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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ann Curry

Ann Curry was a real person and a fine journalist, and she will be leaving the Today show.

I really haven't watched Today since Bryant Gumbel's days; I used to really like it when I thought Al Roker was Roxie Roker's brother... I guess he is her cousin. I liked Willard Scott, too, though Lord knows why.
I really do not like Matt Lauer, and I find him very facile.

Today must descend to the level of the audience and management of the day.
Soon we shall be looking for a J. Fred Muggs to do the interviews.

Who's Responsible?

In The Washington Post:
More than 1.5 million homes and businesses across Maryland and Virginia lost power Friday night as one of the most powerful and punishing storms in months swept across the Washington region...

The ferocity of the storm appeared to reflect the intensity of the daytime heat that set records across the region, as the mercury at Reagan National Airport rose to 104 degrees...

A very large derecho storm with straight winds blowing 80 mph, following yet another record setting day of heat ...

And in Lousiana, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal will oversee the beginning soon of a new school year with textbooks being widely used which not only teach Creationism as Science, but also that there is no Climate Change, rather it is a plot by liberals to destroy our wonderful economy... as if we could not have done it ourselves in 2008 with the Republicans calling the shots.

Let's hold the Republicans responsible for their actions.

Friday, June 29, 2012

How History Will View Us

See Calvin's Canadian Cave of Coolness

New York Times Puzzles

 Mr. Will Shortz

Starting July 7 - or just some other nonce date - The New York Times will start charging people who buy their print edition a fee to access the crossword puzzles on-line. Hitherto, we have done the Sunday "puzz" (as we call it) on Saturday evening, since the puzz goes up on the web at 6:00 PM EST.
We have applied ourselves while the British series As Time Goes By plays on WTVS, public TV.

Now we shall have to wait until Sunday for the print edition to be delivered. This means the one hour or so spent on the puzz will bite into Sunday. It is also a "tax" upon subscribers, essentially a "double dip" into our pockets.

We do not like it, we shall not pay the extra. Occupy Will's Shortz!

What We've Been Saying For Years...

ScienceNews today:

Web edition : Thursday, June 28th, 2012

It looks like 70 years of breeding for better color in unripe fruit has inadvertently helped create the wet-paper towel flavor of the modern tomato...
And just because a variety is an heirloom doesn’t mean it tastes great, he cautions. For his taste panels, Cherry Roma is the reigning favorite. When choosing among generic tomatoes, he recommends going for cherry tomatoes and other little types: “Breeders haven’t had as much time to mess them up,” he says.
Tomatoes, apples, oranges, you name it.
It seems roots and tubers, like beets, which are not susceptible to differing appeal based on color are the only things that taste like they used to.

Thank, and a tip of the hat to the Food Industry.

Those Who Stay At Home

There are those who go on the Quest, and there are those who stay at home.

Did you ever wonder how boresome it must be to stay at home, while Frodo and Merry and Pippin are on the quest? Or while Coyote is stealing fire from heaven, while you are digging furrows for maize? Or while Theseus skulks through the Labyrinth, while we try to schedule a conference call?

Well, we do know. We are the stay-at-homes.
Being on a Quest will change things forever; that is the whole meaning of the Quest in story and myth.

We thought we had a Quest in Vietnam, and we thought we had the key to the mythic dynamic in The Domino Theory, and if we could only thwart that old domino theory...
We thought we had a Quest in Iraq; we thought we had a quest in Afghanistan. But it cannot be, for if we had a Quest, we would have been changed forever.
We are not changed. We are not ennobled. We do not see miles and miles.

We see as far as the racially offensive bumper sticker on the car in front of us, both of us sitting in yet another traffic jam on a hot summer day, burning gasoline and cursing the climate-changed induced heat...

The Class Distinctions of Alcohol

 Wall Street Water Bender

The Rich keep their insane drunkeness behind the veils of gated communities and friendly law-enforcement,
The Not-Rich are more blatant about it all.

The same goes for drugs.
In the 1990s Cocaine was the DOC (Drug Of Choice) on Wall Street.
What now? Bloomberg's had a facetious article on Chia seeds, as if anyone would believe that the financial industry ran on sprouts and "Water Bender" myths.

Zombie Zamboni

The Face-Eater from Miami.

Un-Friending Right Wing COPD Types

Our choices have narrowed down to a purge; only a total purge will do, a cathartic, if you will - a great flushing out of the system.

We have to un-friend numerous people we know on Facebook.

It all started the other day when I heard She-who-must-be-obeyed sort of harrumph.
"What nonsense!" she expostulated.
"And so much of it, one right after the other!"
I looked up from reading Richard Rhodes' history of the development of the atomic bomb.
"Hmm?" I soothed, amiably, sort of an invite to share... but leave the big guns spiked: do not unload on my awareness with the entire imbroglio which discomforts you, my dear; merely share a hint of the troublesome and annoying which has come to you via the internet.

"Well, you know so-and-so..." she said, names being left out to protect the idiots.
"Yes, I recall." I said.

There was a short list of friends, amiable all, with whom we had spent time playing cards, Truth or Dare, and Dr. Ruth. (I remember that I always managed to seriously annoy some of them or their "spouses" when I played cards... I have a very idiosyncratic manner of card playing.)

There were an educated group, too.

