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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Shari'a Law

Shari'a Law is Islamic religious law.
Now that Gaddafi is gone, there has been a call for Libya to be ruled by Shari'a law.

I was asked what I thought of it. I said that I preferred the Napoleonic Code, but it was up to the Libyans. And this is the point at which I add that Halakha is Jewish religious law.... and there is a bill in the Knesset calling for  - guess what? Why, the religious law to be on equal footing with the secular law.

It gives some perspective on how out of touch we are with reality over in TVLand.

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Democracy: Some Unsavory Aspects

I have a friend who got into a rather heated argument with her daughter about Mitt Romney: the daughter is pro-Mitt, the friend is anti-Mitt. When asked to state the reason for her dislike, she referred to his uncanny ability to mimic a weather vane and blow with the wind.

Unfortunately, hypocrisy is part of sucessful vote getting, and thence forms a basis for Democracy: the tradition of speaking to people to get them to vote for you necessitates a bit of flim-flammery to ensure you get the majority of votes... so sometimes you bend the truth a little... or gild the lily... or flip-flop.
Pericles did it in Athens.
Hypocrisy: get used to it.
I mean get used to it being at the heart of our form of government; we are already used to its constant presence in life.
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The Election of the Cenobites: Pinhead



"I don't care about that," Texas Gov. Rick Perry told The New York Times and CNBC, referring to tax breaks for the rich. "What I care about is them having the dollars to invest in their companies."
Who made up this stuff about taxes leading to jobs? If demand is low, the only investment anyone makes is maintaining the level of being able to do business and plan for the future. Notice I said "plan" for the future. Money spent in planning for the future is a good investment. However, the jobs are also at some time in the future.

Right now we need an increase in demand. This was the objective of President Obama's stimulus. Whether this particular attempt at stimulating demand was effective or not may be mooted by the best, brightest, and most-Kardashian of our country, but to believe in nonsense would lead to a disaster.

It is not a good idea to speak nonsense in front of impressionable minds. 
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Reason and Education

Our world is not actually rational. What is it, then? I mean, what is it when we pretend rationality? Looking at the Libyan War, which I assume is over now, indicates that we use reason and logic to not only establish rules, laws, and norms, but also to escape from them (Geneva Conventions).

Escape seems to be fairly easy, for example ignoring the EPA and basic human health concerns in the case of hazardous hydrofracking, when we have a large pay-off. If we do not have a pay-off, we can also rely on a dysfunctional education wherein the long struggle to laws, rules, and norms is ignored and left to be forgotten.

When Education fails, we become reasonable rodents, prey of the viciously rich.
Education is not Propaganda. The aim of Education is to strip Propaganda of its bejewelled tiara of deceit.

More later, especially Geneva Conventions and our Wars o' the Week.
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Palestine

If we cannot resolve the situation in Palestine after 60 plus years, then we can do nothing.

Post

I am here to make a posting to my blog. I feel stupid.
There are those who would indicate that my feeling stupid stems from a deep state of dumbness within my brain. Maybe so, maybe not.

I have learned more than any money could have purchased over this year. I have stood fast and weathered the storms of the market... even when I should not have!

Beyond the market, there is Morality. I have learned to be steadfast and loyal to what I believe and those things which people whom I trust believe... even though I see everything changing rapidly before my eyes.

I have written of honor, and I have learned honor. I have written of loyalty, and I have learned loyalty. When the blast of news has driven me away, I have found goodness in silence... silence that is based on what I expect.. intuition... intuition that far exceeds the feeble attempts of rationality to order the world.

I am rather happy about it.
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Propaganda

I have been reading Max Lerner on propaganda in an essay written in 1941. It amazes me how at one time we could actually pick out the phenomenon of "propaganda" as being an outstanding oddity - as it were - something that was out of the ordinary.
Today are we not awash in propaganda? The instruments of propaganda are secure within our homes: the cable tvs.  We are constantly subjected to commercials designed to make us buy products or to political and social and economic agenda everywhere. Even the telephone has been usurped by "people" with "messages".

After thoroughly immersing myself in the economics of Wall Street and those of Europe of the present day, I conclude that all is Narrative and Story, Guess and Gamble, follow up and clean up for highly paid idiots in charge of the world. No one really knows anything nor do they do anything "virtuous" and difficult until they have painted themselves into a corner, where the possibilities for stories with other outcomes diminish rapidly.

Even now, financial advisors give advice ranging from buy heavily to run for the hills.

Flee the propaganda machines. Be silent, yet be virtuous and... determined!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Facebook?



I keep being tempted to join Facebook, but I do not. I am aTwitter member, but I don't Tweet, nor do I read Tweets, or maybe once every 6 months. I do not chat nor text. I mean, I always used to resent the intrusion of the telephone's ring, forcing me to talk on the bloody thing, so one may only imagine how I react to a Niagara of fairly tedious information flow.
I used to go shopping in the big department stores we used to have, especially at Christmas time. I did not mind being jostled by the crowds of people. I recall various fugue states I would go into under the impression that some particularly lifelike mannequins were alive, were speaking to me, were approaching me gently. I seem to have suffered from Mannequin Syndrome... which - believe it or not! - promptly thrusts me into the memory storehouse and grabs an old file marked Dr. Coppelius from the stacks, and the name of the author is smudged, but if I keep writing long enough, I am sure I shall ... Bachmann? Biedhofer, Beyerhofer...........Hoffmann!! I think it was one of Hoffmann's Tales. There. Wonder where all the names starting with "B" came from?

As I write this, now I go back and look for the "B" which could come from Jules Barbier who did the libretto for Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffman, but I sincerely doubt that. Sincerely. Doubt. Obviously I had the "mann" in "Bachmann" and the "hoff" in "Beyerhofer" and it was a matter of taking the fattoush salad apart, putting it back to the original condition, running the documentary of salad making backwards until all the pita slices were fresh again.
Disfattoush I calls it, that which others call "deconstruction"; I call it "dis-fattaoush", which is the above: taking a yummy fattoush salad and filming how it is made, then running the film backwards and seeing the wonder of fresh tomatoes being reconstituted, or pita being reconstructed... and not from kneading and floury disputes,  but from the teeth of those who would eat it.
That's my Tweet for the day.

