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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Winter Vacation and Black-Necked Cranes

Going on vacation.
Did my poems ahead, so the Combo-Furioso of the Fates and the Muses will not hunt me down like Oedipus.

When I return, I guess I shall begin the second part of my life.

I came across this enchanting story and images this morning, and was very much touched by it, so I decided to share it. It is The Love Story of the Black-Necked Cranes, by Tashi Sange:


Monday, February 20, 2012

Downton Abbey III Or Something III-ish

I just finished watching Downton this morning. It's on too late for me. I've been asleep for a while by 9:00 PM. Of course, I awoke much earlier than anticipated this morning, decided to go running, then go back to sleep around 7:00 AM.
Of course, it did not turn out that way. I did go running, but no return to Morpheus.

I'm beginning to like Downton. There is still what seems to me a lot of sticking odd people in, then out. I think I liked this episode better, since Sibyl is off in Ireland, and I did not have to watch her chat up the chauffeur four or five times.
O'Brien seemed to be being weaned from the teat of Mephistopheles, and Thomas actually did something to earn his reputation of villainy: he not only smoked a lot of fags in a dreamy lassitude, but he kidnapped the dog, Isis, and ran about quite a bit in the perpetration and the come-uppance of his crime.

Matthew and Mary will be married next season, and that means "Burns" Gordon will be back from Canada to claim the earldom. Of course, he has gone quite mad in the meantime, living beneath the Salle des Capucines (or Paris Opera) and wearing a mask to hide his disfigurement.  This plagiarism will be no worse than the "Flower Show" episode that came from Mrs. Miniver, so cheers!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Buenas Dias in Japan

If you read about Japan, you know the problems they have faced, and you know part of the problem is a very large population of elderly with a comparatively small younger workforce to keep things going.

One way to fix this is immigration of people into the country; immigration makes up for the slow birth-rate.

If you recall, last week I had a posting from an Up-North newspaper that Michigan was going to have agricultural problems harvesting fruits, due to immigration uncertainty. This is what already happened in other states, such as Georgia, which patted themselves on the back for being tough, only to find their fruits and vegetable rotting on the vines and falling unharvested from the trees.

Labor and a good work-force is like air: it's no big deal... unless you aren't getting any.
A fair and just policy on immigration is needed now. Otherwise, those fine workers might go somewhere else.

What If... ?

What if Israel attacks Iran, and the outcome is not as neat and clean as were the raids against installations suspected of developing nuclear power in Iraq and Syria in the past? What is hostilities spread into Lebanon and Gaza and beyond? What if Israel decided to use some of its nuclear arsenal against Iran?

What then?

Republicans Makin' Whopee

The title is the title of an Eddie Cantor song. The Republican campaign for the presidential nomination reminds me of Eddie Cantor. When I was young, I used to listen to Eddie Cantor's old RCA 78 records on a large Victrola which was as tall as I.

Mitt Romney:

Mitt Romney

Rick Santorum now reminds me of a song which I think was called "The Old Sultan's Harem" (you remember... "I had a dream last night that was immense, I dreamed that I was at the Peace Conference... Give me that harem, that old sultan's harem, that's the only thing I crave!...)
The Sultan, of course, was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and the victors were divvying up the spoils after World War I, so Eddie Cantor put in a bid for the Sultan's harem. Mr. Santorum reminds me of it, because the Sultan was, indeed, a Muslim (actually he was also considered Caliph by many until Kemal Ataturk abolished the caliphate in Turkey in 1924).

Rick Santorum is suddenly obsessed by Islam, in the sense that he is intimating that President Obama is not Christian, or does not follow the Christian religion, but some other form of religion "not based on the Bible". You can read about it everywhere, so I provide no links.
Although not yet a outright "birther", Santorum seems to be trying to get the "The President is a Muslim!" vote.

This is Mr. Santorum's Eddie Cantor surrogate:

Rick Santorum

The Pillars of American Ideology

From the blog Triple Crisis:

“Many professional economists now find themselves answering questions from their students, friends, and relatives on topics that did not seem at all central until a few years ago, and we are collectively scrambling to catch up. (p.1, emphasis added).”
Note how damning of mainstream macroeconomics this statement is: the key dynamics of the crisis – massive leverage and credit expansion, fed by the shadow banking system, that contributed to a housing bubble and crash – all elements of a macroeconomic dynamics well known to more than one generation of economists trained in the economics of Keynes and Minsky. They have studied many of these topics for decades, which to the mainstream are topics that “did not seem at all central until a few years ago”, that is after the meltdown and crash!...

I believe there is a reason for this: the mainstream never changes its underlying theory which is based on the erroneous ideas that financial markets are, by and large, perfectly self-governing and efficient and that the market economy has strong self-equilibrating forces that always bring the economy back to full employment...  Since they won’t change their basic framework, they have no where to put the new information they get after each crisis...  The tragedy is that it is these same economists who still control the elite economics departments, the main economics journals and hold the key policy making and research positions in our public institutions such as the Federal Reserve. Their stranglehold must be broken if we are going to break the Memento syndrome that is hindering sensible economics and economic policy.

