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Monday, January 31, 2011

Life

I guess I love life, dodgy as it is.

Life is sometimes like a young bride and groom buying their china pattern, then after years have gone by looking at the dulled designs, and remembering meals, parties and cleaning dishes afterwards... I remember the longing for life inherent in a cup, a plate, a salt cellar... it is as poignant as that written in a book. What wonderful dreams people have! Gazing in the concavity of a serving spoon - heirloom from my grandmother - I see not myself as I think I am, but a quaking and jittering mass of hair and eye dancing solipsistic on the pregnant plains of Venus: I have mobile and tactile cornrows in my hair 5 miles long!

May the people of Tunisia and Egypt... and all the world find happiness! God is a next-door neighbor; when we dance, He knocks on the wall and yells "More, my friends! More dancing! Stomp until the sweat runs!" When we sing, He bangs on the ceiling, saying "Louder yet! Give a roar! Let them hear you in Andromeda!"

--

The Case for God

I am just starting Karen Armstrong's book on disc, and I am so interested that I am going to buy a copy. In Part 1 there is a quote by someone whose name I missed ( I am listening on ear phones and could not re-wind at the time) that theological knowledge should aspire to music rather than language - a quote underscoring the vast difference between language and music, or between logos and music. ( I shall have the full text soon.)
Anyway, I somewhat agree, and this is the basis of my grudge against language and reason based on language: there is so much more to human intelligence than mere language; there is music, as we have said, and there is mathematics, and there is painting and sculpture... there is dance and basketball! And there are emotions.

Music is very important, but it is not the apex of intelligence, just like language is not the sole summit of intelligence. There are many other modes of intelligence.
Music cannot be reduced to Language, and it codes are very different and musical communication is very different from language communication. Music uses the voice, and may use instruments. Language uses the voice, but may use instruments: hand and arm gestures, for example, then there is written Language.
Similarly sculpture uses instruments and raw materials to create, but it is very different from music. Perhaps all the plastic arts - even extending to architecture - are a distinct form of intelligence dependent upon the material environment.
Things like Dance are structured bodily movement. Basketball has a basic choreography, but sports are more prone to chaos and chance in structure than is Dance. Yet both are structures of intelligent beings.

Then there is the Perception of the Holy.

It is my belief that perception of the Holy is a separate function of intelligence. Sure you can feel good, and go out into the meadow on a sunny day, and expostulate, "What a divine day! Truly God exists and made the day!"  But that is emotion and language... nothing more... nor less.
Our perception of the Holy is an independent function of intelligence which allows us to enter a realm that is as different from our everyday and its logic as a symphony is different from a basketball game... even more so. We have become so complacent with thinking that we know so much about God's being, that we think the Divine is pretty much a fill-in the blanks Bible game.
It is not.

--

Water Get No Enemy

 Funmilayo Kuti (left), Mother of Fela Kuti


Driving an hour in winter to see the simulcast of Fela! from London was well worth it. It is based on the life of Fela Kuti of Nigeria, who was the originator of the music known as Afrobeat.
There is much in the play about his relationship with his mother, Funmilayo Kuti, an anti-colonial activist. She eventually was killed by government soldiers who threw her from a second storey window of a building in Fela's compound in Nigeria. At the time, the government and army were under the control of General Obasanjo.
If you listen to his music and singing, be aware that he made a decision to use Nigerian Pidgin as a means to reach as large an audience as possible in Nigeria, since Nigeria has many languages and the pidgin was a lingua franca. 

When I wrote yesterday's post on Gardens, I was wary about being so obviously inspired by the film Being There. Then in Fela! I was surprised to find that Mrs. Kuti has a speech which is very similar and speaks of new blooms and growth. Furthermore, she had  told her son once that "Water get no enemy ", which means that if something - or someone - is so indispensable as water, anyone who speaks against you or raises a hand against you will look like a fool or a madman.

Gardens and water... so we had been in a conceptual loop: myself, Being There, and Fela!
Interesting thing about conceptual loops is that time does not seem to matter.

Oh, by the way, the entire African continent may be in revolt against its corrupt elites, following the leads of Tunisia and Egypt. 2011 and 2012 will be more of those darned "interesting" times.

--

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lake Vostok


древний Восток


A vehicle at the Russian station Vostok in the Antarctic with the initials "CCCR" still on it. Only a few more days remain for them to drill through to ancient Lake Vostok which has been covered by ice for millions of years.

--

O, Egypt !

يا مصر
لكم رحلة الدموع
ولكن سرعان ما
مرفأ مشمس

Gardens and Harvest


земли урожая

I have not been overly restrained in my criticisms of the government and the politicians, nor the entire country, for that matter. But too many people are crabbing about everything, leaving us communication based on anger and fear... not a constructive idea in sight anywhere, just a frantic desire to get back to the old days.

I want the new days. New summers and new waters flowing down the rivers filled with new waters from the melting snows of winter.

Autumn and winter will sweep across the garden, but they will be followed by spring and summer. We are in the winter. We must makes plans for the spring, for preparing the grounds, for providing the waters, and for the plantings. That will ensure good growth through the summer and into the harvest time.
It is no longer time to be angry, frightened, nor morose.
The new summer will be brilliant.
When autumn comes again, let us be prepared with the fruits of the harvest, and wait again for summer; summer will always come. It may not be the same: it may be hotter or rainier, but it is the time of growth and our happiness - the hearts and expectations of intelligent beings has more to do with the state of the world than we usually let on, for Life is a state of mind.


Which state are we in now? Which state do we want to be in? Prepare your garden accordingly.

Preparar para o verão,
o tempo de crescimento ...
Outono é tempo suficiente

(forgive my Portugese... and Russian. I can barely do English!)

--

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Candido Portinari Show! Fela!

 Cabeça de India

There is a small gallery showing of art from South America. Some of the work of Mr. Candido Portinari is on display. I'm looking forward to seeing his art in person. I think I can see a multitude of influences upon his work, and perhaps that is why I like it.He was mostly known as a muralist, so I'm not sure exactly what is on display: painting, sketches, photos of murals, etc.
Sunday night we shall be going to see Fela! in Ann Arbor. Nigerian music is rather good. It surprises and reveals new things in your mind.

Vamos a bailar!

Being There: A Black Swan

At the end of Being There, they run the credits over outakes of Peter Sellers mistakes and manage to completely destroy the impact that they have just created with the film itself. Devastating.


The clubbing scenes in Black Swan irritated me, because all I could think of was Peter Fonda in The Trip. I liked Natalie Portman a good deal. I loved her with Jean Reno in The Professional many years ago - little girl carrying a potted plant as big as she down the street. Other than her acting and the camera work, everything else let me down. I was looking for escape routes when the nightclub sequence began, and my interest only returned intermittently.

Morning Songs





Sometimes I wake up in the morning with music in my head. I really like "The Barber of Seville" so it is very cool when I wake up with Figaro's boasting that he is the factotum of the city! Sometimes it is the Muppets Christmas songs. Sometimes Bob Dylan.

