Search This Blog

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ade Ileke 43: Rio Negro

Amazon Meets the Rio Negro                      

Amor, amor;
amor corre em minha vida,
como uma tempestade,
como uma enchente;
empurrar para trás o Rio Negro!
Love, love;
loves runs in my life,
like a storm,
like a flood;
try and push the Rio Negro backwards!

Melancholia Triumphant!

My friend in Toronto just saw Melancholia, directed by Lars von Trier, and said it was superb!

I feel justified. I saw it a few months ago, and I was literally blown away by it. It was an incredible cinematic experience. I told many people and tried to get friends to go to it, but nobody would.

As I read reviews about it, I had to wade through a rehash of everything said or imagined about Lars von Treier, but most reviews totally missed it. I found the ending to be the most intense cinematic portrayal of an ancient and primal sense of the Holy that I have ever seen.


Showdown at the Royal Oak Street Art Fair

Guns at a Local Summer Street Art Fair

I guess I may as well get a gun. I shall be Doc Holliday. I'll get my friends to be the Earp brothers, and some artsy types for the Clantons.  Last year some local Michigan gun nuts sued the city of Royal Oak, because they were forbidden from bringing their guns and weapons to the Annual Royal Oak Art Fair!
Then the City Council gave in to the gun nuts. Then the County Executive said the City Council took leave of their senses...
In all fairness, the Royal Oak Annual Summer Street Art Fair is a tough proposition. Every now and then, a morality and temperance movement sort of surfaces, and the "good folks" try to run some goody-two-shoes for mayor with the intention of cleaning up the art fair, mimes and all.

All I know is that my life at an Art Fair this summer might not be worth one plugged nickel.

If I am somewhere on the dusty streets of Royal Oak, minding my own business, and walking down to the Silver Dollar Saloon, and suddenly somewhere something starts to go down, and I make a move to hitch up my constantly sagging trousers, that motion may be interpreted as a move to get a concealed weapon, and someone may very well shoot me right through the monoprint.

I am going to start going through gun catalogues today.
Some Tighty Righties say that the crime rate has fallen after the Stand Your Ground laws, but the correlation has not been demonstrated, since crime rates have risen and fallen before such laws existed.

All I know is that I had better not see any of the Clanton Gang at the Art Fair!

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Hoodies apparently make people look suspicious.
I have been wearing hoodies for years during the cool and cold months, the ones with "R" in them.

University of Michigan, Roots Don Imus, St. Hippolyte, Quebec... all emblems on hoodies at one time or another.

They do not make old white guys look suspicious.

The Luck of Professor Gates

She-who-must-etc. was watching the "teev", and as I came up for air from my book briefly, I saw what seemed to be a familiar face.
"Is that what's-his-name?" I said.
She did not move a muscle.
"What's his name? The university guy whom the police "Rodney-Kinged" because he was trying to break in to his own house?"
"Yes," she said. "Professor Henry L. Gates."
"Wow!" I thought.
Now, of course, I was immediately thrown into some considerable internal speculation as to whether the police had now caught the incorrigible Professor in the act of stealing his own car, sneaking around his own office, walking on his own sidewalk, or otherwise being a blatant and public nuisance.
"He was not "Rodney-Kinged", as you put it. He was escorted to the police station and invited to spend the night."
I sensed she was being sarcastic somewhat. The way I remember it had something to do with dirty trousers or de-pantsing and frat hazing, but my memory is an Amazonian rain forest. The good Professor, however, did indeed try  to break into his own house; that no one can deny, for he broke down and confessed to the whole thing. You can read about it.

"He's lucky it was the cops that found him screwing around with his front door!" I said, and now in these Trayvon days, she firmly agreed.

Russia, Romney, and Recalcitrance

Mitt Romney's claim on CNN that Russia represents America's "number one geopolitical foe" demonstrates how far the Republican party's relationship with Moscow has soured.
In June 2001, five months after President George W Bush had taken office, the story was quite different. His first meeting with then President Vladimir Putin had proven a remarkably tension-free affair with both sides exchanging warm words. Indeed it was at the press conference after that Bush passed his famous judgement on the Russian leader:
I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.
Of course even then rumblings about America's plans for missile defense in Europe and broader concerns about the encroachment of NATO into former Soviet countries could be detected. Nevertheless the overriding sense among diplomats was that the relationship between the two countries was improving, if not yet altogether comfortable.
It is hard to know where to start in this mosh-mish, so let's start slow and easy and observe that it is apparent that President George W. Bush had never actually played Poker. Or, if he had played Poker, he clearly had never been bluffed by anyone standing on one pair to Mr. Bush's full house... he merely had to see into their souls to see that pair of deuces.

Having gotten that out of my system, I condemn this pernicious nonsense of picking out geopolitical foes during an election. This nonsense about missile defense systems has been going on for years, and seems to hinge on the mighty threat not of Russia, but of the massively powerful Iran.
Come to think of it, where is Michigan's missile defense system? I don't think we even have one, but Europe gets the goods!

It is, of course, a pack of lies; vintage lies; from the same crop of lies bottled on the Republican estate.

I mean, exactly how do we go about house-keeping on the international space station? Do we clean everything up, only to have the Russkies go around and empty the vacuum cleaner bag behind us? Are we constantly at each others' lying and deceiving throats up there in space? No wonder we can't get along.

Personally, I have a great respect and love for Russia. I resist Republican dogma; I will remain recalcitrant against their choice of Enemy-of-theMonth!
Deal with it, hate-mongers!

Uses of the Subjunctive in the Modern Day

I ended my post "Trayvon Martin: The Descent into Madness and the Laws of Heavy Stones" with the sentence:

We, however, be reborn!

The questions have been posed, (1) was I talking in African-American Urban dialect, or Ebonics or what not, and using the verb accordingly, saying "be" instead of the standard "are", or (2) did I make a basic grammatical error?

First, I do not do dialect. The closest I get to dialect is when I write about Tea Party Republicans, when I use "wuz" instead of "was" and "scientifical" instead of whatever the standard adjective about having-science-on-the-brain is. I realize that this is in itself a Deliverance type of stereotype, but I find it hard to control myself, since I have personally known Tea Party operatives who used to be friend-like-objects, and have gone over to the dark side.

I would never employ the so-called "Ebonics", since I remember the discipline when it was brand new, and I complained about using an ancient Greek word stem " ebon-", meaning "black", to name the study. To my ivory-tower mind, it was way too much like pandering to the elite, and was a sideways praise to the generations of scholars who ignored the contributions of the non-white races, as well described in Black Athena by Martin Bernal, volume I... and all that.
Well, you get the idea.

Second, "be" is a subjunctive form of the verb "to be", and we would properly say, following the grammatical examples of The Beatles, "let it be!", not "let it is!"
Such was one use of the subjunctive, all of which have pretty much fallen into disuse because of Kindles  (??!) these days.

"We, however, be reborn!" is another way of saying "Let us, however, be reborn!", or "We should be reborn!"

As I write this, I wonder about the urban use of "be" itself...
I have come to the conclusion that the use of "be", as in something like "I be going to...", is not so much a dialect change, but is a re-invigoration of the ancient subjunctive that was invoked for times of stress and change.
 If I were in a convenience store and had just purchased some nonce items, upon my departure I might say "I be going home.", but that is not a mere statement of fact using a dialect form of an indicative verb, but a new form combining the indicative factual with the subjunctive wish for the future:

"I am going home, and, O Lord, grant that I would be safe and arrive there safely!"

In this usage, we see that language comes close to poetry and music.
I will look for other examples.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What If The Supreme Court Knocks Over Affordable Care?

If I were president, I'd say "Justice Roberts has made his decision; now let him enforce it!"

Then I would ignore the black-robed busy-bodies until the election, making speech after speech how we shall lose the last chance at affordable health care... probably forever, if Republicans are elected to the presidency and to both houses of Congress.

