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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Great Comebacks

Ambassador to Libya

Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif speaks during a memorial service in Tripoli, Libya, Thursday, September 20, 2012, for U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, and three consulate staff killed in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

In the wake of the violent death of United States Libyan Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens on September 11, Indigenous people near and far are coming to terms with the loss of one of their own.
But it is the Chinook Indian Nation member’s reputation as a peacemaker respectful of diverse cultures that has affected others across Indian country. Messages of condolence have poured in.
LO RES Christopher Stevens AP705000736483 270x337 Ambassador Chris Stevens Mourned Across Indian Country as Peacemaker, Diplomat
J. Christopher Stevens (AP Photo)
“This is such a loss – one that’s felt globally,” Ray Gardner, Chairman of the Chinook Indian Nation, told Indian Country Today Media Network. “It has been very heartwarming – the amount of other nations that have contacted us, locally, from British Columbia, and even further away. We even had a couple nations from back east contact us as well, to make sure [Stevens'] family knew they were in their prayers… It’s something that crosses the scope of all Native people. We’re all striving towards the same thing – having a peaceful relationship not only with each other, but also globally.”

Read more:

Religions of the Future

The trend of liberal thinking since 1960 has accentuated Man, while God was even held to have died away in the theology of that age.
The trend of conservative thinking has accentuated God as Dogma and Scripture, while Man had to toe the line.

The ancient Council of Chalcedon held that Jesus was truly God and truly Man.
Therefore, the religion of the future will strive to understand this union in creation.
The way I anticipate it: liberal and conservative will cease choosing up sides as if they were playing dodge-ball, and realize that there are more than the two-dimensions of us versus them.


Frodo Shrugged

I have spent some time talking about how much I despise the " philosophy " of Ayn Rand, and how much I contemn the assumption of that "hogwash" by certain politicians. I have not spoken of my own "philosophy" based on literature.

I hold to the philosophy of  J.R.R. Tolkien.
There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world.
The other, of course, involves orcs.

The Joy and the Sorrow

Each life has a defining Joy and a defining Sorrow that serve to set that life apart and accentuate it individual charm and genius.

When they write our biographies, the writers will dwell on them, perhaps a bit too long, seeking to magically derive some incredible insight into not only our lives - the subject of the biographies - but into Life itself.

Life becomes two dimensional when it is defined. From our standpoint, the defining by joy and sorrow imprisons us; from the point of view of our biographers, the definition makes their job phenomenally easier.

It is our job to transcend all such definitions. --

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Cult of the Founding Fathers

Reading about Thomas Jefferson, in the October issue of The Smithsonian:
“One cannot question the genuineness of Jefferson’s liberal dreams,” writes historian David Brion Davis. “He was one of the first statesmen in any part of the world to advocate concrete measures for restricting and eradicating Negro slavery.”
But in the 1790s, Davis continues, “the most remarkable thing about Jefferson’s stand on slavery is his immense silence.” And later, Davis finds, Jefferson’s emancipation efforts “virtually ceased.”
Somewhere in a short span of years during the 1780s and into the early 1790s, a transformation came over Jefferson.
Read more:

There are a couple of Supreme Court justices, Mr. Justice Scalia most prominently, whose legal philosophy seems to be a quest to channel the minds and intellects of the framers of the Constitution.

An enormous problem with this conceit is the assumption that the Founding Fathers never changed, never grew out of any attitudes, and forever remained together as in an enormous still shot from the film 1776.

Read a bit of Jefferson's nail factory staffed by children, and how productivity was increased by whipping the children to their work; read how the letters referring to this were consciously suppressed by Jefferson's most important historians in the 1950's; it may become clear that even some of the most important Founding Fathers had sometimes instincts and ideas which we would abhor.

Therefore, the Constitution is ours to preserve as a living document, not as a mummy shroud wrapped in
the mists of history and delved by the legal imaginings of justices who should know better.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Watching FOX

I saw an interview with Samuel Adelson, billionaire Tea Party backer.
Then I saw an interview with Chucky.

Interesting coincidence.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Honey Boo Boo TV

I think we should change the nomenclature:  TV or Cable should become Honey Boo Boo Tube; it used to be - and still is - the Boob Tube, so it is just a longer, more informative name.

Honey Boo Boo is on TLC, and TLC was originally The Learning Channel...... no further comment at this point. However, it reminds me of what BRAVO once was before it became a haven for crazed women and annoying tales of real estate.
I wonder if the Smithsonian Channel will soon have reality shows.