A mind-set of Empires is an ideology of Perfection, no matter how inept it may be in reality. Even though only a few people ardently believe in American Exceptionalism, the Cold War and its aftermath has led the country into a facile acceptance of less stringent forms of that idolatrous worship of the State.

Perfect Markets are one of the Pillars of American Ideology.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Intellectual Properties in Moby Dick

It was a Nantucket ship, the Bachelor, which had just wedged in her last cask of oil...

There has been a good deal of news about intellectual properties and downloading and laws... and patents, too, as everyone scrambles for the riches of the vasty deep of Technology, like old time whalers in Moby Dick who made their way across the face of the waters seeking their prey.
From Melville, Chapter 89, there is this discussion:

I. A Fast-Fish belongs to the party fast to it.

II. A Loose-Fish is fair game for anybody who can soonest catch it.

... First: What is a Fast-Fish? Alive or dead a fish is technically fast, when it is connected with an occupied ship or boat, by any medium at all controllable by the occupant or occupants,- a mast, an oar, a nine-inch cable, a telegraph wire, or a strand of cobweb, it is all the same. Likewise a fish is technically fast when it bears a waif, or any other recognized symbol of possession; so long as the party wailing it plainly evince their ability at any time to take it alongside, as well as their intention so to do.

... What to the rapacious landlord is the widow's last mite but a Fast-Fish? What is yonder undetected villain's marble mansion with a doorplate for a waif; what is that but a Fast-Fish? ... And concerning all these, is not Possession the whole of the law?

But if the doctrine of Fast-Fish be pretty generally applicable, the kindred doctrine of Loose-Fish is still more widely so. That is internationally and universally applicable.

What was America in 1492 but a Loose-Fish, in which Columbus struck the Spanish standard by way of wailing it for his royal master and mistress? What was Poland to the Czar? What Greece to the Turk? What India to England? What at last will Mexico be to the United States? All Loose-Fish.

What are the Rights of Man and the Liberties of the World but Loose-Fish? What all men's minds and opinions but Loose-Fish? What is the principle of religious belief in them but a Loose-Fish? What to the ostentatious smuggling verbalists are the thoughts of thinkers but Loose-Fish? What is the great globe itself but a Loose-Fish? And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish, too?
Herein, "waif" is a "stray beast" or nautically "a piece of flotsam" unclaimed, and a "waif-pole" is a pole to mark possession of a whale after a hunt. "Waif" is used itself as an emblem of ownership and it is odd that the word "waif" means both "unclaimed" and "mark of possession".
I think the stray beast comes from the accepted derivation from Old French "guaif" for stray beast, and the mark of possession comes from Latin ":vibrare" through Old High German "wifan" and the root WEIP- meaning to tremble, to brandish, to swing, etc. and the idea I get is a pennant claiming ownership.

 "wail" is to will in the sense of "determine" or "claim ownership"

A great place to visit.

Friday, February 17, 2012

When The Silly Season Is All Year

Under pressure, Republicans concede on unemployment benefits and doc fix
posted at 7:13 pm on February 15, 2012 by Tina Korbe
So, the president started carping for the payroll tax cut extension — and Republicans, many of whom have pledged not to raise taxes, had to support the cut. They should have taken the time to explain that “the payroll tax cut” is not a proper tax cut, but they lost the rhetorical battle before they even began to fight the policy battle.
Not a "proper" tax cut. Interesting evolution of the Grover Norquist pseudo-primate from the stews of country clubs to a semi-upright position in the bunker near the green.Totally Darwinian. Never would have guessed it merely 7 months ago, when even "Default on Debts" was judged to be Doctrinal and Dogmatic.

Engagement and Disengagement

Julie Christie and Oskar Werner watch Our Family Theater

Referring to yesterday's post about cable TV, I actually do feel an "engagement" with the things I view. I actually do believe that "feeling the engagement" with the pretty people who eat fried foods on The Chew is pretty much how I feel engaged with the News, or with people who are on TV and trying to persuade me to buy or believe, and will lead me to easily be persuaded to someone's point of view: they are such nice folks! let's vote for 'em and have 'em lead us to war!

The problem with FOX being the most watched news is not so much their skewed views of things, but it is the engagement of the viewers with the TV people: it is exactly like Our Family Theater in Fahrenheit 451 - it is not so much what they are doing, but it is more the case that we feel they actually care about how we feel.

When FOX cancels someone, his or her fans howl that they have fired the only true Conservative on cable.
We know the complainers have not evaluated anything like political philosophy, but are responding to the rupture of their long-standing "engagement" - the unspoken vows of mutual fidelity are broken. (This applies to all networks. I pick on FOX because of Murdoch's affairs.)