This morning I woke up to a medley of Popeye the Sailor songs, sung by Olive Oil, Bluto, and Popeye hisse'f.
So this morning it was Olive singing "I Want a Clean Shaven Man", Bluto doing a very strong and interpretive rendition of "Abu Hassan", and Popeye singing his theme song from the cartoons and the extended version from the Robin Williams film.
The grand finale was a mega-Boston Pops cum Fireworks type thingie based on Navy music, particularly that ditty that was used in the cartoons when Popeye had just had a bellyful of insults and disrespect and had gobbled down a can or two of spinach; it was complete with naval dreadnoughts firing their 20mm guns, the barrels popping like biceps with the effort!

It promises to be a good day!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Facebook: Betrayal for Gain

I am not on Facebook and never will be, as it presently works.
I refuse to participate in a business that in its essence is tracking me and what I do and selling this information to the highest bidder.

On January 14, merely fourteen days ago, Facebook announced that it would allow its third-party app developers access to the home addresses and mobile telephone numbers of Facebook members. By January 17, it had to retreat, owing to the outrage of members and security experts.
I am sure a lot of thought had gone into the original plan to allow access. It is very obvious that the highest priority was not placed on the security of the Facebook members. The welfare of the individual members took a back seat to profit.

As long as the business models for the Internet are based on skimming data from people, the Internet is NOT the way of the future. It is a better prison, a better panopticon with which to view our every moment.  The  business model of enticing us, ingratiating themselves with us, and establishing amity with us so that they can sell details of our lives to other people as well as putting our security in jeopardy is debased and unhuman and below any standard of acceptable behavior.

--

Being There 01/28/2011



http://www.kdvr.com/news/kdvr-dems-batter-gop-over-school-br-01242011,0,7628659.story

Dems batter GOP over school breakfast cuts, propose bill to restore funds

DENVER - The first big media storm of the 2011 legislative session continues to swirl around last week's decision by three GOP lawmakers to cut off funding for a program that provides free school breakfasts to needy students who don't qualify for a federal program that does the same.

On Monday, a large group of Democratic lawmakers held a press conference at Dora Moore Elementary school vowing to introduce a bill to restore funding for the Smart Start program, which may need an additional $124,000 to operate through the end of the current school year...
"In my opinion, this decision lies outside the principles of our faith and the principles of morality," said Rev. Jim Ryan. "Jesus said if you fail to feed the hungry, you fail to feed me." ...

"It's not a moral issue, it's an accounting issue," said Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen.

It is always a moral issue. The religious directives about the poor are quite clear and precise. If we ignore them, then how much more absurd we have made our lives: all of us together - atheists and believers - deny God and together we refuse to accept the burden of morality!
If you did not understand "absurd" yesterday, surely it must be becoming clearer today.

Chance Gardiner says in the film Being There:
" I like to watch the young plants grow... Young plants do much better if a person helps them." 

--

Welcome

I wanted to welcome Mary Ellen aboard. I also wish to welcome The Old Geezer who seems to have usurped my name, or at least the name many people hitherto reserved for myself. But share and share alike. If others wish to use the name, so be it. I have to stop and take a  breath. I was looking around at hings yesterday and it seemed as if I had been in some sort of posting frenzy - mostly notes and reminders rather than posts - and seemed to have covered every topic known to man.
So I am taking it easy and thinking about things, and writing my thank you cards, which is for the most part a lost art these days. Actually I do have some to write for the holidays past, and really should apply myself.

I am watching Being There.
Life is a state of Mind.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Revolt of the Parking Lots 5

The Resistance Sends a Message

Deep and dark the currents subterrane where out of sight the waters and the clay-sized particles flow. Out of sight, out of mind. Beneath the layers of bitumen and oil, within that stygian suffocation, the mind of the pavement grew and strung its tentacles from one end of the country to the other.
The  message is "Two Tacos for 99 cents". You need to apply the Bible Code to it to figure it out... if you dare.

--

Black Swan 1

More later on Black Swan, but I found it unfortunate that the scene where Nina transforms into a bird-like creature had exactly the same leg transformation as was done in the Charlie Sheen, Ron Silver film The Arrival.


--

Don Giovanni and Don Juan

 Leporello in Don Giovanni

The world - as Camus would have it and I agree - is unreasonable. Our ways of understanding try hard to make various images and icons of the stuff of reality, but we fall far short.

Camus describes how the absurd man may live: revolution, freedom, and passion. Since reality is absurd, there are no ethical rules, and "Everything is permitted" is a statement of fact. Don Juan, the serial seducer, who recognizing these facts, lives the life of the passions to the fullest. "There is no noble love but that which recognizes itself to be both short-lived and exceptional."

With this I disagree, for it is not what I have observed in life, not by a long chalk.
My disagreement lay in the fact that I do not think all that highly of reason in the first place. Hence, a recognition of the irrationality of reality is hardly a major problem. And even though everything may be permitted, it does not follow then that everything may be done, nor must be done; a permission to act is not an order to do so.
(Here the disappearance of moral law is not carnival and licentiousness after all, but a shouldering of the burden by Mankind which no longer may fall back on the old alibi of Original Sin! Whether the devil exist or not, we cannot act like children and say the devil made us do it.)
As children we follow rules; as adults we put away the things of children and order our lives willingly and freely. But we can only do this if we fully engage life. Children do not fully engage with life; they are still in a stage of tutelage and learning:  their passions are schoolboy crushes, their angers are fleeting and forgotten with the new day, their faith is the words of their elders.
Only as adults do we fully engage.
But only then if we have put away childhood toys.....
(Once I had a dream of a Torah scroll spinning like a dreidel..... my understanding of that ancient law was a manufactured toy, like a glorious iPad of spiritual dimensions....
God could not be as small as I!)

We think too highly of sex. Because of its totem power and its taboo and its pleasure, we think that anyone who pursues a life of passion is fully engaged in at least one facet of life: that of bodily desire. But that is not the case. Don Juan's serial fornication was a ploy to ignore life, to maintain himself so busily occupied in passion that he had no time for the long-term of Life.
Don Juan hoarded passion.
If Sex came with newspapers and plastic bags, Don Juan would have been indistinguishable from a hoarder living in a house filled to the ceilings with accumulated junk.

The absurd pursuits of our present age are all obsessively and compulsively aimed at engaging Life in the short-term, gobbling little pieces: seconds, minutes, hours, weeks, and years, but not at engaging Life in the long-term.
Even our businesses run this way; even businesses we believe that we are so wrapped up in and so engaged in during our lives: they are mostly designed to brings short-term Pavlovian stimuli and keep us blinded to the long-term: our futures and the future of the human race.
It is not a matter of saying that we must make a living and who are we to attempt to affect the future of the human race! For the business of all of us is humanity! Not just economic man, but humankind in its entirety: it is a passionate engagement in Life! Not a "job" from which we retire after 30 or 40 years.

Sex today is pornography designed to pre-occupy our passionate minds and waylay them into stupid and futile pursuits.  We have allowed this to happen  just as we have let our commerce and our politics become pornographic pantomimes of themselves.

When I wrote a few days ago that Faith is Water, most readers took that as a metaphor; it was not. It was an experience.
Everything is an experience. Reality does not exist for our pleasure nor as a source of metaphor and poetry: it exists to experience as adults, as the most perfect beings we can be.

--

America's Sputnik Moment... Again?



The USSR launched Sputnik in the 1950's. The world situation was vastly different than today. The US was still the pre-eminent producer of goods and was rebuilding Europe and was exploding with growth.

Much of the response to Sputnik was government backed and financed research and development. Nowadays, any such government spending must be immediately balanced by cuts somewhere else.

