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Wednesday, November 30, 2011


 "Jam!" Hank Jakubowski had said. "Jam!" he said, pounding his fist, which was the size of a ham, butt and shank, upon the table.
We looked up from our lentil soup. We were sitting in Hanaan's Diner on the day after Thanksgiving and eating lunch under the inexorable ticking of the clock and the intimidating chop-chop-chop of Hanaan's cutting knife.
Ever since the demise of Colonel Qaddafi she had seemed to have lost focus for her bad moods; she no longer attacked "ugly onions of Libya" with her cutlery; they were just unpersonified onions now and she minced them without political comment in her strokes.
We were on our best behavior, therefore, assuming that she was stalking a new object for her malevolence; a "black widow", as it were, on the make for a new mate to eviscerate. That is why the outburst from the Bialystok Buffalo took us by unhappy surprise.
We looked at him with question marks upon our brows.
He looked around. The chop-chop-chop from the back of the diner had stopped, and there was no earthly reason to assume that that was a beneficent coincidence, so to speak; the silence spoke volumes.
"Jam," he said in a normal conversational tone. "J.A.M." he spelled out. "Where is John Allen Muhammad when ya need him?"

Needless to say, this did not immediately clear things up. Most of us were a bit hazy on the identity of the Mr. Muhammad referred to. I turned and caught the raised and inquiring supercilia of Hanaan herself come into view from the kitchen like two twin rain squalls roiling over a perturbed sea.

That was all; Hank did not seem to want to clarify. This spoken intermezzo between the soup and the sandwich seemed to be taking place solely in his universe of discourse. Everyone decided to let it be.

After lunch, I walked home with Levine.
"That Muhammad character, that was the D.C. sniper, you know." said Levine.
"Ah," I said. I had quite forgotten. I suddenly recalled my daughter - who was living in D.C. at the time - telling me that the D.C. police had cautioned the population to walk in a zig-zag fashion in order to spoil the aim of the sniper, a bit of bureaucracy which was Life imitating Art, à la Monty Python and their Ministry of Funny Walks.
"What do you think Hank meant?" Levine asked.
"Ah," I said, then hastily "Dunno," having gotten my unisyllabic and bisyllabic responses mixed up. I did not know if Hank were advocating violence and mayhem, or were in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. It was just after Thanksgiving and the Budget Super Committee Super Fiasco and nobody was feeling too great. It seemed to me that this was what the end of the Roman Republic must have been like: leaders made weak by a life of wealth and their imaginary greatness, people made witless by no responsibility other than as consumers of breads and circuses; when the soppresata hits the fan, it's like the proverbial chickens with their heads cut off.

"I'm going to have some XLIS." Levine said, as if this were an everyday occurrence.
"Hmmmm...?" I was more providing a sound track rather than responding.
"It's a drug."
No shit. Levine had been a chemist before retirement. He was pretty sharp. He probably had a stash of many, many things stored in a club bag... or a valise... or a steamer trunk, if there had been a goodly amount of personal effects when he retired and cleaned out his office at Pfizer... or a Jenny Lynd... or a Saratoga trunk... or a Wardrode type - a garde-robes... or a Dome-top or Camel-back trunk... or Hump-back or Barrel-top... perhaps a Footlocker...
I had been surprised, and the mind was wandering like a dervish dancing in circles. I asked, "You don't mean X, like Ecstasy, do you?"
He shook his head no. "XLIS is a endocannabinoid - like the marijuana produced inside the body. It's involved with retrograde signaling between brain synapses: instead of presynaptic neuron to postsynaptic neuron - the normal way - XLIS and others seem to encourage transmission from postsynaptic to presynaptic."
"Really," I said, trying to make it sound impressively impressed.
"Yes. I think it is the basis of the monstrous feedback loop of intelligence we call life, a continual flow in and  back of data being processed... all due to THC... or its brothers."
"Und sein Brüder," I muttered, remembering not a German film from 2004, Agnes und seine Brüder, but an ancient thing, a story by Arthur Schnitzler, a writer from the dim past, a writer on palimpsests - his story, Der blinde Geronimo und sein Brüder.
We walked into the sunset.
"It's a 'drug lite'. So, you want a bissel?" Levine said.
For a moment, I felt like Rick in Casablanca walking off with Captain Renault.