This is capable of experimentation. Orson Welles demonstrated with The War of the Worlds that Drama maybe mistaken for News, and such occurrences have happened frequently since then.
Often the only way we have to distinguish reality from fiction is the word of the person with whom we are engaged: whom we trust and believe in...
It is in our natures to create family and society, and to amend ourselves by hospitality to allow precious guests to enter our lives and live with us, whether Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, or Ahab and Jezebel; our urge to engage is immediate and strong...
Walking along the dusty road to Emaus, we take up a companionship with a stranger...

Truth is not within the media center in the family room, where we dwell in familial pleasures and blessings; Truth we have touched at Ephrata, and we have heard of it in the wild wood...
Truth is a moving target for us. We must run after it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I am reading Huysman's  À Rebours once more.
The title translates as Against the Grain, although it has been published as Against Nature, which is quite a bit over the top as far as translation goes.

To be quite truthful, it reminds me of our culture of celebrity and entertainment... I am sitting in front of a TV which has people eating fried foods at 1:00 PM and smiling and smacking lips. I think this is the program that replaced All My Children.  As little as I like soap operas, it was definitely superior to this twaddle. How much food does an obese country need to stare at?

I feel the need to disengage from the World created by our media. That's why I record House and watch it in random order: I refuse to accept the plot logic, even though I love a lot of the individual stories.
I feel I must resist the facile acceptance of anything on TV, because it starts with trying fried foods, and then ends up believing that we are winning in Afghanistan.
The World on the cable and the news and every electronic device is what "they" want you to be, not what you want to be. The more we feed on this cultural pottage, the more we sell our birthrights.

I intend to disengage from the Iran War thing, too....

for, indeed, "I come from no small-time city."

Without Question

Fron ExxonMobil's Perspectives blog:

For those who are following the debate in this country on shale gas development, as I am, today’s column by David Brooks in the New York Times is a must read.
In balanced terms, Brooks summarizes the future energy and economic potential of America’s enormous shale gas endowment – and the current debate surrounding its safe and responsible production.   The benefits of shale gas development in terms of economic growth, job creation and energy security are without question, as he points out.

It is true they are without question. No one actually has a different opinion. It is more of a obsessive-compulsive disorder, like when people obsess about clean air and water.

There are always benefits in anything, except that deal that Faust made with the devil. I might say it is without question that there are benefits. The question remains whether the benefits outweigh the deficits. Same thing with the Keystone pipeline: show me projections of what happens when the leaks we know will occur leak oil into the Ogalalla aquifer upon whose waters the agriculture of the Midwest depends.

News From Beyond

  • Prophet Economist Issues Eerie Warning. Disturbing Charts Expose The Unthinkable. -

  • A Prophet and an Economist, a combination of doom-sayer and dismal science. I intend to copy some more of Newsmax idiocy here, in case you have not seen it. It is a publication which has premonitions of doom when Obama is president, while it called for fair skies and small clouds with silver linings when Bush was president. Totally respectable stuff.

    Misinformation 24/7 ?

    Rolling Stone has a short piece:

    Poll shows 52% of Americans favor bombing Iran. 

    and it links us to the poll at The Raw Story:

    Bomb Iran, majority of Americans says in new poll
    Nick Juliano
    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    That's right, a poll from 2007. I suppose a poll from 2003 would have had 62% or an even higher percentage in favor of "back to the stone age" diplomacy.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012


    I am beginning to think all philosophy is the Art of Symbols and their metaphysics and teleology. It is the aim of philosophy to discover the limits of the symbolic creations of mankind's mind, that excruciating gift of God.

    Nuclear Dreams

    Submarine Yekaterinburg On Fire At Shipyard N82, Kola Peninsula

    The Russian Magazine Kommersant in its section Власть (or, Power), reports that last December's fire on the submarine Yekaterinburg at shipyard N82 on the Kola Peninsula occurred while the submarine still had 16 missiles each with 4 nuclear warheads aboard.
    It states that the removal of the missiles requires about 2 weeks, and that delay would put them between a rock and a hard place when compared to the USA, whose nuclear subs have more "up" time patrolling the world's oceans. And that is why they call them "nuclear" accidents!


    The Grey and Teleology 2

    I struck me this morning that the goal or teleos of language, image-making, arts, etc. are symbols of greater complexity and refinement.
    So the statement that language has a teleos, and this goal is "writing", for example, is saying that the symbol-making process of language and speaking is inherently linked to the greater complexity of writing and reading.

    Furthermore, Writing is not merely copying down the utterances of language using clever signs. This I know. Some of you also know. We know that Writing is the Unwrapping of the Gifts of Perception, it is the making clear of what was implicit and covert.
    The creation of Language is a baby carried to full term, and the Higher Symbolic Processing - which we are presently calling Writing and Reading, but there are others - is the birth and first stages of growth of that precious child.

    And my post is an example of the process, for I only saw this as within a darkling glass when I originally wrote the post about the film The Grey and teleology:

    and when I went back to read it, this understanding "swarmed" out at me like bees from the hive of mind.

    Teleology exists in the realm of Symbols (at least). If we hold that we symbolically create our own universes of meaning, then teleology also holds sway within the Universe as a whole.