Ain't gonna happen. It would have been as if Eisenhower and Congress had destroyed Social Security to get money to send a man to the moon...

It brings to mind those spare tire covers on vans that used to say "We're spending our childrens'  inheritance!" I had a picture of one before in September 2008, so I ran it again. The tire cover has a copy of Goya's picture Chronos Devouring His Children:


Of course, people will have the choice between the cute motto: "We are Spending Our Grandkids' Inheritance"  or the apocalyptic motto "We are Devouring the Future"  to be printed on the perimeter.

--

Value

Money is not the sole item of value. Yet our unusual focus on the financial sector shows that our culture desires to increase value by using finance rather than producing real items and processes that make our lives better.

Give me healthy food and a good transportation system and a clean environment, good education and spiritual values. Let the rich keep their money and live in the squalor of their impoverishment; their days are short.

Where Are the Heirs of Mu'awiyah?




Mu'awiyah, the founder of the Umayyad Dynasty, was and is always considered one of the political geniuses of Islam. As such, he also has gained the hatred of many Shi'a, but that is one of the outcomes of politics and power: consensus and division.
Where are the political geniuses of Islam today? Not in Tunisia, nor in Egypt apparently. Mubarak has had 30 years and does not have a clue for succession other than a family dynasty. Ditto Libya. A cult of personality and the support of the armed forces and security forces is about all it takes. And be on good terms with the religious establishment.
Not much new there since Mu'awiyah.

The Face of Islam is changing rapidly, far faster than we suspicion.
In the desert, there are new riders on new horses.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Perpetual Chantry Chapels and the Sources of Secularism

I have heard a good deal about secularism through my life, and I have subjected to the usual list of suspects. However, secularism was not a philosophical movement; it was the reaction away from the Theory of the Church-State of the Roman Empire from paganism through Christianity and through the Dark Ages and into the mediaeval period.

In politics, the Monolithic Theory of empire extended through Charlemagne and into the Holy Roman Empire, while the reality was a centrifuge of power, a breaking down into smaller states and nations settling out from the ancient matrix of the One Empire.
The Church was able to resist this breakdown longer, mainly because the Church itself had little by the way of armed forces, and relied upon the nations of Europe to wage its crusades and wars. Thus, it did not perform in the arena of warfare and devoted its energies to the spiritual and to the paths of power that stopped short of warfare involving the Church personally. Once the Reformation came and joined with dissenting Princes, then began the intense period of religious warfare.

Throughout, I think this process of the breaking down of Empire pushed the spiritual to the side and emphasized the political. Indeed, it was in the political realm that the greatest rewards were to be found, not in the spiritual. When war and threats of wars are alien to a people, then we see a focus on spirituality, and in this area there is much to be gained. In such a manner, Rabbinic Judaism was born in the area and the times of the Roman Empire and the successor states of Europe and Islam when Judaism was forbidden to possess arms and wage their own wars. At this point, someone may point out that Islam was born in the heat of battle. However, the wars fought between Medina and Mecca were very small in scale, and warfare did not take over the life of the nation as it was to subsequently do when Islam was to spread to Spain and on beyond India. This occurred after Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet was killed in a political dispute, and war became the focus of the state.

This process left a great gap in the spiritual lives of the people involved in the pursuits of power and wealth; the gap was a spiritual one. In Europe, the powerful and rich and illustrious sought to aid their journey to heaven by leaving property to establish and endow chapels to be built in churches around their tombs. They had much to fear, for spiritual virtue had little benefit and life was uncertain and death was quick:
If meat and drink thou ne'er gav'st nane,
every night and alle,
The fire will burn thee to the bare bane,
and Christ receive thy saule.
 In these chapels were chanted masses for the repose of the souls of the departed benefactors, and candles were to be kept burning: Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, Eternal life grant to them, O, Lord.
It was very much along the lines that the ancient Pharoahs provided for their after-life.

In England in 1547, the year Henry VIII passed to his reward, the perpetual chantries were dissolved and the endowments which funded the masses, candles, and prayers were forfeited to the Crown. Thus once again power politics undermined the spiritual beliefs of the age, and we can only guess at the concept of life-continuity which burned in the hearts of the earlier ages.

--

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Worlds That Lost Control



Snapshot from the Ghetto in Lodz, Poland from a display at Centre d’Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation de Lyon until February 13.

--

From the Office of the EDOC: Equal Destruction Opportunity Commission



First, our prayers for the Russian people involved in yesterday's blast at Domodedovo airport.

Second, policemen in the US are being shot and killed at record rates. This is exactly what was predicted would happen when the gun culture expanded in 2007-2009. This is what the Palin does not understand: if you talk violence, violence will come. If you have guns, guns, and more guns, people will tend to increasingly be shot. This holds true no matter how many untruthes and lies are mouthed by the gun lobby and their know-nothing proponents.

http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/death-threat-palin-critic
In Mother Jones:

Death Threat for a Palin Critic

 In Alaska, an activist seeking access to Sarah Palin's gubernatorial emails is threatened with assassination.

Responding to criticism she received after the January 8 Tucson shootings, Sarah Palin referred to death threats she and her children have received, suggesting that the Palin clan have been victims of heated political rhetoric. And an aide noted that the Palin team was consulting with security professionals. Andree McLeod, a prominent Palin critic in Alaska, could also use such help, for she has been publicly threatened with assassination—just for requesting, under Alaska's open records act, the work-related emails Palin sent and received while governor.
and goes on to recount threats to journalists and the activist.

This quote demonstrates the extremely odd and stubborn ignorance of certain people, not just right-wing or left-wing. The whole point of pointing out that Palin had used violent imagery and that this was an incitement to violence and that violence turns against everyone, not just one's political enemies, was exactly the point being made!
Anyone with a family that has members in the public view has to be daft to invoke violent imagery, totally irrational. Your loved ones are hostages to fortune, and if you play a part in making fortune nasty and brutish, you threaten them.
And this extends to the policemen being killed, and the innocent bystanders in Russia...

Violence is an Equal Opportunity Destroyer


--
pix:  getuchito

Monday, January 24, 2011

Democracy's Future

The Koch brothers funded the Tea Party. This early effort reflected too closely the Neanderthal approach of the Kochs, and future efforts will be less outrageous and campy-anger  and gun-kitsch.
Corporate Communications will extend far beyond the present primitive FOX efforts. Successful as they are, they are as crude and tentative as the early motion pictures, and demonstrate a slavish devotion to Politics - just as early films were still uncomfortably bound to the traditions of the stage -  but the Future will see Politics subservient to the Corporate Individuals: the democracies of the future will have Corporates as their citizens.

Corporate entities - not necessarily companies that "produce" consumer goods and utilities - will become more enmeshed in politics and will go beyond the present method of funding candidates, parties, and lobbying efforts. The extension of "personhood" to corporate entities is picking up speed, and will accelerate.
The reason for this increase is the obvious fact that the Government of the USA has been pretty much rendered an invalid for the foreseeable future. The Military and Intelligence divisions of the Government will continue robustly - although not necessarily "successful" in any sense other than continued existence - as a sort of quasi-independent arm of government, but other government services will be handicapped.

