tied to the BP disaster and the heavy-handed attempts to cap the gushing well, such as lowering a 70-ton dome over top of it. Those activities are likely to have caused cracks and fissures in the seafloor around the wellhead.
That sort of seafloor leakage cannot be capped, plugged or killed. It will continue until the Macondo Prospect essentially runs dry (see link below to my previous post). According to BP, the prospect was estimated to have contained 50 million barrels before last year’s disaster, which spewed approximately 5 million barrels into the Gulf. You do the math. It ain’t pretty.
So it goes...

Derivatives Are the Opiate of the Masses!

Forcing Opium upon China

Good article in Asia Times comparing the British use of Opium to fund their empire and the way the Americans do it with Derivatives. To the writer, both are eventually equally destructive, although derivatives give a longer period of self-delusion before everything tanks totally.... the scenario known as End-Tank-of-Times.

Derivatives and free trade
By Zhuubaajie

Derivatives - Opium 2.0?
After the 2008 financial debacle, derivatives continued to grow in the United States, and America’s economy has not recovered. In America today, the derivatives cancer has now grown to over US$700 trillion (by June of 2011, according to Bloomberg), which is almost 50 times the United States gross domestic product...

The cancer appears unstoppable. This month there is serious talk of American mutual funds adopting derivatives on a large scale, and the US Commodities Commission is setting rules to make trading derivatives more accessible to the small guys. The derivatives casino is going to be $1.5 quadrillion in no time..

The $7.77 trillion in subsidies to the American banking industry also complicated things (Bloomberg expose last week after Freedom of Information Act requests). Now the foreigners are going to point to that as in violation of World Trade Organization rules. What other nation's banks can hope to compete against that level of subsidy? $7.77 trillion is more than all of China's subsidies for all industries over the last 5,000 years...

The Gift of the Magi

Another Holiday comes around: this time it is Christmas; the US Congress is once again marking the holiday season with their vile shenanigans.

Instead of holiday displays, the benighted Know-Nothing House of Representatives is putting up their own Live Government Shut-Down, where we can watch the beasts throng around their benchmarks and the glow of the lobbyists.

Like O. Henry's story The Gift of the Magi, there is an intense ironic "kicker" at the end where we discover the truth that the House of Representatives has given us a comb... but only after our golden hair has been totally cut off... or, more timely, lost due to chemotherapy, which is not covered by our health insurance.

The Perfessor fer President

Perfessor Gingrich, there is a difference between the well known hypocrisy of Democracy - which causes candidates to promise everything to everybody in order to get votes and be elected - and downright, baldfaced lying.

Your recent Lies are not hypocrisy; they are something worse.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

The Sunday past we had brunch in Royal Oak, went to the Detroit Institute of Arts to see the Rembrandt exhibit of The Faces of Christ, then caught a lecture on the symbology of Haitian Vodou, and ended up at Historic Trinity Lutheran with pastor David Eberhard for the annual German Christmas season service.

I noticed that one of the paintings on display at the DIA Rembrandt show was Christ With The Woman Taken In Sin. The sin was adultery and, if memory serves, the accusers were ready to stone her according to the Law.

It reminded me how very Taliban-like things can be in other religions... how much religious laws in the Middle East resemble each other in their histories... how very little we are aware of - other than our own prejudices..
how very interesting how Jesus was able to transcend that and we cannot.

Boycott Lowe's

I suppose I shall have to drive the extra miles to the Home Depot on Avon Road in Rochester Hills, now that Lowe's has sided with Pamela Geller, but what of it? If that is what it takes to oppose hatred, stupidity, and intolerance, so be it. (Lowe's withdrew advertising from a TV show portraying Muslim families in nearby Dearborn as normal folks, and not wild eyed terrorists.)

Besides, the staff in the Home Depot have seemed to have been undergoing some training, and have appeared recently to be quite helpful.

So it goes...

Completeness Theorem of Religion

All possible "true" propositions about the human soul in its sojourn in the World are capable of being stated in a "complete" theory of the Holy.

Religions that propound such a set of such propositions tend to endure.

For example, the beliefs as propounded by the Rev. Camping which included the end of the world in the spring of 2011 were contradictory - the world did not end - and inefficient, as the Camping set of propositions had a distinct tendency to propound "false" propositions.

Any such set of true propositions of a Complete Theory of the Holy will appear paradoxical - not contradictory - to people who do not understand them.
Such Paradox is exemplified in Homeyra's translation of Rumi:

"It is as if, everything that Is, Isn't in this world
It is as if everything that Isn't, Is in this world"

The very completeness - the vast extent of application - of these propositions cause them to appear paradoxical. Paradox is not "oddness" or "contrary to common sense"; rather, it is a "vastyness of longitude and latitude throughout the Universe" and reflects our awe at the wonder of Creation.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Apocalypse

Art sums up life, whereas Life itself sort of drags itself out until that last recorded syllable of time. Art is snazzy, snappy, and you may even dance to it. Life is a bit more like work.

The popular images of Apocalypse, or End of Times, are artistic products: films, novels, pamphlets, drawings, comic books, and lectures; they are all relatively brief - compared to geological aeons - and it is their precision that allows us to comprehend the message easily.

But Life is not so precise.

When the Future comes, we shall not be in Art, but we shall be in Life. We shall be slogging our way through the slough, so to speak, day after day.
We shall be living the Apocalypse and it will seem an interminable lengthy stretch of days, and we shall become accustomed to the novelties of the times, and they will seem commonplace to us.