    A Visitor in Town

    Mitt Romney is in town. Since the primary is 2 weeks in the future, he will be around for a while, and - like the old saying - guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days; sometimes earlier.

    The Economist sums it up:

    "Had the government not stepped in, GM might have restructured under normal bankruptcy procedures, without putting public money at risk", we said. But "given the panic that gripped private is more likely that GM would have been liquidated, sending a cascade of destruction through the supply chain on which its rivals, too, depended." Even Ford, which avoided bankruptcy, feared the industry would collapse if GM went down. At the time that seemed like a real possibility. The credit markets were bone-dry, making the privately financed bankruptcy that Mr Romney favoured improbable. He conveniently ignores this bit of history in claiming to have been right all along.
    The painful fact for Romney is that the bail-out worked. He has a hypothetical that going through normal bankruptcy would have been the best course, but he now must argue that hypothetical against 2011's being the best year for domestic auto since the financial crisis began.

    I find Mr. Romney to be a very odd fish... very odd. And he is beginning to out live his welcome. He may indeed have been born in Detroit, but he only comes around when he needs votes. He senses the outlandishness of the situation, so he lectures to everyone around that when he slapped us with his left hand, and then his right, it was for our betterment.

    Romney is too protean: he has too many faces, and all of them tell us why he's better than we are.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    Our Government

    LEELANAU CO. -- A migrant labor problem is hitting Northern Michigan, and this year it's going to be more difficult to get fresh local strawberries.
    Leelanau Fruit Company in Suttons Bay plans to withdraw from the local strawberry market this summer, they're worried that not enough immigrants will migrate to the area to pick the crop.

    Glenn Lacross, Leelanau Fruit Company President says it will be much easier to import strawberries from Mexico. He says the federal government is cracking down on immigration. Getting a green card or temporary work permit is a complicated process and unemployed US citizens aren't interested in the job.

    Monday, February 13, 2012

    A Thicket of Canes

    Canes are everywhere, and in those places where there are no canes, there are wheelchairs, walkers, scooters and Rascals.

    I can turn on the TV and see not only Dr. House (cane), but I can also view Downton Abbey - Dowager Countess has cane, Mr. Bates has a cane, Matthew Crawly has wheelchair for the time being, and will probably have a spot with a cane as he transitions to unassisted walking.
    When one takes into account Grey's Anatomy, General Hospital, Private Practice, and reruns of Marcus Welby, M.D. and scads of others, there are more canes and devices for assisting mobility on TV than at a Wright & Phillipis store.

    a thicket of canes is a "venery" term for a group of the wooden things; possibly a "hedge" or "forest" of canes would work, or even an "elephant's foot", but that also indicates bumbershoots, and would draw PETA ire...
    I think that "a stand of canes" would be best!

    watching the second hour of last night's Downton, and Matthew has his cane!

    Low-Context Society

    I have been studying the concepts of High-Context and Low-Context societies, particularly as these concepts apply to Amish culture in the USA. To give you a taste of what it is:
    A high-context society is one in which people are highly involved with one another. Awareness of situations, experience, activity, and one's social standing is keenly developed. Information is widely shared. Simple messages with deep meaning flow freely. There are many levels of communication - overt and covert, implicit and explicit signs, symbols, and body gestures, and things one may or may not talk about. Members are sensitive to a screening process that distinguishes outsiders from insiders.
    The models created to explain nature are rooted in culture - are very much a part of life - but are unavailable for analysis, except under very special circumstances. The nonverbal, or unstated, realms of culture are extremely important as conveyors of information. High-context cultures are integrated, for members are skilled in thinking comprehensively according to a system of the common good. Loyalties are concrete and individuals work together to settle their problems. If one person has a problem, others are expected to know what is bothering him.
    Amish Society,  Hostetler, John A.,
    The Johns Hopkins University Press, Third Edition

    It is my feeling that our modern society is low-context. Many of the characteristics as pertaining to high-context are obviously applicable to our society, but it strikes me that they are used by sub-groups, be they corporations, cliques, political parties, or gangs; the screening process which distinguishes insiders from outsiders does not exist for society as a whole... although arguably it does in restricted ranges, and  possibly extensively, such as before the Civil Rights Era, but the process is not embraced as a defining aspect of the society.
    High-context society or low-context society share these mechanisms, yet they apply them with differing range and extension and force.

    Take, for example, the statement that in a high-context society, "Information is widely shared". One would think that, with the 24/7 manic news cycle and Tweets and Facebook, this would be a fair description of our modern society. Yet the next sentence throws such an assumption into doubt, "Simple messages with deep meaning flow freely."
    There is no deep meaning in the limited scope of a Tweet. There may, indeed, be considerable wit, irony, or satire, but meaning strikes me as being a bit more than these artifices. Meaning - even though riddled with wit and wisdom - yet is more than the sum of such technical parts.