Perhaps these other functions, such as maintenance of infrastructure and social welfare, will  be taken up by corporate entities. Notice that we do not say "privatized". The notion of "privatization" is a concept whose time has long passed; corporate entities will not evolve according to those quaint notions of "private"  versus "public". Those are ideas best left on cable TV, the trash bin of ideas.

I can not say whether this extension of the individual from one person to a corporate nature will be good or bad from the stand point of society. It may be beneficial.
From the stand point of religion and morality, the change from emphasis on the individual to the communal corporate entity will be revolutionary.

However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Rome would not have fallen had it possessed corporate entities of sufficient strength and will to continue existence. The tyrrany of the Empire destroyed the independence of any possible corporates in the long run.
If Iraq had indeed been a cake walk, and had the Financial Sector not self-destructed, the history of the American Empire would have gone very differently, and Government would have grown strong indeed. But that is not what has happened.
The Future - I say again - is in our hands. It will not go back to what it was; that has been quite adequately destroyed by a couple generations of ham-handed yet efficient destructors. Now for better or worse, we have to create the Future.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Telepathy

Our knowledge and sciences are different; they changes over the ages in many respects, and what we knew 1,000 years ago is not the same as that known now.

But our love is the same. Our emotions burn with the same fire as that which enflamed love in Romeo and Juliet and as that which kindled the hate in MacBeth.
Our emotions are timeless throughout the history of the species: we are connected to the dim past and the far away future in a deathless embrace of existence.

(meditation on Broken Blossoms by D.W. Griffith. The screenplay was based on a story by Thomas Burke in the collection Limehouse Nights, an old copy of which with woodcut illustrations I own.  This same story was used as one of Isak Dinesen's in the film Out of Africa as being a story she told dinner guests.)

Chimayo



El Santuario de Nuestra Seňora



 --

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/josefranciscosalgado/page6/

Commentary on "The Thief of Water"



The Thief of Water is a poem I wrote in my poetry blog last year, and I have been working on an extension of it since then, more as a novel than poem. This note was made today:

Faith is Water.
To most of us, Faith is Rain: it falls from the elevated places on high upon those beneath and brings them relief from the heat, growth for their crops, and sometimes the irate ravages of floods. However, that is the end of it. When rain has reached the earth and been taken into the soil, or the flood has reached the trampling-stones at the doors of the sea, there is an end to it.

But that is not how Faith is.
Beyond the soil and  beyond the seas are the vast and somnolent aquifers beneath the surface of the planet, where waters old when the human race was young still reside in their almost pristine majesty. Then there are the subterranean rivers rushing through caverns unknown to man, rushing like Coleridge's Alph to seas that have not seen the sun since the first comets fell.
From here the waters cycle and re-cycle, eventually finding the sun, evaporating back into the heavens like rarified spirits of Heracleitus, losing their spirituous nature and condensing into clouds to rain down again, flowing in freshets and in acequias and through engineered systems to refresh every person.

Faith never stops. If Faith stops, the world ends.

--
note:  acequia  - a water channel in desert areas of North America

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Clap if You Believe in Slavery!!



http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/07/AR2011010703178.html

Five Myths About Why The South Seceded
By James W. Loewen
Sunday, January 9, 2011; 12:00 AM



Excellent article worth reading since there is a lot of revisionist historical twaddle being spread around by the right-wing twaddlers-in-chief these days about this very topic. There are or were some commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the secession of the Southern states in 1860-61 planned, and the whole rationale is that the internecine  Unpleasantness Between The States was due to a difference of opinion about States' Rights or whether the Mason-Dixon Line was actually not a line at all, but a rhombus.

For myself, the most interesting part is:
Other seceding states echoed South Carolina. "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery -- the greatest material interest of the world," proclaimed Mississippi in its own secession declaration, passed Jan. 9, 1861. "Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of the commerce of the earth. . . . A blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization."

We can absolutely believe anything if we just want to badly enough. I mean, this whole things reminds me of Peter Pan where Peter asks the audience to clap their hands if they believe in fairies, thereby saving the life of Tinkerbell! Generations of excellent men did the same thing with Slavery. Imagine John Calhoun - or Thomas Jefferson, for that matter - loudly exhorting us to clap if we believe in Slavery!
But that is essentially what many did and many continue to do.

This is essentially what we are doing now.

What are the ideologies and beliefs we are presently pushing ourselves to applaud for most loudly? Guns? Free Market Politics? Small Government? Budget Balancing? Justice Scalia's Originalism (originalism is a principle of interpretation that tries to find out the original meaning or intent of the authors of the Constitution of the US)?  Atheism? Fundamentalism?
Take your pick. You pay your 2 cents and you take your choice.

--

Recycling

Garbage In, Garbage Out.

It holds true for so many things:  software, our bodies, even free markets; garbage in, garbage out.

Then there is Religion itself. I think we may safely maintain that in Religion the maxim of garbage in, garbage out holds true.
So instead of what we may   "get"   from God, maybe we should make an effort to perfect that which we bring to the Temple.

--

Tiger Mother, Dolphin Mother



There seems to be a controversy about the child raising ethic of China versus other ethics, and has been summed up as Tiger Mother, a mother who is strict but loving and is tough on her kids so that they will be successful. There is controversy. Someone else wrote about nurturing Dolphin-type mothers who would be the role model of choice for well-rounded children.... and so on.

I thought about it.
I do not know much about child-raising in China. The One-Child Per Family policy is said to have led to a good deal of spoiling the one child, hardly a situation where the mother makes the child wait out in the snow until the child relents and agrees to practice the violin.
Fact: no one knows enough about all the child-raising techniques in China... even the Chinese. It is a big country.

It is a matter of which script or screenplay do you want to buy into, nothing else.
Fact: we buy into anything that smacks of large increases in Gross Domestic Product, no matter what. Since China is growing, China must raise their kids better and have better snacks and the beer must not be too shabby, either!
Remember how many kids were starting to learn Japanese back in the 80's? Not so many anymore. Japanese GDP slowed down. Who in the US public forum cares how the children of Nippon are raised? No one.

Fact: the link between China's growth and strict child-rearing is a matter of choice: its truth is in the eye of the beholder.

Fact: Some US states are going to renege on their promised pension benefits to retired public employees. Tiger or Dolphin, our children will watch us break our promises and bonds... how do you think that'll work out?

I think our dear, sweet kids will grow up twisted like the sharpers and grifters and know-nothings that are destroying our society. Clueless in Gaza, we get our thrills not by exploration of space, not by the arts, not by meeting the obvious problems of the future by innovative ideas and social communication, but by arguments and threats punctuated with gunshots painted on a black velvet background of Reality TV.


--

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday News

de Habana:

Vladímir Ilich Lenin murió el 21 de enero de 1924.
Fue el principal dirigente de la Revolución de Octubre y el primero de la Unión de Repúblicas Socialistas Soviéticas.

--

One Market Under God

Thomas Frank makes the point in his book, title above, that our notion of free market has become a religion. How so? Do he overstate the case or not?
I don't think he overstates it.
Just like God, the Free Market is some sort of massive reality beyond our understanding, doh! So we'd better let it do what it wants or it'll act up rough!

It gives you an idea how inane our notions of God are, if any complex phenomenon that is blind and stupid and inhuman can be considered by us to be a god!

--

Poetry: Paul Fort



Paul Fort passed in 1960 in France.

