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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ade Ileke 18: Moct

 
 

 Мост будущего,
неуклюжий формы вещей!

























--
Bridge of the future,
gawky shape of things!



----

The End of Dogma



The Network of Dogma, FOX, will change, and I think it will be noticeable in about 2 to 3 years. The network presently has a plan which casts it in the role of the Baltimore Cathechism (if you had gone to a Roman Catholic grade school, you would be familiar with it). There is an endless repetition of banal dogma. That is not an enduring posture to have.
Certainly, there is a great deal of the Repetitive & The Banal in the written word, also. It is something I assiduously try to avoid, although not always successfully. Most people that have some sort of beliefs that they wish to share with the rest of us tend to leave little to our imaginations: they force feed us the whole schmear, and they do it at annoying length.

If you want to teach somebody, if you wish to mentor, if you wish to set an example, you have to let the reader or the viewer exert a good deal of effort and come to the conclusion themselves. This business of spoon-feeding opinions is gruesome and smacks of electro-shock therapy to me. My mother was listening to Rush Limbaugh yesterday and I had to excuse myself and leave the room. I cannot bear having some guy on the radio yelling at me with all his facts and analyses and insights. Can... not.... stand... it!

This approach is a child's approach to didacticism: having been tutored by deficient teachers ourselves, we adopt their annoying methods to try and persuade others.

I am quite convinced that one cannot spoon-feed important insights to people. They have to be "midwifed" to their own conclusions (the method of Socrates). When this has happened, the mind has actively reached it own conclusions, and it has expended a bit of time and effort; the mind has something invested in its logic and conclusion...
A notion which a person comes to on their own is more... delicious!... than the endless array of  tidbits set out for tea by the Politician Mad Hatter and the Religious March Hare!

Forced fed dogmas are the stuff of people who can no longer think, but only fight for causes foisted upon them by the individuals from whom they derive their permissible mental lives. FOX will only endure in the form in which Roger Ailes created it if the future is so broken that all of us require a prosthesis where our brains used to be.

--

Friday, May 27, 2011

Words and Silence



Sometimes words seem like the lake or the ocean when there is a a sudden change of wind or a large freighter goes by and pulls the water out behind it, sending in a recoil wave after it has gone by. I feel as a child holding on the the side of a pleasure boat, ready to let go and step down a short distance to the clean, fine sand that carpets the bay where we are anchored, only to discover that, even though the sun is bright in a cloudless sky, the wind has pushed broadside against the craft or a wave has washed in, and the anchor has lost its bit and began to drag slowly out to deeper water. When I let loose, there is no bottom. I sense the onset of panic, feet expecting soft sand and finding only more water. The sun reflects off the white paint of the hull, exaggerating the splendor of the day; the shallow blue of the water gives way a lightly green with sandy tan, and I go down and find the bottom, and the surface is over my head. The sand is dirty and sucks at my toes.
I jet back up. Everywhere I look there are people playing and swimming; the sun is undiminished; there is laughter dripping in my ears with the water.
Someone pulls on the anchor to make it bite into the sand. Someone stares at me, and I begin to swim to the ladder hanging off the boat.
Words are like that. You may feel panic, and there is no bottom. Our anchors do not bite into the ground and a boat full of laughing people - friends and relatives - chock full of coolers with sodas and beer and barbecue roasting of the small tartan grills begins to float away.
There is an undertow that pulls us, and it throbs like words that cannot calm our fears.

That night, I lay unsleeping and stare through the large screened windows at the fireflies in three dimensions against a backdrop of the blinking range lights that guide the river traffic in front of my Grandmother's house. The boat is secured for the night in the boathouse, and that structure is dark as a coalsack.
During the day a boathouse is lit from below, the sun beating down and penetrating the water around it and shining up to light the interior with a pneumatic type of light unseen anywhere else in the world... a hydraulic lifting of the dusky solitude inside the boathouse; a uncanny light bouncing off the water and the river bed and creating a halo around the hull of that fickle, sometimes run-away boat.
So I muse now, at rest, wondering why I panicked, or almost panicked. I did not panic! No one saw any signs of distress and rushed to save me. I was just paddling to the smell of hamburgers on the grill, is all. I'll go out in the morning and walk through the boathouse on my way to the end of the dock; I shall carve the date and my initials in an obscure corner of the doorjamb. I feel intense.
The lights in the night create a different music, devoid of words, unmotored and unfueled by human economy, winking at me in a harmonious eternity, singing me songs of my future: soon to be a teenager and skinny-dipping under the full moon, soon to warm cold skin with someone else's skin; soon to feel extraordinary.

I am glad I did not drown in words.

--
pix:  http://heavens-walk.blogspot.com/

Friends

Blogger seems to have supressed the icons of friends in the right column. I can not see them. Sorry.

--

Prioritize Spending = Pay Debt and Stiff Everyone Else

If I understand the Radical Republican DeMint properly, he is saying that if there is a default by the US Treasury, it will be the Secretary of the Treasury's fault, because Geithner should prioritize spending, i.e., he should use all revenues to pay the debt service first, and not pay anything else until that debt is paid. This obviously implies that a large number of other things - wages of government employers, payments to vendors and suppliers, dare we mention Social Security payments? - need not be paid.

Run Government like a business! Like Tony Soprano's Bad-a-Bing Strip Club and National Government!
What Idiocy!
--

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Truth and Honour

There is not Truth.
There are only Survivors.
There are honorable survivors, and those who survive by dishonest and dishonorable means.

Those latter are not survivors, for they will be cut short.
The honorable will sprout again in the next Springtime.

--

End of the World and Belief Systems

There was a predicted End of the World, once more tediously again! - and the World ended not. What kind of belief is that? 

There was a disagreement about the nature of war, a certain war - the war in Afghanistan, to be precise. The disagreement was based on a dissonance between "belief systems", shall we say?

These led me to wonder a bit more about belief systems, which seem to be a motley group at best. Is there a great deal of coherence in belief systems, or are they most like aggregations of knick-knacks we pick up and carry along with us... somewhat like Marley's chains?
Well, I don't know.

However, it occurred to me that my usual stance that I do not believe in God; I expect God, has wrought an interesting change on what usually passes for a "belief system": the system of personal religious beliefs.

By changing religious statements from statements about beliefs into statements about expectations, it changes the dynamics of the situation. I mean, do you really think that you and I could seriously have a debate or argument about my expectations?
I suppose we could argue about whether the object of my expectations is "real" or not, but then I would refuse to do such a nonsensical thing. Why would I want to argue about the object of my expectations, as if the object were not yet realized? When I speak of expectation, I mean I expect God in the same way I expect the sun to rise. I do not believe the sun will rise, rather, I go and stand outside and prepare for my daily run at a certain time - which changes every day through the year - because the sunrise and I "do things together".  My expectation is not expecting a new surprise; it is the expectation born of familiarity. Hence, why would I argue about what I expect?

