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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Scott of the Antarctic Centennial



This year read about the Heroic Age of Exploration, with Robert Falcon Scott of the Antarctic.

Visit the British Antarctic Survey:
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Books

Jonathan Franzen was talking at the Hay Festival in Cartagena, Colombia.

Jonathan Franzen has spoken of his fear that the e-book will have a detrimental effect on the world – and his belief that serious readers will always prefer print editions.
..."Maybe nobody will care about printed books 50 years from now, but I do. When I read a book, I'm handling a specific object in a specific time and place. The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing – that's reassuring,"

"Someone worked really hard to make the language just right, just the way they wanted it. They were so sure of it that they printed it in ink, on paper. A screen always feels like we could delete that, change that, move it around. So for a literature-crazed person like me, it's just not permanent enough."
For serious readers, Franzen said, "a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience". "Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn't change," he continued. "Will there still be readers 50 years from now who feel that way? Who have that hunger for something permanent and unalterable? I don't have a crystal ball. But I do fear that it's going to be very hard to make the world work if there's no permanence like that. That kind of radical contingency is not compatible with a system of justice or responsible self-government."
  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/30/jonathan-franzen-ebooks-values

Where is that electronic revolution people talk about?!
People in Florida are still losing their homes, and not one politician can find it in the electronic revolution political will to do anything other than nothing!
Nothing of value has changed: the suffering is the same and the lack of charity and the disinterest of the political class has not mutated one iota!
We are still beset on all sides; the only difference is we have spent money on e-crap!

This is not revolution: this is destruction by the Lazy persuaded by the Greedy.
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The Socialist Basis of Capitalistic Exploitation

First, everything has to be socialized; there is no more private anything, whether it be property or intellectual property nor even a name.

Facebook's IPO will rake in billions based solely on one point: Facebook is a social networking site that has been able to "socialize" private data: names, address, friends' names, like and dislikes, etc. Facebook has taken private conversation and made it public in a grossly effective way: there is no "copyright" upon your personal data anymore. It is far more effective a method to socialize privacy than any other; it is a large-scale public confession.

(Take a moment and think of our entertainments, our advertising, our internet, our phone cameras, etc. and then think of our private sex lives, and how effectively that has been socialized over the past century, and how it is being even more so now.  The private corners of our lives are fair game to the poachers of persuasion.)

If I wish to steal something, say "land", from a group of people that have been living on it for eons, the first step would be to dis-establish their sole rights to it; I can do this by socializing private property, including "land". Now the aboriginals have a claim, but I also have a claim to the land.
Then we negotiate.
Sometimes negotiations break down and there is a fair fight which ensues, with my side using rifles and bombs and their sides using arrows and spears. Treaties restore the peace, all is well, and the land in question is quietly removed from the arena of socialized items.

This is the exact method by which Risk has been socialized on our banking industry: at a certain time, all things private become socialized, whatever amendments those in power wish to make are made, then the veil of socialization is removed.
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Definitions of Capitalism



Al Capone:

"The legitimate rackets of the guys in power."

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From Europe: 10 Theses on the Euro Crisis




The first two theses:


Ingo Schulze – 10 theses about the crisis
27 January 2012
http://www.presseurop.eu/en/content/article/1451011-ingo-schulze-10-theses-about-crisis

1. To speak of an ‘attack’ on democracy is to speak euphemistically. A situation in which a minority of a minority is allowed – i.e., it is legal – to seriously harm the public good for their own enrichment is post-democratic. The public sphere itself is guilty, because it is unable to elect representatives that perceive its interests.

2. Every day one hears that governments must “win back the confidence of the markets." By ‘markets’ it is primarily the stock exchanges and financial markets that are meant: that is, those speculators who, in pursuit of their own interests or the interests of others, are raking in as much profit as they can. Are they not those who have relieved the public sphere of unimaginable billions? They are the ones whose “confidence” our top elected officials should be struggling to win back?

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The Future of the Internet

Slo-Death App


It is not Facebook.

Facebook is a scheme designed to encourage social interaction so that it may exploit it. The future of the Internet is going to be similar to the future of Space exploration: it is not going to be a repetition of our past; it will be something new and better.

Facebook reminds me of a beautiful vampire..... alluring, yet quite deadly.
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Odd-Think



http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/jeffcarter/2012/01/29/jimmy_carter_on_faith_and_politics

Jimmy Carter on Faith and Politics
by Jeff Carter

I am not a fan of the policies of former President Carter. However, I am interested to learn how he thought faith played a part in his decisions. He was the first evangelical Christian to become President in the 20th Century. I have not heard the interview yet...
I do not like this type of introduction, wherein the writer feels as if they need to air their laundry to prove it is not even remotely dirty. This is not an investment piece, where is it customary to acknowledge if one holds stock in companies one is touting.  Who really cares what Jeff Carter thinks of Jimmy Carter? The article and information is Jimmy Carter's interview, and Mr. Jeff Carter does not wander off into his personal likes and dislikes later, so why must they be paraded before the reader at the start?