Add to that the fact that the Republicans would destroy existing Medicare...

Death of a Salesman

In case you're interested, Mike Nichol's new Death Of A Salesman is subject to some penetrating review in Tablet magazine.
It mentions that Miller compared his play to King Lear.
Of course, he did; Lear was a putz, just like Loman was a putz, and just like Hidetora in Kurosawa's Ran was a total putz.


Hustle and Flow

I liked the film Hustle and Flow. My Bank of America banker at the time - the same nice lady who found me one Christmas season fast asleep in a chair in the furniture department of Macy's at Somerset Mall - did not even go to see it; her pastor had told the congregation it was a paean to evil.

I have thought about this now and then: I looked at it solely as art and artifact, but she saw it as something more, something like Defoe's On Murder Considered As One Of The Fine Arts - art working as a mercenary for corruption.

Undoubtedly, it was both... and maybe more.


Never Forget Thee, Palestine!

The status of Christians in the Middle was addressed by Israel's ambassador to the USA. Some Palestinian Christians have taken exception to his description:


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Moose Deaths

Even though we had about 6 inches of snow total this winter, in Alaska they had much, much more; 20 times as much and twice their average snowfall, leading to problems in the Moose population. Read how it was handled:



Prophecies, once they are written down, are dramas.

Prophecy is Play.
It is not a serious and planned out attempt at the future.
It is play, like Jacob's wrestling with an angel...
if you are familiar, it is Toshiro Mifune as Kikuchiyo in The Seven Samurai.

Then there is the intuition of prophecy, and there is the physical act of prophesying.

Women prophesy as well as men.
When St. Paul cautions that women be silent in meetings, or that their heads be covered, he is speaking of a modesty in the physical act of prophesy. (The act of prophesying transcends our social mores, and that is why it is little seen in mainstream religions these days.) There is a wide range of opinion on this, which fortunately comes to a conclusion in my small mind as "... there are not male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus."

Chickens Coming Home To Roost: Stand Your Ground Laws

The NRA - National Rifle Association - and "Stand Your Ground" laws and overly permissive gun laws.

Books of Circumstance

Books may be chosen depending on the circumstances which will occur during the reading. There is the well known "book of summer", light and breezy and lending itself to be read on the beach.

I have had "hospital books", such as lend themselves to occupy the mind while waiting at National Jewish Hospital in Denver during the Hanukah-Christmas season. I read Rupert Sheldrake in such circumstances, and I found him scintillating.

There are "waiting in line" books, which are useful for those queues at airports and generally while waiting for anything. Then there are the "airplane flight" books for the flight itself. There are the seldom perused books, which are secreted somewhere in an automobile for the chance that someone else may do the driving, and you - suddenly at freedom - are already surfeited by the surrounding scenery, and escape into reading.

There is "waiting at the doctor's office", which is a fine book, particularly if you do not wish to have to skim through the doctor's own paltry and thin offerings. Of course, steps need be taken to disinfect afterwards.

I am sure that the more electronically mature just have the same old Kindle for all these uses, switching titles as need be, but that is too much like Deng Xiaoping having the same old Mao suit to wear each and every day; I would rather open the library doors and be dazzled by the array of books, as varied and numerous as Imelda Marcos' shoes!

I am a citizen of the Universe of Books.

Chipmunk vs. Squirrel

I saw a chipmunk Sunday past just outside my door. Chipmunks do not live around here. I have never seen a chipmunk here. She-who-must-be-obeyed, who comes from Chipmunklandia on the Atlantic East Coast and who considers herself to be an expert on such matters of local rodentia, has also never laid eyes upon one here.

They are easily distinguished from squirrels: squirrels are bushy-tailed and hairy, sort of like hippies, whereas chipmunks all look like greasers with their hair pulled back in a sleek duck's ass haircut. I mean, the difference just jumps right out at you.

Perhaps it is another type of rodent.; We made the acquaintance of some toothsome types last year on our way to Mackinac with my sister of happy circumstance (i.e., sister-in-law... can be happy circumstance, or just circumstance, as the case may be). We stopped at a rest area on I-75 where the picnic tables were sort of in the Mystery Spot type of incline, and we had to hoof it up a 25 degree slope to be able to lunch seated at a table resting at a 12 degree incline to sea level, but we did have a good time with the local rodents.

Republican Death Panels in Rick Perry's Texas!

In case you're wondering what "deathpanels" would be like, there have been such panels operating in Texas for over 10 years.
I suppose these, being Republican death panels, have been largely overlooked by people opposed to the Affordable Care Act.


A Houston man's life was ended last week.
A leukemia patient identified only as Willie was denied nourishment and died, according to Texas Right to Life. Since 1999, Texas has given hospital "ethics panels" the authority to end care even if the patient or family wants to continue.
It's called the Texas Futile Care Law. The Texas Senate bill passed in 1999.
Back then, the Senate's presiding officer was Lt. Gov. Rick Perry. Yes, the governor who says, "I always stand by the side of life."
Willie went to the hospital a few weeks ago with chest pains, according to Texas Right to Life's Elizabeth Graham. Doctors found pneumonia and leukemia, Graham wrote. After Willie underwent surgery and chemotherapy, his family asked about another hospital or hospice care. Though he had plenty of insurance, no other facility would accept him. After the legally required 10 days, the hospital ended nourishment.
He was "dehydrated and starved to death completely against the family's desire," Graham wrote.
This is the problem with a two party system such as we have:  one party will implement something seriously out-of-whack, then the other party will use it as a campaign ploy, but if and when elected, they will abide by it or extend it.

Read more here:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Discrete versus Holistic 2

In the above post, I said that language tends to be more discrete in how it picks the world apart.
I think that should be amended:  language seen as articulate contact, language in an engagement with the world, is very much a holistic phenom.

Only when we record what was said into memory, and then we invoke the memory again to ponder it, does it become a discrete and logical picking apart of the skein of language.


Peak Lumber

In order to understand the concept of Peak Oil a bit better, I have been looking at past resources that were subject to the Boom or Bust cycles, such as trees and lumber. As most of us know, forests covered North America for vast stretches when Europeans first settled, and now those first-growth forests are only a memory.

More later on the uses of trees, and how the great forests disappeared, and what happened when they did.

Everyone Is Wounded

I was talking with my friend, Gil, about the film The Fisher King, and as he talked about it, I thought about my family, and how when I am at some holiday festive table with them, I look around and wonder where I had met this group of cutthroats.
We yearn for the perfect families depicted in the media, until we realize they do not exist.
We are all wounded, like the Fisher King; somewhere, somehow we all carry the scars of our battles.

And that is what Celebrity is: the icon of the Perfect Woman (Gwyneth Paltrow), or Man (Matt Damon), or Family (The Waltons). Even though we know it is impossible, we seek out this model of perfection... as if Celebrity and Perfection were some category of Human Understanding, deeply set within the psyche of mankind, and triggered during the developmental stage of our childhood.

I found it interesting. I think of the future often: is it a Celebrity future, or a Our Dysfuncional Family future?
The future as portrayed in film such as Star Wars is a future that reminds me greatly of our present day approach to Afghanistan: we have been there for over 10 years, and in our quest to secure hearts and minds, we seem to have overlooked the importance to Afghanis of their religion, and threw a couple of Qurans into a fire.

Our idea of war is Celebrity War, but the reality is getting our behinds kicked 10 years after we had driven the Taliban entirely out of the country. Reality is that after 10 years, a lot of people really do not like us very much, and what kind of a war was that, anyhow?

We can not even deal with our wounded: those who are wounded in the soul. We can not imagine that war is not a good and righteous undertaking that ennobles us; it does not drive us insane, it does not create momentary monsters of us and our neighbors, does it? Not our wars.
But it is not Star Wars; it is a film where the heroes are as wounded as are the villains.