If my expectations are wrong, it is not quite as shattering as a belief being wrong. I have a lot less invested in it, whereas people seem to have a lot invested in belief systems. This may seem surprising: that I do not have a lot invested in an expectation of God. I have a lot invested in my car, not God. I do not spend money on my idea of God. Some people do. I do not have a separate part of my house for God. Some people do. I do not go to specialized advisors for God. Some people do.
If someone wants to say that the 50 years or so of searching for God is a great big "investment" of my life, I would say that that is life, not investment. God is not a set aside for later.

If I expect to see a friend, and that friend has passed on, then my expectations change; there is pain and sorrow, but these sufferings do not stem from the violence given to my belief system: they come from the nature of friendship and life.
Within a year or so, my expectations of seeing that friend will have passed, and I will have memories, not expectations.
Someone might say that I have my whole life invested in my view of God. I would answer that I have no view of God. I would refuse to argue, debate, or otherwise.... I would neither fish, nor would I cut bait, in this theological-philosophical sense. I have no interest in arguing with someone that God exists, when that same person will or will not go through a lot of life and make up their own minds in the fullness of time.
--

Monday, May 23, 2011

Another of our Wars

Um Ali , 53 years old, a mother of six and street vendor who sells vegetables, said this about Sunday's death and destruction: "What can we do? This is our destiny."
Um Ali means "mother of Ali". This is Baghdad, where 17 bombs went off Sunday. Britain's forces finished departing the country. Soon we shall be gone, too.

Karma is a bummer.

--

Climate Write-Offs

Many Japanese companies will have reduced earnings due to the earthquake. This is an excellent example of how the climate ( even though an earthquake is not a climate event ) will affect economies by interfering with production and distribution, leading to reduced earnings, and then an ensuing "domino effect" throughout.

--

A Controversy

I had an article on Afghanistan which said we should get out. A reader, Ben, disagreed entirely. I have wondered whether to argue about it, but I realize that his viewpoint was one of belief in the goodness of our country, whereas my viewpoint was one soured by things from Vietnam on through the present day.

The fact that I have seen disasters brought on by the Best and the Brightest in Foreign Policy and in Finance explains my sour mood, but it does not make my viewpoints valid, nor my arguments true. Similarly, Ben's intensity to believe the best does not make his opinions true.

So I guess we agree to disagree... still remain friends, and friends sometimes do disagree, right?

The problem I keep coming back to is that while we may have an amicable difference of viewpoints, we are acting like gentlemen among ourselves while we are engaged in a war in which people of every side are being killed.
Sometimes I feel like the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, watching the young people waltz in Vienna while Europe is in flames.

Therefore, should we argue in order to move things along?
No one is ever convinced by argument. Only time and emotional turmoil - good or bad - change us. In my case, I am still open to such turmoil if it will change me for the better. (It's not as if I could duck turmoil, anyway. It hunts you down.)
Furthermore, we had better not go into such engagements with the foolhardiness and almost total lack of preparation which surrounded our decisions post-9/11. Just because we have a legitmate gripe should not make us jump into the water without checking for rocks and shallow spots.

--

The Sunshine of Paradise Alley













The Title is an old song title, and it seems appropriate.
--

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bizness




Some people proclaim that Government should be run like a business.

Now they are saying that their business plan includes defaulting on debts, which is a bit too much like Enron for comfort.

I went to University of Michigan Business School, and they did not teach us that one. It apparently is a tremendous ego-booster and does all kinds of good things for a business. I knew some blokes who killed themselves back in '08 when everything went south and their debts overwhelmed them.
If they had but hung on until today, they would have realized that default is just the thing for what ails you: indeed, a hair of the dog that bit you, as Jack Torrance sez to Lloyd, the bartender, in The Shining.


--

S.F. Gets to Vote

... on male circumcision. Really.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-0521-rutten-20110521,0,45960.column
Of course, if circumcision is banned, millions of mohels will be out of work, and the Jewish community will probably have to diaspora over to Oakland (ouch!) or someplace else.

A wonderful example of direct democracy at work, and one which makes one appreciate the wisdom of the Founding Fathers who established a representative democracy.

--

Friday, May 20, 2011

JIGOKU

See Republicans say that default won't be so bad.

Nakagawa's film of 1960 depicting Hell on Earth, called The Sinners of Hell in the US release.
Or in Italian cinema:  Paura Nella Città dei Morti Viventi... City of the Living Dead.

I've said it before, and I will say it again:  The Zombies are already here, and they want to eat our brains! That's why we've made all those movies! Our subconscious was warning us that the monsters are among us.

The Age of Jigoku!!!!!!

--

Status Quo

I am happy.

I am much more able to deal with my vision of the future, which I have had for such a long time.

There was a loop, or a recursive function. In talking to Ben about "Virtue is its own reward", it was clear that the maxim meant by being virtuous, we are rewarded even "before" we perform virtuous acts: the reward of "being virtuous" precedes its instantiation as any act in the world: a loop in time where the reward precedes the reward-worthy action.
(Usually, we think of time going forward as an algorithm whose inputs are the acts we do  and the outputs are future states-of-affairs. A recursive function of the future would also allow us to take future states-of-affairs and then feed them back into the past, so the outputs would also become some of the inputs of the time algorithm.)

So what?

So there are a lot of loops. There are so many loops in time that time itself - or our usual way of looking at time as one-dimensional - becomes a bit suspect.

I was fearful of my vision of the future. I could not deal with it. So I had to struggle for years. The struggle did not destroy me, and now I feel more and more able to deal with that vision of mine which I call "The Future". In essence, my future looped back and terrified me, but in doing so, it made me struggle to be able to meet it when it came into being.

Craziness?
Let's talk again about it every 2 years. Keep notes.
(I will point out that the usual concept of "prophecy" or "foretelling the future" could be interpreted as a temporal recursive algorithm in the sense talked about... not that I make any such claim. Please! I am merely pointing out that the logic is not as bizarre as it may seem at first blush. Even so, it still seems pretty weird. The only difference between "prophesy": what will happen, and a present description: what is happening, is the tense and form of the verb "happen"... that plus our own expectations and emotions.)

--

Thursday, May 19, 2011

End the Afghan War Now

Afghanistan to me will always be the Wedding Party War:  the war in which we blew away numerous jolly revellers celebrating weddings because we thought they were Taliban guerillas. It may have been the bridal raiment that caused the confusion.

I am opposed to any further presence of my country in this War.

Somebody other than Afghanis are in on the billions in aid being misdirected, and the billions in drugs being grown and sold.

Withdraw from Afghanistan now. We have no right to be there anymore. If we ever did, our indiscriminate killing of innocents and civilians has nullified it. There's only so much justification to be wrung from the acts of 2001. End the war now.
The Taliban allowed Bin Laden to hide in their country. He had paid them by assassinating the head of the Northern Alliance a few days before 9/11. Bin Laden is dead. As disgusting as the Taliban may appear to some people, we have no just cause to be in what is their country fighting them anymore.
End the war now.