XLIS came in transdermal patches, which I felt was a civilized way of delivery compared to smoking or suppositories. It was a long after... meaning afternoon... we were busy defining new ways to speak about things. I had not had a possibly illegal drug in 40 years, not since the government monopoly on the mind and mind-benders. I am not frivolous: I had merely had my fill of the non-drug world of 2011.
XLIS seems to promote interaction rather than putting people into their own little world; we continually spoke to each other, and it was as if dramas were unfolding. These were not some faded diorama of reality, but were - or seemed to be -- truly historic dramas, dramas and actions from ancient Delphi where the ivy and vines of Dionysos grew in the citadel of Apollo, and Apollo was like a johnny-come-lately...
"Why?" I asked Levine.
"I went to Hebrew school," he said. "Ask me about the Maccabees, not the Greeks."
After that, we slipped...

We slipped into the communal guise of the Budget Super Committee...

Washington D.C. resembled Dicken's London, and we felt like the ghosts of Christmases Past, and felt a Scrooge-like urgency to amend our ways...

... It was a recent and tense discussion about European debt, about Greece and about Italy, we stood inside a vast bay window looking out upon the country. There was a group of us, a somber and sober committee. I looked around and saw Levine; he smiled and waved. The group contemplated the scene outside; the landscape went on for miles. At one moment we were within a marble building, very Lincoln Memorial-ish, untouched by the threatening winds and weather about us; merely looking at the vast panorama before us with rapt attention; at another moment we were in the middle of autumn cornfields and wheatfields, or standing near grain elevators where a distant steam locomotive whistle was heard; then we were standing in the slurry of bright sun and dark old architecture of an urban school...
We looked about us at the pain, the loss, and the fear felt by ourselves and by friends in Europe. Looking at each other, we spoke suddenly with our eyes: we swore that we would forge a meaningful agreement so that the country could heal and live without fear.

It was the day before Thanksgiving. We had prepared the ground for a brief season of winter and had made plans for the spring planting. We had done our work, and we had succeeded, knowing that no matter how long the winter, spring will follow with its riot of growth, the time of the robins' call.

Outside, the snow began to fall.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Super Storage Devices

We have spoken on the nature of glaciers, and how they are excellent storage devices for water, keeping great masses of it almost inert and releasing it over time to flow downstream. A lot of human civilization depended on them for their geneses, and many still do for their ongoing daily needs.

Yet another simple storage device has been around for a long time, and has been an instrument of great importance in human life: Grandparents.
Well beyond their nurturing abilities, which are of extreme importance for the human group and the group's young members, the elders acted as the Libraries and Museums, the repositories of the accumulated knowledge of the group. Now this knowledge was indeed probably specialized 40,000 years ago: the shaman had his own offspring or apprentices, the flint-nappers were separate, the weavers may have been a sub-group, and so on. However, the train of wisdom requires time to get from point A to point B,  and it is the elders who conserved the accumulated knowledge, the old and the new, that was available to the group.

In today's world, it seems we no longer need glaciers, since we are letting them go and have squandered the money needed to launch a large scientific inquiry. I suppose we think we shall airlift water to cities  built upon the banks of rivers, something vaguely like our glory days of the Berlin Airlift.
And no longer are grandparents needed to be the reservoirs of knowledge.

Yet it seems that no one excels them at nurture: how many children today have been and are being raised by grandparents?
And no one excels them at the type of Knowledge that is based on Longevity, Interaction with the World, and Reflective Meditation. Whereas the world may run schemes and scams and bubbles, the grandparents know that "a haughty spirit goes before a fall", and that this Truth is embedded in the rise and fall of empires and pueblos.
dedicated to Ruth, who - I believe - is soon to be a extraordinary source of nurture and knowledge.
I say "I believe" because of the unusual way I read things, such as her blog: reading for me is a bit like a committee meeting, a debate, my first kiss, and an endless cinema.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Discarded Future 11/26/2011 Jobs

The discarded future is the road we are choosing not to travel...

Who Were The Lazy Bastards?

Were the students being pepper sprayed lazy bastards who needed to get off their behinds and get one of the innumerable jobs going begging...

or were the Chinese students in Tienanmen Square the lazy bastards?

I forget.

The Discarded Future 11/26/2011


Friday, November 25, 2011

The Discarded Future

The possible future of peace and harmony, now discarded by our philosophers, opinion makers, and politicans.

Ade Ileke 34: Navidad

Flores fragantes son
un espejo de la Navidad,
Navidades pasadas
y los que vendrán.
Cada Navidad
tiene una cara
y nombre...
Voy a tener 65 amigos.
fragrant flowers are a mirror of Christmas,
Christmases past and those yet to be.
Each Christmas has a face and name...
I will have 65 friends.


Conspiracy theories, such as those about the assassination of JFK, are not necessarily based so much on factual data, as they are upon the intuition of the theorists about the living sea of hatred which is the locus of the conspirators.

