Search This Blog

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mending Wall by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs...

...It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'...

He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."


Ade Ileke 23: ветки судьбы./ Fate

Я рассчитываю ветки судьбы.
Есть много веток.
считаю ветки судьбы.
это число...  четным или нечетным?
Я рассчитываю ветки судьбы.
Я бросаю их в огонь ...
бросаю их в море.
это число...  четным или нечетным?

I count the twigs of fate.
There are many.
I think about the twigs of fate.
The number... is it odd or even?
I count twigs of fate.
I throw them into the wind,
I throw them into the sea.
The number... is it odd or even?

pix:  yogikiii

Do The Right Thing

It was hot in the summer of Spike Lee's film "Do The Right Thing".

Someone recently posted a picture of the winter with the caption "When We Complain About The Heat...", the implication being the grass is always greener in the other fellow's yard, but once you have jumped the fence and are over in that yard, there is a lot of dead grass, mud, and cow pies laying around... or Winter has its own discontents.

Autumn looks good to me. Winter looks OK, too.

Baysage says that the heat in Oklahoma has been over 100 degrees F for a long time. I believe it has been established that it is the driest since the Dust Bowl days. Weather records are dropping like flies in this, our new championship season.

Whether its Climate Change or not does not  matter. Never did. Why is everything a matter of ideology to us? Stop thinking, stop speaking, and "Do The Right Thing", as Spike Lee pointed out years ago. He even turned that pithy phrase into a cinematic masterpiece to tease us into comprehension.
Pizzerias are burning everywhere!
Put out the fire!


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mayan Calendar

I finally did it. We were having a chat about the Mayan Calendar and the Long Period and the fact that it is, according to some, ending in 2012. I know an evangelical type who believes, of course, this is end of times revisited.

I said - at last! - that he had to stop thinking! Yes, stop thinking! His head was so full of scripts and screenplays for End-of-Times that he was going "Harold Camping" on us!
Not everything is a sign, no matter how desperately you wish it to be.
For 99.9% of all signs and omens are pre-exisitng in our minds. They are a fulfillment of our own pre-dispostions to disaster or hitting the lottery: fear and exultation.

Emotion alone is not God. Fear is fear, and not necessarily the wrath of God.
Stop thinking before you kill us all.

(It is like Michelle Bachmann thinking that there were two swine flu innoculation periods and both were under a Democratic President. If you were not so intent on analysing what you already believe in and ferreting out the hidden strands you already believe to exist, you would not make such an error.
Struggle to keep your thinking under rational control, not under the control of screenplays, schemes, and scams!)


Friday, July 29, 2011

"When Life Gives Lemons...": Sea Pie

I mentioned Sea Pie in my post today about lemons. If you did not know what it is (and most of us do not), read the following:

Event Calendar


Chevaliers de Colomb (Knights of Columbus) Hall, between Promutuel Valley Mutual Building (523 Baume St.) and St. Peter's Parish Church in Village of Fort Coulonge, Quebec
Saturday, June 18, 2011 to Sunday, June 19, 2011
Starts at 4PM Both Days
ANNUAL PARISH SUPPER - FORT COULONGE, QUEBEC...THE BEST IN THE REGION. June 18 & 19 beginning at 4pm. Celebrate Father's Day with all the amenities. The meal includes Sea Pie (a dish made of a combination of Beef & Pork), Baked Beans, Fresh Mashed Potatoes, Homemade Coleslaw, Homemade Baked Bread, Homemade sugar doughnuts and cakes & squares, as well as Homemade Apple & Lemon pies on June 18th, & the pies on Sunday, the 19th will be Homemade Butterscotch & Raisin (+ whatever remains from Saturday's pies also!!) Tea & coffee are included. Have all you want and volunteer servers are at your service to fullfill all your needs. Cost for Adults $12 and $5.00 for children under 12. Outside on the grounds, many games, Bingo under the Big Tent and cash prize ticket draws. Location: Chevaliers de Colomb (Knights of Columbus) Hall, between Promutuel Valley Mutual Building (523 Baume St.) and St. Peter's Parish Church in Village of Fort Coulonge, Quebec. Turn into town from Highway 148 at the Graveyard on your left & the Proprio Plaza on your right. 
Sea Pie... there it is. Missed it this year!
Fort Coulonge, by the way, has a great and long covered bridge, and some slick rapids ( Chutes Coulonge Parc) nearby.

When Life Gives Lemons...

The UPS guy rang the bell. He waited the customary "Mississippi-One" and bolted back to his truck, as I made my way down the stairs to the front door. There was a box at the door. I took it back upstairs; it weighed under ten pounds (four kgs.) by the feel of it; it rumbled slightly when I shook it.
In the kitchen, I set it down and retrieved a box cutter from the "omnium-gatherum" drawer. (Latin-English comic speech" "all gathering".) Sometimes I call it "the Duke's drawer"  or "Plantagenet's drawer" to befuddle outsiders, referring to Trollope's Duke of Omnium etc. in The Pallisers. (Plantagenet Palliser became the Duke of Omnium and Gatherum in the series of novels.)
Thus, omnium gatherum. I did not know what "box cutters" were until some days after 9/11, always having referred to such things as "that little knife thingie", thinking of it more as a miniature utility knife (which it surely is in an adapted way) rather than a thing to get into boxes. But it did explain those neat gashes in the tops of cereal boxes in the grocery store. I had always avoided such defaced products, but did wonder why someone would go around cutting the tops of cereal boxes... undoubtedly they were up to no good: taking minute portions of product out - not amounting to much, but adding up after a million or so boxes - or depositing something baneful within.  I never trusted some stores too far, either. I had bought some cereal once with an Olympic logo proudly displayed a year or so before the Olympics were scheduled to open, only to find upon returning home that the logo was from the previous Olympiad.

The UPS box contained lemons. Strictly speaking, it contained a mesh sack with the previously mentioned avoirdupois of citrus within... citrus of the yellow and sour kind: to wit, lemons.
Muttering "Thanks, Life! Thanks a lot!", I grabbed the container and looked for the thoughtful sender's name. It merely had the name of the offending fruit company or fruit monger or fruit jobber written.
That was a lot of lemons.
I know how Marie and Frank Barrone felt when Raymond and Debra (From Everybody Loves Raymond) gave them a Christmas present of a fruit of the month club membership: more fruit! every month! no end to it! (I learned later my brother had sent them to me, he having stumbled across a treasure trove of New Age lemons, or Nouvelle Vague lemons, or "artisinal" lemons - in a genetic sense, I suppose - that put past lemons out to stud for the rest of their lives... I always say "artesian" instead of "artisinal", and when I talk of fancy-schmantzy "artesian" cheeses, people must think I have a "cheese fountain" in the back yard!)
Well, what does one do with just over eight pounds of lemons? I mean, you cannot serve them for breakfast for the half-asleep and dispose of them that way. One taste would readily awaken all sluggards.
I stored them in a corner and waited.