Everything on Cable has participated in a plunge down past mediocrity to the very basement of taste.

I think it is a very cool illustration of our society, and I enjoy how much we ourselves love it and put it up for everyone to see. Honey Boo Boo is the miraculous face of Jesus in my grilled cheese sam'mich.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


No, not Dominican Order of Mendicants, or whatever; rather Dom DeLuise.
FOX Classic Movies seems to have a Dom DeLuise marathon today (also known as a Dom DeLuise Flickskreig), and from the bits and pieces I have seen, I find that I am beginning to like Dom DeLuise.

He is an agreeable antidote to the present day. He reminds me of myself. His heroes are so DeLuisean.

I think he would have been an excellent Lou Costello for Steve Jobs' Bud Abbot; what a partnership that would have been!

Holy Day!

On the Today Show, someone said it was a holy day.

Could not quite place it, ritual-avoiding-toff that I am.

But I ran through the lists: just did Rosh HaShanah ("head of the year"!), Ramadan ended a while ago, and the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was way back on August 15.

Well, its Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
I used to say Yom Kippurim... or even an overly correct - and thus incorrect - yom ha-kippurim, I have the unfortunately tendency to hum and shuffle in my head about "the day of kippers" instead of the Day of  Expiations.

The basis of the whole meghillah is the verb root kaphar, which has the idea of "paying a debt in full".

When I hear that, I immediately think of "forgive us our debts" versus "forgive us our trespasses"...
Where are we going with this?
When sin is expiated, the debt is abolished; the slate is wiped clean. One of the chinks in our super-hero armor today is our inability to wipe the slate clean, to forgive a debt.

As difficult as it is to forgive a trespass, it is a million times more difficult to forgive a debt.

In the coming time, there will not be a Rapture, there will not be an End-of-Time, but there will be an Era of Impossible Things-To-Do Lists, and forgiving debts might be on it.


I finally... almost... listened to an entire TED video; I am usually way too fidgety to do so: let me have information at the speed of light! let me scan and read! The whole idea of putting the grey Thunderbird convertible of the brain into 1st or 2nd merely so we may listen to some Steve Jobs-Toffs  (i.e., Steve Jobs "wannabees"... I am tired of "wannabee"... it gets mixed up in my head with the name "Watanabe" and I begin to dream about Kurosawa films. I just now made up this "app" of "toff") is a feeling I usually do not like.

However, I've changed. I can listen to toffs talk about the future for quite a while now; I usually discover that at the end of the passage of time of the auditory process I myself have somehow "magically" entered into that mystic region I call "The Future"!

The vids I listened to skated on the thin ice of unsubstantiated "verities". There was one that applied Moore's Law - more like an evolutionary rule of thumb - to the field of androids and their abilities, which struck me as perfectly bizarre from a strictly philosophical-logical point of view, but the thin ice did not crack, and the fellow skated right over it, dragging the entire 54,000 or so video watchers along with him.

I want to see some TED talks in Plains Cree, both for language learning and a Cree take on the present. I am so severely repulsed by cable TV and inundated by a damp, dull, smothering Media uniformity, that I am desperate for... an algorithm to escape!

The Invisible Fat-Finger and The Phoney Economy

 Swedish Philosopher Nick Bostrom

Adam Smith had his "invisible hand"; we have our barely visible "fat-finger"...

I love being in a Phoney Economy, where everything is an algorithm. It is like living inside a computer simulation at times, where everything resembles "reality", but has a distinct "irreality" about it... sort of like Halo 4.
We used to argue about the question posed many years ago by Nick Bostrom whether we might be living inside a computer simulation... now it seems we are.

For instance:
Are Oil Prices Determined Solely By Fundamentals?