If we do not end it now, the military-industrial-corrupted leadership of this country will never remove our presence from there, at least not until that day when we totally implode, as did the USSR after their Afghan episode.
End the war now.

--

Black Swans.... Get It This Time?

http://fatherdaughtertalk.blogspot.com/2010/07/black-swans.html

An article on Black Swans, low probability events because they are outliers on the statistical distribution.

Problem is, everything is getting very Black Swan-y lately:
2008 - the possible destruction of the entire financial system (?!)
2010 - Deep Horizon biggest oil spill of all time
2011 - Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, worst nuclear disaster of all time
2011 - April tornado average until 2011 = 138 per April;  April 2011 had over 700 tornadoes.

There is a message here. It is not End of Times, either. The End of Times Lady was the one who I had lunch with the afternoon before Glenn Beck's Washington Rally: she not only believed in End of Times Right This Second!, but also that it was a lovely irony that Beck, a Mormon, was going to lead all Christian groups back together in harmony! Maybe she thought his anti-Semitism was going to do it: unite Christians and get kicked off FOX!
She also believes that End of Times is signaled by Israel's being restored in ONE day, to wit, the day of formal statehood back in 1948. Since the declaration of formal statehood is sort of the quick culmination of a lengthy process, this is not one of her sharper moments. I also used to quote Peter at her, "Before the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day."
She never quite got my point.

Anyway, not End of Times, dullards everywhere. People in Washington, prepare for an expensive launch into the future, which is arriving quicker every day now.

--

Ade Ileke 17: الركض







...أنا أركض
:صديقي يقول

!تلك الفتاة تهتم لك

...أنا أتوقف ,أفهم
أقول انها ليست مهمة
ولكن في وقت لاحق
...لا أركض
!أطير

----
I am running...
my friends says:
that young lady, she is into you.
I stop, think about it...
then I say it is not important.
later I am not running...
I am flying!
--

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Drinking Coffee At Home



Did you ever notice how nice it is to get up early in the morning, say 4:00 AM - when the traffic has not yet risen to feed - and have a quiet cup of coffee? I did so today. I rose a little before four: the clock was set for four, but I became restless between three and four, so I got up about ten minutes before four...

Which is a great time, understand. It is not too early at all. At 4 AM it is quiet and there are none of those Matrix gnarly types in sunglasses haunting the pavements and the play grounds around the Oracle's Apartment. Did you ever feel like the Oracle? I mean, you feel like your IQ is somewhere North of 100 yet you feel like a precious dope, and you sip on your tea and look out the window and the Albino Nelson Twins are hanging around, waiting to karate chop you like bok choy. I feel that way all the time in "normal" time... say, 9 AM to 6 PM: bok choy and chop suey. Not just "chop suey", but CHOP SUEY from the Edward Hopper painting during the Great Depression, and it's always Chicago, it's always cold, and everyone always is bundled up. Sensuality always wears a sweater, and your nudity feels as unpleasant as cheap velvet chairs.

But in the quiet of morning it is restful. Not at all like a day... hmmm.... like just last Thursday you came home from the gym to find a note on your front door saying the EMS had taken your wife to the hospital.
Eye opening experience!
And you had to run up and shower and put on clean clothes, remembering sometime in the past when you went to see her in the hospital and you were wearing one of her shirts! It's not enough to be a rapid responder; one must be properly attired.
And the relief of finding it was an attack of vertigo and not a stroke or tumor or anything else...
Much more relaxing.
Or maybe Saturday having your mother call and say father was not feeling well. Then Sunday she takes him to the hospital, and you go the 70 miles after your afternoon concert - you do go to the concert because just two days ago you forced yourself to realize that medical professionals were taking care of things, and you were not a doctor yourself.
So you stay two days, and you and your mother are exhausted. Your father's difficult and disoriented.

But then next morning things seem better.You know because you called the hospital this morning, and he's had a little breakfast, not having eaten for four days; doesn't seem as disoriented anymore...

I would bet you that you would really enjoy that quiet cup of coffee, and that you would fall in love with four in the morning!

Wherein I Explain Newt Gingrich...

Leo XIII


... while the usual brainy-types cannot.

Newt Gingrich has converted to Roman Catholicism. As a catechumen and convert of daunting intelligence and zeal, he has probably delved deeply into the Church's teachings, and has probably come across its teachings on a Just Society and the encyclical "Rerum Novarum" on the Rights and Duties of Capital and Labour issued by Pope Leo XIII.
I will right this minute make a bet that no other Republican Candidate, nor Rep. Ryan, for that matter, has even heard of such arcane things.

The Roman Catholic Church is a lot more than a present day scandal. And Mr. Gingrich is an influential convert who will draw upon the arsenal of the Church's history and teachings.

On the other hand, we can gaze upon the unhappy blokes who have left the Roman Catholic Church: Glenn Beck is an illustrious example. Did he leave in order to find more freedom to express his Anti-Semitism? Possibly. Or possibly he wants to proclaim some Chariots of the Gods religion, also.

Think about it: converts to RC - John Henry Newman; people who left the RC Church - Glenn Beck. Which is a superior example of a theologian or thinker?

--

There Are Only Survivors

David Mamet gave a speech a couple of years ago at Stanford, and there is an article in The Weekly Standard which mentions it. I find the part below interesting:

This led to a full-throated defense of capitalism, a blast at high taxes and the redistribution of wealth, a denunciation of affirmative action, prolonged hymns to the greatness and wonder of the United States, and accusations of hypocrisy toward students and faculty who reviled business and capital even as they fed off the capital that the hard work and ingenuity of businessmen had made possible.
 http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/converting-mamet_561048.html?nopager=1

There in a capsule is all the mish-mosh of our age: The Age of Stupidity... if we define stupidity as the inability to understand. Only a Meshugge could be as sure of himself as Mamet was. The mere fact that something makes me extremely upset does not invalidate it in any sense. Nor does my ire validate my point of view.
But it leads us all to create these beautiful illusions where everything is so very, very obvious and clear, and where our opponents are victims of multiple ironies brought on by their own inability to perceive things as acutely as do we.

Political and Economic arguments of the present day do not possess Truth values: they are opinions used to persuade by working on our pre-existing points of view.
The Ryan Burdget? There is no truth or falsity, nor is there any conceivable way of proofing its claims, for even if it were adopted, it would be changed and amended greatly over time.
There is no Truth in Politics and Economics; there are only survivors...

--

Origami Universe?



How do we get from the amorphous and chaotic Paper Universe to something that remotely resembles our own with its almost-lawlike structure... at least almost-lawlike to our present way of thinking?
Possibly think of Origami: paper folded - not cut - into crisp and definite discrete forms. The paper remains chaotic (amorphous pressed and dried pulp), but the work of art is well-defined.

Possibly interesting.