    I read the Sunday New York Times this morning, and came across an article about the Washington Post in the Sunday Business Section:
    ...Marcus Brauchli, the executive editor of the Washington Post... wanted to know how... The Post was covering the 2012 election and what might be improved. [He was informed that the] paper... needed to strike a better balance between the ferocious 24/7 news cycle and more ambitious longer-term projects...
    A "ferocious 24/7 news cycle"... What are we to make of that? One would think we have the most highly informed population in the history of mankind. What are the outcomes from such enormous heaps of information?

    I am perplexed. The more we are made aware, the more tenuous our lives, liberties, and pursuits of happiness are.
    Oddly enough, I think the 24/7 cycle is due to cable TV and the Internet, and McLuhan probably had already observed that once you create a "Medium", that medium must be filled with messages:  The Media Abhor a Vacuum.

    But, does it draw us closer together?

    We seem to rely exclusively on written language: religious books, laws, even our parenting requires Dr. Spock to write a book, and his example followed by many others.
    Everything is verbal, using the fungible currency of thought which language gives us.
    It seems to me that we are living lives of "Do as I say... not as I do."  If we even expect children to turn a blind eye to our crimes - great and small - by emphasizing that they should hear our commands and obey them, rather than ordering their lives according to what we do, we are reflecting a low-contextuality, which will destroy itself.

    It will destroy itself because it is built upon the Morality of language...  and skill in language. We know that language skills and oratorical expertise do not "translate" easily into morality.
    We ignore the difficult, long-term investment in goodness, and settle for talking about what is proper:  we talk the talk,  but hesitate to walk the walk.

    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    Tweets and Tyrrany
    The Guardian

    Interpol has been accused of abusing its powers after Saudi Arabia used the organisation's red notice system to get a journalist arrested in Malaysia for insulting the Prophet Muhammad. 
    Police in Kuala Lumpur said Hamza Kashgari, 23, was detained at the airport "following a request made to us by Interpol" the international police cooperation agency, on behalf of the Saudi authorities.
    Kashgari, a newspaper columnist, fled Saudi Arabia after posting a tweet on the prophet's birthday that sparked more than 30,000 responses and several death threats.
    The posting, which was later deleted, read: "I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don't understand about you … I will not pray for you."
    There are a growing number of international thought crimes in the world, and suddenly we see Interpol being used to arrest people accused of thought crime.

    The BBC has just announced that Malaysia has deported Mr. Kashgar to face the death penalty in the paradise of Saudi Arabia.

    Am I outraged? I suppose so, since my religious beliefs can stand up against Tweets and Tyranny!

    Steve Jobs

    A great man has passed.
    I am, however, glad that I waited a bit before writing about it; I am glad I did not jump in right away with some outlandish, sycophantic laudatory posting. I am glad I waited for a bit more information on how workers in factories that supply Apple are treated; I am glad to have waited for pieces on "ethical" iPhones and "blood" iPads.

    I my mind, an important measure of greatness is how a person treats other people whose welfare is directly affected by them.
    This includes people for whom I voted in the past, Apple Director Al Gore.

    Steve Jobs was, by all accounts, a great innovator and hustler. He did not, however, directly change my life for the better... nor for the worse. His effect on thousands of workers is a moral quagmire. Deal with it.

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    The Color of Race

    There are no "Racism Charts" at the Home Depot to bring home and hold next to your own intemperate folly for comparison: it is not like color cards for paint.

    From The Root:
    Dan Amira, an associate editor for New York Magazine, published "Obama Gay Marriage Evolution: Day 468". The title is not misleading: it's a quick aggregated piece about the president's developing stance on marriage equality, which has changed a bit since he entered office 468 days ago. Amira, like many of us, is ready for Barry O to slap a rainbow flag across the White House doors, give a middle finger to conservative opponents and finally make marriage (or at least civil partnership) an option for all Americans. Maybe in his second term.
    Yet it isn't Amira's thoughts on Obama's politics that are drawing ire. It's the image used to accompany the story (pictured above): a riff on the classic Darwin's evolution of man chart that depicts President Obama as a knuckle-dragging primate that becomes a bipedal man carrying a rainbow flag. Get it? Evolution used to illustrate ... evolution. They so clever at the New York Magazine! If this were 8th grade, someone would receive a gold star in the column marked "creativity." But the lack of a "racial sensitivity" grading scale would likely prevent Amira and his illustrator from receiving the critique they deserve. Perhaps it's that lack of learning early on that is the problem.
    It seems to say that if we share a political viewpoint and agenda, my racism is merely insensitivity.
    It seems to do an injustice to the concept of racism.

    Thursday, February 09, 2012

    J.G. Ballard

    J.G. Ballard's house in Shepperton. It was for sale last year. Do not know if it was sold. I enjoy reading J.G. Ballard; Empire of the Sun Ballard:

    During the 1960s, the Shanghai of my childhood seemed a portent of the media cities of the future, dominated by advertising and mass circulation newspapers and swept by unpredictable violence. But how could I raise this Titanic of memories? Brought up from the sea bed, the golden memory hoard could turn out to be dross. Besides, there are things that the novel can't easily handle. I could manage my changing relations with my parents, my 13-year-old's infatuation with the war, and the sudden irruption into our lives of American air power. But how do you convey the casual surrealism of war, the deep silence of abandoned villages and paddy fields, the strange normality of a dead Japanese soldier lying by the road like an unwanted piece of luggage?