So why must they continuously post things they know are going to scrawl across their Friends homepages that some Friends may find offensive? Why political pornography in the worst instance and why political tirades in the best case?
I mean, one's Democratic party friends might egregiously glom all over your sensibilities at lunch or at the bar at times, but they don't subject one to this constant wheeze of  COPD (Chronic Obstructive Political Disease) all the time, do they?
I mean, does everyone think they're running for office? And is such an onslaught effective for persuading the undecided? If I were undecided, I would find this cacophony repulsive; I would feel as if I were being felt up by gourmet zombies in the Hive under Raccoon City in Resident Evil.
For Pete's Sake! Find a cabal somewhere in some racially restrictive gated ghetto and have your crappy little tea parties of fear and loathing! Do not put it on Facebook where your inane vitriol spills over into your "Friends" space... and this is using "friend" very loosely; it is more like "those who overlook your nastier failings".

The last straw was a old Eucher-playing, erstwhile BFF, who started writing things about supporting Israel - particularly Christian support for Israel - based on Nostradamian and Fortean readings of scraps and snippets of holy writ.

I guess we have to put up with your thinly-veiled racist jokes and your tedious ill-formed opinions, but we draw the line at your obscure idolatry of religion and politics.
A purge it is. No Stalinist-era show trials, just a friendly un-friending...
We considered whether to send an explanation, such as "Dear friends, we remember your smiling faces, but do not wish your opinions to be in our faces all the time". Maybe we shall; do not know...

... but we do know that if we don't do it now, 28 Days Later will be too late................

A Rational Explanation

I heard Fox Mulder recently say that he was looking for a rational explanation for some mystery that was bedeviling him.

I think this is an error.
I think he should have said that he was undertaking a rational search for an explanation; the explanation for mysterious events is under no obligation to be "rational". If it were, there would be no mysteries.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

In EurekAlert:

Maya archaeologists unearth new 2012 monument

Archaeologists working at the site of La Corona in Guatemala have discovered a 1,300-year-old-year Maya text that provides only the second known reference to the so-called "end date" of the Maya calendar, December 21, 2012. The discovery, one of the most significant hieroglyphic finds in decades, was announced today at the National Palace in Guatemala.
"This text talks about ancient political history rather than prophecy," says Marcello A. Canuto, director of Tulane's Middle American Research Institute and co-director of the excavations at La Corona...

"In times of crisis, the ancient Maya used their calendar to promote continuity and stability rather than predict apocalypse," says Canuto.
It is a good, short story. And it points up our madness...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Farm Subsidies

Reading a good article on why farm subsides do not cause obesity. 
There are two graphs comparing the cost of red delicious apples to chocolate chip cookies, and showing that the apples - i.e., "good" food - are as cheap or as costly as the cookies are, thus invalidating the proposition that farm subsidies have caused healthy foods to be more expensive than "unhealthy" foods.

All very good.

However, what is missing is the fact that I have not been able to purchase an apple that has been remotely good tasting in almost 2 years, whereas choco-chips are still pretty good.

I remember wonderfully sweet apples, but I only remember them, unless I go to the Pick-Your-Own orchards. Maybe that ride into the country is what we need.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pauses in Democracy

In the ancient limited democracies, there were times when democratic procedures were suspended by agreement. There were at least two periods of what were dictatorships: the first being the Roman institution of Dictator, such as when Cincinnatus left his farm and assumed the dictatorship twice; when the crises passed, he relinquished the post and returned to private life, spurning any desire to become tyrant.

Similarly, when the ancient Greek poleis reached a state of total dysfunctionality for whatever reason, sometimes a wise man was given the power of transforming the state, such as Solon in Athens and Lycurgus in Sparta.

These instances indicate periods of weakness in democracies, and we should ponder them in their entirety.

From the People That Brought You The Housing Bubble...

Which is to say, real estate developers...

Here is a story on Corporate Education from the Huffington Post:
I love it, because I used to be in business, and I know the type of minds at work.
For more than two weeks, the University of Virginia has been in an uproar over the abrupt resignation of school President Teresa Sullivan. Sullivan stepped down after just two years in office, citing "philosophical differences" with the institution's governing Board of Visitors...

Members of the board, steeped in a culture of corporate jargon and buzzy management theories, wanted the school to institute austerity measures and re-engineer its academic offerings around inexpensive, online education, the emails reveal. Led by Rector Helen Dragas, a real estate developer appointed six years ago, the board shared a guiding vision that the university could, and indeed should, be run like a Fortune 500 company.

The controversy, which threatens to seriously damage one of the country's oldest and most prestigious public universities, has implications beyond its own idyllic, academic refuge. For some, it is emblematic of how the cult of corporate expertise and private-sector savvy has corralled the upper reaches of university life, at the expense of academic freedom and "unprofitable" areas of study...
I can only point out that Capitalism was a theory and practice of managing Capital, not profit chasing.
Educational "Capital" may take on other forms than those which the mind of a real estate developer is capable of handling.
(I don't mean to disparage people in real estate, but I do disparage people who think their small understanding of one corner of reality extends to the entire universe.)

Tossing Minds Around

1) If people's opinions of dynamic events is like tossing a coin with outcomes (in favor of, in disfavor of), then the coin is not fair, because we know that most people tend to have consistent beliefs; they tend to be liberal or conservative, for example.

One function of democratic intercourse is to attempt to restore the coin to fairness by extending the time allowed to formulate and ruminate on a message before deciding whether one is in favor or not. The time extension allows the message to be "uncompressed" fully and opened to outside influences, and thus become more complex.