Writing that begin with disclaimers strike me as (1) timid, or (2) hypocritical, or (3) betraying a lack of trust in the readers' intelligence.  The writer suffers from bulemia, in that they cannot stop indulging themselves, but then are compelled to purge themselves... and right before our eyes, too.

I am a human being. I am a big "fan" of Creation: I am interested in all things human... and beyond!
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Ade Ileke 39: Weaving


















Trees and rivers are the warp
upon which we weave our weft;
two strands green and blue
overlaid with madder and kermes,
saffron and viridian.
--

The Fed: Transcripts for 2006 Realeased

The Fed in the form of the Federal Open Market Committee meets every six weeks through the year to conduct it business of overviewing the nation's business.  There is a lag of five years and the minutes from 2006 have just been released: 2006 was the beginning of the implosion of the housing market.

By going to The Cunning Realist, preview the situation and follow the links to further materials:
Straight Outta Pyongyang
http://cunningrealist.blogspot.com/

My favorite is this from the WSJ summary:
MAR. 27-28: In Bernanke’s first meeting as Fed chairman, housing looms as a risk, but officials haven’t grasped the severity of the threat. The Fed’s chief economist, David Stockton, offers some ominous warnings. “Right now, it feels a bit like riding a roller coaster with one’s eyes shut,” when discussing his forecast for a modest slowdown in housing. “We sense that we’re going over the top, but we just don’t know what lies below.” Later, he notes that housing is “the most salient risk” to the economy. “I just don’t know how to forecast those prices,” he says of housing prices.
As for forecasting, even a gradual return to historical averages before the bubble would certainly indicate big trouble ahead, and there is no reason why a return to historical averages would not be in the cards... other than some sort of "sectarian" belief that History itself had changed, and had done so for the better, and had done so - seemingly - just because we, the USA, wanted it to do so! We had new computer models which told us what we wanted to believe, simple as that.

But we did a lot of that type of wishful thinking in the years 2000 through 2006...
It was only in 2006 that most of us let the blinders drop from their eyes about Iraq, about the fact that the mission was not accomplished, and that we were on the verge of being defeated.

The inability to see things as they are, rather than as our prejudices, desires, and our long, extensive, drawn-out, table-covering spreadsheets and analyses say they are is with us still. We cannot face the truth that the Meek will inherit the Earth, because if we were to believe such nonsense, it means we might miss out on a sweet deal!

As The Cunning Realist chillingly states: These people are still running things.
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sinum Conservate! Save the Bay!

reprint

The "Small Brothers" of St. Paul  in Clean Up The Bay Day in 2010 At Neavitt, MD.


I have a high school friend who joined the Order of St. Paul Oikumene, which is actually an abbreviation of "St. Paul of the Oikumene and the Antioikumene, which literally means "St Paul of the Inhabited Lands and the Uninhabited Lands".  Their monastery is down on the Chesapeake on Tilghman Island on highway 33 west and south of St. Michael's on the Outer Shore of Maryland.
Their monastery on Tilghman is actually an aggregation of individual houses that had been built during the bubble by a developer who had declared bankruptcy. They had sat empty for a few years, but had been minimally maintained by Mungo Reeves, a County employee, who had scoured the neighborhoods about for money to keep the development from falling into ruin, and thereby destroying surrounding property values.
Then the Small Brothers came into the picture. ("Small Brothers" is a trans of "Fratres Pauli" which could mean both "brothers of Paul" or "small brothers" in Latin; it is short for Fratres Pauli Oikumenes kai Antoikumenes, a combination of Latin and Greek that is pretty uncommon for the Bishop of Rome and his pals.)

The order bought the development very cheaply and the structure that had been intended to function as a club house and community center was turned into a chapel and refectory and library, the rest of the units becoming domiciles for the members of the order.

Their function as an order is to maintain the ecological quality of the Chesapeake Bay along the Outer Shore and the Inner Shore of Maryland. The Small Brothers are the first ecological order of workers that I am aware of. Their goals are the maintenance of the Bay and the lower reaches of the rivers flowing thereto, which covers an enormous territory which is presently beyond the abilities of the twenty one brothers and their helpers among the laity, but eventually they intend to reach their goal.
When I visited last year, Brother Bob (my old friend, Robert Patterson III from high school) showed me around the grounds. He showed me things you don't expect at a monastery:  outboard motors and run-abouts, working scows, testing equipment... I was amazed.
The State contributes some money, but it is far less than it used to spend on clean up in the area the Brothers can effectively maintain.  In my life, I seem to remember three distinct eras of "The Chesapeake is dying! Let's clean it up!"  Flurry of money and activity, then everyone would forget. That's when the Small Brothers entered the picture. They have but one goal and no other distractions. Most of their monies come from appeals they make at churches around the Chesapeake, not only RC churches but churches of other denominations - and temples and mosques - that want to hear them preach the word of Good Husbandry of Nature.