--

The Ryan Budget

At this time, what I see is a GOP effort to curb the deficit in the Health  Care area by reducing Medicare benefits to individuals, whereas the Democrats have been more focused on trying to control the exponentially increasing costs of the health care industry.

So it comes down to shall we control an industry that has costs rising out of control, or shall we take Medicare benefits away from the shlubs?

It's time for one of those commercials, where there are two sports-type arguing about beer: "more taste" or "less filling";   one guy sez "Control Costs!" and the other sez "Hit the Shlubs!"

--

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Needlework and Watercolour

Plant-fiber Paper made from Milkweed Pods


A world of law, a morality based on laws and commandments, reminds me of an needlework embroidery mesh which provides the regular framework upon which we may create great beauty. Our actions are the yarn and knots that tie our lives to the semi-rigid structure of the screen of the mesh.

The regularity of the mesh reminds me of the logic and the dogmatic structures we create to try and give form to our understanding of the universe. And embroideries are things of great beauty of the textile arts.

However, I think that reality is more like watercolor paper: a pulp of chewed up wood and cellulose that is somewhat stringy and fibrous, dried and pressed to create a sheet of paper. There is no regularity in the paper: it is amorphous with fibers and cellulose; if you pick at it, there is no telling where one ends and another begins. When paint is applied, it may suffuse through the fibers, spreading from one area to another.
Yet even upon this amorphous and chaos of fibers, we can create things of the greatest beauty, where our actions are the paint applied to the surface - not a rigidly defined focus of application, like one knot stretched between two openings of the mesh, but a watery spreading of color.

I think reality - and in particular, my view of Mankind's Agency in the World - is like the paper: you cannot tell where one part of the paper universe ends and another begins; all the fibers interweave and overlay, and, as things are done, the pigments and colors spread and interpenetrate everything.

In the Paper Universe, you cannot pick things apart; you cannot tell where God ends and man begins. In the Embroidery Universe, everything has its own place; they may be close to each other, but they are separate.
This does not imply anything like "God is in me, and we are all in God". I do not really see that as a logical conclusion. But I do see a conclusion in "We cannot tell where one thing ends and another begins... our understanding cannot break apart the layers and twists of fibers intermixed."

By this preparatory metaphor, I hope to understand the role of Virtue - which is more like Paper - and the present day predominant idea of morality - which is more like the rigid mesh.

 Needlework Mesh

--

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Morals and Laws

How was man moral before he received the words of God? Indeed, was there ever such a time? Men were righteous and good even back in the mists of time, even before the start of the religions we know of today. There were good people even before Abraham.

Mankind may be good, even outside the scope of our religions and their dogmas. Man was created with the ability to be good. The potential to be good is innate. Therefore, even if people say God is dead, this does not touch Morality and Goodness. It may render certain dogmatic beliefs out of date, but the need for Virtue is even greater. We ignore Virtue at our own risk, and Virtue is in our actions, not in our adherence to this our that law, for as previously said, mankind was virtuous even before Abraham so Virtue is beyond laws.

--

The Ethos of The Slave

 Absolute Compulsion and Obsession


We have recently wondered why mankind allows itself to be pushed into social and political dead-ends that seem to require bloodshed to come back to a semblance of equilibrium. Taking the American Civil War as an example is instructive: things moved along in a flood to a waterfall of destruction, and after a certain critical mass had been reached, the mutual loathing was such that there was no turning back from bloodshed.
Even the Christian Establishments of the South were four-square in their support of Slavery, considering it part of God's plan for mankind. Only within the past 15 years have a number of Churches apologized for their stand one hundred and fifty years ago.
The bloodletting, or the Bloodletting as we should capitalize it, brings things down from a fever pitch, but the infectious hatreds still remain.

How many hatreds could there be? I mean, how many based in a real physical act or atrocity. Consider the violence in the Lebanon Civil War: could there have been enough acts worthy of blood feuds and vendettas accumulated to account for that climax of violence?

I think not.

This is why I am reading Dr. Cunningham's book on Moral Agency and Albert the Great, and I am focused more on Agency than Albert right now.
Moral Agency considers morality from the standpoint of Man as a Moral Agent, not a Moral whirly-gig turned in the winds of Absolute Commandments.

We are used to a Juridical view of morality now. We are used to Absolute truth and Ten Commandments - even to the manifestly laughable extent that some of us think that good behavior will be restored if only the municipality could install a plaque inscribed with the Ten Commandments in front of the Town Hall!
The Holy is the Attractor, not the Constrainer!
We focus on Laws, not the Actor... the agent... the one doing things. We consider that Morality is forged in the forge of Laws and Justice and Judgement, not within the everyday actions of mankind. We think what men do is either follow laws, or ignore laws, and that is all they do according to our Morality.

This is Slave Morality.
We allow ourselves to imagine that we are driven and compelled by forces that are beyond our control. At the first inkling of discord, we point to old grudges, old crimes, and old attitudes that force our subjugation to the yoke of violence.

We believe that God and the Devil are possessed of absolute power to compel, and they do so in a ghastly meddlesome way, weaving influences through our lives and depriving us of Agency for our own acts.
The Holy is not somewhere beyond us in a realm of Absolutes. We are in the midst of it. If we believe God to be situate somewhere else, we believe that somewhere else to be a Heaven of Absolute Laws where He holds his Court to enforce the Laws.

The Holy is not somewhere else. We are in the midst of the Holy. We not only bear responsibility for our actions, but we establish the Kingdom of God or of Discord by our every action.We cannot resist evil if we allow ourselves to imagine ourselves living under the sway of the Force-of-Events or the Laws-of-Retribution or any other absolute denial of our Agency!

We are either free and absolutely Free! ... or we are Slaves!
So far, we still brood over the length of our chains.

Someone once said that if God is dead, everything is permitted.
That is the true ethos of a Slave. A moral agent acts virtuously whether he senses divine compulsion or not; a moral being does not equate being good with genuflecting, kowtowing, nor prostrating oneself before changeable tyrants. Virtue Is Its Own Reward... it is not a Pascal wager nor a fearful obeisance.

--

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Karma of Buying American



I bought a new Lasko room fan yesterday. It was made in the USA. There was a slight $8 premium on the price tag for this domestic bliss, as well as a name that was somewhat familiar; the others were companies never heard of before, such as "Eternal Breezes", and reminded me of lyric poetry by Li Po and numerous plum blossoms running down the river next to the Eternal Peace Pavilion...

I wish I had something else to say about it. I have been carping about it for years. My parents only started to talk about the lack of domestic manufactures four years ago, so I have to assume that coincides with the time frame of Fox News interest and emphasis on the phenomenon.
I just wish I had something else, some other feeling or insight or benefit, but I do not. I do not feel a thing. It was just something I had gotten in the habit of doing in shopping for things, and "Made in the USA" was on my checklist, and it was to be balanced - along with everything else - against the premium in price.