Jim Hamilton on what determines prices in oil markets:
...The Wall Street Journal carried this account last week:
Oil prices dropped more than $3 in less than a minute late in the trading day on Monday, just as trading volume spiked. The move also dragged down prices of gold, copper and even the euro.
"Traders were looking like deer in the headlights," said Peter Donovan, a floor trader... "I called four different desks, and they all said, 'we don't know.' " ...
The move sparked talk of an erroneous trade—called a "fat-finger" error in industry parlance—or a computer algorithm gone awry.
Fat finger or no, there was an even bigger drop on Wednesday...
Those who doubt that oil prices are determined solely by fundamentals would naturally ask, what aspect of the supply or demand for oil could have possibly changed in the course of less than a minute last Monday? The obvious and correct answer is, there was no change in either the supply or the demand for physical oil over the course of that minute. The minute-by-minute price of a NYMEX contract is determined by how many people are wanting to buy that financial contract and at what price, not by how much gasoline motorists burned in their cars that minute. But since changes in the price of crude oil are the key determinant of the price consumers pay for gasoline, doesn't that establish pretty clearly that the whims or fat fingers of financial traders are ultimately determining the price we all pay at the pump?
In one sense, the answer to that question is yes-- last week's decline in the price of crude oil will soon show up as a lower price Americans pay for gasoline. But here's the problem you run into if you try to carry that theory too far. There are at the end of this chain real people who burn real gasoline when they drive real cars. And how much gasoline they burn depends in part on the price they pay-- with a higher price, some people use a little bit less...
 The post continues to establish that there are real classical economical parameters determinant of the price of oil or gas. We are left with a price of Oil = P, and P = Real Demand Price + Speculation Price  (P=RDP+SP), and there is a "malaise feeling" everywhere within reading distance that "SP" has been growing exponentially, while RDP chugs along in a linear fashion.

Speculation Price is to Economics just exactly as Charitable Deduction is to Sermon on the Mount : we have given up our lives to determining factors which are remotely complex, coldly logical, and vastly inhumane by their inhuman scale of application.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Amadinajad at the UN

First, let us go back to 2005:

In a reminder that Persian rhetoric is not always easy for English-speakers to interpret, a senior Israeli official has acknowledged that Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, never actually said that Israel “must be wiped off the map.”

Those words were attributed to Mr. Ahmadinejad in 2005, in English translations of his speech to a “World Without Zionism” conference that October. As my colleague Ethan Bronner reported the next year, one problem was translating a metaphorical turn of phrase in Persian that has no exact English equivalent — there was, for instance, no mention of a map — and there was a heated debate about whether the original statement was a threat or a prediction.

Last week, Teymoor Nabili of Al Jazeera suggested during an interview with Dan Meridor, Israel’s minister of intelligence and atomic energy, that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s rhetorical flourish had been misinterpreted. “This idea that Iran wants to wipe Israel out,” Mr. Nabili said, “now that’s a common trope that is put about by a lot of people in Israel, a lot of people in the United States, but as we know Ahmadinejad didn’t say that he plans to exterminate Israel, nor did he say that Iran’s policy is to exterminate Israel.”

In response, Mr. Meridor said that Mr. Ahmadinejad and Iran’s ruling cleric, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had said repeatedly “that Israel is an unnatural creature, it will not survive. They didn’t say, ‘We’ll wipe it out,’ you’re right, but, ‘It will not survive.’ ”
And up to the present.
Mr. Amadinejad's speech at the UN last Tuesday was subject to translation failures by the UN staff, and it is not clear to me what he actually said. He seems to have said that "War is hell!", but we've heard that before.

Freedom of Speech

If I were in a bar sitting next to a loud and annoying lady who was with a large fellow of about 300 pounds, muscled, tattooed, and motorcycled, and I insulted the lady... if I were pretty offensive, you know, I would sort of actually expect to be punched in the mouth.

Freedom of Speech.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Film "The Master" Revisited

 Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Having subjected myself to the film The Master on Saturday evening, on Sunday morning I proceeded to intensify the process by looking at reviews. There was one review in the New Yorker that was almost as long and stupefying as the movie itself.

However, this review did happen to mention briefly what to me was the most important fact of the film: the fact that the relationship between Phillip Seymour Hoffman's character, Lancaster Dodd (LD hereafter), and Joaquin Phoenix's character, Freddie Quell (FQ hereafter), was actually effective in changing the troubled life of FQ.
Regardless of all the time-travel hypnosis and the talk of alien influence and all the other nonsense, LD did change the life of FQ for the better.

I remember this in the film, for during a session of hypnosis when subjects were going back in time to previous lives, I wondered at it all, thinking that even this strange philosophy seems to have an ameliorating effect on some of the crowd.

Very summarily, LD - The Master -  is eventually disavowed and abandoned by the Wealthy; he is attacked and ridiculed by the Scientific and Educated elite, he is outcast by the social power structure, yet he is successful with FQ, a troubled drifter... he is successful in spite of himself: LD is successful in spite of his nonsense and his moral infirmities and actually makes FQ a better person.

LD's connection with FQ is close and physical: when they have not seen each other for a long time, they embrace warmly. Their connection is a primary engagement, close and up front and intense.

The relationship between LD and FQ is a close engagement, and it is the very basis of religious teaching which tells us to engage directly with the problems of mankind, and by so doing, to defeat the effects of sickness and disease.