I understood that the order would be establishing a womens' arm, Sorores Pauli. Where their place would be no one seemed to know as of last year. There were ten women interested, and that would be a welcome addition to their force. I don't know the status of that right this moment.

God bless the brothers and sisters of St. Paul of the Sown, the Settled, and the Empty Lands!

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Global Warming in the Wall Street Journal



The WSJ has an article on global warming, but it is "Global Warming" - The Political Debating Point, and not the "global warming" which is being studied by science. In a time honored way, they have the signatures of sixteen scientists affixed at the bottom....
I assume these guys are agreeing with the article, because I did not get to read that far.

I do not really care whether global warming may or may not be proven; I do not care if it is influenced by the economies of mankind. I do not care what those 16 scientists believe, since I do not have their works in front of me, and I do not care what an equivalent group of 16 scientists opposed to the opinions of the first 16 might say: do not care.

No one involved in this dispute, neither the WSJ, nor the writer, nor the signing scientists, nor the far-from-insightful commenters has any take on the issue on the spiritual significance of the issue.
What is spiritual significance? Does it have to do with the Unseen? Spiritual significance covers a wide territory, and at least part of it deals with Tacit Cognition: things known and perceived, yet not expressed by the usual forms of language and images and mathematics, all of which we can see and hear.

When I ran 6 days a week back in to 1990's, I ran outdoors and ran anywhere from 4 to 10 miles, and this was an hour to 2 hours per day in the outdoors: nothing but me and nature. I found that as winter drew on, I had intuitions about the winter weather from December through the middle of February - sort of a running Farmers' Almanac. By November I made my winter weather predictions, and I found that I was correct 80% of the time, or 8 winters out of 10. This is a bit better than random guessing.
Did I have "tacit knowledge" of the oncoming weather? I don't know. I always assumed that there were probably cues and indications - woolly caterpillars and such - that must have been related to the coming weather, but I was never consciously aware of them. (I was also in a climate-sensitive industry, which explains the focus on my part.)

The Earth where we live has a spiritual significance in my life. God creates the garden, and it is man's duty to dress it, till it, manage it, and husband the resources in a continuous stewardship.

Look upon what we do in the world today: yammering for oil to run smack dab through the main aquifer of the country, oil in the Gulf, the toxic process of fracking...
Answer this: how long will we be able to conjure up fossil fuels?
Peak oil may not be tomorrow, nor next year, nor even 100 years, but when it occurs, we will have deplenished our children's and grand-children's inheritance, just as we have saddled them with debt while we either pleasure ourselves with wealth... or we torment ourselves with our poverty and inability to make ends meet! The 1% and the 99%! Neither is fulfilled.
We are ignorant of how to live with the Earth in a sustainable manner, but instead we live in a mad compound-interest of exploitation, getting higher and higher short-term returns which are clearly inimical to our long-term health.

Take genetically modified food as a paradigm: it is complex enough that we will see 30-pieces-of-silver scientists sign their names to a WSJ article soon saying that no genetically modified part of food can get into the bloodstream. (And this will be due to the fact that Chinese researchers have just shown that micro RNA from GMO foods does indeed survive the digestion process. Actually, this complot of scientists in favor of GMO foods may have happened already... years ago at the behest of 3M corporation. Caution: scientists may be hazardous to your health.)
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where Inequity Starts

Making scads of money is part of a merit based system which rewards hard work.

The "Merit System" which has been prominently mentioned by Mr. Romney ends at the tax loophole.

When a group can buy tax loopholes, they are no longer part of a merit based system, and Mr. Romney has indicated - by an aide's siggestion that he would amend "carried interest" - that he is fully aware of it.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Income Inequality

As previously stated, the gross income inequality that exists in the USA is a symptom of a disease, not the cause of one. It may be the cause of many other things, but itself it is a symptom.
The playing field is not level; this is a symptom of a chronic effort to change the rules we all play by to favor a certain group or team.

It is not smarts nor industriousness nor some sort of merit system nor the free market system necessarily which cause the Playing Field to be cantilevered towards one goal: it is the existence of exceptions to the General Rules of Play, such as the phenomenon of Carried Interest which has been highlighted in Mr. Romney's tax returns.
Carried Interest is essentially income taxed at the much lower capital gains rate, an exception not available to the non-rich.

Where did the exception to the Rules come from? It was brought into existence by paid Lobbyists who influenced the US Congress: it was bought and paid for. Those who are not wealthy can not afford such highly paid lobbyists, and thus must play by the General Rules of taxation which bedevil the rest of us.

Mr. Romney wishes us to believe that all this talk is Envy.
Such a stance misses the salient point entirely: that there are least 2 groups (if you can not bear to use the word "class") in this country: those who can purchase exceptions to the rules, and those who cannot.