And we are all wounded.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Future Flash Crash Note # 2

Referring to "Future Flash Crash" and "Future Flash Crash Note" posted today, I think the point I missed was that we have an economic system of Boom or Bust.
It is pretty obvious and just about everyone knows it. When we are in the Boom phase and cycling upwards, every one is happy and every one is on cable touting stocks to buy. When we cycle into the Bust phase, Suze Orman is on cable telling us to cut up our credit cards and Congress is trying to cut our health care. It varies in some details, but it is pretty much the same schtick each time: Boom or Bust.

We have entire university departments devoted to the science of Boom or Bust. Most of the anti-green movement is devoted to Boom or Bust, sensing in their deep, overlayered ganglia that somehow the Greens want to do away with the Bust phase, probably by moderating the Boom phase, and that smells of the Latakia tobacco smoked by Socialism!

Boom or Bust: learn to love it.

A Google Moment; Aerial Archaeology

I call this neolithic settlement "Fancy Pants Arabia".
By clicking on the image to get a larger version, you may read the co-ordinates and go to Google Earth and see the whole ancient wardrobe


From The Center For Ocean Solutions

Future Flash Crash Note

Somebody just now asked me, referring to the post "Future Flash Crash"

why we plunge so heedlessly (according to my opinion) ahead on these schemes which may turn out to be harmful.

The answer is Money.
There is more money to be made applying new technology, rather than in making sure it is human and humane and actually good for the planet.

There are absolutely NO lobbyists in Washington lobbying for us and the Earth... at least, none with any money to throw around.

Ade Ileke 42: клубы и секс

клубы и секс,
музыка и алкоголь,
опиума и религии ...
социальная иллюзия
и маски власти

clubs and sex,
music and booze,
opium and religion...
social illusion
and the masks of

pix: snapawayoungman on Flickr

Future Flash Crash

 Man On A Wire... Philippe Petit at the World Trade Center

Some time ago I said that the next "big debacle" our system of economics and politics will have for us will be a breakdown of the electronic system of finance: the machine will just stop. I think I may have said it just after the flash crash of 2010; I may have said it after reading about banks establishing centers in various parts of the globe to grasp at a 10 nano-second advantage at some wondrous arbitrage in 2011.

Anyway, you get the drift: the system stops. Why? Because we really do not have total control over it. Our control is rather tenuous, at best; things go awry:  large cruise ships run into islands in the broad daylight because the captain is waving at the islanders, markets fall 1,000 points, enormous banks cannot live without cash infusion from the middle class taxpayers, and the energy grid is woefully in disrepair, and the litany of woe goes on.
Add to that the fact that if you have the temerity to throw a handful of Skittles at someone bossing you around, they may shoot you dead, well, you have a society that is doing a good imitation of Philippe Petit doing "Man On A Wire" after a drunken debauch.

How are the plans of the Best and the Brightest coming along?
From Reuters:

In a breakdown that resembled a mini version of the 2010 "flash crash," a series of glitches hit the market debut of BATS Global Markets Inc on Friday, causing the company to take the extremely rare step of withdrawing its initial public offering of shares.
The problems caused the shares of exchange operator BATS to plunge from their $16 offering price and briefly trade for less than a penny on Friday morning, creating havoc in the marketplace and again calling into question the stability of high-speed trading...

"The public should take comfort that circuit breakers are working as they should after the flash crash," said Holly Stark managing member of Efficient Frontiers, a market structure consulting firm in New York.
Since the May 2010 "flash crash" in which nearly $1 trillion in market value disappeared in minutes, the Securities and Exchange Commission under Chairman Mary Schapiro has pledged to crack down on problems in the high-speed electronic marketplace, which regulators worry has grown unstable and perhaps unfair as high-frequency trading has grown in prominence.
The BATS breakdown could trip up, once again, the march over the last decade toward increasingly automated markets in the United States, Europe and elsewhere...

 "It's just another black eye for the fragmented equity structure," said Joe Saluzzi, co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey, and a frequent critic of U.S. equities market structure. "Every day we see things like flash crashes and now IPOs that can't get off the ground."

I added the emphasis... did you read that the same way I read it? "Every day we see things like flash crashes..."! "Every day..."??!!

OK. These are the same caliber of minds that are bringing us Genetically Modified Food and new improvements in fossil fuels.

Take Shelter!, as the film of the same name says.

Joe Ratterman, founder of BATS, in better times in 2010


Rule Numero Uno

Do not think any thought you will not write down

Write it down. If it is too goofy to write down - if you are afraid someone will know that you actually thought it, then banish it from consciousness.

If I had been a Republican Congressperson back in June 0f 2011 and I had written down:
"I think it is a good idea for the government's credit rating to be downgraded."
I might have caught on to a few quirky things about it.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

News From Beyond 2

The Idiocy of NewsMax

The Unthinkable Is Poised to Happen, Economist Warns
Monday, 03 Oct 2011 08:55 AM
By Katrina Turner

The Aftershock Survival Summit is a gripping, no-nonsense presentation that’s quickly becoming a financial beacon in an economic tsunami.

Featuring an exclusive interview with famed economist and best-selling author Robert Wiedemer, this disturbing presentation exposes harsh economic truths along with a dire financial warning — a prophetic message that’s spreading across America like wildfire.

But it’s not just the grim predictions that are causing the sensation; rather, it’s the comprehensive blueprint for economic survival that’s really commanding global attention.

Read more: Robert Weidemer's aftershock survival summit predicts the unthinkable...
First, it is a come on for a commercial venture.
Second, the links on the page are as follows:

  • 1 Simple Rule to Eliminate Belly Fat
  • I had High Blood Pressure- Now I Don't in 3 Weeks!
  • 5 Foods To NEVER Eat: If You Want A Flatter Belly
  • Obama has America neck deep in a secret “war”?
  • 1 Weird Spice That Cures Diabetes
Over in the right column, there is:

Male Enhancement Exposed - Pilot Tells His Secret

Read more: Robert Weidemer's aftershock survival summit predicts the unthinkable

NewsMax... another gift from Rupert Murdoch.

(Also, third, is the fact that I predicted this kind of melt down for 2014-2016, but I do not have a commercial venture to profit from the fear I may instill in your hearts!)

Friday, March 23, 2012

2012 Budget

All political parties will agree to attempt to balance the budget upon the backs of the poor, elderly, and needy.
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the burden of the deficit."

Osmanli Gossip

The Middle East Institute editor's blog:
A grandson of Ottoman Sultan Murad V (deposed 1876), and through his maternal line also a grandson of Mehmed Reşad V, the next to last Sultan (1909-1918), is about to get married. Admittedly, Osman Selahaddin Osmanoğlu is 72 and it's not his first marriage, but it been a while since we've had any social news of the Ottomans.

Mabul Island

A very nice article about scuba diving on Mabul Island, Sabah, Malaysia:


Infinite Pretend

John Gray writes in The Guardian :
“During most of the last century, politics was the principal vehicle for religion. Communism and the cult of the free market are examples of large, flimsy ideas being turned into articles of faith.”
I have written things like that, too.
The World and the Experience of the World is infinite; it is highly unlikely that we "bright wits" may capture the essence of things in such succinct language events as these sentences here.

Most wisdom is pretending.

Recondite Sayings 1

The interactions between Moses and Pharoah was a type of "playing at" plagues...


Trayvon Martin: The Descent into Madness and the Laws of Heavy Stones

Young Trayvon was shot in Florida returning from a convenience store... in what loony universe does a short cut in coming home from a convenience store become an act of aggression? Ours, of course.

The incredible number of weapons we all have, combined with extraordinary "shoot first" laws, which essentially guarantee that someone claiming self defense is almost totally immune from arrest or prosecution, is a good indicator of the acceleration of our descent into insanity.