As I have written this, the terrible funk I have had for 4 days seems to have abated. Being in the universe of structured writing seems to help. My mental states are very much like middle school kids at gym class, running about uninterested in any tutorial structure, talking, picking, scratching, gawkwardy on the verge of pubescence - or fallen into that jungle and perversely yearning for virgin and lover at the same time. Awkward anticipation of sport and a sense that Art will soon become flesh.

Thanks for listening. It helps.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

More of the Same

... and no one, Democrat nor Republican, has raised a cry about it.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-23/bank-of-america-too-much-of-behemoth-to-fail-commentary-by-simon-johnson.html
Bloomberg News reported on Oct. 18 that regulators have allowed Bank of America to move highly risky derivatives contracts -- and the associated downside risk -- from Merrill Lynch into the insured retail deposit-taking part of the bank. The move puts the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on the hook for any losses. The FDIC’s deposit-insurance funds come from its member banks, but because the agency can tap a U.S. Treasury line of credit if the fund runs dry, taxpayers could be at risk, too..
 If Bank of America really had enough capital, it wouldn’t have needed to move its derivatives risk onto its FDIC-insured deposit business.
B of A is in trouble and the first response is to put the taxpayers at risk. It is time to start removing "too big to fail" entities by breaking them up into reasonably sized institutions.
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The Election of the Cenobites: Mr. 999


http://thinkprogress.org/economy/issue/

Today, finally, Cain released the latest tweak of his plan — the creation of what he calls “opportunity zones.” According to Cain, these will be special zones placed in inner cities, and those who work or live in the zones will receive deductions from 999 (which otherwise wipes out all of the traditional tax deductions, including the Earned Income Tax credit, child deduction and the mortgage interest deduction)...
Sounds like a bunch of apartheid Bantustans to me. Mr. Cain is displaying the typical disdain a man-of-success has for the schmucks and poor: keep them in their own areas, far away from me! Either live in a segregated area, or spend much of your waking time commuting... on urban transportation systems that - by the way - will not receive any government funds while the highways will probably continue their socialized lives!

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The Hill Has Eyes... and Eric Cantor



Eric Cantor cancelled a speech when he discovered it would be open to the public...

2012 may be a very interesting election if the Republicans have to make their speeches from Chambers of Commerce halls and closed rooms.
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Sunday, October 23, 2011

More Milestones of History

http://www.edwardsaquifer.net/news.html#Worst_one_year_drought

On August 4, Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon declared the 2011 drought to be the most severe one-year drought on record. By the end of July, records had been set for least year-to-date precipitation, driest consecutive 10 months, and driest 12 months ending in July. “These statistics rank the current drought as the most severe one-year drought ever for Texas,” said Nielsen-Gammon. “Never before has so little rain been recorded prior to and during the primary growing season for crops, plants and warm-season grasses.”
For now, the most severe Texas drought overall is still the 1950-1957 drought. “The present drought is shorter but sharper,” Nielsen-Gammon added in his press release. “So far, its impacts have been disproportionately felt in agriculture, but many water suppliers throughout the state have now imposed water restrictions.”


Global Whazzat?



Global What? Global anything is not being mentioned in the run up to the 2012 USA presidential elections. A lot of it is due to the fact that the Republican Party is catering to people who do not "cotton" with "that there scientificky stuff" too much.

Well, the glaciers in southwest China are melting rapidly. These are the source of the Yellow River. Glaciers are enormous storages of water which thoughtfully do not require any dams or reservoirs or maintenance of any sort... just a little thoughfulness about CO2.
Once the glacial reservoirs are melted, many of the world's great rivers may tend to become more like seasonal flows, like wadis in Arabia, that flow with the rains and monsoons and anti-cyclonic storms, but not much at all at other times.... and probably there would be more large floods.

I suppose we could spend an enormous amount of money and build even more dams to create man-made reservoirs of water... not as cheaply as frozen glaciers, but they may do the trick.That would be quite a large transfer of wealth from other areas to that of water storage.
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Child Abuse Capitol of the World

BBC series on child abuse. The highest rates in the world of child deaths from abuse are the (1) USA, and (2) Mexico.  I suppose it may or may not be surprising that they form an unholy "druggie" alliance; a lethal two-nation tango where the one brings the good stuff in and the other sucks it down in great quantities. (Check out old posts on drug use on Wall Street! Where did you think they got all those creative ideas? Business school?)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15288865

I remember making nasty remarks about this years ago. People must have thought I was daft. However, it seems still true that children are often just playthings and consumer items to be used and then tossed away... you see, the problem is that the ethos we live by: consumerism, violence to settle arguments, etc, is an ethos that spreads through all parts of our lives.

The ending segment is subtitled "You only know Anger and Violence."
That sounds an awful lot like what I wrote just yesterday:
If there is no forgiveness, superhuman or otherwise, we fall into the cycle of revenge and vendetta, of killing/exultation and burial/grieving...
 http://fatherdaughtertalk.blogspot.com/2011/10/capitalism-its-crises-and-extended-mind.html 

Every six hours a child dies from abuse in the USA... which is our modern twist on the adage from It's A Wonderful Life where an angel gets its wing when a bell rings.
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

More Hoovervilles


Oakland, California.
Tent cities and Hoovervilles... after the next election there'll be Perryvilles or Bachmannvilles or Cain-999-villes.... maybe Cantorvilles or Boehnervilles or Obamavilles.

Capitalism, Its Crises, and the Extended Mind

I was thinking about capitalism's cycles of boom and bust this morning. If the wolves and moose of Isle Royale - as well as other species elsewhere - could find the way to prevent population "crashes", we might all learn something to guide our own behavior as we tiptoe around economic and societal "crashes" and downturns.

Consider folk science as exemplified in folktales, specifically The Grasshopper and the Ants: it is the grasshopper who is subject to boom and crash, which are symbolized by summer/plenty and winter/desolation.
The ants are not subject to boom and crash, for their activity is pretty much on an even keel and they have stored up food for the winter "crash".