He wrote:

Le bonheur est dans le pré, cours-y vite, il va filer...
Happiness is in the meadow; go quickly, before it runs away...

If he had been  born in 1960, he might have written:

Le bonheur est dans le pré, cours-y vite, on va filer...
Happiness is in the meadow; go quickly, you can score....

("score" in the sense of buying drugs.)

And this reminded me of my flu shot last November. As we walked up to the nurses' table with doses of the vaccine arrayed in syringes, I said "Hi! We're looking for Needle Park."
I have no idea if anyone else was familiar with the book Panic In Needle Park, but it got a laugh anyway. So I dream of panic in the park and happiness in the meadow, and then I mix the two with indignation, savage indignation that continues to lacerate.

Everything seems so very stupid these days. I do not know how to describe it. It's like getting off a train into some odd country where everyone is on edge, but no one seems to know why. It is the middle of our winter, and the closed windows of cars waiting at the train station are heavily fogged to the point of condensation beginning to drip down the glass, and you wonder why no one cracks a window open for a little fresh air. Everyone wears The North Face and when they talk, it is filtered through layers of Polartec.

I would rather talk of the Image Grammar of Jacques Tati or Steven Spielberg than read about modern day discontents forced in to Foucault's philosophy. Ridley Scott's Alien - in my mind - started a Gothic pageantry and philosophy in the imagination that I find more interesting than Rimbaud right at the moment.


Why can we not jump over our self-imposed limits and run quickly to the meadow where that strange aurochs named Happiness ruminates?





Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Web of Words January 20 2011: dribble



First, we shall strike a high note with a philosophical quote of Jean Baudrillard,
A society which allows an abominable event to burgeon from its dungheap and grow on its surface is like a man who lets a fly crawl unheeded across his face or saliva dribble unstemmed from his mouth—either epileptic or dead.
I am not exactly thrilled with this quote. M. Baudrillard has said a number of things which sort of leave me nonplussed and vacant-starey-eyed-ish (or tharn, as it is succinctly stated in Watership Down)... and as perplexed as a chap reading a Persian legal document.
For another example,
The new shopping malls make possible the synthesis of all consumer activities, not least of which are shopping, flirting with objects, idle wandering, and all the permutations of these.
The first activity, shopping, is redundant, since we are in a shopping mall; the flirting with objects is tantalizing and yet remote. The invocation of all permutations of the forms of shopping and flirting merely flings us into the infinity of mind-fogging mathematics of consumers desire... and we are exhausted without reaching satiation.

What started all this was the word "dribble". In Le Monde today we read,

Hu Jintao dribble sur les droits de l’homme

http://clesnes.blog.lemonde.fr/2011/01/19/hu-jintao-dribble-sur-les-droits-de-lhomme/

which loosely translated comes out that "Hu Jintao dribbles on Human Rights". Since he and President Obama were holding a press conference at the time this occurred, it may have led to a major diplomatic embarrassment. Since there was also a state dinner involved, I immediately "tazed" on the possibility that the President of China had picked up a large ornamental porcelain gravy boat, laden to the upper Plimsoll markings with the brown and buttery, and had proceeded to "drizzle" or "dribble" a longish stream of turkey gizzard by-products upon some celebratory gift volume of Thomas Paine that President Obama had brought along.
The act would have been either, (1) a ghastly insult and tantamount to a declaration of war, or (2) an inscrutable Zen-type response (actually, it would be more correct to say a Taoist response!) that would change the world.
Of course, it was (3): neither of the above.

There were some translator problems which seemed due to a very long response of President Obama to a question about Human Rights, the President unexpectedly responding with a rather extensive historical pageant of Human Rights through American history since Nixon went to China, and overwhelmed the translation squad who had been expecting a hearty "Hooray for the Rights of Man!" from the President, and were caught off guard. There was no instantaneous translation and things slowed down, leading President Hu to finally omit his own response to it.When it was repeated, he answered it.

So far, no "dribbling" that I can see. An omission is not a "dribble", plain and simple. We must read on.
Certainly so far there is no indication of  "dribble" in the salivatory sense, nor in the "Exxon Valdez-gravy boat" sense mentioned above; it may be "dribble" in the sports sense. And since we are reading French, it is probably not basketball, although at first I strained at imagining President Hu bouncing a question up and down the length of the conference hall, then doing a Meadowlark Lemon: caroming the query off some officious person's head and into the basket: swish!
But we must turn to soccer, where "to dribble" - in French "dribbler" - is to move the ball down field  by a rapid succession of short kicks.

And this is how Hu dribbled:  "China is quite determined to respect the universality of Human Rights. However, China is a country with an enormous population and is right now at a critical point of its development..."

Now comes the "kicker";

"... We are prepared to study the good example and best practices of The United States."

Somehow President Hu managed to modify the meaning of "dribble" from a series of intra-team kicks to sort of a game of "Hot Potato" (patate chaude) where we kick the ball between the teams!
To get the right idea in American English, we would have to say something like "Hu Jintao Punts On Fourth Down On Human Rights".
Well done.

--

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Populism, Progressives, and Liberals


 William V. Allen, US Senator from Nebraska, 1893-1899


In the present age, we know nothing and see nothing save what is on cable 24/7. All that has gone before is blown away like chaff. How little we suspect that the precious wheat has been blown away in the wind, too. Yesterday we spoke of William Jennings Bryan and our jejune understanding of him. What do we know of Liberals? Or of Progressives and Populists? What do we know of a country one hundred years ago and its response to some of the very same problems which we face today?

On the simplest level, let us examine the farmer: was he a conservative force in the country? I find very little evidence that the farmer has been a reactionary force in the country. Conservative, yes, but not reactionary and conservative to the point of a blind resistance to innovation.
In 1948 the farmers of the Midwest were the decisive factor in the re-election of Harry Truman in that memorable election when H.V. Kaltenborn and the newspapers predicted that Dewey had won. On through the 1960's farmers elected representatives in government that were liberal by any definition of liberalism.

As Frederick Jackson Turner said of the farmer in the pioneer settlement: "He was forced to make old tools serve new uses; to shape former habits, institutions, and ideas to changed conditions; and to find new means when the old proved inapplicable. He was building a new society as well as breaking new soil; he had the ideal of nonconformity and of change. He rebelled against the conventional."

That was the farmer, whether gentleman or not, that founded the USA: conservative in tradition and revolutionary in application. After the farmer had pushed westward and opened new lands, soon the frontier closed behind him and upon him as the suffocating conformity of an imperfect society of inequity and slavery encircled him.

By 1890, Mary Ellen Lease was traveling the country, orating and telling the audience that the farmers had best raise less corn and more hell! There was a new People's Party which defeated both Republican and Democrat organizations. Populist farmers' group formed alliances with Democrats in certain localities. In 1892 a coalition of Populist farmers and urban Democrats elected Democratic Governor John Altgeld, who was eventually a decisive influence in securing the Democratic nomination for William Jennings Bryan for the 1896 presidential election.