2) "Meme" theory is based on a perceived lossless compression scheme for messages between "minds".
Otherwise, the "meme" mutates step by step and cannot be assured of "going viral".
A virus doesn't compress its message.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Catullus At Hillsdale College

George Roche, One-Time President of Hillsdale College

Egregiam narras mira pietate parentem,
Qui ipse sui gnati minxerit in gremium.


Une Petite Surprise!

 Julien Benda

So I was reading about Norman Finkelstein again, and what do you know? One of his favorite books was La Trahison des Clercs !  (The Treason of the Intellectuals)
In the Tablet:

One of my favorite little books is Julian Benda’s Treason of the Intellectuals, which is based in this binary notion that there are two competing sets of values in the world: fame and fortune on the one side, truth and justice on the other side. Benda’s main thesis is, the more vigorously you are committed to truth and justice, the less you’re going to see of fame and fortune. So, I don’t want to become too popular, because then I’m betraying truth and justice.

I read it in bits and pieces years ago; I could not find a copy in print, so I had to cull pieces of it from various places until the time when I could put my hands on it.

Benda wrote my copy in 1946 - a very important year, he inscribed a new introduction to a new edition:

Depuis vingt ans qu’a paru l’ouvrage que je réédite aujourd’hui, la thèse que j’y soutenais – à savoir que les hommes dont la fonction est de défendre les valeurs éternelles et désintéressées, comme la justice et la raison, et que j’appelle les clercs, ont trahi cette fonction au profit d’intérêts pratiques...
"In the 20 years since the work I am re-editing, the thesis which I support - namely, that the men whose function is to defend the eternal and disinterested values, such as Justice and Reason, and whom I call the Intellectuals ( or "Clerks, meaning "clerics" = the literate class in the Middle Ages), have betrayed their function in favor of profit and practical benefits..."
(My translation... pretty poor, I know.)

Big Brother's Embrace

Big Brother as conceived in Orwell's 1984, not some cable-TV-real-life thing, is not really necessary in a society which actively seeks to pin point and locate its members for reasons which are not entirely clear, but which seem to come down to "We do it because we can."

I mean, why would anyone want to self-locate themselves all the time? I am at church, I am at the gym, I am at Lucky Baldwin's for Ladies Night....
Of course, I do not even like biographies for the most part. I was reading about James Joyce's biographies in the NY Times Review of Books, and even that was boring beyond description. I guess I do not get it: I enjoy sporting events greatly, but I find the spectacle of watching and listening to sports figure talk about their feats to be a gruesome form of torture.
Similarly, even though I may read a book and esteem it a masterpiece of literature, the entire idea of going to Christmas dinner at the author's house and chit-chatting with him, his aunts, nieces, and nephews, to be a Fuseli nightmare of the first water.

I myself write. I know how different writing is from speaking and conversing, particularly face-to-face, and I have grown old watching people afflicted with my conversation seeking ways to extricate themselves and yet maintain some sense of dignity and decorum.... Even Tom Wolfe in person cannot be as natty and perfectly clothed as Tom Wolfe the feature of our individual imaginations and our media imaginations.

Anyway, read the following about supplying too much information on the web.
Remember, individually we may all be saints, but let us form groups, corporations, and national governments and we become akin to the spirit of Negation!

Big Brother Is Watching Facebook And Twitter
21 June 2012 by Jim Giles
...officials at the Department of State issued a procurement notice on 1 June asking software developers to submit bids for a contract to supply tools that provide "deep analysis of topics, conversations, networks, and influencers of the global social web". These tools will analyse conversations taking place in at least seven foreign languages, including Chinese and Arabic...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

On A Ethical Scale Of 1 To 5...

 Mark Zuckerberg, Billionaire Genius and Demi-God

..., 1 being the lowest, meaning "bad" or almost no "good" at all, and 5 meaning the highest possible amount of "good", where would you rank such-and-such?

Is "good" an absolute, or does it exist in a range of values, somethings being "better" than others?

It seems to me that Fundamentalist philosophies and religions tend to view things as absolutes, whereas the non-Fundamentalist forms do not, and thus require a good deal more work and thought and study to come to a moral conclusion.
It reminds me of Isaac Singer's Rabbi of Goray, who was relatively lenient on the issue of divorce on the appeal of women, versus the Rabbi of Lublin, who was very strict: as a result, women from all over the East journeyed to Goray to see the Rabbi, who did not see divorce in absolute terms, but in terms which were modified by differing circumstances, differing life-histories.

So today in MarketWatch, David Weidner writes:

So long, suckers — I’m leaving Wall Street 
Commentary: Some lessons from 15 years observing the industry,

and ends with:
... remember: Greed is good, but good is better.
and that sums it up, so now I must wonder whether mankind again is a bunch of savages dancing  (or yelling out buy-sell orders)  in front of heartless and mindless idols of graven images, or whether there is a progress - a spiritual progress! - available to us of "better" and "better".

All things can become "better". There is no absolute Science, Economics, nor Morality. Just as we may descend, so we may ascend.

There is in these times a feeling that mankind is inherently evil.
I cannot believe such a proposition, even when it is modified by the doctrine of Original Sin.
We exist in a range of values, and we have free will to choose where we shall go. The accumulation of woes and sorrows we are struggling through now are the fruits of our choosing Greed and not something Better! (And I shall think about this when I ponder Mark Zuckerberg's sale of his stock at the obviously over-priced opening IPO price, and the eventual decline of 10%, which amounts to a billionaire stealing money from schlubs...  it really "zucks!"... even though if we were to ask him on a scale of 1 to 5 how would he rate himself as a positive benefactor to humanity, he would probably say that he's a "big old Fi-i-ive!")
ScienceDaily (June 20, 2012)

 — Pests are adapting to genetically modified crops in unexpected ways, researchers have discovered. The findings underscore the importance of closely monitoring and countering pest resistance to biotech crops.
All that is necessary to ensure food for the world is a constant vigilance and expenditure against crop pests....