Will we ever see reasonable gun control? Shall we ever see a rational law governing campaign contributions, and change the status of corporations under the law into something in keeping with the present day? Is there ever to be a meaningful balance between pain and benefit in the struggle to control the deficit?
Will we ever address the climate problems?

I do not think so: at least, I do not see it for almost 20 years.
The God we imagine does not require good stewardship.

So where is the hope today?
In events such as the Arab Spring, I see Moses rising up, inspired to begin a new path for his people. There are hills and tells of ancient accumulations of discords and grudges, yet there is newness and rebirth as inspired ones leave the old middens of the past.

Let Pharoah live on in the deathly life of eternal entombment of the soul under the weight of the Laws of Pyramids and the Laws of Heavy Stones!

We, however, be reborn!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


From Calvin's Canadian Cave of Cool:

A renovated water pumping station in Northern England


Michigan in the News

A couple of days ago, a tornado with winds of 135 miles per hour went through Dexter, Michigan. It made the front page of Pravda in Russia and many other papers throughout the world.
We are still  #1!

Republican Scientifical "Speriments"

Apparently, Rick Santorum, when asked about climate change, said “Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is.”

I expect Mr. Santorum has run an experiment establishing the fact that plants understand English. Perhaps they do; perhaps they also have a high level of intelligence... which brings us to a paradox, indeed.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Afghanistan Massacre

Back when the invasion of Iraq was all the rage, and we had stars of empire in our eyes, I quoted General Sherman and said "War is hell."
It sure is.
Will we ever learn that World War II is long over? Will we ever learn that we have to learn to get things done by peaceful negotiations, and if that tragically fails, to wage war with an intent to win it and do so quickly and smartly.

Once again, Sun Tzu: 

(7) For there has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited.  
Li Ch'uan [comments:] The Spring and Autumn Annals say: 'War is like unto fire; those who will not put aside weapons are themselves consumed by them.'

All The News That's Fit To Leave Unprinted... 2

The article was about spectators at sporting events trash-talking and ridiculing the opposing team, fans, and school.

When my daughter went to University of Michigan and when Michigan State came to play, the U of M students would hold up signs saying "Welcome, Fellow Scholars!"

There was a sarcasm sign somewhere, probably.

Intelligent Design vs. Goal-Directed Trial and Error

A wonderful paper has been published, and I myself am thrilled because it takes a whole group of things I had thought were well defined and articulated, and then shows then up for the mess of pottage they actually were. I call it "Wasserman-Blumberg" for the paper in American Scientist:,y.2010,no.3,content.true,page.1,css.print/issue.aspx

Designing Minds
How should we explain the origins of novel behaviors?
Edward A. Wasserman, Mark S. Blumberg

In its essence:
The basic argument of intelligent design was famously set forth in the watchmaker analogy of William Paley in 1802: The complexity and functionality of a watch imply a watchmaker; analogously, the complexity and functionality of living things also imply a designer, albeit one vastly more potent than a mere watchmaker. This argument rests on a simple analogy between the design of human artifacts and the design of natural forms...

 Discussions of design are prominent in the writings of evolutionists from Darwin to Dawkins...
 A century later, Richard Dawkins pursued the issue of design and divided the world... into [things] " that really are designed (submarines and tin openers)" {and those which are not]...

What did Dawkins mean when he wrote of things that “really are designed”? In The Blind Watchmaker, he provided a clear answer: “All appearances to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics….A true watchmaker has foresight: He designs his cogs and springs, and plans their interconnections, with a future purpose in his mind’s eye” [emphasis added]
Such uncritical acceptance of purpose and foresight in human design may well be unwise. After all, do we really know how door hinges and can openers were created?
There follows a brief yet insightful discussion of new behaviors and how they came about, including Dick Fosbury's invention of the "Fosbury Flop" method of high jump in the 1968 Olympics.

It is a lovely article in that it does what all good, critical thinking does: it shows that both sides of a dispute have not grasped the true complexity of the item under dispute; both sides have simplified the situation to fit into agreement with their already existing attitudes. Since all of us do this, we should greet this type of clarification with loud sighs of relief, and chants of "They're jolly good fellows, and so say all of us!"

(As a spoiler, I would add that the article ends with the observation that novelty does not necessarily occur with purposeful design, but it re-inforces the importance of teleology, or goal-directed behavior and the ability to formulate a goal or telos.)


Friday, March 16, 2012

All The News That's Fit To Leave Unprinted...

Consider this story from a few days ago:
Detroit King's comfortable win turns uncomfortable
Detroit -- Dennis Norfleet was still working his magic when the ugly side of crowd banter turned Detroit King's blowout victory over Warren DeLaSalle uncomfortable.
King was on its way to a 72-50 blowout in the Class A regionals at Cass Tech when King fans chanted, "Nah! Nah! Nah! Nah! Heyyy! Good byeeee."
The chants went back and forth until the DeLaSalle student section took it to another level — "We've got futures. We've got futures."
Later they chanted: "Flip our burgers. And you are stupid."
You would think the schools from the Catholic League would have learned a lesson months after an anonymous "ghetto legends" letter made its way to Detroit Cass Tech after a victory over Catholic Central in the state football finals.
King supporters were shocked, and some of the packed crowd became agitated. A man wearing DeLaSalle colors angrily talked to one of the student leaders, lectured him and left.
At least someone got it...
At this point, I thought I had gotten most of the relevant information about this story: I have lived in the area all my life, so I felt I was congruent with most of the important background info. (I have no idea what the "ghetto legends" letter might be, other than some racist b.s. from an unknown source... although the writer of the article seems to assert that the Catholic League has some knowledge about it. "Ghetto legends" could be the name of a song, and it could be a euphemism for some other expression, just as " saggin' " was a euphemism in its time.)

However, this story was followed by another story... and comments:
Warren DeLaSalle apologizes for inapropriate chants toward Detroit King
Warren DeLaSalle administrators have apologized for inappropriate chants directed toward Detroit King fans by DeLaSalle students during a Class A regional semifinal at Detroit Cass Tech on Monday.
The Detroit News reported that during the second half of King's 72-50 victory over DeLaSalle, DeLaSalle students chanted, "We've got futures," and "Flip our burgers."
DeLaSalle athletic director Brian Kelly admonished the students' behavior after these chants and sent a formal apology to King High on Tuesday.
"We are sorry," Kelly said. "We are embarrassed. I'm sending a letter of apology and congratulations to King.
"We are talking about kids being stupid, not a school's culture."
Kelly said he received numerous telephone calls and emails expressing outrage.
Alvin Ward, director of athletics for Detroit Public Schools, was at the game and said he did not hear the chants but soon became aware of them based on the reaction of King's parents and supporters.
"I only saw the reaction from the fans," he said. "Kids will be kids. I have to leave it to the DeLaSalle administrators to deal with the situation."
Then the comments (from both articles):
(note: I believe DeLaSalle's colors are purple and yellow, and they seem to be wearing their Home team whites in the picture.)
(1) DLS has recycled the same chants for years and used them on multiple schools of varying backgrounds. It doesn't matter if it is King, Mott, Cousino, Brother Rice, CC, Trenton the chants are the same. You know what we get in return. "You are gay", "We have girls", "Purple Pansies" etc. EVERY SINGLE GAME. We threw out "flip our burgers", I can almost guarantee King students chanted "you are gay". It is a constant pattern. It goes both ways, every game. The article makes DLS seem like a villain when in reality, it is just another high school. The problem is at a level much higher than one school and I believe the article does a poor job of illustrating that.

(2) Absolutely the truth! I graduated from DLS in '07 and we heard the "Purple Pansies" chant at every sporting event. This article is definitely one-sided.

(3) John Mehall Back in the 1970's my brother roomed with a kid from Delasalle at MSU. They were using those cheers then. He used to tell us what they would say to the opposing teams.