Notice how folk tales indicate that the type of mind which avoids boom and crash is a group mind, and furthermore, it is a swarm-type of mind. It is not the greatly individualized mind of the grasshopper, who is very unique and idiosyncratic, but the swarm or hive mind of the ants which avoids the downturns of the seasons.

And reflecting on it, it seems that politics is the clash and working of individual minds: Democracy is the coming together of individuals in the forum to voice their opinions and seek a mutual decision through a period of conflict of ideas, whether the conflict is hot or cool.
In our day and democracy, everything is a proposition that is subject to argument and evaluation; there a few sacrosanct and untouchable axioms that are never questioned.
In the polity of the ants, it is different: there is no questioning of the seasonal cycle of acquisition and consumption and accumulation. The ants do not come together every summer solstice and debate whether they should harvest and store up food for the winter: it is a given and true axiom that is not questioned.

From this, I thought of Moral Agency and Dr. Stanley Cunningham's book, which I am reading, on Moral Agency and Albert the Great.
The focus of morality is the individual, not any moral code. Moral codes are a particular type of what we facetiously call "belief systems", which are comprised of propositions that are constantly being debated and mooted in courts and taverns across the land. However, if the individual be "virtuous"... if the individual has come through childhood and early adulthood and even middle adulthood and has become "virtuous... there is no need of a spoken code of moral propositions, for the code is embodied within the actions of the virtuous individuals.

Think of abortion; it is referred to as "the abortion debate". That is because on a group level it is being debated just as if it were a new tax law being argued back and forth by both sides. On both sides of the debate, everything is up for grabs. On no side of the debate is there a undebated virtuous way of life.

Out in the nation, for the most part we are not all political activists and we live our lives quietly. When moral questions come up, we handle them according to our lights... according to our lives and life histories that we have lived thus far. There is trial and tribulation, but little debate.

Notice how the extended group mind requires not just agreement, not just political consensus: it requires an honorable bedrock of unspoken virtue in the individuals and within the society comprising those individuals. A perfect example would be the Amish attempt to forgive the murderer of Nickel Mines, and to extend forgiving to his family: it strikes us as so beyond human nature that we are incredulous.....

BUT, this example of violence is very revealing, for we know a lot about violence, do we not? If there is no forgiveness, superhuman or otherwise, we fall into the cycle of revenge and vendetta, of killing/exultation and burial/grieving; once again, we see a perfect cyclical (almost seasonal) cycle of boom and bust........

a cycle of Filling and of Emptying, or Plerosis and Kenosis... filling and emptying.... like the joy of sin and the remorse of penance.

I believe our future lay in our efforts to educate the group mind to a stasis which remains on the edge of creativity.


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note

One note on this: we have images and beliefs based on the notions of "swarm" minds and "hive" mentalities which we have gotten from cheap science fiction films and novels, so we may wish to purge our minds of such claptrap.

In the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations, we have a very good example of a society which is not "onboard" in any sense with a common bedrock of social direction:  99% vs. 1%.
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Last Time I Saw Lobster: A Tale of Prince Edward Island



The last time I saw lobster - and I think it very well may have been the very last time... I often exaggerate for some sort of effect or another, but I think this time was indeed the last - was in Windsor, Ontario about twelve to fifteen years ago. We were having dinner with friends and the family of my Philosophy mentor, Dr. Stanley Cunningham, whose book about Albert the Great and Moral Agency I am reading.

There was a special on for P.E.I. (Prince Edward Island) lobsters; it was something incredible like 7 dollars Canadian for a lobster, so we all went to chow down.
The lobster was very good.
There was the usual desultory talk about crustaceans: how expensive they were, how one hates to spend a  lot of money on a prime bit of sea creature, only to take it home and discover upon cooking it that it is rather, bland, metallic-tasting, or not to one's liking.
I told my usual tale about how lemon-pepper tastes like copper pennies to me, and that most lobsters of my childhood - caught, frozen, and shipped to the Midwest - had a bit of the cuprous about them. Of course, everyone asked how I knew what pennies tasted like... which is really an elitist type question, implying as it does that they never had pennies in their mouths when they were kids!

This lobster was excellent.
So I had seconds. One or two others did also.
Then it was time for dessert. The waitstaff rolled out a cart of sugar plums and whatnots, and each person chose their sweet and coffee'd up.
Then she came to me.
"I think I'll have another lobster for dessert."... and I did.
It was a good time. It was when P.E.I. did not have a bridge yet. It was all Marilla and Cuthbert and Anne Shirley... and not a bit of Mrs. Blewett.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Avatar Again



I watched Avatar again.
It is not my favorite film, nor does it appear that it would ever be any time soon. There are just too many distracting flaws in it for it to be something. The best portion is what we might call The Education of Jake Sully into the ways of The People, or Na'vi.  That part is really great Dances With Wolves type of great! (The film is a bit derivative from a lot of obvious sources.... way too obvious for comfort.)

Anyhow, some people said at the time it came out that it gave the impression of being anti-American. That was an interesting comment. I suppose that if you chose your imagery of America along the lines of techno-warfare against non-technological peoples, and an utter disregard for the welfare of God's creation, then it might seem anti-American.

For heaven's sake, the name of the moon is Pandora, meaning the all-giving in Greek. What is all-giving if not the earth, if not God's creation? When creation gives, how do we receive the gift? 

You know, I do not really know how say really wealthy people receive the gifts of wealth from God's creation. I really do not know. Do they sort of say a lot of prayers of thanksgiving every day? Do they give thanks, realizing the evanescent nature of riches, and turn aside the evil one by doing at least one virtuous act every day?
If we receive the gifts of creation as if they were our right and our due, then we might tend to inflict war on those who are in the way of our increase and augmentation: drone them and let Allah separate the guilty from the innocent!
If we receive the gifts of creation with the realization that all life is "on loan" for a short while, we might do things differently.

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Dear Wal-Mart,

Why does my Wal-Mart look like a bazaar in Kabul?
Why does my Wal-Mart no longer have greeters?
(I mean they literally gave up on them after they had tried "greeters" who were actively anti-social!)
Why are so many shelves empty?
Why are there so many damaged packages?
Why is it always messy and dirty?
Why is it that in other stores, people always ask to assist you, and in our Wal-Mart nobody does?
(Of course, in fairness, the other store's people are a bit too "cheery", while the Wal-Mart people are either vacant-eyed or are frightened by human contact.)
Why do you have express checkout lanes and then only staff one of them, with the result that the express lanes are the slowest?
(I was in one a month ago and the lady in front of me called the store customer service on her cell phone to tell them to get another lane open. This was not a quick call, but we had plenty of time to kill until that other lane opened.)