I recall President Obama's Inauguration and I recall radio personalities calling for four years of do-nothing in order that Mr. Obama not be re-elected at the next election.

That is, indeed, a living sea of hate, and we are struggling in it.

Confronted by such tangible emotion, what theorists can resist being swept away by the rip tides of malevolence? Frantically they deal with the overwhelming and diseased ocean in which they find themselves. It is impossible to simply withdraw.
So they create their theories to deal with the Heart of Darkness they have stumbled upon, in the bright noon of the day, within their own nation and town, surprised by the vampires of unreason which have quickly surrounded their lives.

...But what also struck me in a rereading was Manchester’s stern rejection of one major Warren Commission finding. Though he was onboard for its conclusion that Oswald was the lone assassin, he did not buy its verdict that there was “no evidence” of any connection between Oswald’s crime and Dallas’s “general atmosphere of hate.”

The Committee, being a group mind, had insulated itself against intuitions. Even though the group may be swept by emotion, they did not give credence to anything so individual as an intuition. Yet William Manchester remained an alert and observant and self-aware individual and saw the sea of hate: the "general atmosphere of hate", and correctly identified it.

So must we all as individuals before we can come together to create a new and better future.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Coffee Ex Machina

OK. Since we're busy today on T-Day, I had a cup of coffee from the Keurig machine... coffee ex machina.

I know I run the risk of incurring Rush Limbaugh's anti-Classics wrath by making jokes on Latin expressions,  but it was a hoot. The Periodic Englishman will explicate for the slow learners, O, ye Neroes; O, ye Agrippinas!

Morals on the Consignment Plan

Watching House again; I record the re-runs, then watch. On the off chance there is something good on cable and I am watching it, when the commercials come on I switch to House, and I usually become engrossed and forget about whatever it is that I was watching.
It is not hard to do; there is very little of interest.
Do you know the most interesting titles are on the Smithsonian channel? I do, because I am always tripped up by them as I surf, then I notice that they are on the Smith and I do not pay the subscription rate for the high priced schmear of cable on my bialy... but there must  be a science or art to writing  titles, if I am uniformly grabbed by Smith's.

So I wuz watchin' an ep (episode - I have decided to emulate those oh, so many, other twits I know and do my comm - communication - with texty-like shorties.) and this frail ( I have also decided to talk like a 1930's gangster or to sound like Ringgold Lardner short stories.) talks with House about stuff and it ends up that the frail sez that if there is no God, then there is no overall meaning, no eventual meaning behind all the mess of life.
Of course, House has to plead for the ultimate lack of meaning in life, but I ignore that part, and he is still my fav teev peep ( favorite cable TV person).... should have said FTP.
(No matter how much the writers make House seem like an atheist libertarian and follower of Ayn Rand - who believes man to be a 'machine' - I know he is still Hugh Laurie who was Bertie Wooster to Steven Fry's Jeeves!)

This view of God is much, too much like the dramatic process of bringing all the threads of the story together and wrapping up the story: as when House finally intuits the correct diagnosis, or Charlie Chan solves the crime, or The Thin Man has everyone together in the Conservatory and hands the criminal over to the cops before downing his third martini... post-lunch martini.

Perhaps the standard of morality by which we measure "meaning" is not external. We act as if it were because that is how we do things: we use language like a measuring stick and apply it to the dimensions of the universe and build a model in three dimensions and time.

Morality might be within our acts themselves. That is, when we do a moral act capable of being evaluated as good or bad, the standard by which we measure might not be external to the act; it might not be a set of rules written down somewhere, but it may exist with the process of the act itself.
This would be equivalent - in the imaginations of the imaginative - to having the 10 Commandments not written in stone nor in our Bibles, not in our hearts either, but to be immanent and existing within our behavior and actions.
Does the metaphysical location of the moral absolute matter?
People might say our acts are fleeting, hence, the moral code is also fleeting.
I say that the infinite goodness of God pervades the universe, and it arises everywhere, just as does the quantum foam, and each Unit of the Divine Unity is mirrored a billion times throughout Creation.
There is no outside nor inside: it is milk into coffee and by our act we drink the cafe au lait... and it becomes us, also...
... and the momentary nature of our intelligent attention span does not somehow denature nor even distill the spirit of our moral acts.

God is not on consignment to the intelligences of the 20th century and the early 21st century, and it is this fact that give me great joy!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
The Present is not forever!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Become involved in the continuing story of American Railroads. They are an important facet of our economy and an important and fuel efficient way to get from point A to point B. We hope to see more about rail in the future.