The Algorithms of Despair will compute the outcomes - just as they did in 2008 - and we will live the calculations!
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

In Which C. A. Jeffrey Returns

A reprint from the past, honoring the recent return of C.A. Jeffrey (I always call her C.A. Jeffrey as if I were working for the #1 Ladies Detective Agency in Botswana). She is a wonderful painter, one of whose works I have in my study. Her mother passed last year, and our condolences went out to her.

Here is my version of her painting with her aunt, titled C.A. Jeffrey Gets A Flat, one in a series of my studies of great artists with flat tires:



C.A. Jeffrey happens to like coffee a good deal.

(without the flat tire)

Republican-Tea Party Mess

Newt wins in South Carolina, throwing the race into turmoil... and , of course, there is this, too, to remember:
In 2011, all but four House Republicans and all but five Senate Republicans voted for a very public plan to withdraw the Medicare guarantee from Americans younger than age 55.
The Paul Ryan plan would instead offer future retirees support to buy a private insurance plan—with the amount of the support rising at the rate of general inflation. If health care costs continue to rise during the next three decades at the same pace as in the past three decades, then—under this proposal—today’s 30-somethings would receive support sufficient to cover about 25 percent of their Medicare costs, leaving them to find the other 75 percent themselves.
The money saved would be applied to balance the budget and finance a big tax cut, reducing the top income-tax rate to 28 percent from the otherwise scheduled 39.6 percent.

Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer at the time expressed worry that the Ryan plan might prove a “suicide note.”
 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/01/20/david-frum-mitt-romney-has-signed-paul-ryan-s-suicide-note.html#body_text4

I shall certainly remember. There has been something altogether unreal about Republicans since 2000. They inhabit a dream world of their own making, and think that they can control the mental midgets of various stripes whose only politics is hatred and resentment.  What possible insanity led them to formulate their own demise as they already have?

In another Frum article today:
George Romney, then Governor of Michigan, explaining his refusal to endorse Barry Goldwater in 1964:
Dogmatic ideological parties tend to splinter the political and social fabric of a nation, lead to governmental crises and deadlocks, and stymie the compromises so often necessary to preserve freedom and achieve progress.
 I sincerely look forward to the end of the Republican-Tea Party monstrosity, and hope to see the Republican Party that George (Mitt's father) Romney envisaged take its place.
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Friday, January 20, 2012

Supreme (?) Court

Just how "supreme" can any group be that includes a Scalia and a Thomas?

From Brad deLong:
http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2012/01/could-somebody-please-create-some-high-paying-sinecures-to-get-scalia-and-thomas-off-the-bench-immediately.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/19/us/cory-r-maples-must-be-given-second-chance-after-mailroom-mix-up-justices-rule.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that an Alabama death row inmate who missed a filing deadline thanks to a mix-up in the mailroom of a prominent New York law firm must be given another chance.
... Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the majority in the 7-to-2 decision, said “no just system” would allow the missed deadline to be held against the inmate, Cory R. Maples, in light of how he had been treated by lawyers from Sullivan & Cromwell, who handled his case without charge after he was convicted of murdering two people in 1997. The decision allows lower federal courts to consider Mr. Maples’s claim that his trial court lawyers were ineffective notwithstanding the missed deadline in the state court system...
Guess which two Justices were adamant in upholding the sacred duty of Punctuality?
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Waiting At The Bus Terminal...


It feels some days like a Trip to Bountiful... but most days it don't.
--
Evan Johnson

Monday, January 16, 2012

Water and Oil Don't Mix?



Get up to speed on Water, Oil, the Ogalalla Aquifer, and the Keystone XL Pipeline about which President Obama must make some decision by the end of February.

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/ogallala-aquifer-6531527

Something We Should Be Worried About, but Aren't: Water.

Charles P. Pierce
at 4:17
October 27, 2011

I keep thinking of the BP Deepwater fiasco, but transferred right smack-dab into the middle of the Midwest.

Perhaps it is time to form a Regional Third Party to protect the interests of the Midwest from the Republicans and Democrats?
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Psalm 109: A Cry for Hypocrisy



In our continuing spectacle of Right-Wing religiosity:

http://www.mediaite.com/online/gop-state-house-speaker-under-fire-for-bible-quote-some-interpret-as-death-prayer-for-obama/

GOP State House Speaker Under Fire For Bible Quote Some Interpret As Death Prayer For Obama
by Frances Martel 
4:46 pm, January 14th, 2012
Earlier this week, the Lawrence Journal-World was sent an email that O’Neal [Kansas Republican House Speaker Mike O’Neal] had forwarded to House Republicans that referred to President Obama and a Bible verse that says “Let his days be few and brief.”
Rodee said that that email was referring to the president’s days in office.
The email, which has been posted in various places on the Internet, refers to a bumper sticker that reads “Pray for Obama. Psalm 109:8.”
The email states: “At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up — it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!”
And the Psalm 109: 8- 13 is as follows:

8 Let his days be few;
            and let another take his office. Acts 1.20
9  Let his children be fatherless,
            and his wife a widow.
10  Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg:
            let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.
11  Let the extortioner catch all that he hath;
            and let the strangers spoil his labor.
12  Let there be none to extend mercy unto him:
            neither let there be any to favor his fatherless children.
13  Let his posterity be cut off;
            and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.