The store is in South Eastern Michigan.
Unless you do something about it soon, I shall write more about why I think you let it become a sty.
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hermann Cain

The New Republic has a number of things about Mr. Cain, and many of them are dreadful: for example, there is a piece which purports to establish Elizabeth Warren as an "elitist" and Mr. Cain as an "egalitarian"; it proceeds to do no such thing, and Mr. Cain is not even considered until the last paragraph wherein the writer sort of does a cheer for him.
Dreadful.

Mr. Cain is a contender for two main reasons at this time:
(1) Rick Perry is not ready for prime time; that means that even though he may make Texan hearts swell with pride, he comes across a little creepy to outsiders.
(2) Many Republicans will not accept Mr. Romney quite yet.

I believe that if Mr. Romney were of a religion the right wing totally approves of, and if Mr. Perry had been able to talk to the nation as a whole instead of acting like he was in a bar at a Dallas Booster's convention and already half in the bag, Mr. Cain would look as attractive as 999 turned upside down into 666.
I mean, how much of Godfather's Pizza can one hear as if it were meaningful? Is it a belief that running the nation is like running an eating franchise?
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Welcome All

I wish to welcome Greg West.
He came by a while ago, and I have been fiddling around, ignoring the rules of etiquette. I feel a bit better now. Another round of welcome cheer all around!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Free (?) Markets

JP Morgan Chase says that its exposure to Greek debt is zero. Others say, using different guidelines, that it is around $30 billion or more.

A Free Market with such obscurity is a sham.

The financial community has conspired to destroy free markets in the name of their own profits. They have taken Accounting - which is supposed to make things clear - and used it to obscure; they have created the well-known "needle in a hay stack" instruments like derivatives which - when they go sour - leave banks that hold them wondering if the bank next door has any "toxic" assets... and nobody really knows because no one has found that "needle in the hay stack"... so banks stop lending to other banks, and the banking system grinds to a halt.

There is no point going on with this: there are no Free Markets when those markets are manipulated to hide what is going on.
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Troy Davis Execution

The story from the Prosecutor's perspective is here:

http://likethedew.com/2011/10/06/troy-davis-the-prosecutors-view/

It contributes to the fascinating spectacle of how we perceive reality... we pretty much choose an emotional stand, then choose the facts and details we wish out of the infinite number of potential details, then run with it... and I'm talking about both sides of any issue, not just the one I opposed. I do the same thing all the time.

Reason, Logic, and Rationality are the Intelligent Combine-Harvesters we use to work the wheat fields of the universe, and without them, we would have to find a way to deal with infinity... that is, a way other that saying things like "God told me to run fer President", for example. That is one way of dealing with infinity, but it sucks.
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CLASS

The Long Term Care Insurance portion, CLASS,  of the Health Care Act will not be implemented. It is said that since it is "voluntary", not enough people would sign up for Long Term Care.

Well, they did not ask me. Did they ask you?

Long Term Care insurance is very expensive. Surprisingly, just about everybody needs it, too, if you live long enough. I know people that have had it, and then had to give it up because they could no longer afford it.

I would have bought in.
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2012: Election of the Cenobites


"God told me to run fer President."

"I don't believe in science stuff."

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Republicans Discuss Economics Over Lunch...

 ... catered by  "The Happy Gizzard"  on Tuesday, October 11, 2011




First, from Mr. Krugman:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/14/opinion/rabbit-hole-economics.html?_r=1&hp
...We didn’t find ourselves in a crisis because “shadow banks” like Lehman Brothers exploited gaps in financial regulation to create bank-type threats to the financial system without being subject to bank-type limits on risk-taking. No, in the universe of the Republican Party we found ourselves in a crisis because Representative Barney Frank forced helpless bankers to lend money to the undeserving poor...

Then we look to The Cunning Realist for some quotes from George W. Bush:
 http://cunningrealist.blogspot.com/

"And so I let out a goal. I said over the next decade, we want there to be 5.5 million new minority homeowners. That's why Mel is here. He helped set the goal. He is going to help implement the Federal policy I'm about to describe to you about how to meet that goal. Last year, we did a pretty good job. There's now 809,000 new minority homeowners in America. And that's positive for the country. It's good for the economy. It's also good for the spirit of our country that more people are owning a home.

"But here are some of the things that we intend to do, and we discussed today earlier. Sometimes people have trouble finding the downpayment for a home. It makes them nervous when they hear the downpayment. We need to have a down-payment fund to help people with downpayments if they qualify. The Congress -- the House passed my request for $200 million a year. It's stuck in the Senate. The Senate needs to act. If they're interested in closing the minority homeowner-ship gap, they need to act on the downpayment fund.
[quote from]
-George W. Bush, October 15, 2003 in Dinuba, California -- per capital income of $11,566, and the epitome of the state's eventual housing meltdown.

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The Death of Newspapers and the Death of Freedom

If the only thing you know about Mr. Gandhi is that you have watched the film Gandhi at least once, then you know how important Press coverage was to the eventual success of his movement, and to the Independence of India. (Even though Great Britain was committed to eventual Indian independence, the British had numerous rationales for its delay.)

When the news becomes "The News" and all the anchor women are blondes, and the anchor men are jesting jocks and "The News" is entertainment and celebrity gossip with a gloss over the headlines, our freedom is imperiled by those who think that the only thing that matters is... profit!
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The Cult of Republicanism

 Tertullian


Very good read:
http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/5221/what_will_orthodox_%E2%80%98republicanity%E2%80%99_look_like/
...What this summer’s debate over the debt ceiling and the straw polls have made clear is that the Republican Party is now involved in a difficult battle over its own orthodoxy.

Take Tertullian. Born in approximately 160 CE in the North African city of Carthage, he was a pagan until middle age when he converted to Christianity. He became more and more emphatic in the faith...