    Motown Art

    Mitch Cope Brings Sustainable Light to the Power House Neighborhood

    Over the last year and a half, I have looked at the field of cultural production in Detroit through several lenses. As I've reflected on things a little more, I have to come to see that these lenses are interconnected. What's more, they point to a way in which certain art projects in Detroit are perhaps opening up an avenue for thinking about how we might actually go about making that other world the new social movements slogans tell us is possible....
     Check it out.

    pix:  Motown Review of Art  (Image courtesy of Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert.)

    Tuesday, February 07, 2012

    We Need A Bigger Deficit!

    Investors demanding larger government deficits

    Commentary: Bond holders now willing to pay us to lend us money
    Yields for U.S. debt have fallen to historic lows because demand for government bills and bonds is so strong.
    Interest rates on government debt are at historic lows. The government pays about 0.1% to borrow money for six months, and investors are clamoring to get in on that deal. At one auction in January, investors offered to lend the government a total of $159 billion for 28 days at 0% interest. The government accepted $29 billion, leaving the rest to scramble for a safe place to park their money.
    And now investors want to take the next step: Negative interest rates. Last week, the group of bond traders that advises the Treasury on debt matters unanimously recommended that the Treasury allow investors to offer to pay the government for lending it money. You’d give the Treasury $10,000 now and get back $9,990 in a few months. Read the report from the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee.
    On Capitol Hill, all you hear is about how we have to get the deficits under control immediately, about how we must stop spending so much, about how we must stop borrowing so much. But on Wall Street, the attitude is different, because the global recession has created a huge demand for ultra-safe assets. Risk is out of favor, and safety is king.
    Seems like an opportunity to rebuild a good deal of infrastructure, fund alternative energies, and re-establish manufacturing at almost no interest cost. Sounds too goo to be true, actually, but we have a small window of opportunity granted by our T-bills status as a safe-haven investment.
    I believe that our biggest threat is a Republican election victory in 2012. I do not fear a possible election of Mr. Romney, who is a fine and honorable person, but I do fear the riff-raff that would be dragged into Congress on his coat tails. We have had enough of the Politics of Ignorance ("Let 'er default!"), and do not wish to experience any more.

    Monday, February 06, 2012

    A Great Day For Entertainment

    I watched the Super Bowl.
    More correctly, I had it on as background, and I did watch a number of plays in the first half when I looked up from the laptop, and I was impressed by a number of things. I had no intention of seeing the thing through: I wanted to see the half-time show.

    I do not think I have ever seen a Super Bowl half-time show... ever. I have no memory of it. Perhaps I was drunk at sometime in the past, and I watched the spectacle, but collapsed into a alcoholic black-out and woke up with AMNESIA  (another great soap opera story-line from last night that was recorded and which I am watching this morning: Downton Abbey!).
    Anyway, She-who-must-be-obeyed always watches the half-time spectacle, often surfing between it and The Puppy Bowl on the Animal Planet channel, and I thought we could share a fond memory or two.

    The Madonna show was preceded by three talking heads who gave one of the breathless, thrilling, and pumped about Half Number I, Quarters I and II to be exact, soon to be followed by Quarters III and IV. They started out  by imagining what some coach might be saying to some team in some locker room right about now, and surprisingly enough it had to do with not playing up to one's potential.

    Then came Madonna.
    I was absolutely appalled. There seemed to be no theme, starting out as Rome and Cleopatra - Hail Caesar! We who are about to overwhelm you with dreck, salute you! - and switching into Vogue Magazine, an obvious connection and metaphor to some in the football world, but certainly not to me. Then it went somewhere else, but I had amnesia again.
    I did not like the choreography, which I thought to be wooden and uninspired; Madonna herself was no Ann Miller who could energetically "hoof it" into her 50's and beyond; the songs were nothing to speak of, and the pyrotechnics and light show were lame.

    Just as I had given up and was going to bed - I go to bed early, but I get up very early, too - I told my wife that the show stunk, and I looked back at the screen one last time.
    I said, "Did that girl just throw me the finger?!"
    She laughed, "She probably did."
    This morning I discover that indeed she had digitized me. If I were her, I would not have messed with Madonna.

    Saturday, February 04, 2012

    The Paradox of Power

    This will change thinking on the whole business of long-term energy policy... or, at least it would in a fairly sane society. We shall probably ignore it for a couple centuries.

    Power paradox: Clean might not be green forever
    30 January 2012 by Anil Ananthaswamy and Michael Le Page
     "Sagan used to preach to me, and I now preach to my students," says Chaisson, "that any intelligent civilisation on any planet will eventually have to use the energy of its parent star, exclusively." More specifically, they will be limited to the solar energy that is normally absorbed by their planet - anything extra, including space-based solar, is out.