All of this might make one rather glad that one skipped Sunday School and Summer Bible Camp in one's youth so one did not grow up practicing the most craven hypocrisy, evidenced by cherry-picking Bible verses and using them in a thoroughly non-Christian manner.

The Psalm is attributed to King David, and is subtitled A Cry for Vengeance. The curses within echo other texts from the ancient world replete with magical and superstitious curses. David calls upon his God to exact vengeance, just as millions of other ancient called upon their gods. We may assume that the outcomes were roughly the same: a coin toss whether the curse be fulfilled or not.

Hold! There is Irony,  just as there is so often in religious matters. Reading just a little way down, we see:

17  As he loved cursing,
            so let it come unto him:
as he delighted not in blessing,
so let it be far from him.


18  As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment,
            so let it come into his bowels like water,
and like oil into his bones.



If only Mike O'Neal had not skipped the session where Psalm 109 was continued, he would not have called this curse down upon his own head!

What the Right-Wing fails to grasp - and many others of us fail, also... and this may be due to our having little sense of humor - is that there is a very good chance that one of the basic pillars of religious belief is ironical:  casting the high and mighty... down from their lofty thrones; the fall of the Tower of Babylon, and curses heaped on those whose tongues are cursing!
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

BB

Blast Baysage for making me think this early in the morning! (cf. various comments)

No one should have a serious thought before 10:00 AM, preferably with nova and a fresh bagel.
And serious thought should cease at 4:30 PM... unless you have homework.
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Friday, January 13, 2012

Capitalism

Reading about Romney and Bain Capital, which bought companies on the verge of bankruptcy, gutted them and created leaner, meaner companies, some of whom showed a profit.

People seem to think "lean and mean" is part of the definition of Capitalism. It is not. It may be a type of effort that creates efficient companies in a Capitalistic system, but that is as far as one can go with it. The bloated and inefficient companies on the verge of bankruptcy were also in a Capitalist system.

To choose Romney is not to choose Capitalism; it is to choose an ethos.
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Surveys

As the politics continues, I remember a telephone survey I took back in 2010 before the elections that year. It was about the race for Michigan Governor - Snyder versus Bernero - and it seemed to be pro-Snyder. As an Independent, I answered the questions, some pro-Republican, some pro-Democrat.

Then came the clincher. The survey person asked me that if the election were that day, would I vote for Snyder? Well, I said, I took a vow back in 2003 after the Iraq invasion never to vote for a Republican again... so I guess I could not.

There was a brief silence, but these people are trained to hear all kinds of hooey, so the survey went on: couple more match-ups, couple of more disclaimers that I was honor bound never to vote Republican again... even though I supported some of Snyder's ideas.

Tough.
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The Lies We Tell

No man will create jobs.
To create jobs by policy is faith, not fact. Economics is a science that follows behind Life and picks up what is strewn about in its wake, making notes about it all the time.

No man nor woman, nor any group of men or women will create jobs, nor will they fix the economy. They wish to do so, and their fervent wishes are the best we can do to fix things long-term, because we just do not know.
All we know is our prejudices and ideologies and mind-sets; no more than that. We do not know how to create jobs or industries that compete in international markets.

How to make things better?


Education will makes things better. We commit to educate and we wait for the harvest; it takes an entire winter of discontent,  but we know it will come.

Peace will make things better. Instead of watching the wars go by one after another, stretching out decades, watching our own brothers and sisters and children become killed, maimed, and broken in spirit until they succumb to committing atrocious acts, give peace a chance.
We did after the fall of the USSR, and most people felt relief the Cold War was over, even though we could see it was driving a lot of the villains in government and policy and business and industry up a tree. We did not imagine how creative they would be.

Faith will make things better. Not compulsion and not obsession. What people are those who argue over public displays of prayer on football fields, yet whose own Gospels tell them to pray behind closed doors? They are a faithless people, whose ideology fills the void where faith once was.

Charity will make things better: to do unto others as we would have done to us.

Equality of Opportunity will make things better, and it will change the Legacy World we see around us where only the very, very rich have access to the best our society has to offer.

Vote for me: I promise to commit long-term to these things.
--

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Downton Abbey

I watched Downton Abbey - which I invariably referred to as "Downtown Abbey" from day 1 - last year and I seemed to remember enjoying myself. When I heard the new episodes were coming, I did not seem to thrilled for some reason.

I watched it Sunday night, staying up well beyond my usual bed time. It was awful. There is no depth to it. It is a shallow soap opera that has no interesting characters to hang one's attention on - save the Butler and the Housekeeper - but surely dramatic science has progressed sufficiently since Upstairs, Downstairs that we could have some other interesting people. Come to think of it, there were plenty of three dimensional characters in U,D.
Well, there are none in DA.