So no matter how bizarre LD's doctrine is, no matter how odd his procedures, LD actually redeems the troubled and disaffected in at least a small measure by embracing, sharing, and caring. FQ has a tendency to beat up people who are insufficiently supportive of LD, but this is no more than a metaphor for religious violence from Simon Peter chopping off an attendant's ear up to the present day.

I have a strong suspicion that the film is about what may be called true religious activity, and have almost nothing to do with Scientology. Scientology is used as a way to put the matter in front of the audience in terms the audience immediately understands, but it is not the heart of the matter.
It is not a bit about Scientology actually. Scientology was a mise-en-scene which allowed us to feel comfortable and think that we knew our way around in this microcosm.

I cannot account for all the details in the film: that is beyond my ability... and sometimes my comprehension.
I do know I took an immediate dislike to the film, because the intro dealt with troubled and alcoholic people, and it was too overwhelming for me: I felt the repulsion and disgust, I could smell the acrid sweat of the social misfits sweetened with the stench of nicotine...
Unlike St. Francis of Assisi,  I did not embrace them: I turned away.
I turned away and missed opportunity.

1)    wondering whether the sand effigy of a woman was a metaphor for Cybele or the Great Goddess, or Lilith, or Al-Lat?

2) I do not mean to imply that that which I discussed above was what the director had in mind in making the film. I do imply that the film might be a metaphor for what I put forward, and in a real sense the film is a meta-narrative about the hunger and thirst for righteousness' sake...
The audience of today would reject anything too obviously religious, so there is a sense of taqiya, or a dissembling under the guise of Scientology.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cinema: The Master

Took in the film The Master...

If you choose to go and see this film, keep track of the scene when Joaquin Phoenix's acting and posture most closely resembles his role of Johnny Cash in Walk The Line, so much so that you are startled and look around for June Carter.

I really do not see any reason to comment further.

Ray Bradbury and I

The Sunken Pier at Glen Harbor, Michigan

We spent our youths on the shores of lakes and rivers, Bradbury in Waukegan on Lake Michigan and I in Michigan on Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River.

There is some quiet and subliminal effect of water, flowing, moving, breaking on the shore, or carrying the great storm clouds from the west on its mighty back towards you standing expectantly for hours on the shore, as Lake Michigan does in Empire, Michigan - or in Glen Harbor north of the massive sand dunes where the waves lap the ancient piers and the wind blows sand into your eyes.
(refer to Google Earth  45 degrees 54' 22  86" N / 86 degrees 01'30 45 W  for the ancient piers.)

The interior of the country is oppressive; it is a place where change happens with the slow speed of creeks drying up in the summer and the mud cracking wider and wider. The interior is a land from which water escapes and flows away, and everything runs! Runs at the proverbial speed hydrological, which in our hearts is far faster than the speed of light.

My friend was going to go golfing at a place called Canadian Lakes. It certainly sounded great to me, and I was just a bit envious. But when I looked it up in Google Earth, I discovered it was not in Canada at all, and was furthermore in the middle of the Michigan; it consisted of some landlocked lakes throttled by houses and golf courses.
I was no longer jealous.
Golfing in the prison of land stretching as far as the eye can see - with a few spitoons of lake - is not comparable to golfing at a place, like Antrim Dells, where one starts high on the hills near Lake Michigan and drives down a fairway descending into the deciduous forests of autumn... and no matter how dense the foliage and how deep the declivity, one is never far from the life-giving wind off the lake. The only thing better would be the additional salt on your tongue from a sea breeze.

Water has formed our lives.
The impetuous transformations of water and air forced the minds of Bradbury and myself to the vast, foamy, and quick reaches of imagination.

Things That Grind My Gears

Ayn Rand's philosophy grinds my gears, and - truthfully - I do not think I would have liked her personally, either. Paul Ryan supporters claim that he no longer believes in Ms. Rand's philosophy. I suppose he really had to do that since her philosophy is an out-and-out atheistic bit of tripe.

When did he deny her atheistic ontology of the world? It seems pretty recently. At least he did not name a child "Rand" as some other politicians have done, making it harder for the sons to avoid the fallout of the fathers.

Perhaps Mr. Ryan was unaware of Rand's atheism. People like to describe Ryan as a policy and budget "wonk". Apparently he is not a philosophy "wonk".

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Zimmerman Effect

I was reading about someone who intended to dress up like Trayvon Martin for Halloween - seemingly they were going to wear a hoodie and Lord knows what else - and as I was digesting that it occurred to me that George Zimmerman shared a last name with the Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager.