(4) Go ahead, pick on the catholic school! They are high schoolers! What about chants like, "SOAP ON A ROPE," or "DOn't DROP THE SOAP," or "PURPLE PANSIES" that we get from other school. Just because it involves a Detroit school it has to be made into a big deal. De La Salle is a prestigious school that teaches students morals, respect, religion, and most importantly how to be a man. Hence, the motto "Builders of boys, Makers of MEN!" I AM VERY PROUD of graduating from DLS. GO PILOTS! Keep up the good tough work!

(5) Whats funny is these same chants have been used for years in our district..even when I played in 2002-2004 against them..they said it against my school mott in the finals...who cares in all in good because its a its offensive? Give me a break

(6) You can never win a contest (argument) of any kind with anger and stupidity. And I society in which you will be growing up, you will need everyone to have a future. Soon, those of us who are currently in the majority will no longer prosper from that status. Soon, two groups (Hispanic and Black) will out-number us. And unless we find ways to help those from different walks of life become prosperous as we are from that which we believe is only ours, we are doomed to lose it. Remember: Paybacks are Hell!

First, I used to play on sports teams up through second year of University, and I certainly went to a large number of sporting events. In fact, my parents used to take us every week end to watch the University of Detroit play basketball at the U of D Memorial Building (as it was called at the time), the same building where I first saw Wilt Chamberlain play for Philadelphia, and I was sitting right down on the floor so close I could almost touch him. (The NBA did not exactly draw big crowds back then, so seats on the floor did not cost extra... I think the entire audience was seated on the hard wood.)

Second, the sexual nature of some of the chants referred to in the comments seem to be about the Catholic schools being separated by gender; DeLaSalle is all boys, Regina (Warren) is all girls.
It does not have anything to do with the fact that the Christian Brothers operate it. It was the Christian Brothers in Australia that got such well-deserved rotten press. I used to play basketball at DeLaSalle when it was in Detroit, right across the street from Detroit City Airport. (Most people would say that I am one of the few who would imediately flash on the Christian Brothers... that's the way my mind is.)
Of course, back then, our chanting was pretty much orchestrated and controlled by the Augustinians (my first high school) and the Basilians (my second high school) and their running-dogs, the cheerleaders! We had a repetoire of sanctioned chants available for most situations, just as the commenters seem to be saying still exists, and we dared not stray from it.

Third, "flipping burgers" is not a racial slur, nor is saying that someone is dumb. There always was a lot of trash talk among spectators. It's part of the adrenalin. It is the main reason I do not particularly enjoy watching sporting events; I had played many years, and the adrenalin was expended in vigorous endeavor and exercise; having an adrenalin rush while sitting on a couch eating potato chips is not my idea of fun... I find it disconcerting.

Fourth, I was impressed by this Democracy of Opinion. Without reading all the articles and all the comments, I would have walked away from this series of articles with a skewed impression of things: I needed the input of the commenters to remind me of important facts from the past and the present which the article did not have time, space, nor desire to include.
And this is a small paradigm of democracy: getting everyone's opinion and coming to an understanding.

This mention of democracy is important to me because I often feel we are losing our democracy to interest groups.
I have often felt over the past few months that various influential and rich interest groups were spending their way into yet another war in the Middle East, a war with Iran.
I knew what would have happened just five short years ago, when many people around George W. Bush were pushing for such a war, since they were running out of time before the 2008 election, and they had their last good chance at Armageddon...

Democracy... true Democracy with good people of all races and creeds... is always better.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kony 2012

The enthusiasm over the documentary about Kony reminds me of The Children's Crusade of 1212. I think we are highly fortunate and unfortunate that we are getting to see so many historical parallels in our lives. I mean, I thought that the re-make of The Great Depression was as good as it gets, but, no: we have Russia Chokes In Afghanistan being re-made with us in the starring role, and yet another cover of Likud Calls The Shots in Iran with us again reprising our role of Lenny from Of Mice And Men

I see Andrew Keen at CNN agrees with me on the Crusade part. He goes further into his agenda, and I not at all sure what his agenda is.

But he seems down on the crusade and down on internet kids and down on the trivialization of reality...
And the comments on his piece argue right back at him, saying he's a dumb Brit and Brits are a pain anyway...
I wonder where this all is leading?
At this point, I lack any further info, and feel in the middle of a Walrus and Carpenter type of argument, and there is no firm plan for the future. It is wonderfully odd and unusual, and I think it is wizard!

Eschatological and Scatological

James and John, sons of Zeedee

I was driving around in Vero Beach, Florida, and Kathy in the back seat asked if I believed in the Mayan end-of-time thing coming up at the end of 2012.
I said that the Mayan calendar was just going to go to  zero and reset. Although there were a lot of scarey stories among the Mayan mythology, there was not a full fledged Twilight of the gods or End-of-Times as we are used to..., that takes a bunch of people with a Christian background to take every weird story that comes along and then change it into The End of the World As We Know It.
Ask Harold Camping; he predicted the end at least twice in 2011.

I said that some Christians just never heard an end of time tale that they didn't grab hold of: charter a plane and print your tickets and reserve picnic tables in Jonestown!
"Never saw an End-of-Times Party I didn't like!", I said.
Kathy said, "I'll bring the kool-aid!"
I never understood why people are so in love with end of time, so much so that they will fools of themselves over and over again trying to pin it down to year, month, day, hour, and minute... or commit suicide.

I do not think John of Revelations is John the son of Zebedee, either. I believe the Book of Revelations was describing what was going on at the time and possibly what was to happen in the near future, not some distant point in time.
The expression "whore of Babylon" only appears here. Elsewhere, Jerusalem itself is described as a harlot for running after false gods, but the whore of Babylon is John's expression alone: not bad for a fisherman with little schooling. He had to not only learn to write and read extremely well, but he had to delve into ancient philosophies about Logos and such. Remembering that he and James were the "Sons of Thunder", I think Zebedee let fly with rich and complex invectives when irritated.., such, perhaps, as when his sons left him high and dry mending the nets alone.
Even though it is intriguing to consider "whore of Babylon" to be one of Zebedee's more descriptive curses, I doubt it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lizard Breath and Gecko Eyes Part Two: The Creepazoid


I had been battered about by the Atlantic. While She-who-must-be-obeyed grew up near the ocean, I had been stuck away in the Mid West: I was unfamiliar with the surf. Even though the waves were pretty small potatoes (as it were), on the first day we went swimming on our Florida vacation, I dithered around in the bad area between a rock (a receding wave) and a hard place(an incoming wave), and was treated to an exposition of "How Clothes Feel In Your Sears Kenmore Washing Machine".
My knees were scraped as I was in the agitate cycle, and as much as I like the taste of salt water, I drank a little too much for comfort during the spin cycle.
I came up sputtering.
She-who-etc. and friends were out a bit further in the smile and splash zone, ignoring me cruelly. After another trip through the washer,  I was ready to call it quits, when I spotted Lizard Breath and his sister, Gecko Eyes - a brother and sister I had met watching egrets eating geckos behind the 19th Hole - coming to my rescue.
They grasped my hands, "You have to go out a little farther, Pygopod, so you don't get smashed, " they said, using my nickname derived from a family of Gekkota.
I followed.