William V. Allen, elected as a Populist by the Nebraska legislature to the office of US Senator (this was before senators were elected by popular vote) in 1893, wrote in an essay about the West and East of the US in a spirit that is fully recognizable today,
The East is wedded to an abnormally high tariff for a distinctly protective purpose; that is, for the purpose of enabling one class of citizens, through the means of high-priced articles... to transfer much of the earnings of all other classes to their own pockets.
(North American Review)

Populism was government by all the people, not just an elite. As such, the Populist were in favor of some degree of governmental regulation to enable the people to be free from the dictates of the East and Big Business. Government, being of all the people, was not seen as inimical to the people, rather it was an instrument of the people. As Turner again wrote about Senator Allen himself: "As a boy, he saw the buffalo driven out by the settlers; he saw the Indian retreat as the pioneer advanced. His training was that of the Old West, in its frontier days. And now the frontier opportunities are gone. Discontent is demanding an extension of governmental activity in its behalf."

And much of this notion of "opportunities" in the West were enmeshed with freedom from the wealthy who sought to grow richer at the expense of all others.

Populism was not a hayseed Know-Nothingism, such as is the Anti-Governmental populism of the Tea Party in evidence today; Populism laid the groundwork for some of the most significant social experiments in our history. The LaFollette Progressives built upon the foundation of the Populists, and they built a partnership of farmers, workers, and university intellectuals in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Idea still attracts fertile minds. In neighboring Minnesota, there was the Farmer-Labor Party; all of this was well before Frankling Roosevelt came on the scene.

It is time to lose our ignorance and become a part of one of the noblest continuums within our History. It is time to take back the public forum from the Know-Nothings and their Radio brothers and sisters. It is time to be proud.

Frederick Jackson Turner, Historian

--

New Zodiac

Doesn't it strike you as odd that the sun rises exactly 30 days in each of the signs of the zodiac?
How handy is that?
Rubbish.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

WJB




William Jennings Bryan is a prime example of our utter lack of historical continuity. We all believe WJB to be little more than an bible-thumping buffoon who led the prosecution at the Scopes Monkey trial, as recorded in Inherit The Wind.

William Jennings Bryan was a Populist politician. He ran on the Democrat Party ticket and was supported by small farmers and workers. He opposed the monied-interests on the East Coast.

His oratory sets him in opposition to those in power today, as evidenced from his Cross of Gold speech:
If they dare to come out in the open field and defend the gold standard as a good thing, we shall fight them to the uttermost, having behind us the producing masses of the nation and the world. Having behind us the commercial interests and the laboring interests and all the toiling masses, we shall answer their demands for a gold standard by saying to them, you shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.

WJB at 36 years old
**********
Other  WJB  : william jennings bryan posts
--

Dog Lingo

There are a number of dogs suddenly in the news who posses a vocabulary greater and richer than mine. However, even though they point to a bone when they heard the word "bone" uttered, they do not initiate language, nor do they fall into language - like saying "Bone? Why are you looking for the bone again?".

Language requires initiating communication as well as receiving and interpreting communication.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Future Tense

The Future is being offered to us, and we have but to accept it.
It will be a long and arduous task. far beyond anything we have ever dreamed of attempting.

It will be a hero's quest, and there is no mistaking that it will be the most difficult journey we have ever set upon, and once started, there will be no turning back.

The Future is our Grail quest, and it is not a Dan Brown fiction: it will be frightful in its consequences. We stand as Arthur did among the entering barbarians and the exiting Roman legions, and we face the same choice whether to pick up the instruments of leadership or let them rust.

Shall we slip into obscure barbarism, or shall we recommit ourselves to the ideals that have almost vanished from our land, attenuated by hatred, fear,and our damnable ignorance? Shall we take up the fight against anger inchoate as yet but none the less egocentrically intent on its self-aggrandizement?

It will take the rest of our lifetimes... so pack a bag.

--

Sunday, January 16, 2011

All or Nothing

I am reading about the future of oil exploration and deep drilling. New technologies and new understanding of the geologies involved. It is overwhelming and ricochet of new facts and new data make my head spin, and I am in awe just as back when I was new to science fiction.
It is as awe-inspiring as science fiction, and to my primitive mind, it is - like Arthur Clark says - seemingly magic and wizardry
It manages, however, to ignore the dark side of the old stories, such as the exhaustion of the earth after everything has been drilled, or the loss of the ability to sustain the high technology as society fights against greater impacts - such as adverse climate change.

There is always a downside. Only the money guys pretend it does not exist, but we know it does. Always evaluate the up side and the down side.

Libels

Someone asked me if I was serious about my post "Jud Suss" and what it implied. I said that I was, that formerly one would have to scour out Aryan Nation websites to read such things, and now the anti-Semitic trash is everywhere to be seen.
The fact that the lies are labelled as such is a disclaimer people may or may not heed. The fact that there are "Birthers" still blazing with the righteousness of their cause is a sufficient indication to me that "facts", "truth", and "disclaimers" are mere inconveniences for many people.

It has been my experience that if I publicly acclaim my neighbor by stating that
"So-and-so is a fine man who does not commit child sacrifice, nor does he enrich himself at the expense of the rest of us!"....
...some of it would stick.

--

Violent Karma

Petitions to Lords of Xibalba, "Place of Phantoms"

In the French Revolution, Robespierre called forth the Terror during which many were killed. Soon Robespierre himself was killed by the Terror which he invoked.

Violence destroys everyone, friend or foe.

We have waited too long. There was a general accumulation of guns and ammunition in 2007 to 2009, as well as an increase in violent imagery. There will be a bloodletting, but my feeling is that it will of short duration. Things are sort of up in the air right now. It's not clear whether the recent blood is sufficient to appease the dark gods that drive us blindly on.

--

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Either...Or

 Carter and Brezhnev


Someone is either insane, or they are not insane, right? We could not truthfully say that someone is both sane and insane, right?
Wrong.

Mutually Assured Destruction, or MAD, was a nuclear strategy that deterred nuclear war based on the fact that each side would destroy the other. The usual suspects we have for leaders would say it was a "rational" strategy and it worked.

I say it is an island of Insanity within the universe of Rational Strategies.

I say that it is too early to assert that it worked, for as a  by-product it has led to an all too easy acceptance of too many nuclear weapons in too many hands, while it also led to wars to prevent nuclear weaponry where there was none: pure insanity.

The Joint Achievement of the USSR and the USA to prevent nuclear destruction was one of the greatest Moral Victories in the history of Mankind, even though no one celebrates it. Still the Victory is not yet complete. When it is complete, we shall see whether MAD was mad or not.

Jud Suss



The Jew Suss, a film made in Germany around 1944.
Propaganda film...

I am wondering why Glenn Beck has a list of enemies in the elite, and eight of the nine listed for Friday's show are Jewish.
I am wondering whether the phrase "blood libel" was used purposely - regardless whether it made sense or not in the context of the Palin creature - as a way of acceptably bringing it back into the attention of the populace. Hitherto, not a lot of people would have been aware of the notion of the libel of child sacrifice.
Now it has made headlines, and everyone knows of the allegation of child sacrifice again.
And a child, Christina Green,  has indeed been killed.

Patterns within patterns.

--

Just What Education Needs

New Jersey Governor Christie wants to eliminate teacher tenure. Apparently he thinks that is the problem with education, that along with a poor evaluation of teachers in the first place.

Governor Christie, tenure was the quid you throw teachers for the pro quo of under-paying them for importance of their work.
Once tenure is gone, they will rightly demand more pay for the job of educating America's children.
At that time, New Jersey school districts will resist this demand, arguing that New Jersey is still too impoverished to do any such thing.