I mean, I am running out of things to say. I wish I had something comforting to say to people who have to confront the news everyday: the news from Washington being, in my opinion, much more troubling than anything the Middle East can drum up.
Osama? As I said yesterday, I shall party when we end just one of our wars, just one. And a good sized one, too. Not something like Reagan's Grenada Invasion: a blip on the radar... one just might pop up in the future in some whatever-istan. A good sized war... ending... party!

The State of the Union? I harped and kvetched about the running of at least two wars - Afghanistan and Iraq - for years without actually including the costs of war in the real budget. No one seemed to care. Politics and Ideology took front seat and relegated Fiscal Responsibility and Concern for the Future to the back of the bus.

I could go on, but I won't. All the talking points are known to you.
However, I will say that early on in 2008, I remember saying to myself, "There goes Health Care!"
I knew suddenly that reasonable and rational approach to health care for people who were not wealthy was no longer going to happen. It surprised me mightily when President Obama pulled it off. But the jackals are nipping at its heels...

Oil and Gas? I do not know. At least Big Oil actually pays taxes.
Years ago I studied the History of the American Economy, and we covered government supports and incentives for businesses, such as land grants for the railroad companies who were spanning the continent with railroad tracks.
This support was never intended to go on forever.
It is hard to take away an incentive apparently. Nobody ever lets go. Certainly the Oil incentives seem odd, in that companies so massive and so profitable need public support... but remember that the "support" is in the "Gazillions", so it is no small deal to the companies themselves. No matter how profitable things are, it hurts to take away a billion here or there.
There are the Agriculture price supports, too. And the supports for Lockheed and Boeing in their guise as part of the Military-Industrial complex; this support in the form of endless expenditures and a labyrinth of complex paperwork that defies rational control.
Then there is the Tax system...

Lastly, things have to be done with surgical skill and fine tools... the Texas Chain Saw Massacre approach is deadly. There is absolutely no guarantee of success of a heavy handed and brutish slashing of expenses: balancing the budget within one year is not a success... it would be a death sentence! So somewhere in between is where we should be: nothing in excess... wisdom of the ages and more proverbial tripe that we have ignored for the years of our empire.

So I bought a fan. I used to say that I was proud of buying American. Now it is a meaningless gesture, for I know that my security and well-being are being compromised and stripped away. I would dearly love to go out with a crowd, get drunk, and cheer... and I guess it doesn't matter if it's for Life or Death (like bin Laden's) anymore.
In the future, this Great Impoverishment will be handled in a few paragraphs in history books. Our casualties will then be fine and orderly, like the cemeteries you see for the fallen of World War I or at Gettysburg. Monuments will dot the landscape and seemingly make iconic the winters of our discontents and the summers of our dismay, but nothing shall make my suffering emblematic: we shall come as karma upon this land!

Let the leaders of today remember this.


--

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bin Laden Killing Celebrations?

I reckon I'll have a celebration when one of our wars comes to an end. I am fixing to throw a party. I guess I got about 12 more years to plan it, and it should be a whopper! You are all invited, but remind me when 2021 rolls around.

--

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mess?

At 3:00 AM my Google Blogger profile information seems to be messed up: wrong name, wrong date of blog start...  I have been answering comments as "John". If you find this message floating in a bottle, give it to whatever Earth government still functions!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Beliefs

Also from Luxor in Egypt:

http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/431870
...In related news, there were three child abduction attempts from nearby villages, one of which had witnessed the abduction of another child a few months ago. Some residents claimed the children were "to be presented as an offering to remove the pharaonic sentinel guarding an archaeological treasure," in accordance with some beliefs.
 --

Oil Will Write Our Epitaph




http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/432117

Demo before Saudi Embassy to protest financing of Salafis
Members of the Egyptian Shia community and several people claiming descent from the family of the Prophet Mohamed staged a protest on Tuesday before the Saudi embassy in Cairo, protesting against the involvement of Saudi Arabia in the funding of Salafi groups.
They claim Saudi Arabia is financing the Salafis in order to incite sectarian strife and disrupt Egyptian national unity.
A number of Coptic Christians joined the protests and raised banners condemning Saudi Arabia for hosting the deposed Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs.
“This is the second time since the revolution that we have staged protests to warn against the Wahabi influence,” said leading Shia figure Mohamed al-Dariny. “The government should put Saudi Arabia and those Salafis under the microscope.”

The Salafi groups were involved in the recent burning of a Coptic Christian Church, and have been a source of intolerance for a long, long time. Their fundamentalist organizations have been funded by Saudi Arabia for an equally long time.

What do you want to bet that we ignore Egypt? That we refuse to engage with them as helpful, sometimes critical, friends in their move to the future? Why? Because we are too much in thrall to Saudi oil.
Oil will write our epitaph.
--

Ai Weiwei: Unbelievable Resentment

Ai Weiwei


In Der Spiegel Online:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,761414,00.html

There hasn't been a sign of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei since he was arrested in early April. And the silence from the Western art world has been deafening as well. SPIEGEL spoke with German curator Roger Buergel, who helped Ai Weiwei on his path to stardom, about why artists have remained so passive.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Buergel, you helped initiate a protest after Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's arrest. The artist, an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, remains missing, but much of the art world has remained noticeably silent. Why is that?

Buergel: I think that most of them are glad to be rid of Ai Weiwei. SPIEGEL: Why?
Buergel: Ai Weiwei succeeded in bridging the gap between art and politics, the only person to have done so in recent years. He has a monopoly in this respect.
SPIEGEL: Are you saying Western artists are jealous of his success?
Buergel: Not directly, but there is an unbelievable resentment. Young Western artists are producing works that amount to nothing more than footnotes in art history, and then this Chinese artist appears who takes a totally different approach and makes 98 percent of the art world look very, very old.

--

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Does Amtrak Need A TSA?

 Washington D.C. Union Station


In the Christian Science Monitor, the question is posed, after hearing that there may be plots against trains and buses.

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/0509/Bin-Laden-fallout-Do-US-trains-need-a-no-ride-list

Osama bin Laden wanted Al Qaeda to attack US rail transportation on the 9/11 anniversary, according to intelligence taken from his compound. A 'no-ride list' for Amtrak is being considered.


On Sunday night, as he traveled from Washington to New York, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says Amtrak brought sniffer dogs on the train at every stop.
Not surprisingly, Mr. LaHood says he felt safe...
...Considering bin Laden’s interest in rail – including bombings in Europe – some legislators are wondering if Amtrak should emulate airlines with a “no ride list,” that duplicates the “no fly list.” Unlike air travelers, rail passengers do not have to go through electronic scanning machines or have their luggage checked. And most Amtrak trains don’t have armed marshals aboard as some flights to.

“We’re going to look at all these security matters,” Mr. LaHood said at a press conference on Monday in New York. “We’re going to look at everything and then we’ll make a judgment with our friends in Congress and decide what direction we should go.”