The problem is that our vigilant attitude costs  $,  whereas the vigilant attitude of the pests only requires them to eat our crops and reproduce.

From our own history, we know that eating and reproducing is an attitude shared  by those with $ and those without $. Hence, our battle is much harder and requires a long-term commitment and frame of mind to a goal which we have not demonstrated hitherto.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Google Earth Moment: The Leelanau Ankh

Latitude:  45° 1'18.87"N
Longitude:  85°43'47.94"W

In Leelanau, Michigan


Daniel Tutuola

Who is the music savant, whom I have written of as Alex's Dad, has told me a good story. I have never, ever seen anyone tell a story with such complete immersed enthusiasm as does Mr. Tutuola.

I shall tell you tomorrow, because time eludes me today.

Still Wahdi

A blog filled with treats:


Monday, June 18, 2012

Executive Fiat

"Fiat" meaning "let it be..."

There are many opinions about President Obama's recent executive decision on immigration, and many of those who are stumbling towards self-awareness have expressed their opinions: all to the good for the artificial-intelligence-types who are expressing their political opinions. Skynet would be proud.

At least one such opinion states that this decision will lead to tyranny.

Wow! Really? I cannot wait to read the entire article.

Or can I? The whole point was that Congress should make the laws, and the Executive Branch should execute them and make sure they are enforced. When the Executive makes the "law", the entire world spins into disarray, or at least the USA segment... or we think it does.

Well... of course! I mean, what did you think all these years about writing about the decline and fall of empires was about? What was the purpose of drawing parallels between the USA and the Roman Empire, if not exactly this?

When the Legislature cannot function - and the Congress has demonstrated that they cannot even approve appointees, but would rather let everything fall apart - the choice is whether to let the country fall into disarray and become moribund, or to move forward.
President Obama has decided to move forward.
The Founding Fathers never in their wildest dreams envisaged the situation where a major political party would embrace the strategy of letting the country and economy fall apart in order to secure their own political advantage, but this is exactly what modern day Republicans have done.

And that is exactly what happened in Rome when the Roman Senate gave up the responsibility of ruling, paralleled most obviously in the Republican decision to accept a thoughtless no-tax pledge, and thereby allowing Grover Norquist to do their thinking for them. (Senator Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush fortunately accept their burden of thinking and acting, but there is no Tea Party Republican that does.)

If we hand over our responsibilities to others, we eliminate the reason for our existence.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mr. Nice Guy

Reading Maureen Dowd's story on Jerry Sandusky American Horror Story.

I am sickened. Let me be clear, I am sickened by the pretense of innocence and not-knowing that Ms. Dowd as well as just about everyone else casts over this story.
It’s hard to believe that a monster like Sandusky was harbored by Happy Valley for so long. It was an open joke in Penn State football circles that you shouldn’t drop your soap in the shower when Jerry was around.
Only it isn't hard to believe. I seem to recall writing about Justin Bieber grabbing his crotch while singing on the Today Show a couple of years ago, and many have written about the "imaginary" prostitution of kids in Beauty pageants and shows like Toddlers and Tiaras.

I will not go into detail, but there are a lot of people who know what it is like in this society to be young and abused by love and violence; a whole lot.
It is not hard to believe! Not a bit.
At which point do the innocent people in blinders begin to believe? The genocide of the native Americans? Lynch law and segregation? Wars based on lies and schemes? Abuse by priests, rabbis, and imams?  Institutionalized sadism of the prison system?
When does Ms. Dowd open her eyes entirely?
She seems to have done so now, but surely she will let them close again "when justice is done" !

(Which brings us back to the weakness of the "group mind", which is unable to learn from the past: when good things occur, the group merely assumes that the good is due to its own goodness and is its due; when bad occurs, the group tries to sweep it under the rug with exclamations of disgust, and soon forgets all about it.)

A Day At The Detroit Zoo

Walking From the Parking Structure

Aviary and Butterfly House (used to be the Aquarium)

Ibises in the Trees


Gorilla Enclave

Walter Chrysler Train

I remember my visits to the Central Park Zoo in New York, where the reigning paradigm was to enclose animals in cages - as if they were violent felons - with barely enough room to turn around. Of course, that has all changed now; I am talking, though, as recently as the 1980's. Having visited the Detroit Zoo since my childhood, I was quite taken aback.
My wife tells the story of the elephant in the Central Park Zoo in New York who was placed in a routine cage: barely big enough to turn in, and how the poor beast would watch the keeper insert a hooked winch bar into a socket, which he would then turn to open the door to the small outdoor area the elephant was allotted.
All day long while in his cage, the elephant would put his trunk outside the bars of his cage, and he would try to get a grasp on the winch, and try to turn it time after bleeding memory time! Gosh, what a sad story! You would think that the first time back in 1950 when someone saw that, all heck would have been raised, and the Central Park Zoo would have been totally re-thought! Alas, it took a while for "animal huggers" to raise the level of awareness of the dumb clods of the rest of us.
There would be a lot of bad karma floating around New York, all those suffering beasts, not to mention all the hamburgers and pastrami being consumed...
The bad karma might have resulted in Donald Trump...
Anyhow, good day at the Detroit Zoo, which originally was designed following the idea of Carl Hagenbeck of Germany, who introduced the idea of natural animal enclosures in the 19th century.