The problem is systemic in society, not merely within the educational part of society. By politicizing education we shall ensure the continuation of the Idiocracy in our country.

Rumblings of Accord



My lady wife has upset me; she knocked me a bit off kilter.
I am so much used to being ignored by everyone I know - ignored for my opinions, that is - that I am rather stunned when someone says something that sounds like agreement. Of course, the reason that I am ignored might not be the opinions themselves, but the messenger. Having delivered some pronouncement, it would not be unheard of for me to dodge into my Arnold Toynbee persona and start quoting Latin and Greek, French and Arabic, to cite Herodotus or 'Antara, thereby dashing any sympathy which may have germinated.
I tend to focus a bit maniacally on things I am interested in, and I am interested in my opinions. They are how I create the world, and I pay attention to mine and other peoples'.

Yesterday my wife spoke about Christina Taylor Green, the  nine-year old child who was killed in Arizona. Christina had been born on 9/11 and that birth upon that horrible day seemed to have been part of an effort to reverse the awful events of that day by giving the world a bright and vivacious child whose life may well have assuaged pain and promoted well-being.
Here lies the first irony, the first reversal: a turn from killing to new hope in the birth of Christina.

Then most untimely she is killed and her life is wasted, reminding us of the many lives that are similarly wasted each day.
This is the second irony: the abrupt reversal from hope to desperate yearning - a hope that has no visible means as yet of fulfillment. We have not changed from hope to despair, but we have lost the guts of our optimisim: we have lost the  bright and shining children of the future.

This unsettles my lady wife, because she sees a warning within it.

That unsettles me, because I get so used to what I say that I take it for granted: rise up in the morning, get a cup of coffee, then write something nasty about society as a whole.
When people start agreeing with me, I realize that time is getting short, because the outcomes that I have looked at are not pleasant, and I have frequently moaned about being born in a time of trials... but none of us can go back, so we have to tough it out.

The Irony of religion  bears looking into. The Almighty throws the mighty from their thrones and raises the lowly: reversal. Pride goes before a fall - this is not an idle observation of sociology, rather it is a description of life itself: pride contains the seeds of its own destruction.
Joy and Suffering are not necessarily opposites, they are not similar to Hegelian Thesis and Antithesis; they are the elements of the Irony of Life. And it is the very Shock of Irony, the incredible way that a sudden reversal gets our attention, that makes us pay attention in the first place! Without the shock of irony, we would live on dreamily like the lotus-eaters, living a drowsy dolce far niente existence.

And the preceding meditation upon irony is why I have been thinking so much on Quakers and their beliefs recently:
if in the normal course of things the irony of life ensures that each act contains the seeds of its opposite, then should I not be lowly so that I might be raised? Shall I not be not be meek so that I might inherit the kingdom? And should I not be a peace-maker so that I might be a child of God?

--

Friday, January 14, 2011

Securitas

Ah, security! I can breathe the air of sancta securitas!

Now, explain to me why it is that when I want to get on an airplane there is a lot of paperwork, I may have to take off my shoes, I may be X-rayed and subjected to intimate inpsections, and everyone thinks that's just dandy because we all want to be safe, yet - remebering that we all want to be safe - why can a deranged person buy a gun and not need a permit to carry a concealed weapon?

The Way

All these years I've heard of women named "Hooda" and it never dawned on me what the name meant until the other day at the bank when the lady said she had a sister named "Noor", just Noor. If she had been Muslim, she might have been named Nor al Hooda possibly... and it popped into my head "Oh! Light of the right path!".
Hooda means path or way, but it is also a religious term indicating the Right Way or path.

Thinking along these lines and a post I had the other day, I remembered when Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
I feel the word "truth" is used in an inclusionary sense - incorporating all things - rather than an exclusionary sense that sets some things outside. Certainly St. Paul's take on it suggests so.

Exclusionary truth eliminates things; we end up with one winner, one truth teller. Inclusionary truth is like Harry Truman's poker games which widened everyone's chances of winning.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Palin Does Not Get It

And she never did. She never understood the concept of finishing the job as Governor she had been elected to.

Palin is the Alcidbiades of the present age, and her lack of seriousness and decency will bring disaster somewhere.

JIEC 1








The Journal of Industrial and Economic Cosmology (JIEC)

First article
David Byrne, excerpts from Knee Plays, 1985
In the future everyone will have the same haircut and the same clothes
In the future everyone will be very fat from the starchy diet
In the future everyone will be very thin from not having enough to eat
In the future it will be next to impossible to tell girls from boys, even in bed.
--

New Journal




The Journal of Industrial and Economic Cosmology

Now accepting papers.

--

Climate Change: The Crisis

Briefly stated, Growth and Sustainability do not mix well. They are like the proverbial oil and water, or - even more illustrative - like the Grain and the Grape, the intemperate mixing of which at parties surely leads to a hang-over in the ghastly bright dawn.

As we presently think of matters, Growth and Sustainability are at opposite ends of the spectrum. The irresponsible fiduciary behavior of governments has resulted in huge deficits which can be addressed by austerity programs, or vast growth, or both. Since austerity is politically unpopular, there will be a tendency to stress exponential growth and exploitation of resources for at least the period of recovery.

In essence,our fiduciary irresponsibility has led us to ignite what we hope will be a bonfire of growth and exploitation. This will combine with increasing populations, rain forest deforestation, and all the other ills in the litany of climate change to produce the worse possible set of circumstances. It will be a perfect storm of unrestrained growth and environmental barbarism.

This will be the exact time when Climate Change takes it up a notch.
And we shall be defenseless, for we shall have lost even the will to address the issue, for Growth will have been our god for too long.

--

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Ghost Dance 2



I have read a lot about the Ghost, or Spirit, Dance which was the teaching spread by Wovoka, or Jack Wilson.
My interest started a long, long, long time ago when I had first discovered that religion was not only what was on display in the "conservatories" of religion, nor had the horticulture of the age rendered all religious growth coppiced and pollarded, or pruned into static topiaries!

I had discovered Religions of the Oppressed by Lanternari, and had realized that religion, far from being well-defined and systematized, was on the loose in the world and was growing like some mad kudzu everywhere!

So when I came across Mooney's account of The Ghost Dance, I was enthralled. I never forgot the recounting of the story of the Prophet showing two men an old black hat: one saw an old black hat, the other saw the universe within the ambit of the sweaty brim! How different - I thought - may the Truth be to two different men!

Later, when Clarence Thomas was confronting Anita Hill, I saw the same thing. One day it came to me that both individuals were telling the Truth! I was amazed, truly amazed.
I was amazed at the set-up: we have two people who contradict each other. In our present scheme of things, one has to be telling the truth, and the other mistaken or lying. Typically, the one we feel political sympathy with is telling the truth.
The realization that both were telling the truth was stunning, not so much for the nature of truth that it revealed, but for the duplicitous nature of the set-up that we all mindlessly accept. We will never grasp truth as long as we start our inquiry beforehand by stating that the assumptions involved in the set-up are themselves already true.

(Mrs. Thomas recently placed a call asking Ms. Hill to confess to her misleading  testimony, and this was debated by our media representatives, which indicates that we mostly still believe in the set-up. The judicial system has a certain manner of conducting its business based on this type of winner-take-all logic which works for the judicial system, but this does not imply we extend the paradigm beyond the court room.)