We shall, in effect, not even be aware of it. Indeed, the only reason we should be aware of the Apocalyptic event referred to in Revelations is the fact that the writer decides to bring down the curtain at the end; there is no logical need to end Times (although there is a dogmatic need to): it was St. John's choice to write it that way, and probably that is the way he recalled his vision of it.
Natural disasters and wars and threats of wars can hardly be considered extraordinary to us who lived through the last 70 or so years,so we can hardly use them to prophesy end of days. Some of us do, to their chagrin.

Remembering those failed prophets who called for and expected the End of Times in the last 2,000 years, and how surprisingly disappointed they were, it seems as if there might not be the compelling need to end all things in the very Artistic and Linguistic and Dramatic way that John of Patmos did. John could not exceed his nature.

We are living those Hidden Things now.

That is the meaning of "Hidden".

It is Dramatic Art to discover what was hidden to the surprise of the audience.
It is Life to live the Hidden.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Di Tzionistishe Medina

Netanyahu to Israeli Jews: Don't Marry Americans

Following up on its 2009 campaign comparing diaspora intermarriers to kidnapping victims, the Netanyahu government is now running PSAs warning Israelis living abroad against the dangers of marrying American Jews. In this ad, the American Jewish family Skypes with grandparents in Israeli, who are sitting in front of a Chanukah menorah. When grandma asks the little girl what holiday it is, she shouts, “Christmas!”, prompting garment-rending.
I don’t always agree with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, but he gets this exactly right:
I don’t think I have ever seen a demonstration of Israeli contempt for American Jews as obvious as these ads. I understand the impulse behind them: Israel wants as many of its citizens as possible to live in Israel. This is not an abnormal desire. But the way it is expressed, in wholly negative terms, is somewhat appalling. How about, “Hey, come back to Israel, because our unemployment rate is half that of the U.S.’s”? Or, “It’s always sunny in Israel”? Or, “Hey, Shmulik, your mother misses you”?
These government-sponsored ads suggest that it is impossible for Jews to remain Jewish in America. How else are we supposed to understand the “Christmas” ad? Obviously, assimilation and intermarriage are issues in America in ways they aren’t in Israel. Israel has other problems of course, such as the fact that many of its rabbis act like Iranian mullahs.…
The idea, communicated in these ads, that America is no place for a proper Jew, and that a Jew who is concerned about the Jewish future should live in Israel, is archaic, and also chutzpadik (if you don’t mind me resorting to the vernacular). The message is: Dear American Jews, thank you for lobbying for American defense aid (and what a great show you put on at the AIPAC convention every year!) but, please, stay away from our sons and daughters...

 The ethos of Israel is changing in ways we are oblivious to.
It is time to say good-bye to history.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Green Grocer's

a reprint

I had been buying a green grocer's; at Nino's, to be precise... Nino's in Rochester Hills. I was in the express lane, having only four or so items. One of my purchases was a bunch of fresh cilantro. The check-out girl was very fresh, young, and actually seemed to be enjoying her day. Her spirit was infectious, so I decided to play it nice, instead of nasty, brutish, and short. She blinded me with green grocery science.

She picked up the bag of cilantro with a motion I can only describe as that of Botticelli's Venus covering herself from the north wind. She placed it on the scale with a retrograde motion from head downwards, again, Botticelli. All Botticelli from here on. She opened her mouth and said "Italian parsley?" I, of course, smiled and nodded, thinking Si. Si, bella ragazza! Then the continuity girl caught the error, gave me a swift kick in the pants, and hastily whispered No. It's supposed to be cilantro. I coughed. "Er, no. Ummm. It had better not be. It is...or it's supposed to be cilantro."

"Oh," she demurely said. "I never know how to tell them apart." I glanced at the broad, flat leaf cilantro. It did resemble the Italian parsley, bless its chlorophyll. I tried to think of some sort of quip about how many Mexicans would be disappointed were I to show up with Italian parsley instead of cilantro, but it didn't quite come together: I had a distinct image of myself as H.W.F.Fowler standing in quad making derogatory remarks about errors in English syntax peculiar to speakers of Spanish...and I knew this particular goddess was - if anyone was - very, very liberal.
So, feeling a bit of a panic - I had been mute for a few clicks beyond what is socially acceptable - I reached out and grabbed the bag from the scale, lifted it up, and thrust my nose into it, as I imagined a milkman's horse digging into the old nose-bag at the end of a long day must do...and sniffed. "Ah," I said. "Cilantro."
I handed it back to her. She smiled, and said that that was o.k. for me, but she couldn't put her nose into peoples' groceries to tell cilantro from Italian parsley. All very smiley...sort of reminded me of Athena's white-washed picket fence of healthy teeth. The Iliad. Very classic type of day. I laughed and said she was right; her supervisors would hear about that right quick! More laughter. Smiles. I mean, exactly how did I go about buying groceries for the past eons before this? This certainly had that all beat ten ways to Sunday!

Well, like all good things, it came to and end, and the shark-like credit card reared its ugly fin. I chose paper, not plastic...I'm sure she was ecologically minded. I signed my name with a bold, sweeping hand. We bid each other adieu, adieu, until the pantry inventory ran dry and the rocks melt wi' the sun...or something to that effect. But, you know something? When people are that beautiful in our eyes, when they make your heart do that bass drum thing...... we don't really care where they stick their noses.