Which picture is a bit whimsical? --

Friday, June 15, 2012

North Carolina Republicans Forget King Canute

King Canute of England at the Sea

In New Scientist:

North Carolina Tries To Outlaw Climate Models
17:55 15 June 2012 by Hannah Krakauer
... Legislators in North Carolina are apparently of the same mindset. When a state-appointed commission announced that North Carolinians could expect 39 inches of sea-level rise by 2100, the Senate responded with a bill that legally prevents the Division of Coastal Management from using the climate model that forecasts fast-rising sea levels. Instead, the legislators would like to see coastal management use only a linear model, which predicts a mere 8-inch rise by the same year.
The 8-inch model, based solely on historical records from the last 100 years, flies in the face of modern climate science. Sea level rise is due to a combination of climate-driven factors: warmer temperatures cause ocean water to expand, and rising temperatures are melting the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps. The combined feedback makes for exponential – not linear – growth. Yet the North Carolina bill states: "Rates of sea-level rise may be extrapolated linearly to estimate future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise."
"This is unprecedented," says Orrin Pilkey, professor emeritus of geology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. "It's the first time a law has dictated the shape of a curve."
 Of course, what happens if the sea does rise over 8 inches? Will the coastal sheriff's departments be ordered out to arrest the culprit?

Personally, I think this business of holding the legislature up to appearing ridiculous and grossly ineffective is a bad primer for democracy, but other matters seem to have priority.

North Carolina has forgotten the history of King Canute, a story we all learned back in grade school:
 BBC  Is King Canute Misunderstood?
The first written account of the Canute episode was in Historia Anglorum (The History of the English People) by chronicler Henry of Huntingdon, who lived within 60 years of the death of Canute (1035 AD).
According to the story, the king had his chair carried down to the shore and ordered the waves not to break upon his land.
When his orders were ignored, he pronounced: "Let all the world know that the power of kings is empty and worthless and there is no King worthy of the name save Him by whose will heaven and earth and sea obey eternal laws," (Historia Anglorum, ed D E Greenway).
 May the General Assembly of North Carolina - Republican majority in both Houses - profit by King Canute's words.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

An H.G. Wells' Alibi

I was late putting up a poem in the poem blog, 'cuz I wuz at my parents, but I said that "I was in the 1940's", which made it sound as if I were a Time Traveler, such as H.G. Wells wrote about.
I wrote such because my parents have no computer nor internet access; I will not spend more money on a Sprint or Verizon card, and even if I did, I would likely be picked up by Rogers in Canada and incur enormous roaming charges...
which also applies to the cell phone usage...
and they have a very cheap long-distance plan, so a long-distance call would cost a bit; it is so basic a service that they have to wait for Agnes (the operator) to call back when she has made the connection.

Hmmmm... H.G. Wells; I wuz born a few hours later on the very day Mr. Wells passed on.

Neos Prometheus

Prometheus, who stole the Light Bulb (or Mazda Lamp in older versions) from the abode of the gods, and then brought it to mankind.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Governor Snyder of Michigan: The Holocaust Years

Against the proliferation of guns and weapons of violence in Michigan and elsewhere.

PHOENIX (AP) — The mother of a 19-year-old man fatally shot in the back by a U.S. Border Patrol agent has sued the federal government and the agent himself, claiming it was "an appalling use of excessive force" because her son was unarmed, had his back to the agent and posed no threat.
Guadalupe Guerrero said Monday that the Border Patrol had no right to take her son's life, even if he had marijuana in his truck as they say — though she disputed the allegation.
A Border Patrol agent identified by police as Lucas Tidwell shot Carlos La Madrid three times — twice in the back and once in the thigh — as he climbed a ladder on the U.S.-Mexico border fence in southeastern Arizona on March 21, 2011.
The Arizona man, who did not have a weapon, fell to the ground and died about five hours later at a hospital.
"Why did they kill him? Who are they to play God?" Guerrero said in Spanish on what would have been her son's 21st birthday.
This story is not about the increase in guns being carried, but it is about a relaxation of standards about when to use violent force; this relaxation is similar to vague "stand your ground" laws which dilute restraint. We are now in a society where weapons of violence are becoming more and more common, while the standards controlling their usage are weakened, resulting in probable chaos: the absurd notion that people bearing rifles wandering around downtown Birmingham, Michigan is somehow a social "good" is the belief of the truly insane.

Shades of the film Prometheus: who are we to play God, and throw the dice to determine who shall live and who shall die? Who are we to change the odds and increase the likelihood of Death and decrease the probability of Life?

Guns and tasers... what will be next? As if to emphasize their distrust of society, Gov. Snyder and his ilk seek to weaponize their interaction with it. The logical step is then to destroy those whom you perceive as threatening; if they are so threatening that you need to pack heat at skate parks and art fairs, it is logical that a Holocaust of one's enemies is a logical outcome, a fine and future Holocaust.

To oppose the ending of new life, yet to endanger the continuance of established life is the mark of those souls like Don Quixote who worship Dulcinea, yet  drive the Jews from Spain: they worship Life while they hate Life.



Loved everything but the story... which stunk in no uncertain terms. Everyone else involved produced wonderful work. The writing - and possibly the editing when one considers the editing as a means of furthering the story - were light-years behind.