This year, as part of the budget cutting process, Congress cut $50 million from a $300 million grant program that was supposed to be used to beef up rail security. In 2010, that grant program provided Boston with $21.9 million, New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority $75 million, and Chicago $10.3 million...

OK. Do I hear laughter from the Midwest and places South and further West? The article starts out with the Secretary of Transportation on a train... just like common folks.
You know, if you have ever been on a train outside of the "Gated Community" referred to as the East Coast that the reality of Amtrak is vastly different.

Birmingham, Michigan Amtrak Station

The picture above is the Amtrak train station in Birmingham, Michigan, a thriving, well-to-do community in Oakland County; it is not just a bedroom-community - it has had and continues to have a substantial downtown area. That is the station in its entirety. Nothing has been left out. I took my wife one morning to catch the train for Chicago, figuring I'd taked her to the station, drop her off, go back home and fall asleep for a bit.
But I was not prepared for this station that you see in the picture. I really could not just drop her off there, well-to-do community or not! There was no evidence of any security of any type whatsoever apparent anywhere: there was a waiting-for-the-bus-type kiosk and a sign that said "Inforn ation", and that was it! So I waited with her for the train... which was OK, because it was a nice morning - not too cool or windy.... rainy mornings with a large crowd must be cute!

Exactly what kind of security are you going to put there in the wide open spaces of the Birmingham train station? I'll guarantee you the people that work for the TSA are not going to stand out in the chilly mornings and check peoples' shoes without a roof over their heads.

Apparently, the only way to get our leaders in Washington (of the well-appointed-and-comfortable train stations!) to spend money on our rail system out in the boondocks is to have a foreign terrorist make threats!

--

Monday, May 09, 2011

Superfrog Again

I mentioned asset bubbles in Japan in my recent post on Superfrog Saves Tokyo, and how the Japanese lost decade-and-counting resembles our situation. The fact that we can view a similar process that is 12 years older than ours gives us nothing, because we do not see any similarities.
Anyway, there is this about housing bubbles today... bubbles you thought had burst and gone away. It scares the beejabbers out of me.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/housing-crash-is-getting-worse-2011-05-09?link=MW_story_popular

May 9, 2011, 12:01 a.m. EDT
Housing crash is getting worse: report

...New data just out from Zillow, the real-estate information company, show house prices are falling at their fastest rate since the Lehman collapse.

Average home prices are down 8% from a year ago, 3% over the quarter, and are falling at about 1% every month, according to Zillow. 

And the percentage of homeowners in negative-equity positions — with a home worth less than its mortgage — has rocketed to 28%, a new crisis high.
Zillow now predicts prices will fall about 8% this year and says it no longer expects the market to bottom before 2012..

Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah and thy land Beulah; for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married
--

Superfrog Could Not Save Tokyo After All


I do not know if anyone has read the short story Superfrog Saves Tokyo. It is in after the quake,  a collection of short stories by Haruki Murakami published in 2000 as a response to the 1995 quake in Kobe, Japan. On of these stories was Superfrog Saves Tokyo. (There is a creature named Worm beneath Tokyo who is about to wake and cause the quake. Superfrog and Mr. Katagiri must prevent this.)

I mentioned this story a month ago just after the quake in Japan and the tsunami. What is very interesting is the description of the Japanese economy in a brief paragraph about Mr. Katagiri, the main human character, and his job at the bank:

As a member of the Trust Bank lending division, Katagiri had fought his way through many a battle. He had weathered sixteen years of daily combat since the day he graduated from the university and joined the bank‟s staff. He was, in a word, a collection officer-- a post that won him little popularity. Everyone in his division preferred to make loans, especially at the time of the bubble. They had so much money in those days that almost any likely piece of collateral--be it land or stock--was enough to convince loan officers to give away whatever they were asked for, the bigger the loan the better their reputations in the company. Some loans, though, never made it back to the bank: They got “stuck to the bottom of the pan.” It was Katagiri‟s job to take care of those. And when the bubble burst, the work piled on. First stock prices fell, and then land values...
Sounds rather familiar. Asset bubbles. And you have read about Japan's Lost Decade, ten years of economy in the doldrums, and you wonder if that's what's in store for the rest of the world?
I have read different opinions. I think that given the fact that we are no longer interested in job creation - which I consider more important than budget balancing, although both need attention - we are headed for the lost decade scenario.

Our financial system is still more interested in speculations than it is in real economic benefits, and our corporate culture has no ethos that states that there is a long-term committment and goal for the safety of the customer and the nation and the world.
We are suspiciously akin to TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which touted cheap energy while relying on "socialized risk bearing" when things go wrong. (They carry no insurance, since it would make "cheap" energy suddenly "expensive", so we pay for their mistakes... socialized risk.)
It used to be Japan led the world in robotics. Now the robots working at Fukushima are from the USA. Why? Why is it that Japanese robots are devoted to uses as toys and frivolity, and the robots designed for work in hazardous environments are not available in Japan?
TEPCO. TEPCO did not want to pay for robots, so it sold the bill of goods that nothing would ever, ever go wrong. Hence, no Japanese robots yet.

The lack of insights are not very different from what I see here. Individually and on a small scale, there is some great work, but on the larger scales, there is a desert out there... a desert mentality that sees it acceptable that everything be budget and nothing be job stimulus.
I seem to remember they did that once before, but I may be remembering Mr. Hoover's times poorly. However, I do know that when trillions of dollars disappear, that's like a tremendous earthquake, and the ripples and waves go a long way and last a long time.
--

National Differences in Political Suicide Events (PSEs)

The Economist:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2011/04/chinas_tibetan_problem
THE open wound that is Tibetan resentment of Chinese rule refuses to heal. According to accounts seeping out of China, it has been bleeding profusely for some six weeks now at Kirti, a Tibetan monastery in Sichuan province. Kirti is in Aba prefecture, which Tibetans regard as Amdo, a part of historic Tibet. Two Tibetans in their sixties are reported to have died after being beaten by security forces on April 21st. Their deaths came as the monastery was raided and more than 300 of its nearly 2,500 monks were detained for purposes of “legal education”.
The confrontation started with the death of a young monk, Rigzin Phuntsog, variously described as 16 and 20 years old, who set himself on fire on March 16th. His self-immolation was to mark the third anniversary of bloody anti-Chinese riots in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. The 2008 riots were followed by a harsh crackdown on dissent across what China calls its “Tibet Autonomous Region” as well as in ethnic-Tibetan areas of adjoining provinces, including Sichuan and Qinghai.
First, by using this quote, I have just deep-sixed my blog in China. Actually, I've mentioned this before, so I have been exiled to those cold, western lands which Du Fu - or Li Po - wrote about... well beyond the Great Wall. Ah, well...

Second, the real point of interest is Suicide for Political Expression:

Buddhist tradition suicides kill themselves, as seen in Tibet and back in South Vietnam. A moral agent makes a willing political statement and limits the killing to themselves.