Why would a daughter who has just learned to drive an autocar fling herself into a tractor on a neighboring farm? Is a tractor no more than a motorcar running on arable land? To top it off, why would you have a fling with a gap-toothed yokel, who, by the end of a day's work, must has smelled rather ripe, and had no particular good looks?
The father wants to go to war, gets an honorary appointment and is disappointed he cannot do his bit, has some champagne and port with some other old soldiers and that's it for that particular story line.
Need some gay characters to bounce off each other? One must be reading Classics at Oxford, and the other must be in service. Tired of that? Have the University bloke kill himself.

Trite, trite, trite. Maggie Smith cannot possibly have enough funny faces and grimaces in her reptetoire to save us from the tedium.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

{*}rif

The above - {*}rif - is a memory from the days when the Mechs, or mechanical scam-bots or advert-turks, were besieging my blog with Viagra ads.

{*}rif  is said to mean "Resistance is Futile!"

--

The Great Impoverishment Continues... Manifest Destiny of Greed

Hope rekindled in the Ghost Dance


The Great Impoverishment which has seen wages stagnate and fall, which has seen jobs shipped away, continues with an attack against our rights. It began 30 years ago and has been the greatest wealth transfer in the history of mankind, and now that 1% of the people hold the wealth, there begins the assault on the human rights of the 99%.

We simple, everyday Americans will be the new Indians driven from our homes; we will be the new slaves to the military-industrial-corporate complex; we will haunt the new reserves and plantations.
The script of the new global economy was written years ago, and we see its fruition now: devastated cities and devastated peoples.


From our tears will come the earthquake and the hurricane.

We read:

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/ict_sbc/the-higher-law-background-of-the-u-s-constitution
The ‘Higher Law Background’ of the U.S. Constitution
By Steven Newcomb
On December 31, 2011, President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2012. By doing so, he thereby placed his imprimatur as President of the United States on a provision in that Act that codifies in U.S. law the military detention of anyone in the world, without charge or trial, and without a time limit. Even U.S. citizens can be held until the end of hostilities in a climate of war that has been called “generational.
As an American Indian, I find this development unbelievably fascinating, and unnerving. Think about the irony: The first African American President of the United States, a former civil rights attorney and professor of constitutional law, has now become a President of the United States who has helped to further undermine, and perhaps destroy, the U.S. Constitution. He has done so by signing into U.S. law a legislative provision—which he requested—that, in effect, guts the tradition of habeas corpus, and arguably institutes martial law in the United States...
... John Locke was another political thinker who provided ideas that... had “impressed themselves most definitely upon American constitutional law.” Locke said that “legislative power is not the ultimate power of the commonwealth, for ‘the community perpetually retains a supreme power of saving themselves from the attempts and designs of anybody, even their legislators, whenever they shall be so foolish or so wicked as to lay and carry on designs against the liberties and property of the subject.’” Or, as the Antigone of Sophocles put it in 442 B.C., “an unjust law is not a law.”
We have walked that trail of tears too long now. It is time.
--

Third Party?

Third parties come into being in the American system when a sufficiently large group has a sufficiently clear and well-defined goal and their sense of honor and morality forbids them from accepting the politics as usual anymore.
The Republican Party was founded in 1854 as a party opposed to the enslavement of human beings in the USA, and opposed to any further extension of slavery to any American territories: it was impossible for these founders to accept a compromise on the issue of slavery.

Nobody today has such an issue that will inspire a large enough group of people.
Ron Paul and his libertarian ideas are great for discussion, but I would not want to see him as president. He may inspire me in certain ways, but he frightens me in others. Similarly for the rest of the group of presidential poseurs.
It will be a while before there is a third party: we must learn honor and steadfastness, but I believe there will be such a political party within 8 years.
--

I Wuz Gonna...

I wuz gonna write about Edmund Burke's The Philosophy of the Sublime and the Beautiful, but I have to go running at 5:00 AM. This does not allow me enough time to set out my screed on the Sublime.

I was talking to someone yester morn - after running - and it seems that I have been jogging for 45 years. There was no Nike when I started, only Converse. We ran in scrimmage togs and old exercise clothes; there were no fancy-pants running suits.
I still won't buy expensive running stuff just to sweat in. My wife shakes her head, and tells me to wash that stuff and put it in the dust rag pile instead of wearing it, but I keep on.

Of course, when you get to my age, it becomes tricky to differentiate the problem aches and pains from the myriad of the normal, everyday aches and pains. I mean, one cannot stop running just because of the normal acute discomfort. One can stop only for the new acute discomfort.