“I believe it because it is absurd… I know it because it is impossible.” With these resonant words, Tertullian announced an entirely new way of making argument convincing, as well as an utterly novel way of imagining religious faith.

It was elegant in its simplicity: first, insist that the most convincing argument hinges on something unbelievable—then there is quite literally nothing left to argue about. In short, Tertullian insisted that the true Christian (of whom he believed there were precious few) must prove his or her bona fides by believing what is literally unbelievable.

As Laderman suggests, we may be witnessing today what a politics of Republicanity grounded in the necessary absurdity of belief will look like. And it is not always a pretty picture. But it’s important to emphasize just how Christian the culture of argument currently embodied in one portion of the GOP appears to be.
Or rather, just how Tertullian a portion of this emerging Republican theology has become. To make one’s argument hinge on absurdity is to escape the need to deal with what the old-school rhetoricians (of whom Tertullian was one, ironically) called “counter-factuals.”

If your faith is intentionally and even proudly absurd, you don’t need to bother with facts...
I used to interpret Tertullian as an advocate of the irrational, the intuitive basis of religious experience, and he was, indeed, but he was also a  bit over the top, as is indicated here.
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Romance of the Past


Dressed in butter-nut jeans, and swinging idly on a gate, many a youth of the time might have been pointed out as a likely senator, poet, general, ambassador, or even president. Never was there more romance in a new country. A great change was coming over the people of the West. They retained all the best characteristics of the Puritans and the settlers of Maryland and Virginia, with something strangely original and characteristic of the time and place, something biblical applied to the circumstances of the hour.
 The words of Francis Grierson, a writer whom I had lost for a spell, and who now has returned like the prodigal son. The period of which he writes is just before the Civil War. Of course, I think of the present age and wonder if there is any such romance as Grierson wrote about. There are protests, but the romance of discontent is a milk curdled far differently that the sweet butter of the romance of dreams and aspirations which do not face insurmountable odds.

The Jobs Bill and Johnny Iselin



The Republican Senators have defeated any attempt at a jobs bill and have absolutely no ideas of their own to put into place - other than "do not tax the rich"... the rich who magically create jobs by nothing more than not paying taxes, so it seems.

They are emulators of fictional Senator Johnny Iselin of The Manchurian Candidate who sought to attain his own goals through the pain of his fellow countrymen.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Killing of Anwar Al Awlaki

I am right by the side of Ron Paul this time: the US government has absolutely no right to kill US citizens here or overseas.

What hurts is the blasphemous attack on the Constitution; the fact that most people feel better that Al Awlaki is dead means nothing if we have to acquiesce in the creeping usurpation of power which started with Cheney and Bush in 2001 and continues through Obama and threatens to lead us to tyranny.
What hurts the most is the transformation of Barak Obama from Hope for a  better future into another form of Bush/Cheney-ism.

Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party are mad at a lot of the same things. Some times I'm with Ron Paul and others I think he's nuts and probably it looks the same from his perspective.
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Wall Street Protests 4

Good Article in The Baseline Scenario:
http://baselinescenario.com/2011/10/10/straight-out-of-antiquity/#more-9377
...Remember, the Tea Party began with Rick Santelli calling people who were underwater on their houses “losers.” In retrospect, it seems like a brilliant preemptive strike by the creditor class.

--

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Se2quel

Someone expressed surprise that a group of us seemed to support the Occupy Wall Street movement: they said we were nothing but revolutionaries reborn.... hippies risen again.... they had put stakes of Reaganism through our hearts - had they not? - to defeat the raging viral zombie-ism of our chemistry, and now we had risen from the marmoreally cold and grisly Grave of Dead Ideals!

Levine, der schwartze Engel (note: see Malamud: The Angel Levine) spoke to the point. He said that calling him a revolutionary now meant that he supported some future revolution, and that is not the case.
The Revolutionary Event had already occurred.

Our critics sat a bit befuddled by this. That, of course, is the whole point: Hanaan's Diner (May her face be averted!) is our dojo, and there we practise the mental martial arts where we use the thrust of someone else's attack against them. We call it Brain Judo. It is usually preceded by Brain Tai Chi which is a deception to get other people to think we are a  group of old blokes who move rather slowly and in orchestrated ways in the city parks at dawn.

Levine said, as I have indicated many times here, the Revolutionary act is done. Now we are seeing who is going to create the future.

The events of 2008 were the culmination of a decade of theft of money from the majority of citizens to the oligarchy. It was a success. The so-called economic Second Great Depression began back in 2008, also; we are just too unfocused to be able to see it yet.
We know this because after a thorough study of the First Great Depression, we found no economic smoking gun. What brought it all together was that as we were ending our study, we noticed that the latest report on railroad activity showed an increase for September of 2011... and now guess what the report for September 1929 showed: an increase in activity: an indicator of growth.
There were no particular problems of such severity as to indicate an incipient Depression... other than great wealth inequity, which, as we have said here before, is considered a symptom of an already chronic disease, and not a cause of anything in particular.

In effect, we created the reality of the First Great Depression: we set out to produce the film of that name! We wrote some ideas down, had a couple screenplays and re-writes, got people involved, got the big name stars signed up and then started to to get supporting actors, like the great old-time character actor "Smoot-Hawley Tariff"!

That is exactly what the expression "dysfunctional government" means; it means continuing with the production of "Great Depression: The Se2quel".


They are already having casting calls in New Hampshire and Iowa and other localities.
--
ps.

I am a conservative independent. I got a call to do a phone survey yesterday and they asked if I would vote for various Republicans. I said that I vowed never to vote for another Republican after the Iraq War brainwashing and deception and I do not intend to vote for any now.
That does not mean I'll vote for a Democrat.
Independent.
--

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Wall Street Protests 3

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
Frederick Douglass, 1857

 --

Friday, October 07, 2011

Stampers of Protest

My three nephews stopped by on their way to an Occupy Wall Street protest in Detroit. I could not go with them because of previous commitments, but I brewed up some tea (courtesy Grace Tea Company of New York) and they came in for a spell.
"Sorry I can't make it."
They laughed.
"Maybe you should come... reschedule your other appointments. You know, it may be your last chance. By next week the economy might improve, employment rise, wages invigorate, and..." said Aloysius. (We pronounce it " ah - LOY - shus"... just as they do back in the old country in Silver Mines.)
"... the wars might end, and some heroic johnny might actually pull the stake from the heart of Congress..." added Austin.
"... and we might have a real country again instead of this lumbering Day Of The Dead zombie we've had for a while," ended Ayden.
We laughed. The zombie's name was Bub. They were in the habit these days of calling people Bub:  Bub Boehner, Bub McConnell, Bubba Palin (the female form of "Bub"), President Bub Obama; there were a lot of Bubs running around, and maybe that was always the point of the zombie flicks.