Indeed, the good doctor was designed by a Dr. Zimmerman, and in at least one episode Robert Picardo portrayed the actual Dr. Zimmerman, the human being creator of Robert Picardo, the medical holographic projection.

So if you're thinking of going as a Zimmerman for Halloween...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Views on the Future

In the future, it is illogical that...

... the Economics will be a type of present day Capitalism that contains the mechanics of Boom and Bust cycles.

One of the foremost reasons for this is what we learned from 2008 in that the larger and more complex a society becomes, the more devastating the size of the Booms and - correspondingly - the Busts!
And there are no mathematical, economical guarantees of recovery from any given Bust phase of the cycle.

We also learned that recovery from a Bust cycle that was accompanied by a Fiscal Crisis takes much, much longer than normal recoveries from a Bust.

If we accept the possibility that there may be other combinations of events that will exacerbate the Bust, and we have found precious few combinations that ameliorate it, then we are playing with fire.

Weight Watchers and Virtue

Virtue describes a habitual way of acting.
For the most part, virtue is not inborn, but we must learn it through many years practice until it becomes "habitual" and "second nature" to us.

If virtue is not habitual and "second nature", there is always the extremely good chance that we will not act virtuously:  when called upon to act, we may react with something distinctly non-virtuous. It happens all the time.

We must be trained in virtue, we must practice virtue, we must meditate on virtue, and we actually should do so in a way that is at least as structured as the training we undergo for the rest of our lives. We train for good habits in sports, in work, in driving... every activity has its good habits and we try to practice them.

We train for good eating habits. Think of diet and nutrition, and think how difficult that may be, and how we are constantly trying to improve our diets and trying to reduce calories or cholesterol or increase fiber or whatnot. This is the Virtue of Weight Watchers.

We should struggle to be virtuous with at least as much effort as we struggle to eat healthy.

Just as to our regret we have let the Responsibility for our Good Nutrition be handled by Food Processing Companies and Developers of Genetically Modified Foods, so also did we all Responsibility for our Good Virtue to be handled by priesthoods, preachers, and people with a constant flow of new ideas for self-improvement.
This was a mistake that led us to be as ignorant about our food as we are ignorant about virtue; our inability to focus on the processes involved in the entire food procurement and preparation process as well as the inability to train into good habits instilled in us a sense of prudishness that led us to hide the whole messy business, and to encapsulate it all into small and tidy boxes:  the cardboard containers of processed foods ready to gulp down, and the Sunday morning ritual of marching off to holy orders from the pulpit.

It is acceptable for us to be open about our diet and our weight, but we are much more secretive about our morals, unless we are holding forth about what is wrong with the world.
It is a good thing that we keep our sense of morality hidden prudishly, for it is between God and us and no other beings.

Therefore, we need not be endlessly preached at about what is moral, but we do need help establishing our independent quests for morality: we need early training and structure that allows us to eventually stand as adults on our own two feet and be virtuous.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Vacuum of Leadership

Considering the inability of the Congress to formulate reasonable policy and a partisanship which derails any attempt at compromise and a population that disdain our political leadership and questions its legitimacy, we look to Europe and what do we see?

Is Democracy Shrinking?
With national leaders apparently unable to act, such institutions as the European Central Bank, the German constitutional court, and the European Court of Justice are playing an increasingly influential role in European affairs. French political analyst Antoine Vauchez argues that their intervention amounts to a bending of the rules of democracy which urgently needs to be addressed.

Is there any better illustration of the current paradox of European democracy than the fact that its fate hangs in the balance in the decisions of the board of the European Central Bank and the rulings of the German constitutional court? European political leaders have become so convinced of their lack of legitimacy and their inability to win the “battle of credibility” that opposes sovereign states and the markets, they are voluntarily giving up their room for manoeuvre to “independent” institutions and automatic penalties (the notorious fiscal compact), thereby enabling judges (both national and European ) and central bankers to dominate the daily conduct of European affairs...
 We may have to face up to a failure of present democratic institutions. Our ancestors have done so, and they succeeded. It is not the end of the world.

A Song About Romney The Moocher

... a Bain Capital hootchie-cootcher.

I consider the fact that capital gains on certain investment are taxed at 15% (due to a change in tax laws in the recent past) instead of the normal average rate of 35% to be a substantial government bestowed benefit.

It make Romney a much bigger moocher than me, who had no fed tax liability last year....