Afterwards, the entire crowd dried themselves on the beach, strewn about, chair and towel, like the aftermath of some not too serious disaster.
Pelicans in a row flew along the ridge of the curling waves, and Gecko Eyes thought how nice it would be to be able to fly like that...,  without having to dive into the water every now and then and grab raw fish and gobble it down. We nodded in dreamy acquiescence.
We built a couple of sand castles in a desultory, lazy manner as the day proceeded to dusk, the sun becoming more orange and red.
"Like a Red Giant star," said Lizard Breath.
I told them of my story of how the Earth was slung out of orbit by a passing black hole, and then took up a new orbit at a distance that caused everything on Earth to freeze into a deep, deep cold. The only place life could survive this catastrophe was in the neighborhood of the deep ocean hydrothermal vents, where life continued for a million years or so, until the Sun finally began to exhaust its supply of hydrogen, and became a Red Giant star.
As the Sun increased in size, the radiation during this Red Giant phase, although much less than during our own time, was sufficient to melt the frozen Earth, for the Sun had grown enormously and now was much closer to the displaced Earth.
Life resumed on Earth, and now there were a few million years left for intelligent life to get their acts together, and attempt space travel, and to find a new home for mankind! And this had to be done before the Red Giant phase of the Sun ended, and the star began to shrink and collapse into a White Dwarf Sun, ending life in the Solar System forever!

Lizard Breath had his own story.
There had been a large water slide somewhere along the coast, a huge inflatable vinyl play water slide, and he and his sister had climbed it all the way to the top and slid all the way down a number of times. They dreamed of an even larger water slide structure that extended, not along the beach, but straight out into the ocean, going maybe two miles or more.
It was a long walk out to the ladder two or three miles out in the ocean, and it was a long slide back three miles to the beach. The amount of friction was vanishingly small, otherwise the water slide would have to have been a mile high for the necessary gradient to "slip" all the way back those three miles.
"Maybe it was even 'negative' friction," said Lizard Breath, Gecko Eyes nodding in silent assent.
I suppose negative friction is the slipperiest of the slippery.
While walking along the catwalk on the side of the water slide, a catwalk sort of semi-enclosed by vinyl inflated walls, a wind came up and the waves increased and the air-filled catwalk began to heave and the balloon walls began to buffet against them. A storm was brewing, but they had already gone more than three-quarters of the way out, so it would be quicker to get to the end where the ladder was, get up to the top of the slide, and slide with negative friction all the way back to shore and safety.

The waves got larger and larger. Gecko Eyes began to shiver.
It was right about then that I became part of the story, and the three of us were walking along this inflated tempest-tossed wretched balloon. It was cold and wet, and I did not care for it one bit. I said as much, too, but things were happening too fast.
Just as we were about to get to the far end and begin climbing the ladder to the top of the water slide, we heard gun fire nearby.
"It's the Creepazoid!"  we all yelled in unison.
Now if you do not know who or what the Creepazoid is, you'll get a quick, down and dirty crash course:  Pursuer, a Nemesis T-Type developed by the Umbrella Corporation in Resident Evil... Racoon City? Remember?
Anyway, Creepazoid was the first thing to pop into the heads of Lizard Breath and Gecko Eyes back when they first saw this monster, and it is a whole lot better name than "Pursuer".

The Creepazoid was firing at us, and if we ascended the ladder to the top of the water slide, we would be completely out in the open like sitting ducks...
"Or fish in a barrel..." said Lizard Breath.
Fish in a barrel, I thought, my mind racing.

The dinner hour intervened, and we had to go our separate ways, leaving the story and Creepazoid to be finished off later. Lizard Breath and Gecko Eyes were called by their mother, and She-who-must-be-obeyed sent a towel boy to fetch me.
Later, I dozed off and had a one-reel dream about the stories that afternoon. I woke up and the big water slide bouncing dangerously in the sea seemed to be part of my Red Giant Sun story: everything reminded me of big, expensive projects into the vast ocean of space with the promise of unlimited horizons of exploration and a potential for a United Nations of space endeavor for the future...
But then the winds came and the waves rose, and we discovered our frailty as we struggled to keep our footing on that bouncing elephantine water slide of gigantic proportions. Wet, cold, and tired, we kept going, helping each other to maintain our balance...

... until the Creepazoid came...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Star Trek Memories

 Khan Noonien Singh

Why does Khan in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan have a full name of Khan Noonien Singh, and Commander Data of Star Trek: The Next Generation have a creator whose name is Dr. Noonien Soong?

Is there a relation between Khan and the kindly Doctor Soong? Wow!

A Young Doctor Noonien Soong

December 8, 2012
I guess that "Noonien" is their mothers' maiden name, so they are related on the maternal side.

Again.... Wow!


I am surprised at my progress in understanding Buddhist analysis of knowledge and thought. I was talking with Ruth about it the other day; she is studying some aspect of Zen, I forget exactly what, but there's a reference around here somewhere.

Not until I read Language as Articulate Contact by John  Stewart (not the comedian John Stewart) while I was on vacation in Florida did I possess an adequate basis for understanding anything about the Buddhist critique of understanding.

Now everything has changed.
In essence, I had to come up with a way to view Language as a process totally independent of Ontology (the study of Being);i.e., language has always been viewed as being made up of words which "symbolize" or "stand for" something, thereby implying that there is something to which we are referring that exists in the world.

This is not a good analysis of language, and it is worse philosophy of Being.

La Nouvelle Philosophie

If we have ignored the philosophy of love and respect, all the learning and study and the reasoned arguments in the world all come down to one basic sub-set of phenomena: the rock  bottom, the cul-de-sac, the free fall into nothingness, war and vendetta...
all the smart people arguing... it all comes down to the choice between love or hate.

An initial choice like Power, for example, begins a trajectory from Power to that vast holding tank of despair along the routes familiar to Power. A choice of Money begins the fall on the Money Line track.

Love is coming together and letting go. It is this paradoxical nature of Love that guarantees it is the right path, although that paradox also guarantees that it will be difficult.
Hate is straight forward. There is no beating around the bush with Hatred.

The Return of Socialism

After having marked the anniversary of Fukushima, we turn and find that the nuclear energy industry has emerged from the cloud under which it had been cast, and it is resurgent and an important part of the Energy Mix, or Energy Mosh-Mish, according to your taste.

Nuclear Energy signals the return to Socialism, and it indicates that the old Myth of American Know-How and inventiveness - at least in the field of Energy - is still dead or moribund, having been left for dead by the fossil fuel industry.

Never forget that Nuclear Power is, by its very nature, an industry which is always "Too Big To Fail".
Nuclear cannot be insured, because the scale of disaster when something goes seriously wrong - and it does now every 10 years or so - is too great for any one insurance company and too great for any pool of insurers. Thus, Nuclear has always been uninsured when it comes to disasters:
Nuclear Power has always been a hand-in-hand effort of Government and the Nuclear Industry. The role of Government in nuclear energy has never been of a limited time or scope, as government help has been many, many times to many industries over the course of our history; rather, Government has always remained an active partner.

When Nuclear goes wrong, we pay the bill; add that to the cost of energy.
Many of the people who decry Socialism in Health embrace Socialism in Energy. I can only assume it it because that the socialism in energy is so well-disguised that these people cannot see it. However, when it comes to the Nuclear Option, everybody has to pitch in: no one can opt out.

Someone like Romney may opt out of Medicare, but he cannot opt out of active participation in the socialized risks of Nuclear Energy if it returns big time.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Those whom the Fates...

It is going to be in the 60's all week; in Michigan in March; I'm going to call the A/C guy for my yearly A/C check up. I think I need freon or whatever.

You have to admire the intransigence of the Republican candidates in their vocal denial of climate change in an election year that might prove to be one of the warmest on record. That is, unless weather patterns have "flip-flopped", and we get winter starting in June. Maybe the poles have reversed, instead of the climate changing.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Forgive and Forget

An important part of life is forgetting. Not all forgetting is bad: people that survive through ordeals such as the Holocaust or the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia have to drop an enormous amount of memory out of consciousness if they are to live their lives again.