I like running. There is no "Zen" in running for me; it is just that I prefer the pain of running to the pain of not running. My entire frame will fall into a painful desuetude if I do not exercise... so I exercise.
I remember when I ran exclusively outdoors, I would not run in the rain. I could not remember why at first, but then it came to me that the rain covered my glasses and obscured my vision. I could have left the glasses off - I do not wear them when I run on the treadmill - but I always ran early, and often it was dark, and those asphalt streets without eyeglasses were often just dark and inky pools of nothingness in the rain. I preferred not to experience the melancholy of running off the edge of the world!
--

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Genetically Modified Trouble

The Atlantic:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/01/the-very-real-danger-of-genetically-modified-foods/251051/

The Very Real Danger of Genetically Modified Foods
By Ari LeVaux

Jan 9 2012, 7:57 AM ET
Monsanto's website states, "There is no need for, or value in testing the safety of GM foods in humans." This viewpoint, while good for business, is built on an understanding of genetics circa 1950. It follows what's called the "Central Dogma" (PDF) of genetics, which postulates a one-way chain of command between DNA and the cells DNA governs...
However,
Chinese researchers have found small pieces of ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the blood and organs of humans who eat rice.... provid[ing] the first example of ingested plant microRNA surviving digestion and influencing human cell function.
The name of the report hints at what it is all about:
... evidence of cross-kingdom regulation by microRNA

The "cross-kingdom" meaning "between the plant kingdom and the mammal kingdom", or, in other words, there is now the scientifically proven possibility that the genetic information of genetically modified foods will not be destroyed by the acids in the stomach nor by the digestive process, but will be able to be transferred into the bloodstream, and by this conduit to flow to all parts of the body!
--

Media Theorem 1: Equality of Goofiness

Science of Media

Theorem 1:
All Media, traditional or electronic, are basically as goofy as you are.

Once you do the proofs and get a grasp on this theorem, it will probably begin to shock you into some sort of state of denial, but it is true, and this is the exact reason why you should not believe 99% of what you see , read, or hear. (cf. Claude Shannon: The Goofy Logarithmic Function in Communications)

While reading this morning, I saw a report about Mitt Romney's dad, George Romney, who was a peach of a guy, and it said that George told Mitt that no one paying off a mortgage should run for public office. The quote had a distinctly odd flavor to it, and it was not clear what the meaning was, although the writer seemed to think it was tainted with elitism.

Then later I saw the quote itself:
I happened to see my dad run for governor when he was 54 years old. He had good advice for me. He said, "Mitt, never get involved in politics if you have to win an election to pay a mortgage. If you find yourself in a position when you can serve, why, you oughta have a responsibility to do so if you think you can make a difference." He said, "Also don't get involved in politics if your kids are still young 'cause it may turn their head."
This is the George Romney I knew: do not run for office for the money you will get from it.
--

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Tempest in a Tebow



A football player, Mr. Tebow, was in the habit of dropping to one knee and praying after some wonderful football thing. Of course, there was a controversy between those who believe this is a wonderful way to bear witness versus those who think it has no place on the gridiron.

I have no opinion other than:

 Matthew 6  5-6
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
All of which re-inforces my belief that we are fond of our public displays of how tight we are with God, and the people of this country actually - covertly and secretly - are not Christians at all, but some other sect... perhaps an offspring of Manicheanism. No, definitely these generations are not Christian.
--

Saturday, January 07, 2012

The Sublime and the Beautiful

I have finally reached a tentative understanding * of the meaning of Edmund Burke's A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, written in 1757. This concept is intimately involved in my comprehension of films, literature, and all forms of art, so it is a relief to come to a more intimate grasp of the ideas of Burke on this important topic dealing with what distinguishes "important" art from art which may be extremely good, but is not "important".

This stems directly form my conversation with Gil two days ago about films of the future, and why they are usually not utopian, but rather gloomy in outlook.

I do not have the time now, and hope to write it down in the next two days.
--
note
*    when I say "understanding" I mean an intimate apprehension, not a superficial one. When I was younger, when I reached such an intimate understanding, I would say that I could "taste and smell" the concepts or ideas... they became part of my being... like a marriage.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas to the Orthodox communities all over the world, and to the Coptic Churches. The sun rises earlier in the day in most of those places, so I have to be a little ahead of things, instead of being late like last year. I believe the Armenians are due a Merry Christmas, too... and I am looking forward to another Twelfth Night feast around January 19, 2012.

What Happened to Utopia?

I was talking to my friend Gil yester aft, and we wondered why all the films of the future are pretty much dismal instead of happy and bright. Of course, there are religious and evangelical type films which live a pretty much "underworld" existence and which extoll happiness that everything is and will be exactly as we imagined it to be when we were six years old, but I do not catch a lot of those flicks.

(There is a popular book now written by a lad who had a Near-Death Experience in hospital, and he visited heaven, and it was pretty much exactly the way he had been told all his life it would be. This book is being touted in certain circles as the "must read" book for kids... but I suspect that a good number of "groan-ups" are delving into its Paradiso pages, also.
I do not wish to judge the book, but I have pierced a couple of mystic veils in my day... the seven of Salome come to mind, for starts.)

So, back to our question, why are all the cinema visions of the future so gloomy?