The script was illogical to the point of being inane.
The philosophical questions were jejune... as jejune as the juvenile or larval stages of the Giger-monsters with their squid-like menace... I flashed on James Mason as Captain Nemo battling a giant cephalopod, dodging the squid's chitinous beak, in Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
(Giger-monsters are the torpedo head alien monsters of the original 1979 Alien; in this film there is another "alien" humanoid race who creates both Mankind and Torpedo Heads.)

There was an android, who loves Peter O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia and who vacillates between the Force and the Dark Side for no apparent reason... it was so goofy that I kept thinking of the little robot with Slim Pickens' voice in Disney's The Black Hole, which is sort of my standard measure for Android and Automaton Goofiness.
(I hate to say this, but in his more villainous moments, Michael Fassbender as David the Android leered in a manner which clearly resembled Dr. Smith from Lost in Space, the TV series. That was unnerving.)

There was a main character infected by the android with something (don't know what); the character almost immediately transforms into something (don't know what), and is almost as quickly dealt with by fire as The Thing was dealt with in John Carpenter's The Thing... and no explanation for anything. (I fully expected to hear David Clennon's voice as Palmer saying "You gotta be __ kidding!")

There's an automated caesarian to remove a xeno-embryo... which may be a homage of the most dim-witted type to the mythological Prometheus' punishment of having his liver eaten by an eagle...
Oh, and there are Geologist Zombies...
Oh, the list goes on...

There obviously was a whole lot of story that was not able to be put into the film and keep it under 5 hours or so, so the editing had to remove it, and there was so much dead-time that I could not help but wonder what the hey was going on, rather than being enchanted by the film.
I was completely disengaged at least twice, and shook my head and drummed my fingers, looking around for the exits.

At times I mused upon Alien vs. Predator , if that is any indicator of my frame of mind!

Well, backing off a bit from the "intellectual film critic" thingie and going back to the original Prometheus story, I recall that Prometheus, a Titan, created man from clay or dust or some homely grit, then stole fire from Olympus to give man some equality with the gods.
For this act, the gods wrought a great revenge against him:

1) we have a story-line wherein mankind creates life, the android, and there are references to this act of creation and why it was done and possible outcomes, but it did not really "go" anywhere to fleshing out parallels to aliens seeding Earth, and the ethics of Life Creation.

2) the original humanoid alien (non-Giger alien) upon Earth in the opening of the film had a differently shaped space vessel, and we might consider him a "rogue" alien who had come to establish life throughout the universe, and by doing so sort of violated some "prime directive" against doing so, thus causing the other aliens to seek revenge and destruction against the rogue alien's creations (just like the mythical Prometheus);

3) there was a lot of "why are we here?" and "what created us?" type stuff. This was properly answered by Idris Elba, who played the captain of the vessel Prometheus, who when asked whether he did not wish to find the aliens who spread the Earth with the seed of mankind, said that he did not, suggesting that a search for such beings who were also creators of  Weapons of Mass Destruction (which it turns out the Torpedo Heads were) was a fool's quest. (Or a mad man's or woman's, such as quested Ahab in Moby Dick.)
Now that's a proper question: why should we care about beings that create WMDs and incessant wars and discords!! That's one that strikes close to home!

So if there is another film, it will follow the logic of this type of story and explain why the "gods" sought to destroy mankind. (And, since Herakles freed Prometheus, perhaps there will be a Herakles myth story line that will be sliced and diced.)

However, this obsession for allowing for sequellae  -  a word I made up for "sequels" and "prequels", the idea being that, given a movie good enough to warrant further exploitation, any new films based on it, regardless whether they take place after the action of the original film or take place prior to the action of the original, they are both "sequellae" (sequella singular)  -  seems to me to seriously impede the creation of masterpieces of cinema. The original Alien was a singular and self-contained universe; it was great. This film limps along, trying to pull itself through various rough patches of illogicality and holes in the story.

But everything else is wonderful... except for the anachronisms, such as the fact that the computer displays in the prequel are much more sophisticated than those of Alien, which is supposed to follow the time of  Prometheus by about 28 years or so.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Why My Banker Thinks Me Mad 3

This A.M. in the Yahoo Headlines, I saw a headline in the atrocious propaganda sheet "NewsMax" that offered counsel on ways to survive the 2013 Crash!

They stole it from me!

Sloppy Thinking

Over the weekend I heard a reference to God as a king.

I thought it a sign of sloppy thinking and pedestrian spirituality. Why would anyone want to encapsulate their understanding of the Holy into a concept such as "king"? Why not "great panjandrum" as well? I really do not get it.

In the Middle Ages, kings were God's anointed, so the story goes. So God is God's anointed? Maybe Jesus is king, and God the father is emperor - that might make sense from a strictly historical point of view.

Hoarders of out-worn, puritanic traditions of right and of wrong...
clean your houses!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Spread The Word

There is an injunction to go forth and preach the Gospel.
There is no specification of how fast and intensive this has to be; for example, there is no indication that much monies should be fleeced from the faithful to build enormous cathedrals of stone or glass, or to establish cable TV shows peddling holy oils and indulgences, or to fund flocks of busybodies overseas.

It says merely to speak of the Gospel.

It does not even add that we should preach the entire bag and baggage of Church law, traditions, philosophy and theology, but we do anyway. When Mormons do missionary work, they add in their Book of Mormon as a coda to the Gospels.

The injunction was not to go forth and preach the Gospel and everything else that flies into our minds and bedevils us body and soul; just the Gospel: no interpretation, no Aquinas, no Luther, no Calvin, no Joseph Smith...