I found that realizing both told the truth forced me to not take sides and to be silent, for what really could I add to the situation? Not a bloody thing! There was nothing to analyze if both sides are indeed telling the truth.
The fact that the two truths seem so disparate is our problem, not a problem of Truth itself.

I do not attack Truth. I do attack the way we deal with it. Truth does not lead to discord, it leads to amity. Truth does not lead to division, it leads to community. And Truth makes for a congress - a coming together - that is a concert of trust.

Truth will make us all Peace-makers. We are yet a long way from that.

--

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Budget Stressed Cities Make Ends Meet...


David Politzer
http://davideology.com/?cat=4

--

Virtue

Virtue is the way we ensure that things will be OK when language and analysis fail us.

Climate

From The Daily Galaxy:

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2011/01/current-climate-change-not-part-of-natural-cycle-arctic-evidence-unlike-any-seen-during-previous-war.html#more

January 11, 2011
Current Climate Change Not Part of Natural Cycle: Arctic Evidence Unlike Any Seen During Previous Warming Episodes

The possibility that current climate change might simply be a natural variation like others that have occurred throughout geologic time is dimming, according to findings that reveal that sediments retrieved by University at Buffalo geologists from a remote Arctic lake are unlike any seen during previous warming episodes. The team was able to pinpoint dramatic changes that began occurring in unprecedented ways after the midpoint of the twentieth century.

"The sediments from the mid-20th century were not all that different from previous warming intervals," said Jason P. Briner, PhD, assistant professor of geology in the UB College of Arts and Sciences. "But after that things really changed. And the change is unprecedented." ...

"Unprecedented" is a word I do  not like.
Our morbid pre-occupation with politics... our OCD fixation and need to politicize everything because talk radio shows make money... is leading us to an unfortunate era when a bankrupt country can not help its citizens escape the wrath of nature.

Symbol & Sign 9: The Hero Myth



There is something in life that often leads us to the conclusion that life is an illusion. I do not know if it is our culture alone, or whether it is common to many cultures. I suspect it is common. When St. Paul speaks of putting away the things of a child, or when the Lord Buddha speaks of Maya, it is clear that there is a dynamic of change which can be seen as illusion and disillusion.
The shooter in Tucson seems to have arrived at the point where life is seen to be empty, a judgment based upon his present state of mind. Interviews with his friends mention his sense of nihilism.

The story of the Hero is the story where the protagonist goes beyond this point; the Hero does not accept their first encounter with chaos (lack of meaning) as a true end to their quest. The Hero senses that there is yet more: even as there was a long journey from birth to the present situation the Hero finds themself in, so also is there more road to be traveled on their quest.
One facet of the Heroic is the fact that heroes do not stop; they continue; there is no end to the quest. Even when the Hero has become King of the Realm, monsters still rise up from the depths of the forests to bedevil Beowulf.

The next step after one has arrived at the understanding that Life is an Illusion is the journey to the recognition that Illusion itself is illusive. Once Life has no meaning, the quest must follow on to the point where Life is filled with meaning... it is the next logical step for the Hero. It is not the next logical step for those of us who fail.

--

What is the Reward for Virtue?

The problem is not heated rhetoric; the problem is we ourselves.
The problem is not guns; the problem is our lack of virtue.

I am not interested in the theory of virtue in morality as a strictly philosophical inquiry (mainly because I never parted ways from it - not that I was ever that virtuous), but soon we shall all take an interest in what it means to be virtuous and how one goes about doing it.

On a very simple level, it brings to mind the British Empire and the playing fields of Eton, where teamwork and playing one's part were inculcated in the minds of British boys. It brings to mind a simple complex of behaviors: sports team and their dynamics.
Sports had always been considered important in the US also for similar reasons.
Then I think of all the years of stories about parents being out of control at children's sporting events and the speculation on what these spectacles taught the children. I remember all the years of money grubbing owners and steroid using players and the total present day disrespect for the burden of "role model" by not only sports people, but almost any celebrity in the eye of the media.

What behaviors have we been rewarding and teaching?

Virtue is its own reward.
--

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sorry


I'm very sorry about all this political stuff. Other people do a lot more of it, and - I may say - they do a better job of it. I should stick to other things, like reading Le Figaro and telling you about the guy who "was in the grip" of alcohol and shot up a laundromat.
It is just that  certain things are way too over the top and must be spoken about, and if condemnation is needed, those things must be condemned in no uncertain terms. That's why I started this blog: to make sure that my chidlren know what I thought, to make a stand... to let them know there is another view point other than that of the mass media. (At the time, I thought the War in Iraq vastly immoral... still do. I think the karma will spill upon us like the contents of Pandora's box one day soon.)

I think I shall keep the Z over on the right. I always thought that the film had more meaning to me than was apparent way back when I saw it. How much could a film about other people in other places be so deeply insightful into my life? Well, if you wait long enough, I guess everything becomes clear. Everything resounds through time, back and forth.



Yves Montand was the star. My wife and I always liked Yves Montand. If you were to ask us our favorite film, we probably would answer Cesar et Rosalie in which M. Montand starred along with Romy Schneider; absolute favorite and we would say it is the best love story we ever saw. I think it was out during the era of Love Story. There was quite a difference between the two films, beyond the fact that Cesar et Rosalie was a comic love story. I think the director was Claude Sautet. I just checked on Amazon and they have it for sale.
I should get a copy, for surprisingly enough, it is very rare to see it. Most films re-surface through the years on TCM or AMC or on tape or disc or the local artsy theater,  but not Cesar et Rosalie. If the chance presents itself, see it.

Speaking of directors, as mentioned, Costa Gavras directed Z. My sister-in-law used to be a nanny in Paris for people who were friends of Costa Gavras; I guess she was a reverse au pair. She took care of a young boy who had one lamb chop for lunch every day, and my sister-in-law went to the butcher's every day to buy one chop. She also went to the baker's and possibly the green grocer's.

I also like The Battle of Algiers very much.


We saw True Grit on Saturday and the John Wayne version was on cable on Sunday. They are pretty much alike, except for the fact that Matt Damon's role is played by Glenn Campbell in the earlier version, and Mr. Campbell is way off the mark in comparison. It was a good film, but I have to see a film at least twice before I can analyze it to death... and I'm not going to see True Grit twice, thank you ( I have to count John Wayne's as a separate film.). If I must choose between drunkards, I preferred Jeff Bridges' drunk in Crazy Heart to his drunk in True Grit.


It was well worth the cost of admission, reduced as it was from the Holiday Season inflated ticket prices.
I know only one thing, however: after True Grit, people will be speaking with fewer contractions like aren't and won't for a spell of time and will most likely assiduously seek other ways of improving their diction.

Is Palin To Blame?

I personally blamed Palin months ago when that map with cross hairs targetting various districts appeared. I did not wait until this happened to blame Palin. Any fool who can live to be my age knows what happens when you do things like she did; it is only a question of how long it will take to come to fruition.
When Palin used shooting language  - like "reload" - in political talk, I blamed her then. I thought that the supposed distinction between shooting a bear and shooting an opponent may be lost on the more dim-witted of her listeners. As it turns out, it was.

I learned a long time ago that when you invoke Violence, no one is safe anymore, not even yourself.

Violence is a nasty Vampire that is in our house and killing people, but everyone says that it was not they who invited the vampire in!

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