She-who-must-be-obeyed arrived later, and I put the quandary to her sterling mind. She smiled at me - rather condescendingly I think, in a manner redolent of the way a mother smiles at a child who has taken a full two weeks to learn to tie his shoelaces and has not quite yet come up to speed, and whose smile-bestowing mother is wanting to go to home from the mall to make dinner, and in the midst of numerous other fellow shoppers is patiently waiting for her small son to tie the shoes up so the laces do not get caught in the escalator and pull him down to the under-world (as he himself worries!) and must keep her calm, not wanting to seem a bad parent.
I did not let it bother me.
She said "When Life sends me lemons, I make lemonade."
Same smile, only a bit less strained, the layers of stress visibly lessening as she spoke.
"Ah!" I said. "Ahh-ha!" I said then, and began looking for our green Depression glass juicer.
"What are you looking for?" she asked.
"The juicer." I said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world; and it was so, in my opinion, unless one was expected to await the second part of Life's shipment : a juicer, which had somehow been lost in the mail.
"Right door by the stove, lower rear; find a good size pitcher, too. We'll use my Aunt Stella's recipe."
"Recipe?" I thought. A recipe for lemonade? Surely just squeeze, taste, add sugar until the pucker leaves your face. Recipe?

In time I discovered that there can be small amendments to the basic Neolithic ritual of lemonade. Over time, mankind stopped merely slicing lemons with flint knives and squirting the contents into their fellow cave dwellers' eyes; things became civilized: lemonade was no longer enough; there had to be refinements and ambiance, things like mint leaves stuck into the cool tumbler and small portions of spices let sit for an hour, then strained out in a final filtering which also removed the pulp.
The recipe, however, proved elusive.
Neither digital (computer) nor analog (pencil-scribbled 3 by 4 card) was to be found. I suggested starting with the squeezer and being adventurous, but merely got the malocchio  (or, the maloyk, as they say on The Sopranos). The recipe was a faithful reflection of how it was done along the Ottawa River from the early 1800's down to World War II; it was the drink that often accompanied the "Sea Pie" or "Cipaille" that was the food of the annual summer parish get-together; it was tradition. Problem is, it seems to have fallen into desuetude.
I have my own recipes squirreled away. Since these are sweets - cookies, pies, chocolates, etc. - I keep them in various versions, having numerous back-ups, and often committing them to memory. I can recite them, and often do, for example, reciting a recipe for Thanksgiving Cranberry-Orange sauce when asked to say a few poignant remarks about the season in a Thanksgiving dinner toast... of course, I dress the words up a bit to make them sound like Wordsworth writing about some feast he had hungrily stumbled upon while staggering about Tintern Abbey.
In fact, our friend of Swedish descent wrote last Christmas asking for a copy of her own Swedish Sugar Cookie recipe, which she and her Swedish-descent mother had both lost track of, and had been given to me (I do overindulge in cookies at Xmas!) 25 years or more ago.
Of course, I had it and the recipe was off via email within minutes. I had scanned the original hand-written 3 by 4 card she had made for me, so she knew it was the real McCoy.
In that Fahrenheit 451 future of illiteracy which awaits, we shall gather by the river and I shall recite the recipe for Heavenly Brownies with Almond Extract.

By this time, the lemons were out of the bag, and a few had some blue mold, which were quickly disposed of. I washed the rest and piled them on a towel. They felt a bit thick-skinned. The amount of lemonade to be processed should be reduced by a third, I thought.
Meanwhile, She-who-must-etc. was on the phone, polling the relatives and the closer friends about Auntie Stell's recipes. Cousin Jane seemed the best shot. She had vast reminiscences of food stuffs and beverages. Allowing for the translation problems from the backwoods Canadian of Aunt Stella's early days to the Aylmer-esque patois of Cousin Jane's young adulthood to the Ottawa-ish brogue of her present day digs, we could have a winner.
She told us about the cakes with geranium petal frosting. One does not see many real geranium petals being used these days, nor rose petals either. I bet they would taste pretty good; maybe sugar-coated rose petals!
She would dig up the lemonade receipt (as they call it there) posthaste.
Meanwhile a few more citrus bit the dust. I decided to use some to keep the apple slices destined for two apple pies from browning (I do the baking, She-who-must-etc. does the cooking), along with various and sundry uses to which lemons are put.
Our Indian neighbors stopped by and surprisingly needed to borrow some lemons for cooking. They must have heard of my sudden windfall. I bestowed some on them with the pomp and circumstance due as if these fruits were citrine and sapphires from Ceylon. I wanted to let them know they owed me big time. I still wait for my invite to a curry feast, however. I have noticed that Indian folks - the younger ones, that is - are quick to speak about curry invites, yet slow to issue them. Their parents, being my age, follow through much better.
I spent some time reading up on citrus. Sour orange and lemon pie sounded good.

When the recipe came, there was the mint, as expected, and the type of sugar, unrefined, as unexpected, and other bits and pieces (and the usual measurement problems where the folks of the 19th century say thing like "take a hogshead of bitters" and you are left looking at your Cuisinart brushed silver measuring cups and scales).
It was twelve days since the Sour had first darkened the doorway. There were not all that many left. Those that remained were thick and in the process of dessicating. Juice flowed like molasses through titration tubes.
There was enough for a fine glass of lemonade for each of us, today and maybe tomorrow. Cheers.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Baptism and صبغة

Baptism   ( صبغة )   is the sign of an entity which eventually must find its own way, its own tongue, and its own way to the Holy; it washes away childhood. It is a choice. Everyone of us will choose sooner or later. We should have a rite of passage for this choice. Baptism is normally done for children, having become more of a magical rite than a meaningful religious experience.


The Apostle Wittgenstein

“What we cannot speak we must pass over in silence."

Speaking of God trivializes the Holy.
This is obvious, and being aware of it, we do it in order to teach children to attempt to understand a complex state of their being. However, we forget that our speech is a children's text, and we wish to preserve our "Mother Goose" approach to the Holy as our very own catechism.


Quantum Logic 2

Everything I dreamed about the other night has been done, and precisely I was dreaming about some form of a "fuzzy" logic, wherein a truth value may have a range, such as from 0 to 1 and taking on fractional values.
Sort of.

What I actually have in mind is a logic where any given truth value "V" takes on a range of values that are also "rules of generation" of cellular automata. As we step through "time" and apply these rules to create a new step of the cellular automaton, we are generating a different truth value snapshot.

Following this approach, and using a two dimensional  basic grid to generate a cellular automaton, with 2 colors, white and black, we might say that the cellular automaton that results in all white squares is true and that which results in all black squares  is false, and the 254 others are the other truth values, some repetitive and some chaotic.

So what? What good is a two-dimensional truth value? How many dimensions of truth are there?
Some would be static, such as all white and all black; some would be various patterns, endlessly repeating; and some would be complex and chaotic, forming new patterns and never repeating.
Some would be "interesting" while others would be bland. Some would be "enchanting" and some would be "fascinating". It seems to enmesh the human being into the web of the logic.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Pornography of Despair

Ruined buildings... Ground Zero, Manhattan seen as Wounded Knee.

Planet Comics
John Hilgart at HiLo Brow

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Death and Democracy

The death of democracy is an intransigeant refusal to talk and communicate; no communication other than to say no, no, and no once again; bright Mephisto in this Faustean age: "...der Geist der stets verneint..." as Goethe had it, a spirit forever-denying.

Lenin knew it, so did other leaders of ideologies who knew that keeping the faith pure was more important than palavering with outsiders, non-believers, and the luke-warm. Democracy and its discontents stemmed from a negotiation, back and forth, that obscured the pristine clarity of the truth of the Ideology.

Of course, democracy died many times before. In Rome, the Era of Augustus was pretty good for most people, and the death of the aristocratic democracy was not wept for. Business will still be good, and in time will be better.

Premonitions of Zombies

Alzheimer's and other dementias are expected to at least double within the next few decades. I suppose this is part of the future we have subliminally been glimpsing in our spate of Zombie films. Of course, mostly young kids watch such films, and they learn that the way to deal with the brain-dead is to kill them.
Well, if the "brain-dead" refers to us afflicted with varying degrees of dementia, I guess I know what form that future will take.

I have found that most popular "scripts" come in many forms: films, books, and "urban legends" and things we think about. The only thing different between a film about Zombies and my thinking about Zombies is the level of expertise brought to bear in creating a finished product: mine is singular and crude, while the film is a joint effort and polished......

... it is the "polish" that makes us think it is all a dream, a fiction, and it will never happen. We are used to a roughly hewn future. But when Disaster comes, it comes well-formed and with a cast of thousands.


Quantum Logic

I woke up thinking about Quantum Logic and Professor Hilary Putnam.
I woke up thinking about many-valued logics, too.

I woke up thinking that the truth values, True and False, were similar to the basic buildings blocks of matter, essentially being electrons and protons of opposite charges.
I woke up thinking, however, that just like electrons and protons, True and False are made up of more basic particles, just as atomic particles are composed of energy, quarks, neutrinos, pions, and what have you.

So with my first cup of coffee I was wondering how that would work out. A proposition "X" may be true-1, or true-2, or true-3 (we leave the interpretation of this undefined), yet "X" remains with a truth value of True. The semantics and interpretation of such propositions - always True - becomes a bit different.
Is this merely a move away from many-valued logics to something nonsensical? Maybe. However, it gives the logicians their certitude and the semanticists their wealth of intensions and extensions.

The rules of logic define a space of truth values (not propositions, for they are generated by other means), and there are structures like cellular automata, where true and false step through the logic inherent in the propositions of interest, and create regions of coherence and/or chaos.



The genesis of Fear is in the moment, not in the past. There is no history of the creation of fear, although there is memory of fear.
Individuated fear is a spur of the moment creation, such as we have habituated ourselves into creating. It is a new film, a sequel, based on old ideas and scripts; it is a tedious cover of an old, old song.



Logic and the World are a continuous Hand-Shaking and Negotiation between Entities-Capable-of-Making-Propositions, Propositions, and Reality as they walk through the entire Space of Possible Propositions about their experience.
Reality should not be considered not as a measuring stick against which we stand our progeny propositions and mark their truth, just as we measure the height of our children against the door jamb to the kitchen, but is a participant in the negotiations over truth value.

It is common to view Reality as the measure we use to determine the truth of what we say, and to think it as some eternal, unchanging "real-ness" (even though it may contain subset realities with local changes of time and space and matter).
But I doubt it. That is why Art is so powerful: it intuits and encapsulates the hand-shake between the Artist and the World, both individual and changing, in a brief moment of Truth.


Science and Religion

Science is Logic; God is Art.

Specifically, we might say God is the Oration (including its effect upon the hearers), while Science is the study of the rhetorical skills involved.


Monday, July 25, 2011

How the Concentration of Media Power Acts Against Democracy

Simply stated, it denies the open forum to as large a number of voices as wish to be heard; it reduces the size of the discussion and the negotiation. It is the evil step-sister to Lobbyists and Special Interests.

The press lords go way back beyond Murdoch. There was William Randolph Hearst, portrayed as Citizen Kane by Orson Welles, who was instrumental in starting the Spanish-American War, having found that all forms of sensationalism - war included - draw paying customers.

In the middle of the 19th century, there were British press magnates that traded on the sensationalism of colonial adventures, having discovered that the pageant of the British Empire upon which the sun never sets is good for business.

As new media such as radio and television and cable became available, these new media should have been secured against monopolistic concentration. They were originally, but this realization that monopoly concentration of the media is anti-democratic has almost evaporated.
In fact, the notion that concentration of the media of communication is dangerous has become so vitiated that it required the current morality play of the Murdochs, who by their own vicious natures have reminded us that mankind often has a corrupt nature, and when that nature controls the means of communication, bad things may indeed happen.

What kind of fools are we, that we require the endless display of chicanery and scamming and subterfuge before we realize that Capitalism does not condone nor condemn evil... that is a burdensome choice which we must make.


A Google Moment: Detroit, Mexican Village

Mexican Village in Detroit



 Navaho Blanket

I was talking with Baysage about focus and poetry...

When I focus on writing, I focus with great intensity. I find that by this focusing I omit a great deal from my understanding of my writing, and I only see other aspects and meaning later or when someone else points it out to me.

The poetry of Emily Dickinson is what is in my mind: she indeed is focused, but her language slips the bonds of customary usage, and by that great cry of freedom, is no longer a slave to the focus of one time and one meaning and one interpretation.

God is supposed to be all-knowing. This implies a supernatural focus, so great that it must let slip the details, and it is the details that are infinite, not the singular or several acts under God's direct interest.
To be all-knowing - and to be present everywhere in the universe - implies that the Holy is not focused on any item so intensely that it lets slip any others.

The Holy carries everything in the large woven blanket it carries to keep warm and to sleep upon. The Holy carries the knick-knacks of the universe within the backpack of that rolled up blanket. It knows everything is in the blanket, but does not need to focus on each and every item, causing It to forget where It is walking and to stumble in the Forest.
Happy creation so well loved and protected.


The Old Age of the Earth

When our father and our mother, the Earth, grows old and forgetful, when it becomes fretful and complaining, we call it Climate Change or some other science. We hope to bury our burden of responsibility within science and argumenatative politics, for we would rather fight than do what we actually must do: take care of the Earth in its old age... when after having given all, it has no more to give.

Congress Apocalypto

From Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, Jaguar Paw (in italics)  and his father:

Those people in the forest, what did you see on them?

I do not understand.

Fear.... Deep rotting fear. They were infected by it. Did you see? Fear is a sickness. It will crawl into the soul of anyone who engages it. It has tainted your peace already. I did not raise you to see you live with fear. Strike it from your heart. Do not bring it into our village.
At first light we will gather with the elders at the sacred hill of our fathers. There we will call upon their spirits to guide us.

My father did not fight World War II so that his children could live in fear of their own elected representatives.
We shall no longer fear this sickness called forth by those who fear and hate Democracy. We shall fight against the in-your-face fear and ignorance of those people. We shall excise them from our souls. We shall call upon God and the spirits of our fathers and mothers to guide us to eradicate this plague of fear. Then we shall turn to re-establishing virtue.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Man Who Saved the World

"Arguably the most dangerous moment in the crisis was only recognized during the Cuban Missile Crisis Havana conference in October 2002.......

During the conference Robert McNamara stated that nuclear war had come much closer than people had thought. Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, said, "A guy called Vasili Arkhipov saved the world."


Tropicana and Florida's Natural now have 59 ounces in a half gallon container instead of the old 64. That's roughly a 13% increase, and a 1000% subterfuge and deception. I won't be buying again from the Madoffs of the orange groves.

Republicans Meet to Discuss Finances

Ms. Hathaway and Mr. Drysdale

Two top executives of Standard & Poors are supposedly meeting with the new Republican members of the House Thursday to give them some lessons in big-time finance.

The Republicans had let it be known that they would prefer to talk with  Mr. Drysdale and Miss Jane Hathaway from the Commerce Bank of Beverly Hills, but those two individuals had prior engagements.



Just How Good a Politician is President Obama?

I mean, I know some Tea Party folks, and it does not take all that long to size them up. Doing that takes no Machiavelli.
But he did know exactly where John Boehner, Speaker of the House, stood: and that is between a Rock and a Hard Place. He knew Boehner does not really control the House Republicans. He knew that he could offer Boehner the Moon in cuts in Medicare, Social Security... he could literally tear the social saftey net to shreds....

... and all President Obama had to do was to add at the end, "And by the way, we need to close some tax loopholes amounting to less than half the cost of Congressional Health Care coverage for one year." and Boehner could not accept it, because Boehner could not sell it. Mr. Boehner rules the roost of a bunch of wet hens who have traded negotiation for ideology, and President Obama knows it: he knows it now and he knows it all the way to November, 2012.


Creation of Reality: Michelle Bachmann

I had a post about Ms. Bachmann's musings on the Swine Flu, and her question why were both innoculation programs done during the administrations of Democratic Presidents: President Obama and (here we can only assume what she meant) President Carter.
Since I had gone to the County Health Department's "Needle Park" both times for my inoculation against "Captain Tripps" (a Stephen King name for the mother of all flus), I recalled that the inoculation of long ago and far away was done in the administration of President Ford, who happened to be a Republican from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

It is not a big deal to get the details wrong.

However, it is a big deal to think that you spy a hidden "logical" connection between concepts and dimly perceive what might pass as some cause-and-effect. It leads to an obscure scenario of politics and power that reeks of meaning so intensely, that it becomes an minor article of a minor faith in a person's arsenal of belief, thereby creating an "alternate reality": to be precise, the Alternate Reality wherein President Carter, not President Ford, called for swine flu inoculations.
Ms. Bachmann felt an intense yet unclear connection between swine flu and a political party she identifies as her opponent, so much so that she let herself believe - although probably briefly - that there was such an alternate reality and there might be something sinister about swine flu vaccine in that alternate universe.

We all do this.
It is important to realize it, and for us to constantly "negotiate" with Reality to come to a commonly agreed upon representation of:
(1) Reality, and
(2) Ourselves within it.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Google Moment: St. Pete Beach, USA

Don Cesar Hotel, St. Pete Beach

A Google Moment: National Park Seminary, USA

Silver Springs Maryland

Pictures during the renovation and restoration of the National Park Seminary:

Pagoda House on Linden Lane, restoration.

Linden Lane just beyond Pagoda House, restoration of covered elevated walkways

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Taxes and Revenues

The NASA Shuttle program is dead, the last landing going off without a hitch. Titusville, Florida, is in for some tough times in a state that already has 11% unemployment. There are 4 private companies that are going forward developing space ships, and their outlook is that demand from private enterprise will eventually grow very large.
American Capitalism and enterprise at its best.
However, all 4 indicate that some government funding is necessary to get to that point where Space Industry will be self-supporting, for much work has yet to be done, and existing demand is not sufficient. Boeing may not have come right out and said this, but Boeing is already at the military-industrial cantina sucking up some free lunch goodies.

This is fine with me: government funding = government payments from government revenues... also known as Taxes! Short-term funding in an extremely important field, one in which there are numerous foreign competitors.
But I'm OK with this. I was not OK with the Oil Industry subsidies, because such subsides have gone way beyond government assistance and are truthfully a welfare program for those companies. (I hold stock in Big Oil, so I do not complain too loudly.)
If oil companies were not subsidized, the true cost of oil would help straighten out our energy programs; a subsidized product, like oil, is a distortion and works against real "market" logic.

We were arguing about taxes at Hanaan's Diner today and finally I said to Hank Jakubowski that we should continue the argue tomorrow. In the meantime we would avoid all items that involve government subsides, hence government taxes.
Of course, I was counting on his being sufficiently worked up that he would agree to this, and he did!

So when we were getting ready to go, he had put his car keys on the table, squirreling in his pockets for chump change for the waitstaff. I grabbed the keys and walked out, hearing something that resembled a water buffalo bellowing behind me.

I the hot sun I reminded him:  no petroleum products, hence no gas... even if we allowed gas usage, the roads were paved using government money in part. He sputtered.
As I left, I yelled, "No food tonight, either! Agriculture subsidies!"

Hero of Alexandria and Revelations

Hero of Alexandria was an Ancient Greek Engineer. As luck would have it, some of his society's important uses of engineering were to design and build moving statues or automata of the gods and godesses that could be used to put on a Disney-esque show and jamboree to edify the faithful in the temple where these statues resided. (Nowadays we no longer squander precious knowledge on trivia; all of our science is put to the betterment of mankind!)

Very good article
dealing with passages in Revelations 13:11-15:
 Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth...

14 Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.  15 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.

Ayn Rand vs. J.R.R.Tolkien

-- There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

How To Run The Country

Pow! Take that, budget deficit!
Pow! Pow! Eat lead, terrorists!
Shiver in your boots, for I am the Lord of the Deal!
Pow! Pow! Ka-pow!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011


What am I doing? I am listening to Fats Domino playing Barrel House.
I love it more than I did almost 50 years ago.

Then I'm Walkin' To New Orleans... gonna need three pair o' shoes!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Death of Democracy

I believe that this business of Republicans signing pledges, such as Grover Norquist's pledge not to raise taxes, is an abdication of the responsibilities of running a democracy. Apparently, the Tea Party, knowing full well that at least 50% of its candidates are deficient in some important areas of functioning have thought it wise to have them sign off on their competence to make their own decisions, putting them into straight-jackets of ideological pledges.

No comments, please. I do not want to hear that anyone agrees with me, nor some right-wing philosopher, reeking with fervent candor, who  wishes to dispute me. I have thrown out all your concepts and ways of thought already, and I would hate to have to go back into the garbage can and pick them out, so that I could debate you; I really would.


Somewhere in Time

My sister-in-law arrived by train from Toronto. We picked her up at the Walkerville, Ontario, train station and scooted back across the border before the storm hit. Nothing like participating in a transportation system that has a mixture of ways to move freight and people: we took the tunnel to Windsor, Ontario - no truck traffic in the tunnel while on the bridge there are scads of the big rigs, and on the off-chance I take the bridge, they add claustrophobia to my ready fear of heights; we got to wait at a real, working passenger train station on a small scale - not just a lean-to thrown up to protect against rain and snow.
We know we shall never see any sort of rail transport where we live, but we can dream that we could leave the car at home, pay the saved auto insurance premiums in taxes for the rail system and still be further ahead, and not be truck-squeezed everywhere we travel. (There are laws governing the lanes in which trucks may travel, but the "truck cartels" laugh at such things, and the "policia" are in their hip pockets.)

My wife and her sister were going to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island for a few. Late last week I decided to drive them. I have not a clue where I am going to stay on the mainland while they are "somewhere in time" on Mackinac. I shall be stuck in Mackinaw City, maybe (Both the -aw and the -ac are pronounced "aw" nowadays).

See you in a few.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Note to Quahog

Note to Peter Griffin, Quahog, Rhode Island:

Smilla's Sense of Snow is not a "chick" movie.
It is, however, a bit odd.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Stephen King's "The Cell"

I am always surprised what I see in books and what other people see, particularly reviewers. When the book "The Cell" came out - "cell" means "cellular telephone" - most people saw it as a dark, technophobic story:  a pusle sent via cell phones changes everyone using a cell phone into a new type of human, unthinking, telepathic, and dead to emotions.
(Kashwak=NoFo plays an important part in this novel.)

It was - and is - obvious to me that the story describes the division of a society into two antagonistic divisions... two inevitably warring factions. The technology is window dressing. In this way, "The Cell" is like "The Stand" in which a super-flu decimates the world. (I have already gone on record as saying that "The Stand" will be read by future ages when 99% of our writing is consigned to the atomic disruptors.)
I suppose reviewers might have said at the time that "The Stand" was plague-ophobic.

Stephen King is telling us - and has always told us - something important about ourselves, and it is about time we read his work in a deeper and more critical manner... if we are still capable of it.


Dramatic Foreshadowing

This Debt-Ceiling Charade is a perfect paradigm for the very near future - even the present - when the changing climate causes all budgets to break because of the dimensions of disaster and the needs of the people affected.

We shall still be dithering and unable to respond like a "real" society. We shall be in our new role as a Swarm society, or a Flock society,... or Zombies.


A Google Moment

Tunnel on I-70 in Wheeling, West Virginia

Roads, Maps, Old Buildings

Salt Fork S Bridge on US-40, originally built 1828.

See at:  Down The Road


The End of the Road

The Interstate abruptly ends just beyond Newport. Grass begins to grow from the joints between the concrete sections, all of which are dog-eared with D-cracking, and the shoulders give way to cornrows of the hardy genera of weeds, and seasonal wadis of flood waters.
We stood there yesterday in the bright, bright sun, I in my linen suit and boater, she in her white dress. We could see the lake like blue punctuation underline the swell and swale where the sun set. Fields of prairie grasses rolled like a hurricane-shaken sea, and ran from where we stood to be subdued within the oceanic amplitude and soothing caress of the lake.

"Why didn't we build here?", she said.
I had no answer. At the time, we thought it best to be near to the population centers, a funny thought, looking at it now. It was as if we needed the blandishments of society to move our sluggish lives along. But now that wheedling and ingratiating cajolery of politics of urban life has left us very last-of-the-Mohicans... like Chingachgook anticipating the end of the line of sagamores after his son, Uncas.
Old Sitting Bull with no fight left, our eyes ceaselessly scan the horizon like Maya waiting for Spanish ships. Shall we accept the broken promises, strewn like treaties ignored in the 19th century? Shall we be the dispossessed, moved across the wide Mississippi to reservations, leaving our birthright to a newer generation?

We always came here after stopping by Rosehill Cemetery on the Puttygut Road to leave flowers for the aunts and uncles, Aunt Sophronia being followed by Aunt Nell, who in turn gave the birch of the head of the matriarchy to Aunt Ilene, their husbands nowhere to be found, buried in some other plot or some other cemetery. Perhaps they are in some foreign land.
The women were there, and they formed a magic enclave around the children's graves with tiny limestone lambs, sons and daughters of epidemic and stillbirth. After all life's ills, the matriarchy came back to create hope in limestone engraved prayers and circles of marble.

Then continue out past the abandoned gas company to where the road ends...

please continue this story in the comment area.
make it a happy ending, too.
pix: Down The Road

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Righty Philosophers

I have begun reading a set of blogs which loosely might be called blogs of philosophers who are right-wing.
Now some are Conservative, and the distinction I make between right-wing and Conservative is, to me, a very real one. I find the right-wing ones - and there is one in particular I have in mind - take a great deal of satisfaction in once having been radical and liberal and, now after they are "older and wiser", they are very anti-Liberal. They find the New York Times to be the great totem of Liberalism, just as their opposites find Fox to be some totem for the Right.

It is refreshing to find philosophers who have abandoned Truth for Persuasion... very refreshing. It is a lesson to find Philosophers who find Politics to be a mirror of Faith.

They take a great deal of pride in it, which is well, otherwise they would contemn themselves, and ain't nobody that does that willingly. I suppose they have a plaque somewhere with that maxim of
Francois Guisot (1787 -1874):

"Not to be a republican at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is
proof of want of head."

Revived by Georges Clemenceau, French Premier during World War I :
"Not to be a socialist at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head."

It is usually ascribed to Churchill nowadays, and goes something like youth is revolutionary and middle age is Tory, or some such thing.
It is a good quote; it is a characteristic of good quotes that they are almost always misquoted and put into the mouth of the wrong historical figures: they are so good, it does not matter. However much enchantment we experience from great sound bites, enchantment does not equal cold, light-of-day Truth. Not a bit. 

I find it interesting that they have left one prison and marched so gaily into another, and they are positively busting their buttons with pride.
If our lives had a span of eight score and ten, what new idol would they find at their later age?




The Cell by Stephen King... 
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson...
and discover the answer to the question, "Are they for real?"


Come Back, Golden Pond!

I have now been terrorized so thoroughly by the state of economics and politics, world wide, mind you, not just our problems here with radical right intransigeants in Congress, that I think I am beyond feeling anymore fear.

I seem to remember saying exactly what to expect from the new Republicans, and once again I have felt the exquisite pain of being correct, and not having done anything about it, like looking for a refuge.
As soon as there is any sense of normal life here at home, Europe erupts into failing banks and bad debts, and there are bombings in the bedrooms of our allies in the Middle East and South Asia.
I have not been keeping up reading my friends' blogs, nor in my posting. Any feelings of amity are overwhelmed by the tsunami of bad karma that covers the city like a poorly chosen title for a "monster" success... like "Death Row Records" instead of "Motown"... reflections of despair.

I am afraid things are not going well, and there will be some unpleasantness.
Will I ever feel Arcadian again, and not just in short bursts of memory? Will we ever find our Golden Pond?


Friday, July 15, 2011

A Google Moment

Marquette, Michigan:  Lower Harbor.
The old Iron Ore loading dock. It is 1000 feet, or 287 meters, long and is no longer in use. Railroad cars used to be pushed out on rails on the top of the dock, and the ore would be discharged from the rail cars into the hoppers in the dock. From here, the chutes on the side of the dock would be lowered into freighters and the ore would run through the chutes into the cargo holds of the freighters.

View from the north.

Moral Weakness

Moral weakness is not the cause of a civilization's collapse: it is the manifestation of it, just as the a building's implosion is not the cause of the fall of the structure, but is a time-line of after-effects.
Our talk about lack of morality is not talk about the cause of collapse of society, but is like a slow motion film documentary of the moments of implosion and not a depiction of the causes of the building's destruction.

A thirst for the sensational and the debased, from Pornography to an unhealthy pre-occupation with the Casey Anthony trial, are signs of a spreading disease, but they themselves are not the causes of the disease.

Ade Ileke 22: Longwise Jean

La pluie tomba latéralement à ma naissance;
elle ressembla à des arbres pliés par le vent
qui poussent sur ​​les hautes montagnes:
la pluie, presque parallèle à l'horizon;
on s'accrocha toujours au chapeau,
alors on perdit de nombreux parapluies!

Ohé! Il y eut un fleuve le long de l'horizon,
et mes parents m'appelèrent Longwise Jean:
je vois le monde à ma manière privée.

The rain fell sideways at my birth;
it looked like trees bent by the wind
that grow on high mountains:
rain, almost parallel to the horizon;
people always held on to their hats
and they lost a number of umbrellas!
Hey! There was a river along the horizon,
and my parents called me Longwise John:
I see the world in my own way.



If 10 million illegal immigrants were to quickly become 10 million tax-paying citizens, the revenues alone would be helpful.

If you think this is a silly viewpoint, I would answer that eventually that is what is going to happen; we are currently doing what we do best: exerting every effort to stave off the inevitable. One must admire such perverse obstinance in the faces of so many necessities!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Steps to Tyranny

 Sower at Sunset    Van Gogh

The first step to tyranny is a logical and precise demonstration that democracy does not work.

We are viewing such a demonstration right now if the debt ceiling talks cannot come to agreement. The failure of the elected representatives is a stigma that will remain with our system for some time and lead to politics of "being above parties" which was common after World War I. There is no need for parties and for voting if the Government cannot govern.

We had another occasion of failure of democracy: the Civil War.
The people and their elected representatives could not come to any accord on slavery, and they did the unthinkable, causing widespread devastation and death. The Civil War was fought between "Preserving the Union" and "The Right of States to Leave", not between democracy and any another ideal.
Democracy had failed, and it was left to "Preserve the Union" and "Secession" to fight it out.

We seem to remember it, though, as a great moment in democracy.
I tend to doubt it. If democracy gains any credit, it was what happened after to resolve the schisms and differences and injustices remaining, some of which took more than 100 years to remedy.

A failure of democracy is not the lesson we should be teaching. If we do, we shall find we have sowed the wind with the seeds of tyranny.


Budget Cuts for Education

pix: RachelK on Flickr


молоко  (Milk)

pix: Vintage Photos


to Baysage; there was a comment which I published, but it seems to have disappeared. It was about "Bright coin and Quito gold" and "Shipshape and Bristol fashion".
Both seem to mean everything is, well, shipshape. Bristol, being a port on the Channel, probably had scads of ships around, and the Port Authority probably had some pretty stiff regulations about rigging, tackle, oakum, and drunken sailors.
Famous speaker: Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise.

"Bright coin and Quito gold" comes from Melville: it reflects the nature of the whaling industry and that way of life, switching us to the Pacific and the coasts of Ecuador.
It seems to mean valuable and shining, good on the surface and good down deep, and not deceptive but worth its weight in gold.
Famous speaker: Me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More on Hope and Glory

The currency of Youth is Glory. Hope is the dynamo it runs.
Hope builds the future and, as a by-product, creates more Glory.

Youth has an endless supply of Glory; Glory actually does "grow on trees". The supply never stops as long as Parents Love their children, because Glory is like the moon and Love is like the sun: Glory is a reflection of Love.

When Glory turns into Money and Power and Celebrity, it is no longer infinite, but rather a scarce resource that people then fight over. We have seen it happen when love and glory turns into a pay-off, a power game, and unhealthy adulation.
The scarcity of these new currencies allow the dynamo of Hope to run down.
The new Economy of Scarcity enables the worst aspects of Compulsion; whereas hitherto Glory and Love were an Intimate Persuasion, Compulsion creates a Caste system of Fear: rich versus poor, powerful versus the weak, and celebrity versus the mass of people who aspire to the idol-nature of the celebrities they view, yet are always coming up short.

If Glory and Love could remain free, I think we would be better off, for it is the Love of Money that is the root of all evil, not Money itself. Same thing with Power and Celebrity.

Even if we disagree, if we both maintain our respect for each other, we maintain a certain amount of Glory, and prevent ourselves from tarnishing its glow by assassinating each other's character.
We must never diminish our own Glory, as well as that of other people. There is more than enough Glory to go around: it is endless.

this is more a note to myself about things to develop further.
it is no surprise that one of my favourite films is "Hope and Glory" which, believe it or not, I have an indelible memory of having seen in the back of a dark, small East Wapping movie house during WW II... all of which is pure nonsense.


Ben and Baysage and I had some palaver about the history of slavery in the Americas. I wish to add this:

But how poorly were these unsuspecting natives repaid for their generous hospitality to the Puritans! Their numbers constantly increased, and their intrusion upon the country of the natives continued, pressing them step by step farther into the interior, committing various acts of cruelty upon individual Indians who violated their laws, or dared to come upon the ground which the Puritans themselves had acquired by acts of trespass upon the natives, in which the Pequots were driven to rebellion; and within two years after the famine before alluded to, we are informed by Trumbull that a party under Captain Stoughton surrounded a body of Pequots in a swamp. "They took eighty captives. Thirty were men, the rest were women and children. The Sachems promised to conduct the English to Sassacus, and for that purpose were spared for the present."
The reader will doubtless feel some curiosity to know what was .done with the women and children who were saved by those who had massacred in cold blood thirty men, save two taken prisoners in battle. The same historian thus details the sequel: "The Pequot women and children who had been captured were divided among the troops. Some were carried to Connecticut, others to Massachusetts. The people of Massachusetts sent a number of the women and boys to the West Indies, and sold them as slaves. It is supposed that about seven hundred Pequots were destroyed."
 The Puritan historian, alluding to the rebellion of the natives, which was thus terminated, says: " This happy event gave great joy to the Colonists, a day of public thanksgiving was appointed, and in all the churches of New England devout and animated praises were addressed to Him who giveth His people the victory and causeth them to dwell in safety. But the Puritans, it seems, were not satisfied with the fate of the rebellious natives, but seemed to glory in their acts of barbarism—a remorseless spirit not credible to a people professing so much Godliness and Christian devotion."
 Page 45 of  The American Indian (Un-nish-in-na-ba), by Elijah Middlebrook Haines , 1888

The Colonists also acted as procurers of slaves.

Future Blues

A Drone may kill an American Citizen quite easily.

A Drone may provoke a war with another country whom we have not declared war on... thus facilitating the Congressional obligatory "ducking" of responsibility.

A Drone may possibly perform domestic duty - kill here in the US. If his operator is not in the US, the operation might be considered acceptable to certain types of minds.


My Blogger profile is still a bit messed up. It has my start date as May 2011, and insists on calling me John, but everything else seems OK.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Equivalent Expressions

Does "Shipshape and Bristol fashion." mean the same thing as "Bright coin and Quito gold."? 
Or does "Bloor Street tastes and The Danforth pocketbook." (Canada) mean the same as "Champagne tastes and beer budget."?


New York World's Fair: Visions of the Future

We were promised Jet Packs...

but we did not receive them:

pix: RachelK on Flickr
 Reliquary of the Trigger Finger of Santa da Guerra

From Flavorwire:

Mosques, Churches, and Synagogues Made From Bullets and Guns
2:00 pm Thursday May 5, 2011 by Marina Galperina
A menorah welded from handguns; a relic display containing “trigger finger” bones of fictional Catholic Saints; scale replicas of cathedrals, synagogues and mosques sculpted with artillery shells, tank parts and bullets — all of these are part of American artist Al Farrow’s Reliquaries series. There aren’t just weapons here: a piece of the Berlin Wall, a part of an Israeli Army issued Tefilin bag and rusted war antiquities excavated in France intermingle with bone and steel walls of Farrow’s model houses of worship. Whether topped with a crucifix, a six-point star or a crescent, the objects are powerful plays on history of religion and violence.

Al Farrow’s New Reliquaries are currently exhibited at the Catherine Clark Gallery in San Francisco, including his most recent and ambitious work Bombed Mosque, a meticulously detailed, 780-pound sculpture composed from 50,000 bullets.

 Detail of the Bombed Golden Dome Mosque

Ma Vie comme Vélo (My Life as a Bike)


Lifestyles of the Poor and Homeless

The Cafe de Cardboard

If you are offended, please excuse this sarcasm, but it is born from my sense of outrage and growing despair, and what literary form is more appropriate for the Modern Age than biting, sarcastic satire?
As long as our hearts must be scourged by these iniquities, there is no escape but a nasty satire.

Fishing Village

I was thinking about the Ade Ileke about the abandoned fishing village, the "quryah" (town) whose nets were torn. I began thinking about the adage that "It takes a whole village...", and I thought of villages where children were abused and deceived rather than educated...
Then I thought of all the times I had seen articles about Little League parents going ballistic at their childrens' games...
I thought of all the bad examples we set.

Competition. There seems to be a difference of opinion about competition: some hold it is bad, some good. It seems all a matter of how we approach it. When I was young, we always shook hands with the other teams and the winners were congratulated. The losers were told they played well and spirited, and better luck next time.
Competition was never seen as "winner take all". It was an educational process where we first respected each other as people; second respected each others' abilities; third if we won, we were humble in public (although we might have let loose later when we were just with our mates), and fourth if we lost, we did not denigrate the other team and we resolved to improve our own efforts.
We were kids!
There was Glory enough for everyone, since the Praise came from Parents and Friends!

Later, in what we foppishly call "The Real World", Glory has diminished, and there is not enough Glory to go around, and life is "winner take all".
Glory has its surrogates: Money and Power and Celebrity, and even though it seems there is more and more of each surrogate, the percentage of the population with any Glory is small, making it an item easily controlled... and controlling.

We must return to unlimited Glory:
Fully respect each other and see God in each and every human being and be virtuous, temperate, and moderate. Then Glory is as endless as is our love for God and Mankind.

Live in Villages with mended nets.
Inhabit villages where everyone lends a hand.
Be a village where the necessary tools are at hand for all.
Replenish the wells with pure water, the libraries with books, and beat our swords into ploughshares.


Where are the Jobs?

I was reading Mother Jones. There was an article with the above title, followed by an expletive. I did not read the article. Why should I? I had a post awhile back about an ex-CEO of General Electric - his name escapes me at the moment (I have "Jack" in my head and it's coming up as "Jack Black"... which is wonderful but very much impossible... Jack Welch, maybe???) - and this ex-CEO was working with and investing in companies.
There was one company he had in mind that went into the Financial Crisis period with 28,000 employees, and they were restructuring and automating with a goal of being at 15,000 employees when things picked up again!

Almost 50% permanent loss of jobs. It is small wonder profits have been up for many companies.

That's where the jobs went.

We used to think 4% was sort of built into the system for a Maximum amount of unemployment we could live with. But we never took into account in a serious way the effects of automation and computers, outsourcing overseas, and permanent job loss. We always believed in the Magic of the Market which would miraculously produce more jobs... in time. In fact, it does so in its own sweet time.

We may have a new Maximum, and it may last for awhile. We never really considered what our lives would be like in the Interim Period as we waited for the Markets to work their Magic! I shall refer to this "golden" ... "golden"...  "golden something age" as the Market Magic Interval to avoid any reference to unpleasant experiences of actual human beings who live in such times.

Furthermore, in the past, we had large, open spaces to which the "surplus" population could either (1) migrate to in the hope of better lives, and/or (2) be forcefully exiled to to clear out the crowds of the unemployed and criminal.
This does not seem possible now. We have to live with each other. Scarey. It is as scarey as the Slavery Dilemma when our ancestors sought to free slaves, but not keep them in the USA. Instead we would deport them to Liberia, whose capitol was Monrovia, named after James Monroe.
The approach of "Our Own Private Liberia" did not work out.

Nothing works out, except loving one another.

And the early Christian martyrs died for that very revolutionary act, and they continued to die for it up until the time when the Christian Church found itself in the Basilicas of Power:   the persecutions of all and sundry Christians ceased, and the persecution of Christians that "are not our type" began.

Nothing works out, except loving one another.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ade Ileke 21: The Village____________القرية

القطار لا يتوقف هنا
هنا حيث لا تمتد سكك
 لا تتوقف الجمال هنا
هنا حيث لا تدفق النهر
هذه هي قرية الشباك الممزقة

the train does not stop here,
here where the tracks do not run...
camels do not stop here,
here where the river does not flow;
this is the Village of Torn Nets.

Abandoned fishing village of Ras Al Khaimah

New Insights

The politics of right-now have given me a tremendous insight into understanding Rome in the time of Augustus Caesar:  a Dictator rescues a society from itself.

As a society walks unerringly into tragedy after tragedy, its members become aware that they are no longer acting out scripts and scenarios of political wisdom and acuity,  but have rather become slaves to a vicious cycle of violence, failure, lack of empathy, and in their exasperation turn to "charisma" when persuasion by ancient maxim and law or applied force have failed.

Julius Caesar was assassinated, but Augustus was welcomed, because the politics of "many voices coming together" had failed.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cree is "Soft" and Unforeseen Connections

For "Cree is Soft" we look at:

B.A., The University of Wisconsin. 2001

... Here, the use of the concept of ‘soft’ (yôsk-) is meant to convey a particular philosophy about the purpose of communication and the way it ought to proceed. As Lightning (1996:62) explains it, the Speaker makes themselves “vulnerable and open” to their audience, not trying to impress their assertions on the audience by force of personality or argument. 

Rather than speaking to convince (cf. Aristotle’s ‘Rhetoric’), a Plains Cree speaker’s communicative intent is understood as coming from a need to express what they believe is the truth, individualized to the particular audience they are speaking to (Lightning 1996:63). The mechanisms of discourse, then, are organized to set up the proper events for “truth to happen” (Lightning 1996:63). This means that accuracy in representation, both of the Speaker’s beliefs and the beliefs they convey from others, is absolutely crucial to the Speaker’s goals for the discourse; the Hearer(s) must trust the Speaker, and the Speaker must be trustworthy." ...

The Plains Cree language is ‘soft,’ then, because its users prize the “mutual-thinking” (Lightning 1996) that develops between Speaker and Hearer through careful representation, and they value this over the force of logical or charismatic persuasion. This means that, to a speaker of Plains Cree, the grammatical material covered in this thesis relates to how the Speaker “makes truth happen.” ...

Now I do not know if you made it through this, but it certainly came as a surprise to me, for not only have I in the past week been assiduously studying the Cree Verb Transitive Animate (VTA), but I have also written a post on opening up in dialogue with people who do not agree with me politically.
It just strikes me that this description of Cree discourse and my post "Learning Over Lunch" are essentially talking about the very same thing.
I had no idea there was this connection.

Somebody or Something moves in mysterious ways.


From 2005: Why We Have No Money

Generational war is brewing
Tracey Press ^ | 11/10/05 | Froma Harrop
Posted on Thursday, November 10, 2005 4:22:46 PM by qam1
America should prepare for a big fat war between the generations. It’s going to be ugly.
On one side is the baby boom generation, which retires and claims a ton of government benefits. On the other are younger workers, forced to fund those benefits plus pay the bills their elders left them.
When the war comes, the Federal Reserve chairman will have to be a general. That person will likely be Bush nominee Ben Bernanke. The question is, for which side will he fight?
Outgoing Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan tried to represent both sides. He supported the Bush tax cuts.
This gave comfort to today’s taxpayers, who chose not to charge themselves for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the new Medicare drug benefit and the quarter-billion-dollar bridge to nowhere.

Last spring, Greenspan did service for the other side. “I fear that we may have already committed more physical resources to the baby boom generation in its retirement years than our economy has the capacity to deliver,” he said.
One solution would be to ramp-up means-testing for Medicare, the health insurance plan for the elderly. Greenspan would reconfigure the program “to be relatively generous to the poor and stingy to the rich.” 

The political reality is that the baby boom generation expects to see the nice government handouts its retired parents enjoyed, and then some. Younger workers expect to be taxed at today’s lower rates. One group will be very disappointed — or perhaps both groups — because there is no way the Candyland economics of today can go on.
The whole alarming future is nicely mapped out in a book, “The Coming Generational Storm,” by Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns, a personal-finance columnist at The Dallas Morning News.
Kotlikoff and Burns clearly sympathize with younger Americans and Americans not yet born, who will be paying both our bills and their own. “Does it feel better,” the authors write, “if those unknown victims of our rapacity are someone else’s children and the children of those children and the children of those children of those children?”
Sounds like war to me. Kotlikoff and Burns try to be meticulously nonpartisan, but I won’t. Though the irresponsible policymaking spanned decades, today’s mad deficits rush us closer to disaster. Democrats are not shy about pushing for retiree benefits, but at least they consider raising taxes to pay for them. Not the current crowd, whose spend-and-borrow strategy is the 1919 Versailles Treaty of this-century America: an unstable setup that guarantees future conflict. 

The scam is that the tax cuts are not really wiping the nation’s slate clean of tax obligations. When spending exceeds tax revenues, the difference must be borrowed. That debt does not disappear. It gets paid for, with interest, by someone’s taxes. So the Bush cuts simply move the taxes from one generation of shoulders to another.
Bernanke would certainly come to the Fed job with good credentials. Head of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, he formerly chaired the Princeton economics department. Bernanke seems OK, but other candidates were more upfront about deficits.
One was Martin Feldstein, President Ronald Reagan’s top economic adviser. Feldstein drew flak for criticizing the Reagan deficits. The Bush White House wouldn’t want to hear that kind of thing. Anyway, there’s no need to worry about making ends meet when you can use the next generation’s credit card. 

Another Republican contender for the Fed job was Larry Lindsey. He was fired as a Bush adviser in 2002, after predicting that the war in Iraq would cost up to $200 billion, a figure already passed. Lindsey did not understand: One simply does not talk price in the Bush administration.
Given the president’s tendency to give top jobs to those closest, we can give thanks that he did not nominate his banker brother. Neil Bush played a major role in the Silverado Savings & Loan fiasco of the 1980s, which cost taxpayers $1 billion.
Or perhaps the president was doing the big-brotherly thing in protecting Neil from a job sure to be filled with strife. 

The person who heads the Fed in the next decade will be trying to steer the nation through the perfect economic storm. Good luck to the new chairman, and to all the generations.

Hayek and Markets

As much as I respect Professor Hayek, Markets are much more complex and difficult to understand than he makes them out to be.

In fact, I see no difference between the state where Government is so large and powerful that it controls the availability of certain goods and services, and the state where another entity - such as a Corporation or a group of Corporations - controls the availability of certain goods and services.

It may seem odd that American Corporate Capitalism might transform itself into Socialism, but odder things have happened. There is already widespread socialization of risk, such as the nuclear power industry, where disaster insurance is not for sale at any price, and the governments of the world have had a tacit agreement that the people will pay when something goes wrong.


Learning Over Lunch 2

I have been thinking about the previous post and wondering why it may be better to debate in small groups versus larger groups: what is it about "crowds" that make us irrational?
Well, I'm not sure it makes us irrational.

Let's assume there are at least 2 forms of communication when people come together: the first is language and statements, the second is emotion.

A very good example might be Sumo wrestlers, where the two opponents bow to each other before the match, thereby establishing respect for each other and mutual valuation. This is the emotional message.

This might be a good idea for debates: get together, establish mutual respect, maybe a moment of silence, then have at it.
It would certainly be better than the Cable TV format where there are at least two to five heads, one of which is speaking, and the others are smirking, grimacing, and generally being buffoons.