By implication, the injunction was to keep quiet about your own, private gospel: see if you could obey a simple little injunction without screwing it up: see if we could spread the word of God without enslaving entire nations: see if we could do one small thing...

We could not, because what we got is better than anything from Nazareth! We have not just a Gospel, but an adumbrated, adulterated, amended and improved Gospel! And we have lots of people on the payroll.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Hillsdale College Again

Reprint: I think it is time to remind people to where lack of self-control leads.
(The memorial day was to have been April 30, the anniversary of Lissa Roche's suicide, but there was a conflict. It is interesting to note that Glenn Beck seems to have been a student from Hillsdale, briefly, but there is too much hidden about that part of his life.)

Modern Conservatism betrayed its true nature to view at the incident at Hillsdale College, Michigan, where in 1999, Lissa Roche killed herself.

She had been carrying on a 19 year affair with her father-in-law, George Roche III, the president of Hillsdale College.

...As one of his first acts as president, Roche brought in conservative author and icon Russell Kirk to teach at Hillsdale, but more importantly to give the world notice that Hillsdale was serious about being conservative. If Roche had been as serious about thinking as he was about fund-raising and public relations, he might have noticed that Kirk’s book The Conservative Mind, specifically the chapters on Edmund Burke and John Adams, had some significant things to say about the relationship between reason and appetite, lessons that would have increasing relevance to Hillsdale College under George III’s increasingly autocratic leadership. That meant that Kirk also had something to say about the two strains within conservatism—the libertarian and the traditional—which appetite and reason represented...

George Roche III was great, because he was a great fund raiser for the Conservative causes. He was lionized by Conservatives.
However, you cannot keep up a 19 year affair without people becoming aware. In particular, you cannot commit so heinous an offence as George Roche did, year after year, without people becoming aware of it, yet to frightened to mention it.
Money was God, and the Republican Party had only One God. They looked the other way.

Lissa Roche went out to the gazebo, a central place at Hillsdale, and killed herself.

The entire story is
Death at the Gazebo:Conservatism In Extremis at Hillsdale College
by E. Michael Jones
(note November 24 2011: 
is the location.)

The importance of this story is inversely proportional to the oblivion which modern society and media have banished it.

And this Conservative society loved Ayn Rand.
Just as the predators love her today. (I believe Senator Rand Paul is named after her.)
Remember that Alan Greenspan was one of her foremost followers, and one of her main sources of economic information.

How the Servant Became a Predator: Finance’s Five Fatal Flaws
 by Bill Black
(this link works)

...As financial sector elites became obscenely wealthy through predation and fraud, their psychological incentives to embrace unhealthy, anti-democratic Social Darwinism surged. While they were, by any objective measure, the worst elements of the public, their sycophants in the media and the recipients of their political and charitable contributions worshiped them as heroic. Finance CEOs adopted and spread the myth that they were smarter, harder working, and more innovative than the rest of us. They repeated the story of how they rose to the top entirely through their own brilliance and willingness to embrace risk. All of their employees weren’t simply above average, they told us, but exceptional. They hated collectivism and adored Ayn Rand.

On Reading Moby Dick

Reading Moby Dick once again.
It seems obvious this time 'round that Ahab is obsessed by the whale, Moby Dick, not for revenge, but to touch the God-figure that gives life and destroys, maims and makes whole. Everything Ahab does is a metaphor for how we all seek to persuade and co-opt God into our causes and schemes. Ahab seeks not to destroy, but to "consume" and be "consumed"; to become "one", but Ahab does this in a self-defeating and futile way: Ahab seeks to bend the world to his will.

Ahab is everyman: a wounded Fisher-King, seeking the healing touch of the Holy, yet seeming more to want to exploit the power of the Holy.

Why My Banker Thinks Me Mad Part 2

Somebody asked where I had gotten the notion that financial crashes follow each other in a series of years, the time between crashes being more or less equal to a decreasing Fibonacci series. (Why My Banker...)

Well, I would think by now that anyone would know that certain things just seem to shine into my consciousness; when they are clear and without any obvious self-interest, I pay attention. The ones filled with self-interest - like the winning lottery numbers - are baloney.


For what it is worth, I do not believe a single word being reported in the national medias about Syria anymore.

Oops, I hear the cable TV saying that it's time for "The Two-Minute Hate" against Bashar Al Assad...

Why My Banker Thinks Me Mad

In posting this I am taking you into my deep confidence: why my banker, who is a very understanding type, thinks me very odd, indeed. I am lucky to have found a banker who finds my eccentricities charming, rather than alarming.

Very briefly: I believe that the financial system will implode in 2013, that year being the end of the next interval of catastrophes, intervals equal in length of years to a Fibonacci decreasing series.
Why a Fibonacci series, God only knows. However, I thought it was obvious that the financial system was losing control over what it does: creating money at the speed of light. (And - by the by - the "printing presses of money" which the government is deemed to turn on and off at will are nothing but these here banks... we tend to think the government has its own presses somewhere in Fort Knox.) (see Future Flash Crash)

2013 is a point estimate, and there is probably an error of plus/minus one to two years at least, due to imprecision at the beginning and at the end of the intervals.

My banker walked me through 2011, through the terrors of risks, known and unknown, old and new - the new ones being domestic political risk of having idiots running the government who thought defaulting on obligations to be a "keen" idea. This risk kicked in on August 2, as I recall when the Dow plummeted 500 points.