I was reminded of this in the past two weeks as reports came out on marijuana research which indicated that marijuana use leads to memory loss or impairment.
I immediately thought of the endocannabinoids: the naturally occurring "marijuana" within the human body, and wondering if the real function of these "endocans" is to assist in the filtering out of unnecessary detail and the prevention of an "chain reaction" type of uncontrolled build-up of memory. A good example would be an acute awareness while driving on an interstate of all the cars passing by 300 feet away in the lanes heading in the opposite direction; we see them as we drive, but we do not focus on them and collect data, whereas we do this short-term for the cars we are driving along with.

Arianna Huffington writes today:
Our media culture is locked in the Perpetual Now, constantly chasing ephemeral scoops that last only seconds and that most often don't matter in the first place, even for the brief moment that they're "exclusive." Like, for instance, the BREAKING NEWS!!! that Donald Trump was going to endorse a candidate for president last month. This was the jumping-off point for a great piece by HuffPost's Michael Calderone about the effect that social media have had on 2012 campaign coverage. "In a media landscape replete with Twitter, Facebook, personal blogs and myriad other digital, broadcast and print sources," he wrote, "nothing is too inconsequential to be made consequential. Political junkies, political operatives and political reporters consume most of this dross, and in this accelerated, 24/7 news cycle, a day feels like a week, with the afternoon's agreed-upon media narrative getting turned on its head by the evening's debate. Candidates rise, fall, and rise again, all choreographed to the rat-a-tat background noise of endless minutiae."

Of course, as Calderone notes, there's a "real disconnect" between the media, which are obsessed with the urgency of social-media-driven news, and the American people, who are actually "more concerned about the struggling economy and their livelihoods." Or, as Dan Balz of the Washington Post put it to Calderone, "you feel you're in this circular conversation with people who are slightly disconnected with the real America." And that's because the concerns of struggling Americans aren't likely to be a trending topic.
Ms. Huffington describes a society in need of forgetfulness and filtering, a society which needs a way to separate the wheat from the chaff.
I do not mean to imply we all need some weed or a drink, although mind-altering substances have had a history in our society of over-use and abuse as well as proscription and punition. We do need some sort of Habit of prioritizing important things, an ability which seems to always escape us.

Without forgetting a sin, there can be no forgiveness: a world without forgiveness is a world obsessed by hate and despair.

There is a segment of CBS Sunday Morning Show on the lack of morphine in the Third World to relieve the pain of those dying from cancer and other diseases. 95% of the world's morphine is consumed in the USA. Heroin is another matter.
However, here again we see fruits of creation: the poppy and its chemistry, abused on such a scale that everyone suffers: addicts, taxpayers paying for a war on drugs that does not work, poor people suffering!

Forgetting is part of Life, so forgetting pain must be  also.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ade Ileke: 41 L'Aube

L'aube de la conscience
est boire sans voir,
naviguer sans prévoir,
vivre sans désespoir.

Puis, dans l'après-midi,
nous buvons du thé,
émiettants des calissons d'Aix,
tout en pensant du Passé.

The dawn of consciousness
is (like) drinking without seeing,
sailing without a plan,
living without despair.

Then, in the afternoon,
we drink tea,
crumbling cookies (calissons d'Aix)
all the while thinking of the Past.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Andrew Breitbart

A man has passed, and we all are diminished. He most recently spent a good deal of time and effort establishing beyond any reasonable doubt that a Democratic Congressman emailed or Tweeted pictures of his (the Congressman's) penis to various women.

It is easy to lose one's way. I should know.

Hamza Kashgari May Be Released

From Saudi Jeans:
Hamza Kashgari,  the detained Saudi writer accused of blasphemy, will be freed in the next few weeks after a court in Riyadh accepted his repentance, multiple sources said.
Human rights activist Souad al-Shammary tweeted that a Sharia court in the capital has ratified his repentance in the presence of his family, and that he showed his regret over what he has written about the Prophet.
and from Souad Ash-Shammary, a human rights activist:

الحمدلله تم التصديق شرعا ع إعلان توبة كاشغري ف محكمةالرياض بحضورأقاربه وأبدى ندمه ع ماكتبه لا عزاء لمصاصي الدماء من طالبوا برقبته يحيا العدل
7 Mar 12

It is good news, but we should keep our eye on it, and the role of Interpol in Mr. Kashgari's apprehension in Malaysia should be looked into.

Vacation: Lizard Breath, Part One

There are a lot on geckos in Florida. The place is infested by them. They should be the state animal, if they are not already so designated. It was in a discussion of geckos that I first met Lizard Breath, a young man possessing that uncanny ability so well and truly depicted in Jurassic Park of being able to imprint and bond with the first person of advanced years who cannot stand kids.
I mean, it was Spring Break and I had just come down in a flying sardine can filled with the germ-laden X-Box generation, had I not? And who said the economy was in the tank, for had not all of them had some sort of iDevice upon which they were playing Angry Birds or a form of Quidditch; the less athletically inclined formed large flash texting mobs in corner of the aircraft, and threatened to unbalanced the wretched thing, forcing the flight attendants to chase them back to their seats, and wake up their blissfully sleeping parents.

We were staying with friends at Johns Island. It was one of those places where, as our friends drove us around, everyone smiled and waved. Even in the morning the scads of people going early morning walk-about smiled and waved.
When I went walking in the morning, no one smiled and waved to me. I guessed they knew that I was just passing through. Perhaps it was my demeanor. One day as I waited for my friends outside the Publix supermarket, some people asked me if I were on my way back to the marina, indicating I resembled a yacht owner... or a swabby; I did not ask, so I remain in the dark. All I do know is that I had a Tommy Bahama on over a Del Boca Vista T-shirt, and I thought I looked more like Jack Klompus, and an inquiry about the astronaut ball point pen might have been in order, rather than the maritime connection.

I was sitting behind the 19th Hole, the small cafe off the 18th green of the Johns Island Golf Club, sipping a cup of tea, and watching the egrets standing about like statues. So was a woman in dark glasses accompanied by three children. She belonged; I knew it at once. Even without make-up early in the morning, I could see she belonged. She had that air of being able to summon the spirits and faeries of make-up and fashion at a moment's notice, if need be; but there was no need, for she had already sized me up and tossed me into that trash receptacle reserved for tiresome pedants. I think it was my sneakers that gave me away.
The children were of various ages: the oldest girl sipped her orange juice and intermittently did her daily dozen of lip-push-ups, consisting of a series of sucking in the cheeks and compressing the lips outward in emphatic moues, followed by a shrug that seemed to signal it was not really worth the effort.
The younger two, a boy and girl, were a brace of pestilences in training.

There followed a lengthy interlude of muted giggles and Indian burns and almost spilled OJs, interspersed by half serious remonstrations by the mother. It was a lot like sitting in the midst of an elementary school production of Waiting for Godot, only not as thrilling as the original.

Then the egret moved! He was not ten feet from us, and he thrust his beak into the bush, spearing a gecko, and then throwing it down his gullet! It was electric... rather like being a thorough tool and sitting through Warhol's Empire and spilling one's fourth bag of popcorn when startled by the sudden appearance of a sea gull flying by the lofty pile of bricks.
The mother did not move, and the eldest daughter moued at it all, but I positively goggled, and the other two were breathless.
"Wow!" said the boy.
"Shit!" said the young girl.
"Madison...," admonished the mother, leaving unspoken the coda that one should not use the S-word in front of people who had not been properly introduced.
I considered, then spoke, "That egret just ate that gecko!"
Gecko of the infraorder Gekkota I immediately learned from the Science Whiz Kids sitting next to me.
"That was just like school!", I said.
The younger ones of the crowd sort of turned half way to look at me.
"I used to have a nun like that who taught me in fifth grade..." I thought this might be about their age. "... and she would come down the aisles, tall and silent, then suddenly whack people with a ruler!"
They giggled.
The egret struck again. He apparently loved to be the center of attention.
"Thwack! Don't play video games in class!" the boy said. All three of us laughed.