Zoloft and Cymbalta barked. Four minutes were up and the tea was done brewing. One teaspoon loose tea per cup is the trick, and today I did one more for the pot, as they say at The Tea House on Neal Street in the City of London. A bit tricky, nonetheless: once one gets beyond the conversions of grams to ounces or drams or teaspoons, one is still faced with whether one is using the 6 ounce cup size or the 8 ounce size.
Most of the restaurants nearby resolve this problem by using a flagon or jeroboam of hot water per one measly tea bag, so I am quick to let the waitstaff know that I am no "greenhorn" when it comes to leaves and sticks from Assam and points beyond Mandalay. Please leave the tea bag in its envelope and bring me something to pour excess water into. When I have reached the point of "Old Lady Drinking Tea"; i.e., re-using one bag over and over three times, I will let you know.

I mentioned that all the Republican candidates had dissed the protests; the three A's laughed, noting that if the protest movement began to focus and that if that focus seemed to support the Republicans, they would invite them in, regardless of any other noisome characteristics, like racism or fascism: the Republican Party is a big tent and has lots of folks.
"Anne Coulter is addressing the young Republicans Gays, you know."
I nodded.Republicans reaching out... then I thought of Senator Larry Craig from Idaho drove the thought from my mind.

I enquired as to their electronic war chest: were they ready and able to Tweet incessantly as they stormed the Winter Palace, or as they were driven down the Odessa steps... stay away from perambulators! They had gizmos galore! Ayden showed me his pepper spray, just in case, and his reinforced case carrying his laptop.
"I doubt that there'll be any trouble in Detroit," I said. "We were just down on MLK in the Woodbridge area last week and went downtown, and it is pretty sedate."
We have gone afterwards down Trumbull to find our favorite Irish restaurant, but it was now closed in the strictest sense of the word. We have found that happens a lot in Detroit, so if you finds a bar, bistro, or restaurant that seems really to be one of the ones, you had better indulge yourselves to oversatiety, because next time you wander down, it may be gone... just like the old ball park at Michigan and Trumbull.

"Tigers won," I said. They nodded in some sort of running meditation on the joys of besting the Bronx Bombers at home. I had watched some of the game and was treated to the audio enjoyment of the trivial part of sports: media types talking about it. I happened to hear the old and still wonderful story of how the Tigers were a young team, the Yankees had been here before (in the playoffs and post-season), and blah, and blah, and more blah.

The three A's took off to their appointment at the waiting room to the access way of the first foyer of the atrium of Destiny. I felt a little like Walter Reuther's father watching his sons walk off to Ford's. Aloysius said they called themselves - the three of them - the Stampers...
At this point they imaginatively stamped something on the floor and squished it and ground their Doc Martin's around...
It was a reference to the Stamp Act of Mad King George.
--

Speculation and Its Ills

From McClatchy:
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/10/06/126438/key-regulator-calls-for-limits.html#storylink=omni_popular
 
WASHINGTON — Having failed earlier this year to impose congressionally mandated limits on excessive speculation in commodities markets, a key regulator on Thursday called on the Obama administration to immediately impose temporary limits on some Wall Street investments.
"We were supposed to have these done earlier this year but have failed to do so," complained Bart Chilton, one of three Democrats on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Chilton is calling for what are known as spot-month limits, which would restrict how much of trading can be done by a single trader or company in contracts for next-month delivery of crude oil, natural gas, wheat or any number of other commodities.
The influx of Wall Street money into commodities markets, some on behalf of large pension funds and other institutional investors, has resulted in financial players far outnumbering the traditional traders in these markets, where producers have sought to protect themselves from large price swings.

Read the speech:

It is not that long and it is necessary for an understanding of what is going on. Earlier this year I sought in vain for some reason that coffee was goin up in price, something like a crop failure or drought, but there was none: it was speculators betting on the price of coffee and seeking to make a profit thereby.

So here's what is boils down to:
We cannot make any interest on our savings that is meaningful anymore.
Speculators may increase their returns by manipulating commodities markets.
So, while they win - or lose - we have to pay out more for basic commodities!
--

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Mystery

I know I said that I would write something funny today, but so far I am not. If I'm the only person to lie to you today, then write me and complain. Otherwise, forget my transgressions. I do want to set down a note about mysteries and powers and gods.

The seasons had their gods and rites. The powers of the seasons, the growing and flowering followed by the decline and death, impressed themselves upon early mankind - still do, actually - and mankind found these things to be numinous; that is, filled with the power of the Numen, or the power of a god.

Was the cycle mysterious? The cycle was, for the most part, perfectly regular and predictable: be at Stonehenge at the Solstice and see the rising sunlight fall upon the lithos or gnomen or sundial and spring had arrived.
So the sense of numinous did not come from mysterious meaning unpredictable.
What did it come from?
I think it came from the sense of being "overwhlemed" and on the verge of losing individuality.
Consider Venus, goddess of Love: what exactly is so mysterious about being attracted to someone easy on the eyes? Nothing; but it is the overwhleming flood of desire which leaves us in the presence of the Numen.

The starry sky is numinous, too; the galaxies far away. So are the seasons, for although we have great knowledge of what the seasons are and their nature, we are still on the verge of being overwhelmed: spring turns our minds to new growth, summer is exurberant, fall is chiaroscuro emotions of longing to stay and wanting to go, and winter up to Christmas is Ritual of giving and after Christmas is the dead hibernation.
This sense of being overwhelmed is similar to the sense of enchantment we experience when in the presence of Art. Art is when we are closest to the ancient gods: we take inspiration from the infinite and place it within boundaries of understanding.
Art, too, is a mystery.
--

Wall Street Protests 2: Populism, Progressives, and Liberals

A reprint from January... a reprint whose time has come. This is the time to re-discover the real meaning of Liberalism, and divest ourselves of the diseased notions of crank radio Republicanism.