Islamic tradition suicides incorporates the suicide bomber as well as the individual, Bouazizi.
There is a political statement by the willing death of one and the unwilling deaths of others.

Western Christian tradition has the Unibomber, the Weathermen, and various anarchist groups as well as, but not so many political suicides that are individual. The Western tradition tends more to the unwilling deaths of others.

Judaism in the form of Zionist groups - such as Irgun - tends more to group violence, and hence to the unwilling deaths of others.

I think that the inclusion of the deaths of unwilling bystanders tends to occur in societies where there is such a need for more emphasis to be given to the political statement intended; a desire to amplify what is being said, and what better way to get someone's attention than killing a number of passers-by, for the mere death of one individual can not be heard.
This indicates those societies tend to ignore the power of an individual life. I know they may preach that life is sacred, but they tend to deprecate the individual at the expense of the communal: the story of salvation is that of the tribe or the nation or the large, encompassing group.
I believe I catch a glimpse of that "socialism" of religion in the belief in American exceptionalism, wherein it is the nation-state which is the particular object of divine interest.

I may be wrong headed in this. I merely found it interesting.
--

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Michigan Daffodils



Every state, city, town, or locality has it own special things and ways of doing things. In Michigan, we have a special weight distribution for trucks that, combined with a tardiness in repair, ensures that our roads will be a mess.

Pictured above is a "Michigan Special" truck configuration.

Yesterday we were walking through a mall parking lot. I told She-who-must-be-obeyed to take a sharp left right up by the big field of "Michigan Daffodils":


We really should spend more money in making the area look good.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Bikers for Christ

Lady Gaga has a video out named "Judas" and it's a religious theme-thing: a biker version of Judas' betrayal of Jesus.

Hmmmm.
First, that Quran-burning pastor from the Okefenokee Swamp wore a Harley T-shirt and leather jacket, which I found offensive, having myself owned a bike in the past.

Second, Bikers as Metaphor.... is that new? or what?

(I think I have seen it 200 times at last count.)
I just had a nice post about Lady G. If this keeps up, I shall drop the last "a" in her name.

--

Friday, May 06, 2011

Frum

The Conservative Frum Forum speaking of Sarah Palin and her aw-shucks out-in-the-bush-of-Alaska anti-elitism and the very much "elite" Navy SEALS:

...the continuing deflation of the Sarah Palin phenomenon inside the GOP. Maybe we could bring all these elements together in a grand harmonic convergence with a new retort to Palin’s dwindling defenders: “The Navy Seals are elitist too.”
http://www.frumforum.com/worst-week-ever-for-birthers--

Jokes



Why did a Nation of Sheep cross the Road?

--
pix: Forever Under Construction / homeyra

Why bin Laden was Shot

I do not believe that bin Laden could have been convicted in a US court of Law. The burden of proof would not be met by the prosecution. Has the case ever been mooted? What were the outcomes?

He could have been convicted by a military tribunal, but the process would open that process up to such intense scrutiny that it would be rendered useless.

The reports I see said that the mission started off with a clear understanding that he was to be killed, period.
--
Note addedMay 7, 2011:
There is a Navy SEAL on C-Span this AM. He mentioned that trainees spent thousands of hours shooting at target with images of bin Laden pasted on them. They were not in training for spotting him and yelling "Hands Up!"
--

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Baptism, Color,Graduation,and صبغة

The poem for this week from my poetry blog; it covers a lot of topics:


Graduation from Medical School

What blush brings the night that sits upon your cheek?
What henna of sympathetic care stains your hands?
Which precious fine damask imprints the sun
to use for your graduation robes
in that princely gathering of laureates?

What color brings the day for your crowning gele?
Who is the Master Dyer who adorns your hands
with patterns magisterial to heal
all of mankind’s maladies and ills,
in your university of devotion.

----
notes
More Colours! Many, many colours!
And lots of notes!

(1) Graduation from Michigan State School of Osteopathic Medicine.

(2) gele - the flamboyant and colorful Nigerian ladies head garb.

(3) The Master Dyer is Allah, or God.
This poem came about when I came across different translations of the word صبغة
or “sibgha” in Chapter 2, Verse 138 of the Quran. I was very surprised at the various interpretations of the word:

We see the old Muslim commentators seeing a reference to Christianity, a reference to the Christian ritual of baptism, a connection which I had never heard of before. I suspect many have not. Indeed, St. John the Baptist, who baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, has a title  الصابغ
"saabigh", meaning “The Baptist”, but it also means “(one) who is dyeing things, a dyer”.
'Abid A worshipper [of God]. A term generally used for a devout person. The word frequently occurs in the Qur'an: e.g., Surah ii, 132 {sic} "The baptism (sibghah) of God! And who is better than God at baptizing? We are worshippers ('abidun) of God!"
The word sibghah is translated by Professor Palmer  "dye"and "dyeing", but Sale, following the Muslim commentators, Al-Baizawi, Jalalu 'd-din, and Husaini, who say it refers to the Christian rite, translates it "baptism".
Others say that it means fitrah or din, the religion of God, with an adaptation to which mankind are created. See Lane's Lexicon  [BAPTISM].
 Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam.


Modern translators handle it:

Yusuf Ali:
(Our religion is) the Baptism of God: And who can baptize better than God? And it is He Whom we worship.
Zohurul Hoque:
"The dye of Allah, and who is better than Allah in dye? And we are worshippers of Him."
T. J. Irving:
[Such is] God's design! Who is better than God for a design? We are serving Him.
T.U. Hilali-M. Khan:
[Our Sibghah (religion) is] the Sibghah (Religion) of Allâh (Islâm) and which Sibghah (religion) can be better than Allâh's? And we are His worshippers. [Tafsir Ibn Kathîr.]
M. Pickthall:
(We take our) colour from Allah, and who is better than Allah at colouring. We are His worshippers.
M.H. Shakir:
(Receive) the baptism of Allah, and who is better than Allah in baptising? and Him do we serve.
http://www.qurantoday.com/BaqSec16.htm

So we have connections across cultures that were – to me at least – unexpected and very interesting, and we have an ancient connection between colors and religion and faith.
That is where this graduation poem comes from.

--

Celebration in the Gulag

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175388/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_osama_dead_and_alive/#more
It was our misfortune and Osama bin Laden’s good luck that Washington’s dreams were not those of a global policeman intent on bringing a criminal operation to justice, but of an imperial power whose leaders wanted to lock the oil heartlands of the planet into a Pax Americana for decades to come.  So if you’re writing bin Laden's obituary right now, describe him as a wizard who used the 9/11 attacks to magnify his meager powers many times over...
 As is now obvious, bin Laden’s greatest wizardry was performed on us, not on the Arab world, where the movements he spawned from Yemen to North Africa have proven remarkably peripheral and unimportant.  He helped open us up to all the nightmares we could visit upon ourselves (and others) -- from torture and the creation of an offshore archipelago of injustice to the locking down of our own American world, where we were to cower in terror, while lashing out militarily.
The second paragraph describes our CIA-created Gulag Archipelago. It is an emblem. If you choose to be proud of it, so be it. If not, fine.