    Ade Ileke 40: песок и туман

    Дом красного песка
    и тумана;
    каждый человек
    и злодей.
    house of red sand
    and fog;
    each person
    a hero...
    and a villain.

    Muslim Images

    Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Nehru

    I wrote of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a Afghan leader in the 20th century, who was a very devout Muslim who had established schools and supported the rights of women and been a proponent of non-violence along with his contemporary Gandhi. I had stumbled across his history a mere few days ago, and by coincidence, it was on the same day the jury came to a decision in the honor killing case in Kingston, Ontario.

    I have heard many people express disgust at Afghan people, as if all of them were murderous maniacs. Furthermore, is it not a fact that over the past decade, we have probably been exposed to more  negative images of Muslim people in general than to positive imagery?

    Is it not a fact that just months ago, Lowe's stores pulled advertising funding from a TV series about Muslim life in the US due to complaints from a Florida group that the show "misleadingly" showed Muslims as normal human beings?!

    I ask the question: Why has Abdul Ghaffar Khan been relegated to the trash bin of history?!

    Why have such potent and positive images of Muslim peoples been suppressed?

    In my life, I have rarely been exposed to images of devout and strong and peaceful Muslim men and women. I was born in 1946. The timing is all important.

    Now we are on the verge of a war with Iran, a possibility which most of us have totally tuned out. And why would we not tune it out? It is just another violence perpetrated on foreigners and we are tired of it all, and they are all benighted honor-killing-jerks, so who cares? Right?!

    No. It is time for a line to be drawn: no more violence based on the imagination of entire Religions and Races of peoples being addicted to hatred and violence, while our side is the side of the angels. We have let the situation in the Middle East fester for almost 70 years, and its poisons are working to necrotise more of our minds and bodies once again.
    It is time to put an end to it, and to do so by justice.

    Friday, February 03, 2012

    The Army of The Twelve Monkeys

    Scientists call for curbs on own research on deadly bird flu virus

    Virus experts in the US say outbreak of genetically engineered bird flu could be worst influenza pandemic in history

    A group of the leading virus experts in the US has called for new, permanent restrictions on research in the face of a new genetically engineered flu virus that could kill half the population of the world.

    Scientists are currently observing a 60-day moratorium on research into the bird flu virus, after two groups found a way to make it infectious through airborne transmission.

    An outbreak of this virus could be worse than the 1918 Spanish flu that killed tens of millions of people, warned Michael Osterholm – who has led research into previous dangerous outbreaks – at a public meeting on censorship in science in New York on Thursday night.

    "Frankly, I don't want a virus out there that, even if it was 20 times less lethal, would still be the worst influenza pandemic in history," he said.

    Professor Osterholm is a member of the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, which in December asked the journals Science and Nature not to publish the full research on the virus.
    And to think that I have been frightened that my financial welfare has been under the control of a Wall Street that was unable to control itself. At least the science wants some sort of self-control. However, I hear the marching song of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys, and I shall be back from the future.... like La Jetée.

    Preparing for Pogroms

    Consider the following:

    Arizona’s state ban on ethnic studies—in HB 2281—took effect January 1, and states that no classes can be taught that “promote the overthrow of the United States government; promote resentment toward a race or class of people; are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group; advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

    The first clause that no class be taught which promotes the overthrow of the government makes perfect sense. So also the second clause will not find many opponents.
    Then we arrive at the third clause which states no classes may be taught that are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group, which is full totalitarianism, and embraces the great oppressors of ethnic groups throughout history: the instigators of pogroms and genocide, who deny human rights to people of a "different" ethnicity.
    The last clause which forbids classes advocating ethnic solidarity instead of treatment of pupils as individuals is grossly pernicious, and forms the slippery slope to the day when the local governments would forbid any public expression of speech advocating any form of solidarity not approved by the State.

    Ethnicity is not itself forgotten, but can not be taught; it is the genetics which dare not speak its name. The dominant elite will never at some future time "forget" the distinctions between ethnic groups, they will not forget the characteristics which make them different - and "better" - than other ethnic groups, particularly ethnic groups that are impotent to prevent the elite from destroying their sense of history.

    By forbidding differentiation, the State is actually enforcing it. This has been the dynamics throughout History, whether in Tsarist Russia or in Ireland, where the governed peoples had their ethnicity sacrificed to some greater good... and that greater good was illusory, because a Gypsy would never become a Grand Duke, and Paddy would never have tea with the King or Queen.

    Statutes against ethnic awareness are one-way, and are directed against the expression of ethnicity by the powerless, while leaving the prejudices of the ruling class untouched.

    Such laws seem to forbid any Jewish Zionist literature, such as Theodor Herzl,  and may well be used to forbid groups such as the Amish by their focusing on their background as immigrants from the Palatinate in Germany or their connection to the Swiss at the time of their emigration. Furthermore, the Amish emphasis on Community rather than on Individualism will single them out for special attention by the Thought Police.
    These examples will easily find increase, and this augmentation of the roll-call of the forbidden will turn and condemn those who enacted such laws as unfit to hold office.