You know, one of the reasons there may be no federal income tax liability is the fact that no meaningful interest rates are available for the savings of the average run of the population.
No interest income: no tax due on it!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bad News fer Mitt

My Parents - devotees of FOX News - seem to have given up on Romney!
I mentioned something to my mother yesterday, and she just said that it did not matter any more. Now she is very bright and when it comes to politics, she prefers to engage and annoy rather than be calm.

I think they have given up on Romney. My father no longer brings up Joe Biden in the conversation anymore.


Well, I hope the Romney malaise continues through election day. Maybe it is the curse of the demonic Ayn Rand coming home to roost. Brrrr!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Division Street

Talk about partisan spirit and an inability to work together....

Mr. Romney - and by implication, the Republican Party - have written off 47% of the population. Mr. Romney says that that large number of individuals are not his concern, neither now nor if he were to be president.
The 47% are the percentage of the population that do not have an income tax liability... a group which some people think Mr. Romney himself is in. Apparently he makes a distinction bwteen "No Income Tax Liability, But Rich As Heck" and "No Income Tax Liability And Poor As A Churchmouse".

This is no small thing. This is no Country Club - 19th Hole - Let's Talk Poor Folks Over Cocktails - type of thing; this is the real deal.

This is the beginning of the end.

Few people see it that way.
I am forbidden from such ways of thinking by my religion, just as I am forbidden from establishing my own moral system (a la Ayn Rand) because I may a bit more intelligent, or a bit wealthier, or more powerful than the folks next door.

I am forbidden, because I have learned that an Ethics of  Power based on Denial and Exclusion leads to darkness and tragedy.

I certainly do not like everyone..., but I am forbidden to write them off as meaningless.

I am never sure where the Big Banks, who certainly are moochers and had to be bailed out by tax payers and government, fall in all this.
I did not pay any Federal income tax last year. Maybe I should just forget my enormous LOOPHOLE - the standard deduction - and just pony up the bucks for 2013.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Libya and Syria

The death of the US ambassador to Libya in the rioting last week has quite probably given Syria's Bashar Al Assad a new lease on life.

The countries shipping weapons to Syria have been identified by the UN as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar: Iran ships to Assad and Saudi Arabia ships to Sunni Salafis and Fundamentalists, who are in rebellion. Qatar supports Sunni groups also.
Maybe not all rebels are extremists, but just enough are to make them all anathema now.

I would not be surprised if Assad weren't to receive some covert support from the West.

Men As Gods

Very well written piece on Mormonism. I am not sure if the author is tongue in cheek or something else.

Why I Love Mormonism
by Simon Critchley


A spokesperson for Romney said that his candidate would have prevented the attack on the Libyan embassy.

Odd that so important an issue was hidden from view until after the attack.

Why I Have No Cellphone Contract

I pay for time as I need it. I use T-Mobile, and I have done so for 10 years or more, and I have an old Nokia cellphone I inherited from my daughter when she Blackberry-ized upwards: her old Nokia has a screen picture of a teddy bear smiling... which I left on it, at first not knowing how to change the image, then not caring to change it.
I mean, once people see me carrying around a cellphone that is at least 12 years old, I am sure that they would expect me to have a picture of a smiley bear on it.

I do not trust the present day mindset of the communications industry, and I probably never will. I suppose this may tie in with my previous post about Steve Jobs: how a real visionary does things versus how most of the feudal minded rest of the economy is run.

Anyway, Verizon...
In July, Verizon teamed up with wireless carrier MetroPCS to challenge the FCC’s right to craft and enforce Net Neutrality rules. After attacking the agency’s legal authority to adopt even basic consumer protections for broadband access, these companies went on to claim that they themselves have the right to edit the Internet.
The companies are currently arguing their case in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Acknowledging that their clients “transmit the speech of … millions of individuals” every day, their lawyers claimed that “broadband providers possess editorial discretion” to feature some speakers — and block others.
That wasn’t their only breathtaking assertion. The lawyers insisted that Net Neutrality rules amount to government seizure of property that rightfully belongs to the Internet service providers. The lawyers also characterized Internet users’ communications as electronic signals that “physically invade” and “permanently occupy” ISPs’ networks...
(emphasis mine)

I remember writing about Wi-Fi and the physical invasion of one's space, and whether it was ethical to use someone else's Wi-Fi for free.

Verizon itself does physically invade my domicile with their electronic signals.
Therefore, by their own logic, they should be paying me for this usage of space.

Steve Jobs

I have not read very much that is as amazing and incredible as the life of Steve Jobs in his biography by Walter Isaacson. I was and am totally blown away by it.