--

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Man On The Moon


I watched the film Man On The Moon today. That is the 1999 film bio of Andy Kaufman, starring Jim Carey as Andy.

I really liked it. I did not think I would like it. In fact, I was dead set on not liking it, just having some idiot white noise in the background. But I liked it.
It was not only well done - the director, the cameras, the whole technical process was very good - but the script compelled my attention. And to tell the truth, I had never been a fan of Andy Kaufman. But I was compelled to watch, as if buttonholed by some Ancient Mariner. The blurbs said it is maniacally funny. It is not so much funny as it it mesmeric: I could not stop watching it.

I thought Jim Carey was extraordinary. I have never seen him do anything remotely like this. I'll have to pay more attention to him, also.

Virtue

I am re-reading Professor Cunningham's book (listed on the right under Reading List) on Albert The Great and his Virtue Theory of Morality. I'm pretty excited about it; have been for a while. I think it shows us a way out of the dead end we have reached in talking about morals: we keep looking around for something outside and verifiable, and that goes nowhere in my opinion.

More later.

Collapse of The Far Right

The far Right Wing seems to have a theory that the President did not want to launch the mission against bin Laden, but a mutinous coalition of military officers "forced" him to do so.

I can't give too many details, because reading such things is very creepy, like eaves-dropping on a conversation between seriously demented people and giggling about it. I may giggle, but it still creeps me out.

This is a very bad symptom for the far Right, very bad. First the commonly acknowledged absurdity of Birther-ism, and now a theory that it is a "good idea" to commit treason to kill a man whom most - if not all - observers say is irrelevant to the situation in the Middle East today,  shows us minds running on adrenalin without much else.

It is a good idea to let them burn themselves out. Most people are creeped out by madness. We are not attracted to it. These rantings and ravings will pass away.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Weep for Glaciers!

OK. I may not be a tree-hugger, but I have a very, very soft spot in my heart for water, rivers, lakes, and - ultimately - glaciers.

Glaciers are enormous storages of water: as the glaciers melt, they release the water to fill the streams which come together to make up the rivers mankind depends on. Glaciers are the storehouses of water rivers depend on outside the rainy season. During the rainy season, there's enough water, and often more, to go around. When the rains end, that's when you have to tap those mighty frozen kegs of water.

Glaciers are equivalent to dams and the lakes created by dams: same effect of storing water and slowly releasing. Then there are the natural stores of mighty lakes, like Lake Superior: if it does not snow enough over the winter to replenish the stores of water in Lake Superior - the ultimate source of Great Lakes water - then water levels will be low for the rest of the year.

Natural water stores are cheap compared to man-made ones. That's why I weep for glaciers. When the glaciers have left the Himalyas, the Ganges and the Indus will be wadis, seasonal rivers flowing in the rainy season, and with whatever water comes from the aquifers through fountains and groundwater infiltration.
All the Earth is changing before my eyes.

Ade Ileke 16: Bolsa


"Estruja cada centavo...!"
su jefe le había mandado;
"La burbuja financiera estalló,
las garantías han perdido
todo significado…
todo, digo,
todo!"
--
"Squeeze every penny...!"
his boss ordered him;
"The financial bubble has burst,
collateral has lost all meaning!
all, I say,
all!"

Some of the Young...



Reading Ruth's comment to my previous post, I became acutely aware that there are some young people who are aware of nothing but Post 9/11 America.
Those who were small, maybe 10 in 2001, are now 20. And what have they seen? They have seen 9/11. They have seen Afghanistan. They have seen Iraq. They have seen the Financial Crisis and the Scandals on Wall Street, they have seen what appears to be a dysfunctional political system at work...

Will the goodness of their friends and families outweigh the bad we have shown them?

--

The Death of Bin Laden

-
 World Trade Center


Bin Laden and his ideology have become irrelevant to what is happening in the Middle East and on the Arab Street. Unfortunately, Osama bin Laden has not become irrelevant on Main Street right here.

My son-in-law woke up my daughter to tell her the news when it first came out. She cried on and off for the next few hours, finally falling asleep exhausted waiting for dawn to rise, a new dawn of a new day.

I believe I had written a post about her 9/11 experience. She was living in New York at the time between Central Park West and Columbus. She had had an appointment at the World Trade Center, but that morning she had overslept. She had other business on Long Island, so decided to go there.
When the train she was on came out of the tunnel on Long Island, pandemonium broke out on the train, as the passengers could suddenly see the WTC burning. At this time of the morning, it was not yet clear that airplanes were purposely being flown into the buildings.

Approach to Tunnel under the East River, NY


Her destination was far out on Long Island: an area not subdivided, developed, or studded with gentrified farm houses turned into big-footprint mansions. She had not brought a lot of money with her, and as the day wore on and as it the extent of the plot and the terror became clear, it was clear that she could not return to Manhattan that afternoon. Rooms could be gotten at motels for credit cards, but taxis do not use Visa.
 
She did not take her medicines with her on what was supposed to have been a few hours in the country; that was frightening.
It turned out that the cabby - after driving her all around looking for accommodations in rural Long Island - did not charge her. The driver said that he would never in his life forget the picture in his rear-view mirror of her trying to call people on her cell phone, and her crying for her friends.

My daughter has disliked flying since that time. She never used to have any qualms about hopping on an airplane and going, but that all changed.
There was a story this morning about the effect on young people. Many of them suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and nobody is aware of it... or we are aware of it, and we just try and do the best we can to carry on.
 (This is one reason why the financial and budgetary events of the recent times has drawn my particular ire: the fact that we keep bashing our citizens with one trauma after another. Sooner or later, there will be a straw that breaks the camel's back. It is also why I avoid the News... I really cannot take too much of it anymore.)

So bin Laden still haunts our psyches, and will continue to do so until a number of generations have passed. My opinion on his death is that he has gone to his reward, whatever it is, and I am glad of it.
There are the usual conversations, pro and con, but none of it means anything to me. The only thing that matters is the picture of our loved ones... in the rear-view mirror... and the terrible distance that separates us at the time of our distress.

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Monday, May 02, 2011

Tyler Perry vs. Spike Lee

Tyler Perry has said that critical Spike Lee can go straight to hell. It is a difficult fight. I can not take sides. I think they are both extremely creative, and I like many of the things both of them have created. I also dislike a number of things both of them created.

When I went to see the new "Star Trek" two years ago, I saw Tyler Perry in the "Black Admiral" role that Brock Peters always used to be slotted for. Surprised, I said, "Is that Tyler Perry?"
The friend I was with said, "Who's Tyler Perry?"
White guy.

Food

...But why should quality food remain a privilege or an elitist trend rather than an everyday practice that is ecologically and economically efficient?

Al Masry Al Yaum, Monday May 2 2011