My banker mentored me, and I owe him a great debt of gratitude. The notion of a stock market debacle is much more nuanced than that horror that exists in my imagination, and my understanding was much improved...

at least until Chase Bank lost $2 billion dollars this year...

and the most biting criticism and analysis about this debacle are written by bankers themselves in financial blogs and banking journals...

and every explanation is another form of "We lost control!"

If and when the Republicans win in 2012, financial regulation will be dead, and I think my fine, fine madness will suddenly seem old news by the end of a few years.
This does not mean the Democrats will avoid this bit of unpleasantness; the Republicans will merely accelerate and confirm it. Both parties are at fault.

Sunday, June 03, 2012


Forgiveness implies a denial of the Past.

Thus, it is obvious in Forgiveness that we embrace and believe only those things in the past which we choose to embrace and believe.
Otherwise, we let them go, and they blow off like powder in the wind.

Politics, Religion, and Philosophy are a brand of coffee:  Chock Full O' Past.
Repositories of ancient alarms and grudges...
a good brew today?

Group Mind: The News Media

The aim of the News business originally was to present information while avoiding mixing in emotions, thereby avoiding the effect of propaganda. The audience has their own emotions. The audience adds their emotion to the news information, thereby creating a set of modified listeners: when these listeners go out and finds similarly minded people, they may then cement their emotional and informational bonds in a group of like-minded people.

At present with the News itself adding its own emotion (and political slant) to the news, the News itself seeks to create the group mind and the convention where the crowds may congregate.

Why is this a problem?

There is no chance of anything good coming from the Group Mind now, since there is no Ethics of the Group Mind...
There are no Ethics of the Group Mind, because the Group Mind of the present day is unaware of itself!
Being unaware, the Group Mind reasons that its actions are "common sense", or the "progress of history", or some "inevitable march of mankind".

Being unaware, the Group Mind has innumerable times sanctioned the most atrocious crimes in its name and called them "holy"...
They are "holy" because the group inherently senses that any such acts of the group mind are in a very real sense "beyond" the normal and the usual. However, that is where we stop: at this feeling of "beyondness".

In this "Beyondness" lurks the notion of a "higher power".

God and The Holy are not a "higher power".
There is no hierarchy of higher and lower with God.
God created the Powers and Dominations, not vice-versa.

To understand "beyondness", we have to deal with the infirmities of our own souls.
Afterwards, we will dwell with God.

Ade Ileke 46: Hablar Con Los Espíritus

       Yarrow  ( Achillea Millefolia )

Yo hablo con los espíritus,
los espíritus de la ciénaga:
conozco su raza bien;
economía de las algas violentas,
llueve la propaganda de alcohol,
las drogas exhumados de
tumbas húmedas con oraciones,
runas y encantamientos ...
Que el sol secar su alma!
Ser poeta coronado
con la milenrama tumescente!
Bailar bajo el sol!

I speak with the spirits,
the spirits of the swamp:
I know their race well;
economy of violent algae,
raining propaganda of alcohol,
drugs exhumed from tombs
humid from prayers,
runes, and incantations...
Let the sun dry your soul!
Be a poet crowned
with tumescent yarrow!
Dance under the sun!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Aquaduct Between Past and Future: Thom Hartmann

Hmmm... An ancient aquaduct reminds me of the cinema, like the sprocket holes in the side of a piece of celluloid which tells the tale of some misty greatness.

If you have ever read Thom Hartmann, you will have noticed that he is an interesting entity. If you read about him in Wikipedia, you will get sort of a version of his life story that is certainly toned down from what I have read, but there is a time and place for everything, and Thom Hartmann of the present speaks of different things in Wiki than he does in other places and at other times.
Mr. Hartmann has a belief of Old Culture versus New Culture, and to simplify it, the Old is a way that sees the Earth as a living being which one must understand and live with as one does with all living beings: in harmony, whereas the New is a way of exploiting the Earth and polluting it and burdening it with overpopulation.
Mr. Hartmann tends to connect hunter-gatherer societies with the Old Culture, and the agricultural societies which succeeded the hunter-gatherers with the New Culture.

There seems to be a connection between the Native inhabitants of the Americas with the Old Culture, and the European discoveres and settlers and military with the New Culture.

The only problem I have with this is that present day studies show little evidence of Native American Indians or any other First Nations being such paradigms of love and respect for the Earth: the Indians used to regularly burn large tracts to extend the plains and thus their hunting grounds, and the one of the reasons the Mayans met their demise was their over-exploitation of their natural homelands and resources.

If the picture of the Noble Native American, profoundly spiritual and wise in the ways of the Earth and Ecology and Sustainable Living, is a mirage, then to does Mr. Hartmann's story of the Old Culture refer?

To me, it is not a memory of the past; it is not recall of a golden age. Rather, the pull and attraction of peoples living in harmony on the Earth is an icon of the Future.

The age when mankind will construct their Peaceable Kingdom is not in our histories: it is most definitely in our futures - if we choose it to be!
And it is this particular "time-line" describing the possibility of such harmony that pulls us by its symbolic gravity into the future. There is no limit to what we can do: good or ill; but we must choose the correct path.
We stand on a chaotic edge between two attractive futures: good or evil... and believe it or not, the good pulls us and tempts us and haunts us with just as much determination as does sin.

Our problem resides in the fact that, arrogant as we are, we believe ourselves already to be Good...
Therefore, we ignore the siren calls of the Future Good and fall into the embrace of the Scylla and Charybdis of Future Evil.