I mentioned it to a few people; they said that it would surely be a good read about a capitalist visionary, and blah, blah, and so on.

However, Steve Jobs himself was so very different from most of us...
He thought it was an important part of his life to have searched for spiritual enlightenment, and also to have used LSD.

Very different from the rest of us. Very different.
If there is anything at all to learn from the story of Steve Jobs - and I think there is quite a bit - I am sure that it will go right over most of our heads.

I shall have to read the book at least twice, and then take a long time to ponder it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


est virtus placitis abstinuisse bonis

it is virtue to abstain even from that which is allowed

The Annual USSR Party

It's almost time for the annual USSR Party.

Ade Ileke 49: (Egypt) مصر

دوام الحال من المحال
المياه يجد وسيلة
حتى في الصحراء - شجرة
على الجبل - زهرة
 قصر الفرافرة والغراب
 من فوق أو تحت
 المياه يجد وسيلة
دوام الحال من المحال
Nothing remains the same (Egyptian proverb)
water finds a way,
even in the desert, a tree;
upon the mountain, a flower;
Qasr Al Farafra and the raven;
from above and below
water finds a way;
nothing remains the same
Qasr Al Farafra is a stop on the way to the "White Desert"

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Capital and Punishment

Are we in a Marxian cycle, leading, willy-nilly, to an unknown future?
The article below is but an introduction to Marx on
(1) Credit Crises and Banks, and
(2) Unemployment.

From Philosophy Now:

Karl Marx famously pronounced: “The last cause of all real crises always remains the poverty and restricted consumption of the masses as compared to the tendency of capitalist production to develop the productive forces in such a way that only the absolute consuming power of society would be their limit.”

In a less well-known pronouncement, quoted in Vince Cable's 2009 book The Storm, Marx also predicted in Nostradamus-like fashion: “Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and mechanical products, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalised and the state will have to take the road which eventually will lead to communism.”

He believed there was a fatal contradiction between the need for an ‘industrial reserve army’ of unemployed to keep wages and prices down (and profits up), and the incompatible need for high employment at good rates of pay to consume the full product (and keep profits up).

Marx did not see how any juggling act within capitalism could resolve this contradiction with its attendant crises and human misery. This is why Marx thought that capitalism would eventually have to go, to be replaced by a more rational system of economics. True, he was not terribly clear about the details of this more rational economics, and so his professed followers (Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot) had to more or less make it up as they went along, weaving an uncertain path between Marx’s ideas, historical expediency, and in the case of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, extreme megalomania.

 To be fair, John Maynard Keynes too could not see how any such juggling act was possible within existant capitalism. But he did believe it was possible within a modified form of capitalism, which would then constitute the more rational system of economics apparently needed...



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Is This The Best Government Money Can Buy?

I am not thrilled by the upcoming election, for I consider both parties to be bought and paid for by all the interest groups and entities with all the money that has been directed away from the large part of the population and given to the one-percent that is wealthy.

It's their country now.

No Longer Will I Say Nice Things About Romney

I am trying to understand the situation, the events, and the time line of those events in the Middle East which are directly linked to a film offensive to Muslim, and also offensive to many people of other religions.

I do not understand why in the midst of a volatile situation fraught with violence, during which at least 4 US Embassy officials have been killed, any sane person would immediately attack the leader of the country.

I had no love for President George W. Bush, but we stood behind the President on 9/11 and for a long time thereafter.
It never occurred to anyone to heap insults upon the President during the crisis itself !!

Yet now here is this fellow Romney doing just that.
He does well in his ivory tower of Corporate Capitalism, surrounded by hordes of suits. But dealing with fast breaking events seems to be beyond his ability.

Mitt Romney was a brilliant Suit and would be an idiot President.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Ironies of Ayn

Take a moment and think how ironical it is that a certain segment of the American population, which used to - and, I suppose, still does - condemn ideologies such as Communism for being atheistic, eagerly grasped onto Ayn Rand as their own atheistic and Capitalist philosopher.

A pure irony that few of us yet understand: we are the guys walking down the street in a top hat, Irony is the banana peel upon which we slip, or it is the snow ball that is thrown and knocks our topper into the gutter.

With the use of Irony, God cast the mighty from their thrones and raises the lowly; He spreads confusion in Babel and the Tower is destroyed; with Irony the powerful financial system is suddenly brought to its knees and cannot exist without money from even the poorest of us.