 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

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Wall Street Protests

At last!

I want the Bail-out paid back!
Give them 50 years if we have to and charge 0.5%... I don't care. Just pay it back, and then put in into the deficit calculations!

From Reuters:
Camped out in Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, the New York protesters have sometimes been dismissed by Wall Street passersby or cast in the mainstream media as naive students and mischief makers without realistic goals.
Members of the group have vowed to stay through the winter.
Hoovervilles are springing up!
--

To Be Completed

No. I do not think I shall complete it. I am doing too much fancy deep-like thinking and am beginning to feel like a jerk. I shall write something funny instead.
-

To be Completed Tomorrow

The great powers of the universe are called gods when our knowledge is small. As knowledge grows, the area of life strictly confined to the works of the gods changes and grows smaller, but it is never reduced to nothing: the more we know, the more we realize how little we know.

The cosmos becomes ever stranger the more we know about it. Dark Matter is as real right now as Baron Samedi with his black top hat... and if we finally discover Higg's Boson, it will be surprised and ask us if we have seen his aunt.

Dar al Islam Becomes Dar al Harb: Pakistan

Mohammed Ali Jinnah Speaking

Dar al Islam is the House of Islam, and it refers to the lands of Islam. The Dar al Harb is the House of War, and it refers to the lands outside Islam, and  the implication was that that is where Jihad occurred. This is a description and not a religious injunction.

Pakistan is my adopted Islamic country, based on my years of admiration for its founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah. As I have mentioned, I was born on the Day of Direct Action called for by Mr. Jinnah, and I have admired him as well as Mr. Gandhi.
Mr. Jinnah is not nearly as well known as Mr. Gandhi. Of course, a good deal of Mr. Gandhi's appeal is based not upon his works and sayings, but upon our later interpretation and modification of them. That, however, is the way it is and should be with intelligent folks: they change things with change; mobilis in mobile, as Captain Nemo used to say, changing with change.

Mr. Jinnah's ideal was expressed in a speech of 1947:
"You are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in the State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed. That has nothing to do with the business of the State."
A secular state is a state that is not unmindful of religion nor is it atheistic: a secular state does not interfere in the religions - considered as religious ideologies - within its boundaries. If the religions wish to act politically or extra-legally or even as producer of foodstuffs, that is another matter and they are subject to the laws of the state governing political activity, crimes, and quality of foods.

Soon after Mr. Jinnah's death, this ideal lapsed almost immediately and changed to follow the wrong path and reached one high point when Zulfakir Bhutto proclaimed the Ahmadis to be non-Muslims in 1974. Imagine the arrogance of such a proclamation! However, it is the distemper of our age, is it not? Even here in the USA do we not have a recent president intimating his acts were directed by God, and we have Republican candidates even now intimating their mantles of leadership descended from lofty heaven!
It is indeed one of the distempers of our age: the more ungodly and unrighteous we act, the more we claim God's blessing on ourselves.

Now there are fellow Muslims being killed within Pakistan.
At the partition of India and Pakistan, the violence was limited to Hindu vs. Muslim. Now the mills of intolerant history have ground more finely and one discovers small differences within the Islamic community itself, and these are sufficient to allow one to kill these people indiscriminately in some incredible extension of Jihad that makes the Dar al Islam itself into the Dar al Harb...  The distinction is no longer geographic; it has become personal.

Which one of us, Allah, may bear up under Your scrutiny?
None of us, but the Mercy of Allah is infinite  ( الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ )

Which one of us may bear up under the murderous scrutiny of new and innovative ideologies which grind us down into such a fine powder that even my greatest acts: belief in God, become small imperfections which cause me to be doomed?


Mohammed Ali Jinnah's Tomb and Memorial

Oh, Pakistan! Whether the past
be glorious or dismal,
let it not diminish thee!
The long road of the future beckons.
Not hatred, but forbearance.
Not strife but ijtimaa '
Attain the perfection
of your lives which
Islam demands of thee!
--

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Taxis on Yonge Street, Toronto


C. A. Jeffrey painted this. I meant to stop by her place last time I was in Toronto, which was just before we went to Stratford and the  Brian Dennehy incident! I asked She-who-must-obeyed whether we should stop.

"I say, should we make a detour and see C. A. Jeffrey?" I always refer to her as "C. A. Jeffrey" as if I were working at the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency.
"Hmmm.." she said. "Where is it?"
"Number 5 Tlokweng Road." I said.
She humphed.
"Do you actually know where the gallery is?" she said.
"Just about." I said.
We had been winging it roadmap-wise the entire trip, having left our maps somewhere else and staying in new places, like Vaughan, Ontario, which is out on the Highway 7 and is much like a flexible strip mall and industrial zone which, by the looks of it, could actually be rolled up at night and stowed away... assuming the inhabitants fancied such things.
Went straight up Bathhurst Road, stopped at Daiter's and got bagels and cream cheese for a couple of days, continued out under the 401 to find the something or other # this and that... and it doesn't matter that I do not know the names, because there were absolutely no street signs up in all the construction until the last 200 meters before the turn.
So we went up Jane Street to some Crescent beginning with the letter A east of the 400... a little past Jane and Finch. The Crescent was waiting for shrubs and landscaping, possibly for a while. A new Hilton had opened across a parking lot from a new Marriot, and the whole thing looked incestuous. We asked the people inside for a road map, but there were none. Come to think of it, I do not think I have ever been in a motel or hotel that had road maps available. They always have some sort of Local Boosters' maps up on the walls, where enlarged caricatures of local businesses who had contributed to the map's publication were plastered among rows of trees strung along a rudimentary network of streets. Big help.

We missed C. A. Jeffrey. Actually, we miss C. A. Jeffrey and hope she pops up soon.
--
http://www.catherinejeffreystudio.com/art/
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War on Drugs?