This game of personifying our freedom and play as reptiles and our oppressors as thin, unemotional, goggle-eyed birds went on for a while, and then for a couple mornings thereafter.
And the boy became Lizard Breath, the girl was Gecko Eyes, and I was Pygopod. If you must know, it comes from Pygopodidae, a family of Gekkota, and it is pronounced "PIG-opod", with all the possible emphasis on the  "pig..."   part with a barely muttered  "...opod"  at the end. It often degenerated - in our subversive creole - into something like "piggy-pod".
However, I counted this a real feather in my cap, because just as the nicknames were being dealt out (in the manner of "he who dealt it, smelt it!"), there had been a vigorous show-and-tell about gecko defences and about how some throw feces at aggressors. That was not a good discussion to be in when names were being discovered and assigned.

And that is how I met Lizard Breath.

Free Will?

There is a notion that free will does not exist, and this notion is based on the latest science on cognition which shows that action precedes reflection. (see Bargh and Mosella, 2008)

If this be true, then beyond the chance to give "free will" a good hazing and thrashing, it directly implies that Habit is of supreme importance, and, thereby, so is Virtue, for Virtue must be taught and become habitual if there is no free will, otherwise all is chaos and play for the forces of evil.

Thus, whether or not Free Will exists is neither here nor there. It is a philosophical problem for armchair philosophers, and the conclusions have the potential to be endlessly varied. If there is no Free Will, there is still Virtue; there is the habitual practice of virtue, so that our autonomic response may be virtuous.
It does not matter whether there is free will, for we yet can choose to practice virtue or practice villainy. If free will disappears, choice still remains, and the choice may be virtue over evil even if not "freely" chosen.

Free Will does not matter; only Goodness and Virtue matter in the fight against Chaos.

Inchaote Fury

I actually do enjoy things like the Rush to Judgment... or the Judgment of Rush. I enjoy the furiousness of it all. Forbes magazine - economics lite - has hurried to get things like "Rush was a Genius" into print, supplanting the old articles titled "Why Iran Must be Bombed!".

I enjoy watching them. I imagine I can see the spittle fly from the corners of their mouths in their inchaote rage, plus the fact that it reminds me how tenuous life is... "sane" life, that is.
I have seen the future at times in the past, and there are many possible forking paths into the future. I like to remember the dark ones where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth... it reminds me how "iffy" it can all be, and how devoted we must be to goodness and sanity.

National Lampoon's Vacation

While watching National Lampoons Vacation, I could not help but notice that the luggage was tied to the roof of the car, while the family dog rode inside. Reflecting on the situation, I realized that I have a number of images - iconic images - of the family station wagon or estate car with gear tied down on the roof, sometimes under a water-proof bit of fabric to protect it. Nowadays there are plastic containers which one can fix to the car roof, and they are sort of torpedo shaped... to be honest, they remind me of the container used in the funeral ceremonies aboard the Enterprise for Spock in the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and every time I see a car coming at me with one lashed to the gunwhales, I hear the mournful piping which accompanied that poignant scene.

Of course, the first time I heard about Romney's Dog, I assumed it was an oversight, just like in Vacation, where Chevy Chase forgets that the dog is tied to the bumper, and then proceeds to drive a couple hundred miles.

No, it was all a plan; there was a spreadsheet somewhere with all the possibilities figured out for their trip from Boston to Grand Bend, Ontario. Obviously, Romney must have taken into effect the chance that Canada Customs might have been a little more Animal Rights PC, and they might call the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police... we were always down with the OPP) and force him to change things around. It was in one of the scenarios covered in the spreadsheet...
The article I read said the Year of Romney's Dog was 1983, and that was one year before the Business School at the University of Michigan got their first desktop computers; hitherto, we worked via Hollerith (IBM) cards or DEK writers... I did all my GPSS work on DEK writers. (DEK writers connected us to the mainframe computer for input and output and was a large, high speed printer at which one sat. Since the results of a GPSS program could be printed as we sat there, it was an improvement on the old method of sitting at a keypunch machine, taking the Hollerith cards to the computing center, and checking back later in the week.)
Lotus 1-2-3 was released in January, 1983 and it rocketed past VisiCalc, so it may have been Lotus that Romney used to make his canine projections.

Regardless of all that, one can either be amazed at Romney's fortitude at sticking with a plan (ill thought out as it was), or may be appalled at his callousness towards animals. It is a free country.
However, if Romney were to be elected, and it came time to balance budgets, I know whose backs it would be balanced upon... and I know what groups of people would be inside the station wagon, and which groups of people would be in an animal crate tied to the roof.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Vacation: The Sequel

I neglected to mention that the first place we stayed on February 21 after our flight had a large paintings of Black-Necked Cranes in the living room, and I had posted about such birds that morning. A Bit of prescience, I suppose. Ho-hum. Everyone is so ESP these days. She-who-must-be-obeyed is positively bubbling over with clairvoyant emails and premonitions.



18th Hole, Johns Island

It rained in Florida..., but only when we were driving.


Florida has a very interesting system of toll roads: no one tells you ahead of time that exact change is required to exit the road.

Let it sink in.
I think that the enforcement is lenient. I had to go through a toll booth where the currency machines were non-functioning and I did not have $1 in change, so I stopped at the nearest toll booth (and there are a whole bunch of them around Orlando... it seems like they are every 2 to 3 miles, as if every 2 mile segment of road has its own toll!) where there was a Florida Expressway Authority office (a sham building, actually... no one is usually in the office in an official capacity) and inquired how to go about reimbursing the State of Florida for the $1 I had just chivvied them out of.
The old Asian gentleman who emerged from the locked door of the office (and who I think was the husband of the old Indian lady who worked the Cash toll booth through which I had just driven) gave me info which said that the Florida Expressway Yadda-yadda-yadda knew that sometimes coins were in short supply... just do not make a habit out of jumping toll booths... or else!
We shall see.
If nothing else, I shall always remember the small clan from Poona who worked the toll booths and offices on the 417 and 528 around Orlando International. I liked the idea of a caste of toll gatherers and publicans and what-not.

Airport Security

I found the airport security at both DTW and MCO to be efficient, professional, and polite. I actually felt better that there was such security. I seem to recall supporting Ron Paul's kvetching about a pat-down at some airport; well, I take it back. Ron Paul's a Congressman, and - as such - is used to thinking of himself as above the law.

In Detroit, they had the latest scanning equipment: the Total Recall type scanners that left nothing to the imagination. I hope I do not see my scans showing up on the Internet any time soon... sort of like if Rush Limbaugh wanted scans of my airport high jinks so that the taxpayers could see their airport security tax dollars at work.

Johns Island, Florida

This was our first port of call, just north of Vero Beach, and we were mightily impressed. Our friends with whom we were staying told us that they thought it was originally started by some automobile company executives. This was surprising, since automobile executives are not known for good taste, at least not in the present age.
As we looked into it, we discovered the Johns Island development started with E. Llwyd Ecclestone, a Detroit area builder who eventually went to Florida and developed the Palm Beach PGA National, and his Grosse Pointe neighbor, James E. Gibson, who received a degree in architecture from the University of Michigan.
Roy Chapin III and his wife, the daughter of E. Llwyd Ecclestone,  were involved, but it was his father, Roy Chapin II, who had been the head of American Motors in the 1950's.

Beach Club, Johns Island

Lovely spot.

We flew home on February 29. There had been tornadoes in Missouri the night before, and the entire weather system looked like a rehearsal for the big show that struck 3 days later. In fact, when I looked at the NASA satellite pictures of both systems, they were very similar as they swept through the country.
It was a pretty good flight home.
When we landed, it was 38 degrees, foggy, and pretty dismal. There was very little evidence of snow. Ou sont les neiges d'antan? Where are the snows of yesteryear?

Brave New World, and the second part of my life.