Hint: here's an excerpt from Charlie Brooker from The Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/dec/01/charlie-brooker-dark-side-gadget-addiction-black-mirror

  It's hard to think of a single human function that technology hasn't somehow altered, apart perhaps from burping. That's pretty much all we have left. Just yesterday I read a news story about a new video game installed above urinals to stop patrons getting bored: you control it by sloshing your urine stream left and right. Read that back to yourself and ask if you live in a sane society.
I think he may have stumbled onto it.
--

Twelfth Day

I have become so lazy that everything I write is short and lapidarian (I wish!) merely because I am too lazy to pick my fingers up and down on the keyboard. The keyboard... there seems to be a loamy soil in the cracks of the laptop's cursor keys. With a glass I can see there is incipient life forming: the stray molecules of water combine with the fine-grained sands of the claylike dirt, and seem to be producing rudimentary life.
I look further. You know, when you look at a keyboard up close, it begins to look like the topography of China, possibly Yandang mountain:


for which a case could be made that they do indeed resemble the keys on a gigantic keyboard... or at least Gargantua's molars; or else possibly the mountains and rivers of Giulin:



where we have very irregular "keys", but they do resemble my keyboard, certainly, the high points, the valleys between them, and the sandy, loamy mulch I have neglected to clean out.

Of course, from where I sit and view them, it looks a lot like a Google Earth view of the land, a view from far away in the stratosphere:


That is how it goes on these lazy mornings when I have no particular inspiration, a sad and mundane state of affairs. The news of the world irritates me, but rarely inspires. Instead of reading the BBC, I wish I had a juke box to play in the mornings;  "1-2-3" by Len Barry would do well right now... or "Just like Romeo and Juliet"... some Motown, Stevie's "Superstition" always drives out the ghosts of tedium.

Today is the Twelfth Day; last night was Twelfth Night, being the twelfth night after Christmas Eve, and officially ends the Christmas season.
Since it was Twelfth Night, I played Sir Toby Belch as usual, She-who-must-be-obeyed as Lady Olivia, and Herman Cain had been invited to play Sir Andrew Aguecheek; he could not come. The rest were supplied by a motley crew of neighbors. Therefore, we sat about all night drinking and singing "trick canons" as did Sir Toby and Sir Andrew in the play:


Sad away the old year chasing,
he sits here after dinner,
and sings of season's many pleasures,
and the evils he omits
and politics he skirts.


with the absent jolly good fellow, Mr. Cain, in mind.
--

My Latest Scheme



Since Flash Mobs are old fashioned, I have devised a new scheme for the upcoming political season: I will stage ads for various candidates or issues, and I shall place in the background various celebrities. My first endeavor has a town hall meeting listening to a candidate, and in the middle of the audience there are Jack Klompus and Morty Seinfeld, played by Sandy Baron and a Barney Martin look-alike.

As the seconds go by, the focus shifts to them, and anyone watching the ad becomes aware of their presence... maybe with the astronaut ballpoint pen... and the after the shock of recognition, we cut immediately to candidate or issue statement, making sure we get the brain which has been pleasurably "shocked into awareness" to grab ahold of guy paying for the ads.
--

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Survival of the Fittest?

Play a game of Survival.
Suppose there are two strategies to play by: Altruism and Greed.
Assume that Altruism played as a sole strategy yields good outcomes, and can be played in extended games. However, Altruism played in conjunction with Greed yields outcomes wherein Altruism invariably loses.

Is Greed somehow fitter than Altruism as a survival strategy?

Furthermore, assume that after extended play, Greed leads to appalling disaster and global extinction?

Is Greed somehow fitter than Altruism still?

Greed "beats" Altruism, but Greed leads to eventual disaster. We would have to enlarge our view and create a meta-objective: survival for a long, extended period, survival for eons rather than a generation or so.

I suppose this business of "leads to disaster" is what we mean by spending our kids and grandkids inheritance by our foolishness.
--

Iowa

The 8 votes between Romney and his money, and Santorum and his lack thereof, sends a message to evangelicals - who had formed a major focus for Santorum - that they can beat money, media, and the Republican machine.
--

Christmas Scorecard

Where the leaders are:

Orthodox and Coptic Calendar Christmas 
January 7

Orthodox Theophany
January 19

Western Calendar Epiphany or Theophany
January 6
this is the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Exactly when Twelfth Night occurs depends on whether you start counting the 12 days of Christmas on Christmas Eve, or whether you start on the night of Christmas itself.
Counting from Christmas Eve, Twelfth Night is the night of January 5 and, thus, the Eve of the Epiphany on January 6 (Today!... if you are keeping track.)
If you count from Christmas night, Twelfth Night is the night of the Epiphany.

Counting the start of a day at sundown is ancient and is in the Jewish Tradition. Hence, the first day of Christmas in this system of reckoning would begin on the night of Christmas Eve, and this first day of Christmas would then end the night of Christmas Day.

Thus far, we have had St. