Search This Blog

Friday, September 30, 2011

Ghost Dance Again

I have decided to actually have a New Ghost Dance in 2012; Lord knows, I'll need it. I will need a new shirt, a new Ghost Dance shirt to keep me safe from those who would seek to rob me, to impoverish me, to take my rights away, to test their maniacal economic theories upon my life and the lives of my family... and of my friends and their families... and those of my neighbors.

Those who seek to steal from us desire to re-establish the past.
But the past is gone. It can only be re-established by force, for time has moved on.
There was a quote from a manual that dealt with the Nickel Mines shootings:
Resist the impulse to always have an answer. We often feel that we need to have an answer or to take away the pain… to give hope when there is fear. Sometimes this is our own discomfort in seeing children suffer. Often the best answer is to reassure children that you don't know how it will all turn out OK, but that you know that the way we get through difficult times is to do it together. Kids and parents, kids and teachers, kids and their friends, that this is a time for us to all be there for each other.
That is good advice. However, be impulsive to have faith in things getting better, be steadfast in believing that suffering may be overcome. We may not know what to do, but we know how it should be done: with love and care and hard work and not the easy way of compulsion and violence.
We should always know how to stand fast and be loyal to the idea that Creation is intrinsically good: each year has its seasons, and when winter comes, we are sad to see summer depart, but we know what to do.

There is a time when the flowers fail and snow covers the land. In this we see the promise of the Spring.

My Dance will try to speak of this.


Ayn Rand

Senator Rand Paul was named after Ayn Rand. Rep. Ron Paul has a great deal of esteem for the writtings of Ms. Rand.

Ms. Rand's name is heard frequently among people who talk a lot, and thus pass for deep thinkers.

Do not forget that George Roche III was a ardent fan of Ayn Rand. This is the George Roche that was an important fund raiser in the Reagan years and the president of Hillsdale College in Michigan.

This is the George Roche III who touted Ms. Rand's philosophy of  radical Freedom and Liberty.
This is the George Roche III who had a running affair with his daughter-in-law for years, the matter ending in her suicide on the Hillsdale campus.

Freedom and Liberty without a firm and clear Morality are Licentiousness.
Ayn Rand was an atheist and her philosophy of life is suspiciously close to an ideal of super men and women who make their own moral codes... well, it was tried and George Roche III demonstrated that the end result is Tragedy so vast and thoroughgoing that the Ancient Greek tragedians would be hard pressed to describe it in words.

National Review Online
Horror at Hillsdale 



I was talking to Sparky, my banker, at our weekly meeting. Yes, I have become an Allegory: old retired guy checks on his investments every week. I have the Tea Party to thank for it, them and Greece, I guess... and Dennis Hastert, Tom DeLay, and all the Republicans in Congress from 1996 to 2009... especially Phil Gramm, don't forget Phil Gramm, the Grim Reaper of 2008, who after a dip in the cement pond, went up the Hill to ensure them thar  Sweet Virgin Derivatives remained unviolated by regulation.

Whew! Sorry. Get carried away.
Anyway, I was talking to Sparky down at the Grangers' Bank about stuff, and he mentions that in the last weekly cycle of market-up market-down, the price of gold declined by $300 during the down cycle. That caught my attention.
I am sorry to say that I have been dodging the news recently. Every time a newsie shoves a paper in my face and yells "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!", I run away to some place of refuge. I have stopped contributing to the Old Newsboys Foundation for poor kids, since I suspect these old newsies are recruiting new newsboys to aid them in their nefarious efforts to rub our noses into the mess of news we made while our owners were out.
When Brian Williams voice comes on, that's my signal to switch to Family Guy.
So this gold business took me by surprise.

Bingo! In 2 seconds, all the tedious rigamorole of " Buy gold! It's a safe haven!" and all the clap-trap about sound investments in something intrinsically valuable (!!!??) while liberal politicians undermine the $ all blew up, and rained down around me like chaff.
Gold has no intrinsic value.
It's a speculative investment.
Just because there has been a pattern for a while of stock market down-gold price up does not mean there is a real cause and effect relationship that will continue on and on forever. In fact, since it is speculation in a commodity, what goes up will most assuredly come down.

Exactly what is the status of the various Righties who have been on television pitching gold? How can any commentator worth his or her salt actually shill for speculation in a commodity... with the implied rationale that speculation in gold is better for the individual and better for the country?... and it is "better" in some sense far beyond whatever good may accrue to speculating in, say, cocoa or pork bellies?


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tea Party Bail-Out
Senators Mike Lee, Jim DeMint and Rand Paul have authored a bail-out for them [small gold buyers].

The three conservative senators have co-sponsored legislation to exempt gold and silver coins from capital gains tax. This measure won’t do much for those whose gold investments prove outright losers. But it will at least cushion the disappointment for those whose investments have fallen short of the hoped-for gains, even as shrewd hedge funds that bought gold futures, rather than the clunky solid stuff, have realized vast gains in large measure thanks to the tragically abused trust of talk-show listeners in their bought-and-paid-for gurus. (Here I believe the writer is referring to the crass and devious Beck, O'Reilly and company.)
 I  don't believe it. It is way too crass, even for cranks like those Radical Republicans.
Senator Lee tries to make it sound as if this is the first step to establishing a firm currency... but he provides no further explanation.

Lord Black

I, for one, am quite secure in my belief in Conrad Black's innocence, and am disgusted by the charade conducted by the United States legal system in his case. It will be the stuff of near-future Dickens to write their grisly tales about: a corrupt empire, a society based on caste, a legal system which is blatantly corrupted ( e.g., by freezing assets of the accused, they prevent the accused retaining the best counsel ), and a public that is largely stupid and illiterate, a public that watches the dreck of reality tv and which is the raw material for grim caricatures of bodies and minds misshapen by abuse.

Here's to Lord Black! He's a jolly good fellow, and so say all of us!

Read more at:

Apology for Panic Attacks

"Apologia" means a discourse about something, not necessarily an apology, but I shall use both meanings, for people have asked me what my post about "Panic Attacks in the Garden of Eden" means, and I just shrug and say, "I-uh-no", which is my dialect for "I dunno", which itself is slang for "I do not know".

It had to be written before I lost it, so there it is. Now I think I should go through and add some "stuff" and try to make it a bit clearer.

(1) "Panic attacks" reproduce the situation of Existential Threats - threats to one's existence: we go into red alert mode, and everything in consciousness is dumped out of our minds, and the focused sense of Self is put away into storage for a while until things cool down; i.e., when someone has a gun to your head and demands your money, you are not aware of your social security number.... probably for a good while of time.

(2) The loss of self experienced in those situtations is very much similar to the loss of self described by mystics and contemplatives when they describe their mystic union with the Holy: a banishing of the individual and merging into something arcane and holy.

(3) Since Adam and Eve were with God in the Garden, the only way God could preserve their sense of self as individuals was to set limits and boundaries for them, causing them to focus upon those limitations and see themselves as entities which are not infinite.

(4) The Original Sin was to know as God knows, to know all things. This experience was equivalent to an existential threat, or a panic attack: a union of the individual with the All, a dropping away of the limits of the self.
If someone is not prepared for that experience, it can be devastating and feel like a violation of self.

(5) The aftermath of the Existential Threat of Knowing All Things (like God) was the Memory of the threat in simulation as a panic attack. Since the individuals, Adam and Eve, were not prepared to see God as God... and we know they were not, because God Himself had seen it necessary to set limits and boundaries upon their lives; they were intelligent beings with a history: a beginning and a future... we know that the Memory would be a Panic Attack, and not something benign like a Mystical Experience.

(6) The Memory - the panic attacks - occur as the images of being driven forth from the Garden, by laboring for one's food, by living East of Eden, by bearing children in pain, etc.

(7) Times of stress lead to existential threats.

(8) Hence, times of stress lead to threats of loss of self and panic attacks later on.

(9) After Nickel Mines (October 2, 2006), the Amish sought to deal with an Existential Threat with a method that seemed contrary to human nature: to forgive. It was difficult, especially for those most intimately affected, but it was a radical attempt to re-structure life going forward, and to limit the bad effects of Memory of the threat.

(10) We seek to deal with present threats and future reminiscences of threats in the best possible way. Compare our response to 9/11 with the Amish response to 10/2.

(11) It seems to me that we seek to "save" the future from the disease of the Existential Threats we have gone through, and to make our lives better. It seems to me that our country as a group appears to think that God will always somehow save us in the last reel of the film.
The Amish, on the other hand, know that God has given them intelligence and free will and expects them to handle things themselves in the best way possible, and not to muck things up for ten years or twenty years of "lost decades" and wait for the heavenly cavalry to come riding to the rescue!

I quote President George W. Bush on this expectation:
 ... Bush and his followers answered to a higher power. “We are not this story’s author, who fills time and eternity with his purpose,” Bush said in his first inaugural address, referring to God. “This story goes on. And an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.”

From my perspective, I consistently say that the Story goes on, and we ourselves are the authors, using the freedom and intelligence God gave us. We are authors of the only story that matters: our own Histories!
God gives us Creation in which to write.
God did not make us mere characters in a Divine Comedy.
There is a basic religious distinction in our society between people who hate the so-called welfare state and yet insist that God will "bail them out" - by The Rapture or by American Exceptionalism or some other bail-out process - when the going gets tough...
and those who believe that State's duty is to protect it weakest citizens and yet who believe that we ourselves determine the future freely by God's will. It is our present responsibility and can not be "kicked down the road" by believing that the Holy will save us from our folly.

There should be more on this in connection with the Death Penalty, but that will be later.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Story and History

They were just people, asking a poignant and universal question: “How will we know it’s us without our past?” We do not choose between the past and the future; they are inseparable parts of the same river.

Panic Attack in the Garden of Eden

 World Trade Center

We were talking about 9/11, and how it affected so many different people.

I know one young lady, who lived in Manhattan, and who was scheduled to be at the World Trade Center that day, slept in, and decided to do some work out on Long Island. When the train came out of the tunnel on the Long Island side, pandemonium broke out as the train passengers saw the effects of the first airplane impact on the WTC.
This young lady was stranded on Long Island over night. She had not brought her medicines with her, and she had to live out the long day and night of her greatest fear: to be stranded away from home without her medicine.
She knew some people at the WTC: the head of the University of Michigan Alumni club in Manhattan was killed; she had another friend who was talking via cellphone to his buddy, a gung-ho financial type who was on the roof of the WTC...
Let that sink in...
He told his friend good-bye... and jumped. He was one of the many who jumped that day, into the mortal gap between the great height and the blazing inferno.

Her mother was on the phone most of the night with her; she had found a motel to stay at and a kindly taxi driver did not charge her for the ride - she had not taken enough money with her - and he said that he'd never forget the sight of her in the rear seat of his cab crying for her friends and for her neighbors.

She developed a fear of flying after that. Never afraid before, she now was. Until this day, she does not look forward to flight gladly. Many people do not, and there are many sad stories of folks being "spooked" by being in the same airplane cabin as some people of Mideast descent, as happened in Detroit on 9/11 itself this year: panic in the skies.

Post Traumatic Stress affects different people in different ways. One need not even be directly involved in the trauma, for it is enough to feel it intensely: memory then creates the story which never goes away and which will change lives and create cowards or raving mad men of all of us.
The effect of the remembered story may lessen over time, but it has permanently become part of our narratives: it is an integral part of Me-Being-In-The-World.
Many things work this way, from terrorist attacks to runs on the banks to fiascoes on Wall Street. There are numerous traumas in our lives, and how we handle them is so important. In times of stress, it may become the most important thing in the world for us: to handle the after effects of trauma.

Panic attacks may follow in the years after.
Our own personal stories are focused on ourselves; we do not process all the sense data that pours in on us: our brains and bodies selectively choose the information deemed necessary, and try to ignore the rest.
It's like driving down the highway: we do not actually remember all the cars going by, only the ones that endanger us by speeding by; rarely do we recall anything going on in the lanes going the other way: they are mostly large objects of color going by.
We keep things within our capability of handling them: there are limitless things going on, infinite detail to life, yet our stories are focused rather minutely into our own lives and families and needs: that's about all the human mind can handle, and it does a good job of it.

Panic attacks destroy the focus. Panic opens us up to all the details, to all the incoming... as Radar O'Reilley of M*A*S*H would say:"Incoming!"  All the possible incoming information begins to come in and overwhelms us, and we cannot handle it: it overwhelms the triage unit of our minds.
Panic attacks destroy the focus on ourselves and makes us almost infinite...
It renders useless all the limits and borders we have set up, it disarms all the defense mechanisms, it takes the scripts we have for our lives and tears them up.
Panic destroy the Personality we have defined for ourselves. The Personality no longer lives within well-known boundaries: it escapes all boundaries and becomes infinite in that sense. We can no longer cope with Life: it comes down upon us like a deluge upon ancient sinners or pyroclastic flows upon the inhabitants of Pompeii. It is a recreation of the Trauma - or traumas - which were the original existential attacks upon us and our personalities.

Panic removes all structure, and we are left to act as wild and feral animals backed into a corner.

When the Serpent tempted our first parents in the Garden of Eden, he told them that by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, they would become like God, the Holy. Of course, since this tree was forbidden them, being set as a border not to cross - or, the same thing - being set off-limits, God was giving them structure and boundaries within which to construct the story - or History - of their lives.

The Holy gave us a place to stand and a homeland in which to define ourselves. We define ourselves as mankind, and we use the Holy as a Reality by which and against which to define ourselves. Without God, we would have no way to define ourselves as mankind.

You might be tempted to say that our conception of the Holy is the inborn Category of Intelligence we use to define ourselves; that is, we define ourselves as Being-Here and Being-Now in distinction to Being-Everywhere and Being-At-All-Times. We certainly define our mortality in distinction to the undying nature of the Holy as the Ground of all that exists.

In summary, God creates Intelligence and makes it subject to certain limits. These limits are described metaphorically as the boundaries of the Garden, or certain rules to follow.
When the limits are trespassed, that is Trauma. After trauma comes Post Traumatic Stress and Panic, memories of a better life, a golden age before we were harried from blessedness, a time when our stories were full of promise and not treachery: a life when our boundaries were respected.

When we watch the various B films about the Frankenstein story, we hear the saying "There are things Man was not intended to know!" That is incorrect. It should be stated, "There are ways in which Man cannot know!" (And when people speak of living a thousand years as science banishes the causes of death, they are ignoring that, as it now stands, such a life would be a Panic Attack in Time...)

Without the proper preparations; Man cannot perceive God... and here let it be known that seeing God is the same thing as the end limit of "knowing" as God knows... unless Man is prepared for his selfhood to be swept away for a certain period of time. ("Knowing as God knows" cannot be summarized within human intelligence, hence it is only when the process of "knowing as God knows" comes to an end that a human may retain a limited, focused, and - hence - intelligently crafted image of God.)
Adam and Eve once spoke to God face to face; we know we can know things as God does; yet the intention of the Eden story is to impress upon us the importance of how we create our daily lives as homely stories with structure and limits, and the vast distance from that to the limitless infinity of coming into contact with God; for the most part of our lives, we cannot live except as creatures of limited knowledge... in effect, outside Eden. To see and know and live as gods would destroy us utterly. However, we know we can escape the necessity of being bound to the story, to our histories... the very fact of Forgiveness is the proof that our histories do not bind us forever! Escaping from the self-imposed strictures we have learned since birth, however, is not easy: leaving behind the things of childhood is not a simply accomplished task.

Thus, the first Trauma was of our Finiteness: the first trauma when mankind "ate the fruit" and was confronted with the reality of becoming like God: being aware of infinity, being overwhelmed by the limitlessness of the created universe.

Adam and Eve were overwhelmed, they became mortal, and were driven forth to live East of Eden and live by the sweat of their brows, and to remember that trauma of glimpsing what appeared to be "the horror" of living without a focused story, to be eternal wanderers without a song, to attempt to be infinite with minds limited to selected narratives.
The Holy is all narratives, not just one.

We create the Stories of our lives. Granted we may have help, but the authors are us, free will and all.  An existential threat - a threat to our very existence as living, intelligent beings - breaks down our stories. The young lady mentioned at the start knew someone at the WTC who escaped down the stairs and heard bodies falling around him when he had reached the plaza area... and he left New York and moved as far away as possible and started life as a farmer, entirely changing his story.

An existential threat makes us unfocused and aware of limitless information: we become "like God". The threat tries to destroy the boundaries of the Self. Yet it is a threat, still. We have not spent 40 years meditating on mysteries to prepare ourselves for the sight of Infinity! A mystic may seek the breakdown of the self, but most others do not. The Panic Attacks that are the memory of the existential Threat, the Trauma, are simulations of the threat, and seek to change the story in numerous ways.
However, instead of pining away East of Eden, we should seek understanding and wisdom to deal with panic and trauma. Soon October 2 will be here, the anniversary of the massacre of the Amish schoolgirls in West Nickel Mines. The Amish sought to forgive.
Reading follow up accounts, it is clear that it is not an easy thing to forgive the killer, yet this is what the Amish ways directed them to do.

Have the ways of the Amish been more effective is destroying the memory of the existential threat to them than we have been dealing with 9/11? I do not know, but as times stay stressful or become more so, we need to look at remedies for the wasted years caused by the existential threats to our well-being.


Chinese Children: Tiger Mother vs. Dolphin Mother Debate Rages On

Tiger Mother actually has not gotten a lot of press recently, being a 9 Day Wonder or a 15 Minute Famer and having lost the eye of the fickle Media, but I still see pertinent items.

Unfinished Homework Leads 3 Chinese Schoolgirls to Suicide

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Story of the Too-Big-To-Fail Grasshopper and the Ants

Too-big-to-fail is a paradox in the capitalist system. If institutions are too big to fail, and the state must periodically step in to salvage them, then we seem to have punctuated free markets; that is, free markets now and then punctuated or interrupted with periods of socialism. Punctuated socialism so far rewards those who will not manage risk, and punishes those who do, as well as people who pay taxes and save money. It is, in its essence, the story of the Grasshopper and the Ants. Only, now the industrious ants will collectively be taxed and forced to further exertions - probably in the middle of an economic "winter"; i.e., recession - in order that the too-big-to-fail Grasshopper be preserved.
A Reprint from 2008.

I really do not understand the ideas of Capitalism and Socialism well enough to understand the phenomenon of too-big-to-fail. Anything that is actually Too-Big-To-Fail seems to be a contradiction in a Free Market system.

Too-Big-To-Fail implies control of the market, either in act or in failure to act... TBTF is a contradiction in a free market. Therefore, it we have TBTFs, we do not have a free market.
Nothing new here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Dream Factory: Brian Dennehy Remembers Bill

September has many dates of importance in the first two weeks, and I forgot to remember my brother-in-law's , Billy's, passing. Bill used to work for a company owned by people in the UK, and whenever that airplane carrying the bosses would touch down, there would be an exodus of upper class Brit types who would come into the terminal, sniff, look around, and say "Where's Bill?"

It was sort of let the good times roll!

So last night Brian Dennehy drops by, and he is a bit tired, since he just left the night performance of "Twelth Night" in Stratford, makes the drive, and collapses on the couch in the front room. I tell him how much we liked the play, yadda-yadda, and it would have been great if Billy had been there.
He looks at me, wondering. My wife explains that he had met Billy a few years ago when he, Brian Dennehy, had been the center of attraction at some event hosted by Bill's company down in Florida.

Mr. Dennehy thought for a moment, then had an enormous smile explode across his face. He remembered Bill! No one forgets him.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Time for Poetry

Politics is dead in this country: there is no creativity, merely whose oxen may be gored by whose bulls and how many dirhams must they pay; there is death in politics. Here we stand on the steps to the Future, and politics is on its last legs.

Literature is dying. The only fiction alive and well is detective stories and first novels from friends of friends in the publishing business.
A lot of cinema is friends of friends, but that's how one gets started, I guess.... we are being blown  by mighty winds and the future is rumbling just over the horizon... and there's not much going on; not much that's new, that is; there's a lot of old stuff and covers and re-makes.

It is a time for poetry: bold words and ideas
Something like New York, New York, Big city of dreams!... but everything in New York ain't always what it seems!  The Rap before there was the Posture of Rap, the Pose of Rap, the Vogue of Hip Hop...  a love song and a song of indictment, but most of all, a song of hope, desperate hope... now everything is a Byronic pose... or a Gaga imposture and disguise... and Grandmasters have passed on, and the voices from the heart of the city have been silenced by the deafening noise. Or something like Nirvana before it became a fashion and a film called Last Days! Straight from the heart without a turn into the alley of Top 40.
Echoes from the old time streets glide through the windows, slipping into your dreams, coloring your days into a masterpiece; for indeed, we are on the threshold of great times; we sense it in our very bones; we intuit it within our souls.
We yearn to be free of the dross of rotting wars and rotting politics and dismal economics!
Free yourselves in language and music and dance and art, then learn from that freedom to strike the chains of violence and poverty and desperation which are the true Economic Doctrines that power the modern world!

Stratford 2011

We ran over to Stratford, Ontario, to see Twelth Night. It was very, very good. The last time I saw Brian Dennehy was Tommy Boy.

The Concept "The End-of-......"

End-of-whatever, merely fill in the blank.

So, what do we mean when we say "End-of_Time" or "End-of-Science" (due to budget cuts and anti-science types in power) and "End-of-Post-Modernism", or any of those many and variegated notions which bloom now, in this the malaise of our years.

Quoting Abel Rey fron 1907:
If the physical and chemical sciences, which in history have been essentially emancipators, collapse in a crisis that reduces them to the status of mere technically useful recipes but deprives them of all significance from the standpoint of knowledge of nature, the result must needs be a complete revolution both in the art of logic and the history of ideas.... Knowledge of the real must be sought and given by other means.... One must take another road, one must return to subjective intuition, to a mystical sense of reality, in a word to the mysterious, all that of which one thought it had been deprived.
What it amounts to is a return to Intuition, a Going-Inside of individual minds and a turning away from the Extended Mind, the Group Mind, the commonplaces and hackneyed ideas whose time has finally run out - standing around forlornly, gaping like monarchs after World War I in search of a kindly kingdom!

It is mystical because it is not-yet-conscious in us: it remains Intuition for which we seek conscious expression. We stand around and write and orate, wondering "What's the word!? What's the word?! What are the words I'm looking for!??"

Some of us mess up, like Reverend Camping, and proclaim The End-of-the-World, for example, a wee bit early. Most us dive back into accepted forms of thought and activity.
Even those who truly turn to mysticism usually express themselves in the usual and accepted (dare we say "hackneyed" here, too?) forms of mysticism, becoming living icons of holy folks of the past.



This is an example of a meaningless assertion:
... the global capitalist system is approaching an apocalyptic zero-point.
It was spoken by Slavoj Zizek in Manhattan at Cooper's Union back in November, 2010.

Why is it meaningless? Because it is repetitive and hackneyed, that's why. The only things which have Meaning are the true ideas created by artists of the idea: by you and I and all of us, who have struggled with the Intuition of the Cycles of Good and Bad - the seasons for all things under the sun... times to grow and times to go under into hibernation - and have expressed them as best we can in our own language and our own way!

Repetition is meaningless.
That's why Politics is meaningless in as far as it is repetitive and uncreative.


Troy Davis Executed in Georgia

One of the reasons that I am proud to be a inhabitant of the State of Michigan is that this state has never had a death penalty since its founding over 160 years ago.
I find the death penalty repulsive and one of the worst examples of gutter morality... or talking-round-the-bar morality, or 4 drinks down and let's talk religion, politics, and Ethics morality.

Any proponent of the death penalty sooner or later has recourse to the Narrative of the senseless and hideous death of some perfectly innocent person to justify the death penalty. Indeed, they argue that the heinous nature of the act justifies the extreme penalty.
I think what they are saying is that the heinous nature of the crime justifies the heinous nature of the judicial retribution. The question is when do we allow ourselves the right to commit an atrocity? Apparently it is enough to have a Board of Review, regardless of the thoroughness of its operations: we have a board of review and it reviewed... neglect the fact that its deliberations themselves were flawed by the insidious nature of the extended mind's view of itself as "The Law! It is myself!"

After Al Qaida bombed Manhattan, we took 10 years to kill the man in charge, and then continued a war we started against the Taliban whose offense was they would not arrest him on our say so and hand him over back in 2001.
I submit that not only are our social leaders inept, but we as a society are guilty of gross malfeasance: our anger, our horror, our fear justifies years and years of fruitless war and the wasting of precious lives and the squandering of monies that could have been used to make our own country better.
Ten years so spent are seen as a triumph by our group mind, whereas ten years of "bootless war" in other days and other places is seen as tragic. It took Agamemnon ten years to fulfill his vow to conquer Troy; he returned home to the ruins of his own life.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Keeping Up With The News... and History

I used to read The Huffington Post and The Wall Street Journal, but no longer do, and I do not miss them, and the feeling is probably mutual. HuffPo I find irrelevant and the WSJ I find extremely suspect due to the William Randolph Hearst-like nature of the Murdoch empire.
In essence, if I wanted to be swayed by Rupert Murdoch's social and political views, I would accept his endless offers to chit-chat over tea and scones, but I do not.

To put it inelegantly, reading things like those put out by Murdoch and FOX is akin to playing cards... Skip-Bo, actually... with one's aged parents who have a rule of one Skip-Bo per turn to slow the game down into some sort of marathon of tedium, and one or both of which cannot get a purchase on the cards, and is thereby forced to constantly wet one's fingers with saliva before drawing more cards...

... and who have the same cards they had 15 years ago, 15 years of licking, skin oils, and Cheetos residue...

... and who store their Skip-Bo cards in recycled plastic containers with snap tops, creating a air-tight seal, and discover that in the middle of the hottest dog days of summer that there is an offensive odor when they crack open the old Hershey's clear plastic cocoa container to get them Skip-Bo pasteboards...

Well, it is just like that when you are force fed Murdoch's views on everything under the sun: there is an aroma.

I like Frum Forum - as mentioned before - and Bloomberg's. They are both invaluable. Then I read The Atlanta Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Science Daily, and the Al Masry al Yaum from Cairo. Add in The Root and Ha'artez and Le Figaro... and The Economist and McClatchey online... and strangely enough I like to read Trotskyite analyses of stuff!

And the BBC, although I do not like its new format one bit; they have developed the knack of making each sentence a separate paragraph and stringing them together like Tweets. I am surprised that this annoys me, but it does. It seems to create the illusion that what should be a single, coherent story is just a bunch of random sentences: I find it sometimes hard to understand.

Every now and then I find things that cause me to think:
For decades, the great mystery of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been why there is no Palestinian Gandhi or Mandela, and no popular, widespread nonviolent movement in Palestine. As a democracy heavily dependent on another democracy, Israel should be doubly sensitive to the potential effects of nonviolent civil disobedience on its reputation.
First, many or most charismatics leaders are not so charismatic during the rough and tumble of the day to day; they become charismatic leaders and heroes with time and publicity.

Second, most of the 63 years of publicity in the USA has been heavily pro-Israel and tended to be flattering to only Palestinian leaders who were possibly perceived as "soft" by their fellow Palestinians.

Third, in the case of Gandhi, Britain actually had a tradition of wanting to dissolve the empire, freeing the various countries when they were deemed fit for self-rule.
The inter-play between Israel and the Palestinians is much, much different.
In fact, looking at the coalition that rules Israel presently, from Netanyahu to Liebermann, they actively demonstrate now all the moods that Britain had over 200 years: from the viciousness of the post-Mutiny period to the later living-apartness to a bemused stand-offishness.

Heroes and saints are never obvious until they have been polished and worked by the Narratives of mankind.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Goofy Movies That I Am Nonetheless Fond Of

Dreamcatcher, starring Damian Lewis (I like everything with Damien Lewis, and I have no idea why), Jason Lee (ditto), Timothy Olyphant (ditto), Thomas Jane (ditto... except The Mist), Donny Wahlberg, Morgan Freeman, Tom Sizemore (ditto on the dittoes), Reece Thompson, Andrew Robb, Gaicomo Baessato, Joel Palmer, and Mikey Holecamp (all soon to be dittoes). I guess there were no females in the thing. Wait! There was a lady hunter who sat in the snow and... did some stuff...
John Cucci was the Foley artist, and fine Foley there is.



My Father-in-Law, Inflation, and Speculation in Fire Arms

When my father-in-law was a young man going to school after World War I, inflation in Germany was severe. He took the train to school. One day, when getting ready to board the train to return home, he discovered that the price of a ticket had inflated so high that he no longer had enough money to buy one, and he had to walk the five miles home.

We read of this inflation and economists and particularly monetarist economics tries to interpret it; they call it hyperinflation. I will quote and article from Wikepedia on Hyperinflation, and it is sufficient to give and idea of how hyperinflation is understood:
By definition, hyperinflation is a rapid increase in Nominal GDP (the Money Supply multiplied by the velocity of money) without a corresponding increase in real output (see Equation of exchange). This is often caused by decisions on the part of the central bank to increase the money supply much more than markets had previously expected, often when money is printed to finance government spending. This results in a fall in the demand for money relative to its supply, which in an extreme case can grow into a complete loss of confidence in the money, similar to a bank run. This loss of confidence causes a rapid increase in velocity of spending which causes a corresponding rapid increase in prices. For example, once inflation has become established, sellers try to hedge against it by increasing prices. This leads to further waves of price increases.
(emphasis by underline mine)

Describe for me who and for what there is spending that causes prices to increase 1000% in an afternoon.

If I fancy a boat, am I buying boats one after the other so quickly that the price goes through the ceiling? Or are the poor buying loaves of bread so fast and in such great supply (hoping they have enough money to pay the electric bill to run the refrigerator to freeze and preserve the perishable bread) that the price of bread goes through the roof?

No. It is solely a phenomenon of financial markets. The financial markets are the only locales where "spending" can proceed so quickly - recall the Dow dropping 1,000 points in 10 minutes in May 2010. It is a loss of confidence, followed by markets frantically trying to act as if the pricing system still worked: it is the classic "chicken with its head cut off". The markets "pretend" that they work properly to assign prices - although inflated ones - to goods, but that is nonsense.

Once confidence is lost, everything stops. People will continue to go through the motions for a while, but it is a charade, and an economic analysis of it is a rational exercise in understanding a charade.
At this point, the system is broken: The Government, the Central Banks, the Banks, and the Financial Markets. Nothing beyond these are broken, but the pain and suffering is widely spread.

Yet, we continue to refuse to regulate speculation which causes wide swings in food and gas and other basic necessities. We continue to refuse to install meaningful safeguards against a repetition of the Banking Disaster of 2008. We continue to focus on the wrong areas, and we do so because our philosophy and narrative is so seriously out-of-date that is has become pernicious and destructive: it is our Apocalypto, where we are captives taken to the bloody altars where we shall be sacrificed to a Religion of Destruction, to a Government of War Crimes, and to a Common Sense of Catastrophe.

The classic image of a government press running overtime printing paper money as the cause of inflation is typical of our understanding, At present, the Federal Reserve is doing exactly that, yet our rate of inflation "out in the real economy" is not all that high.

Where is the hyperinflation? It used to be in the price of Housing... now it is in the price of Gold.

Interestingly enough, my research on the price of fire arms and ammunition during the period of 2008 through 2010 - when the media was reporting very large demand - indicates the prices of both goods remained relatively stabile in the areas I have researched. There was no inflation in the price of fire arms even though demand had increased substantially.
Which leads me to a quandary: how to explain that?

The only thing I can think of is the fact that there is no Commodity Market for fire arms, and, therefore, no speculators to drive up the price.

Perhaps Inflation is solely a phenomenon of certain types of goods which lend themselves to speculation. There was considerable speculation is housing during the Housing Boom. Surely there could be speculation in fire arms, but the point is that there is no such speculation right now.

Hyperinflation is obviously a Speculator and a Market; Inflation only a bit less so obvious.

Inflation is another gift and by-product of the financial markets. Furthermore, a great portion of our Economics is a Study of Wall Street and Commodities Exchanges... essentially a man thinking he is looking out a window and describing the scenery to us, while he is actually looking into a mirror... a darkling mirror.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Class Warfare

The Republicans call President Obama's plan to increase the tax on people making over $1 million per year "class warfare".

Interesting. What do they call wage stagnation, long hours, foreclosures, unemployment, and 30 years of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, joined along the way by the middle-class? Good Times?

Temporary lay-offs! 
 Good Times!
Easy credit rip-offs!  
Good Times!
Ain't we lucky we get them... Good Times!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Art and Intuition

Lord Dooku
also known as Darth Tyrranus
(the nickname provided if you are slow 
in distinguishing good from evil)

The BBC is covering the fracas between George Lucas and the fans of his Star Wars. I think this means the orginal 3 films; no one considered compos mentis could be a fan of Lord Dooku and all the vacuity of the later prequels. I mean, I think the Family Guy take-offs on Star Wars are superior to those later films. (Blast! Now I have the Muzak version of Darth Vader's Theme from the Family Guy Death Star elevator playing in my head!)
It comes down to this, Lucas has been fiddling with the versions and denying access to the original versions of the films about which the fans assert
In our youth, our hearts were touched with fire...
and so on.

There is an excellent quote by Marcel DuChamp:
In 1957 Marcel Duchamp, the philosophical French artist... gave a lecture on this subject called The Creative Act. He starts it with this thought:

"Let us consider two important factors, the two poles of the creation of art: the artist on the one hand, and on the other the spectator who later becomes the posterity."

He then goes on to argue that the artist is merely the medium for his or her work; that he or she is not fully conscious of what is being produced, much of which derives from intuition.
This is a concept that I've heard many times from authors to artists, where they tell me that their words or thoughts come to them unconsciously or from an unknown source.
Building on this idea of artist-as-medium, Duchamp then introduces the idea that the audience has a vital role in validating something as an artwork:

"'The artist may shout from all the rooftops that he is a genius: he will have to wait for the verdict of the spectator in order that his declarations take a social value and that, finally, posterity includes him in the primers of Artist History."

In other words it's not for the artist to decide whether his or her work is any good, it is the job of the spectator, which in turn makes them part of the creative act.

Please note that there are elements here which closely resemble events in the history of religion as well as the history of art. So much comes from Intuition...

And it is hard to assert that Intuition is what we call an "Idea" since it is not fully conscious, if at all.

In fact, the very stuff of creation is within us and we struggle to find a proper "code" or "algorithm" that will render it fully conscious to ourselves and to others. Some of the primary codes lead us to expression in language, some to expression in sculpture, some to music, some to religion, some to physical activity such as Dance and Sports...

Again please note the importance of the Group or Community receiving the communication of the art: the audience. There may indeed be private languages, but there is no private immortality.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Then and Now

Siefried Kracauer

Reading Siegfried Kracauer's great book From Caligari To Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film published in 1947 In the present section, he is writing of the German films in the early years of The Great Depression, and has just finished discussing UFA's production of Mensch Ohne Namen (Man Without A Name) made in 1932 and starring Werner Krauss.
The next paragraph begins:
Times were indeed so bad that even qualified specialists could not count on re-employment once they had been dismissed.
Indeed! I have been reading of unemployed professionals - engineers and educators and more - that have been cut off from the business of their speciality for three years now. This is one reason why unemployment benefits have been extended, and this bit of largesse is - of course - under scrutiny by the conservative element.
Well, 99 weeks of benefits is a lot. Goes to show one how things really are here in Arcadia, I guess.

Kracauer picks up the thread with a discussion of Die Gräfin von Monte Christo (The Countess of Monte Cristo) of 1932, another UFA film. Brigitte Helm is cast as a film extra cast as a leading lady. While shooting at night, she drives her luxury car used in the film to a real de luxe hotel, where she is treated royally because of her impressive luggage emblazoned with "Countess of Monte Cristo".
Things happen, and eventually she is found out. With a flair for publicity, the film company soothes over things with the hotel and turns the escapade into a great front-page story which is good for everyone involved: the film is on everyone's lips and she gets a good contract.
So ends that story,
...proving conclusively what all these screens opiates tended to demonstrate: thateveryday life itself is a fairy tale.
Notice how that rings a bell: from fathers seeking to save sons who were supposedly blown away in rogue balloons to good looking people whose only aim in 2009 seemed to be to crash a White House dinner and gather notoriety from it to people exposing way too much on the interenet to flash mobs which have become so common that they are debased into looting zombie hordes.
It sounds so much like Reality TV, which itself is crudely and cheaply scripted, and is so remote from "reality" that when a member of the cast commits suicide, all references to such unpleasantness have to be removed from the film already shot... all this in order to maintain the diseased  fairy tale illusion of our modern lives.


I Remember When...

...I first met Comrade Stalin; he was just a shlub like the rest of us, riding the subway to work in Moscow.


Mel Gibson's Use of Violence

It was obvious that the violence in Apocalypto was metaphor for the degradation and decline of a civilization.
Mr. Gibson seemed to be aware of the fact that most of us miss the point of such things, so he put a quote of Will Durant's at the beginning to sort of point us in the right direction.

Now I have to watch The Passion of The Christ again, because I surely did not understand Mr. Gibson's use of violence in that film. The only thing I got from it was the use of the Aramaic preposition "baina"
meaning "between": baina_k wa baina_hum  "it is between you and between them" referring to Judas' payment for the betrayal. (We would say "between you and them" whereas Aramaic repeats the preposition.)

Santa Croce

Watching Room With A View on TCM, She-who-must-be-obeyed and I pretend that "Santa Croce" is not the Church of the Holy Cross, but instead refers to the Church of the well-known saint, Saint Crochety!

So I do a Walter Brennan imitation, portraying him as gouty and prone to ill whimsies and quite cranky, ending it all with a "saints be praised!"

I like it, and figure there must be a number of male and female saints Crochety who will intercede for us, the Church Militant and Irascible that are yet here on earth.


Once again a "rogue" trader has misplaced $2 Billion.
That much money would indeed burn a hole in one's pocket, so it's easy to see how it happened.

I believe UBS was the entity behind the latest investment scheme my local bank ran by me. I was insulated by the fact that they use a financial counselor who is so perfectly bizarre ( he pronounces the name Crédit Suisse as "Credit Sue"... I can overlook the Americanization of "crédit", but to turn the French word "Suisse" (Swiss, or of Switzerland) into "sue" is way too goofy) that were he to offer me $10 for a fiver, I would probably decline.

Anyway, two billion is a big number. Everything is big numbers these days, especially when you put them into context. Ten million seems not so big a number at first, but when you put it in the context of a Wall Street bonus to one individual in a time of poverty, unemployment, and foreclosure, it suddenly becomes astronomical.
Megabytes became Gigabytes become Terabytes; trades are sent across the world at the speed of light - or slightly faster. Disasters grow in size and the length of time it takes to recover from them, and everywhere one looks, the black swan statistical outliers are nesting next to the egrets in the marsh.

When the Tower of Babel was built, the builders sought to be like God, but it was not a matter of the height of the building: to reach the heavens where - we suppose - God dwelled; ancient men were not as stupid as all that, even though we like to pretend they were; the Tower was a masterpiece of planning, design, magnitude, and complexity, and it was in this manner the builders of the ancient metropolis of Babel sought to emulate the Holy. 

However, they experienced a serious loss of control... things fell apart... their ancient stockmarket indices dropped 1,000 shekels in 10 minutes... the irrigation grid broke down...
...and the rest is history.

Wherein I Solve the Drug Problem

I propose a Bail-Out: just as we used Socialism to spread the cost of the financial disaster over the entire country, I propose we Socialize the profits of the Drug Trade.

Legalize Drugs, place them under strict regulation, and use the profits for the good of the entire body social, not just for the pleasure of Drug Lords and those in power whom they suborn with bribes.

The bit about legalization has been discussed before, but by politicizing it with the iconic word "socialism" we can open the doors to entire new discussions, where both Parties of the Obscure and Dull may argue about Legalization for Private Profit versus Legalization for Socialism, thereby ensuring that a committee will be appointed to make recommendations... and that is farther along than we have gotten so far.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


SKYNET has taken over the Congress and the White House, The Federal Reserve, and is actively undermining the Euro.

The coup was to be on April 19, 2011 according to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. No atomic warheads, though. April was when the House notified everyone the debt ceiling was to be held hostage:

Posted on Friday, April 15, 2011 2:07:33 PM by NormsRevenge
CHICAGO (AP) -- Failure by Congress to raise the U.S. debt limit "could plunge the world economy back into recession," President Barack Obama declared Friday, and he acknowledged that he must compromise on spending with Republicans who control the House to avoid such a crisis.
"I think he's absolutely right that it's not going to happen without some spending cuts," the president told The Associated Press in an interview in his hometown, agreeing with House Speaker John Boehner's assessment.
Obama urged swift action, saying he doesn't want the United States to get close to a deadline that would destabilize financial markets. He said he was confident Congress ultimately would raise the limit.
Why does SOLCOM not hear our prayers and lamentations?

More Thoughts on 9/11... and Preparing for 10/2: Nickle Mines

This was our 9/11.
       ---------- Amish leader

The Amish school shooting was a shooting at the West Nickel Mines School, an Amish one-room schoolhouse in the Old Order Amish community of Nickel Mines, a village in Bart Township of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, on October 2, 2006. Gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV took hostages and eventually shot ten girls (aged 6–13), killing five, before committing suicide in the schoolhouse...
 Amish community response
On the day of the shooting, a grandfather of one of the murdered Amish girls was heard warning some young relatives not to hate the killer, saying, "We must not think evil of this man."Another Amish father noted, "He had a mother and a wife and a soul and now he's standing before a just God."

Jack Meyer, a member of the Brethren community living near the Amish in Lancaster County, explained: "I don't think there's anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts."

A Roberts family spokesman said an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them. Amish community members visited and comforted Roberts' widow, parents, and parents-in-law...
Marie Roberts wrote an open letter to her Amish neighbors thanking them for their forgiveness, grace, and mercy.

...Some commentators criticized the swift and complete forgiveness with which the Amish responded, arguing that forgiveness is inappropriate when no remorse has been expressed, and that such an attitude runs the risk of denying the existence of evil; others were supportive.
Donald Kraybill and two other scholars of Amish life noted that "letting go of grudges" is a deeply rooted value in Amish culture... They explained that the Amish willingness to forgo vengeance does not undo the tragedy or pardon the wrong, but rather constitutes a first step toward a future that is more hopeful...
Here we see a refusal to balance evil with more evil.
By refusing to balance an act of violence with equal or more acts of violence, we avoid the risk of over-compensating, and when we over-compensate with "evil", we risk becoming evil ourselves. 
Gertrude Huntington, a specialist on Amish children, said:
"They know their children are going to heaven. They know their children are innocent ... and they know that they will join them in death. The hurt is very great ... But they don't balance the hurt with hate."

In Teacher Guidelines for Helping Youth in the Aftermath of the Shooting in the Amish School, we read:

Resist the impulse to always have an answer. We often feel that we need to have an answer or to take away the pain… to give hope when there is fear. Sometimes this is our own discomfort in seeing children suffer. Often the best answer is to reassure children that you don't know how it will all turn out OK, but that you know that the way we get through difficult times is to do it together. Kids and parents, kids and teachers, kids and their friends, that this is a time for us to all be there for each other.
Resist the impulse to always have an answer...
It reminds me of my post on Cynicism yesterday. Resist the impulse to always judge, to always force a clearly cut decision and answer. Resist the decision to start endless bloodletting. Turn the other cheek...

Turning the other cheek does not mean not resisting evil. Nor does it necessarily imply total pacifism... I only have 2 cheeks, actually, so I can only accept 2 of your slaps before other options may present themselves. We seek to restore balance, not to go so far from the port side of the ship that we begin to develop a dangerous list on the starboard side.

Let us remember October 2 is coming up, so let's memorialize it appropriately.


Alex's Dad

Alex's Dad has me listening to Jazz! Today we experienced Horace Silver, and then The Modern Jazz Quartet. I like it. It is like discovering a new world... or a new ocean, standing on that proverbial peak in Darien and whatever.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tractatus Tweetus

There are books being published which consist of the Tweets of the compiler of the book... I think "author" is going too far here. The books are just Tweets. I mean, even I could look brainy if all I had to do were to write down obscure insights in less than 200 words or whatever.(She-who-must-be-obeyed nudges me here and says "That is what you do, 'though you do not always stick to exact word count.")

Anyway, so there are books of Tweets to read on your Kindle, all of which will be lost when the electric power grid fails.

This is all a result of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus...
the book is pretty much put together like a Tweet compilation.

This is an excerpt from the book Laconia

Very Wittgenstein... or bits and pieces from the ancient Greek Poets in the Loeb Library's Lyra Graeca where the disparate snippets of lyric poetry snatched from oblivion are compiled, such as the enigmatic scrap from Sappho:

"...more golden than gold..."

I guess I mean that if this keeps up, our literature will appear to be "lost" and surviving only in unconnected scraps long before the archaeologists of the future dig them out of the ground at the level of the Kindle Katastrophe.