The way we live our lives may be a drug. The way we configure the areas which are forbidden and those allowed, those which can be imagined and those which must be never thought about... all of our efforts are intended to give us just enough "high" to continue living.

God is beyond the high of feeling good. God is feeling free.

Right now, we live on the crack cocaine that Greece will not default, that Social Security and Medicare will not be destroyed... we live on a crack high that our government will actually work and agree to let life go on as the present laws say it should.

War on Drugs.
--

Narrative Rug



Some people... a lot of people, actually, think my idea that we create our own reality is hogwash. When I say that our Being-in-the-World is a history, a story, they shake their heads and point to real objects, saying that that over there is a real river landscape, for example, and we are two real entities inhabiting that landscape. When the river floods in spring, our houses are inundated - a real disaster; it is not a "story" disaster we made up in our minds.

I agree we did not make it up in our minds, but we did start the scenario rolling; we took the script, got everyone on their marks and said "Roll 'em!" when we decided to build a house on the floodplain. Otherwise, no flood story.

What happens in the spring flood is like rug making:  real knots of yarn of weft tied onto the warp of intelligence...
if they are to become part of our communication. From a distance, the knots look like real flowers, for example; up close under the microscope, they become "fuzzy" and indistinct. If we are looking at pictures, the pixels become indistinct.
When we discourse about them, we want them to appear real again.

If we choose to ignore them, they become like the trees in the forest which fall noisily if we are standing next to them, silently when we are absent, and again possibly noisily when we talk about them philosophically:  
if we ignore the distinctions between knots, we see flowers;
if we pay attention to the distinctions, we no longer see flowers, for each knot is alone and separate from the whole;
if we talk philosophy about it - like we are now - we see more possible states and the whole history of rug making.
--

Monday, October 03, 2011

Ade Ileke 29: Smoke / El Humo












Enciendo un cigarrillo;
el humo se cae
en los valles de los hombres y las mujeres;
él pinta las hojas rojas,
roja como el fuego,
oscura como el tabaco.
--
I light a cigarette:
the smoke falls
into the valleys of men and women;
it paints the leaves red,
red like the fire,
dark like the tobacco.
-

Ade Ileke 28: Distant Rain / отдаленные дождь










как часто вы поспешили по дому?
и вы закрыли окна...
а дождь все еще в десяти километрах далекой?
--
how many times have you run through the house...
closing windows...
and the rain was 10 kilometers distant?

The Catastrophe of Great Inequity of Wealth

The inequity of wealth is a symptom of disaster.
As the rich continue to get richer, they create icons of desire which those with less wealth try to imitate. Even the rich desire these impossible icons they themselves create, and they have the money to purchase the reality corresponding to the icon and discover it is a fairy tale: I know of someone whose boyfriend bought them a $15,000 bag, and she does not use it because it is too heavy.
The poorer folks never find out the truth that their desires and idolatries are empty; since they do not have wealth, they never find out the lack of foundation of consumer desire.

As the inequity increases, the ability of those with less wealth to consume real items versus dreaming and pretending steadily decreases. In the film Paris is Burning we saw the young men vogueing not merely as women, but as lawyers and Wall Street bankers: icons of wealth and desire of attainment. Even then, these young men were doomed to mimic things forever beyond their grasp as they fell prey to AIDS.

When the point is reached where the Icons beckon but the great mass of people cannot consume, cannot mimic, cannot even pretend to attain the iconic status of wealth and beauty, all the idols will be destroyed again as they always have been in the past.
What we cannot possess, we shall destroy.
--

Mel Gibson's Apocalypto Again

Fighting is the greatest male art, until artifice and device: Odysseus. That is how the young man is able to overcome his predators. Technology – even the use of frog toxins – is the metaphor for progress beyond the state of brute conflict. 

Yet we know technology may lead to disaster. The point is that any progressive knowledge, if used in a regressive way; i.e., if applied to the world just according to the old ( and inappropriate) ways, becomes brutish and regressive itself. I think nuclear power could be a good example of such. We are lucky that we did not become the paradigm in the universe for self-destruction.
We also see the Spaniards coming upon the scene and can remember their employing new knowledge – an entire New World – in old ways: force, compulsion, slavery, intolerance, etc. and they go from being a return of the white god to devils.

All new knowledge requires application in new ways and new ethics and new moralities which are improvements over the old morals. The measure of “improvement in morals” is the freedom of the spirit: if new information enslaves us to fear, hate, and distrust, it is operating within the confines of an out-of-date ethics.

New wine forcibly placed into old wineskins: they come apart and the new wine spills onto the ground and is wasted.
 --

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Standing on Principle

Henry Clay



I just wrote a comment to Baysage, stating that the time of witnessing for Principle and Honor is coming, it is not  a thing of the past. Sometimes we think it is a thing of the past because in our times standing on principle has become very much a  private virtue, and the public forum is devoid of such scenes. We tend not to make a display and stand on principle... we are "professionals" and we get along.
Nor are we brought to trial and forcibly made to witness our principles, as was Bonhoeffer.

Our government can hardly perform simple functions, such as keeping the government agencies running. The simplest matters, such as allowing the FAA to continue to collect taxes dues from air traffic, require the genius of compromise of at least a Henry Clay... or greater!

And just as the generations that immediately followed Henry Clay, we shall find it harder and harder to maintain the facade of a union of like minds: the compromisers rapidly fall out, by choice or by the ballot box.
Like those generations, we shall enter life in atmospheres of increasing bitterness and animosity and incivility, and we shall believe it a normal way to live, because we have always lived so.

And like those generations, we shall be allowed to make the most serious stand on principle possible: whether to go to jail for our principles, whether to fight and die for our beliefs.
The people of the generations born around the turn of the century are the Oliver Wendell Holmes' who follow on the Henry Clays, coming after the period of unity, after that of compromise, coming into a world where Union must be fought for.

We shall yet stand on principle.
In our own lives, we who write and read here shall attest that, just as Holmes, our souls will be touched "by fire" in a conflagration of belief and principle, and shall discover that Principles without Charity are empty... empty... mere scraps of paper and will be blown away as was the right of habeas corpus blown away like an ill-fitting hat, one of the first casualties of the Civil War.
--