    Governor Brewer should be the first to be impeached, and she should be followed in rapid order by everyone else who is responsible for this crime.

    Thursday, February 02, 2012

    The Grey and Teleology

    I saw the film The Grey last night, and I thought it was extremely good. The ending was, if anyone cares, the exactly correct ending for the film. Some people thought it was ambiguous. I did not. I found it to be the natural culmination of the entire thrust of the story.

    I may write more on the film later, but right now I want to write on "teleology", which is the doctrine that design, processes, and outcomes we see in the natural world are pretty much dependent on attaining "desired goals", just as are the things of human endeavor; for example, Heinz Pagels' theory that the Universe - at least in our neck of the woods - was created just so in order that it would lead to the gradual appearance of Mankind, a theory referred to as the Anthropocentric Theory, or the theory of Man as the Center of Creation.

    This name is not right. In this theory, Man is the "End" or the goal or "Purpose to be attained", not the center of a cycle, but we have to make do with the tools we have laying about, so there it is.

    I do not like such theories. I usually say that when a person that puts forward the Anthropocentric Theory, it a very similar to getting off Schopenhauer's Causality Trolley Car (Schopenhauer argued against proofs of God by infinite regress:  everything has a Cause, there cannot be a thing such as an infinite series of causes, therefore there must be a First Cause, and this is God. He said that the Theory that Everything has a Cause is not like a trolley car that suddenly you can disembark from; or, you cannot state that there is strict causality [everything has a cause] and then state that there cannot be an infinite series of causes - essentially saying that everything has a cause until I grow weary of the endless process or get to where I want to go; one has to ride that Causality Trolley forever.)

    Well, Teleologies or "Final Ends" or "Desired Goals" theories are similar: the choice of which stop to get off at are extremely subjective.

    I usually say that the "final ends" theorist got off the trolley one stop too soon: the "Purpose" of Creation was iPads by Apple, for which the penultimate step: Mankind, was a prerequisite.
    To me, this is sufficient to undercut the logic of such philosophy. If anyone thinks I am frivolous, that's quite all right, for to me it is obvious that Schopenhauer's Causality Trolley runs one way into the past, and the Trolley of Anthropocentric theories run one way into the future, and there is no essential distinction logically between them.

    However, that does not mean I do not believe in teleology.

    As I watched the last campfire scene in The Grey, the distinction between man and wolf took on new light: man had long-term memory and language. Both of these abilities worked to ensure the continued existence of Mankind until such a time as writing and other forms of arts and memory storage were made technologically available.
    In other words, long-term memory and language lead to oral traditions and eventuate in writing, and this process seemed obviously teleological in that it cannot be happenstance, but it is indeed driven by a future and as-yet-non-existent goal. It seemed clear that certain human behaviors not only lead to certain futures, but they also actively "design" those futures to be within certain parameters.

    Furthermore, there is the intense implication that things do not end there: Mankind's Consciousness has Future Goals... no matter how much we, the present generation, may strive to throw that trolley off the tracks!


    Wednesday, February 01, 2012

    A New Narrative

     Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru

    Let there be a new narrative (or, "meta-narrative" as it is scholarly referred to) for Pakistan and for the entire World:

    Abdul Ghaffar Khan also followed the obvious nationalist cause after his educational initiates and established the Khudai Khidmatgars, ‘Servants of God’ movement in November 1929. This movement was significant since it was also deeply rooted in the ideology of non-violence. For the warlike Pakhtuns, where revenge and conflict are almost a way of life, Ghaffar Khan preached the gospel of non-violence. His philosophy of non-violence was deeply religious and found the inspiration in the person of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and his treatment of people, especially of those from Makkah after the city’s final conquest.
    Bacha Khan: Our Forgotten Quaid
    Published: January 30, 2012
    From The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP):

    Public Access to Scholarly Publications: Public Comment

    On November 3, 2011, OSTP released a Request for Information (RFI) soliciting public input on long-term preservation of, and public access to, the results of federally funded research, including peer-reviewed scholarly publications as required in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. Below are the public comments received by OSTP during the comment period...
    These may be read at:



    I watched some of the TV show Glee last night.

    It was frantic and over-produced in the nicest sense of the words. It was based on Michael Jackson's works, and the comparison caused me to realize what a thoroughly good artist and performer Michael Jackson had been. Judging by the work last night, he was "untouchable".
    Glee is joyfully bi-polar, and the up-phase reminded me of The Monkees running around like steroids, with just a hint of a Scooby Doo chase scene in which a Swamp Monster is chasing the gang, and there is a long corridor, and everyone keeps chasing each other through doors... I kept hearing the Scooby soundtrack motif for running, better known as "Feet, do yer stuff!"
    In the down-phase, there was a Showgirls idea of enchantment as we swooped in for the ultimate Las Vegas of the senses.