Monday, September 10, 2012

Rooms and Looms

Rooms and compartments occupy my this morning.
In particular, I was thinking about the manner in which we compartmentalize our lives and separate religion into its own sphere separate from our workaday world as well as our domestic world.

The sphere of religion is "supernatural".... whatever that means.
I mean, I really find the notion appalling. Superstition is supernatural to my way of thinking: it is a means of understanding which is beyond normal causality and reason: it is "supernatural".
But, the notion of  God as something "missing" from this world and kept severely apart in some existence beyond the natural is bizarre, but it may also be the founding paradigm of the sickness of Western society: the creation of the abyss between reason and faith.

Ever since we created the abyss, we have tried to amend it, sometimes in the most outlandish ways - such as the nonsense of an Intelligent Designer, a notion which is more suited to HGTV to be used in remodeling kitchens rather than in any philosophy, science, or religion.

Or, in another bizarre way which is very common in the present, we politicize religion: many of us receive our "marching orders" once a week from the pulpit of righteousness, reset our brains, and go anew into the fray until we receive another re-charge on the following Sunday.
In the interim, we follow the ethics of Work and Society, where "business is business", and the Meek shall most surely never, ever inherit the Earth... that is, if we got anything to say about it!

The warp of our lives consists of many strings under tension upon which we lay the weft our individual lives. Although we may speak of the different strings of the warp, they are the basis of one indivisible life: when we look at our lives, we do not see the warp and weft separate, nor do we see the warp itself separate into its individual fabrics. It is a network of networks, complex and intertwined, full of warmth and color and resilience.

Separate the pieces of the Textile of Life, and it unravels.
I feel I am viewing a Great Unraveling now.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


On a completely different note, the Chilocco (Oklahoma) Agricultural School Baketball Team of 1908-09.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The Goebbels Card

Apparently a California Democrat has played the Jospeh Goebbels card, comparing Paul Ryan to Joey G., and then saying he did not mean all Republicans were Nazis, etc., etc., etc.

I had a moment to wonder if I had overspoke when I did the same thing the day after Mr. Ryan's speech. Upon reflection, I remembered Ayn Rand, and I remembered her baleful influence on just about anyone stupid enough to heed her words.

I consider devotees of Ayn Rand to have the potential to be worse than any monsters of the 20th century.


Saturday, September 01, 2012

What is a Charitable Deduction?

Peter's Mother Feeling Poorly

A Charitable Deduction?
It is a bookkeeping entry, an accounting event.
Charities defined by the Revenue authorities mean a good deal to accountants, but nothing to God.

Our engagements with the poor, with the sick, with the needy are specifically spoken about in the gospels as being primary engagements, or mano a mano if you will. When Jesus spoke of the sick, He did not throw a few denarii to some people engaged in health care: he went to see Peter's mother - a primary engagement.

He did not say we had to make a living doing such things, nor did he say we had to particularly love it beyond rational understanding; He did say it was a duty we could not slough off nor escape.
We do not have to embrace lepers, nor do we have to "love" those to whom we minister, but we must perform the ministry ourselves; it cannot be assigned to self-appointed ministers.

Our meditation should be directed to finding the frame of other-mindedness we require to make this committment. It is a long-term commitment to a short-term engagement: our lives need to be punctuated with real and first hand charity.

Else, we are not Christian.

Take your pick!

Many of us already have, and choose to ignore those who are in need!

The Last Sacrament

Fasting is the Last Sacrament.

It is unique in that it requires no intermediate priesthood.
The discussion of fasting follows immediately upon the words of prayer: Our Father, which is followed by a brief discussion on "our debts".
Fasting follows the "acceptance" of the divine will, the daily receipt of bread, the forgiveness of "debt", and the distancing from trial and evil...
... then comes fasting.

More later after you've thought about this.

The World's A Stage

Matthew 6:16 “When you fast, do not look sullen like the hypocrites, for they make their faces unattractive so that people will see them fasting. I tell you the truth, they have their reward.

 Fasting requires no thought nor plan; it is a habit between ourselves and the Holy. If we must structure it, if we must choreograph it, fasting becomes a display for others. We have touched upon this in our discussion about the nonsense praying on the football fields and Monday Night Football.

We live in a time of Exterior Display and Interior Emptiness: everything must be scripted because there is an essential nothingness to our lives; we hunger for a script, a scenario, a plan - a diet plan, a multi-tasking plan, a business plan... plan, plan, plan.... all very visible to the Great Critics of the World.

Prayer is silence and shining, and no one knows about it... not even yourself, for then you have denied your obsession with God and turned it into a companionship.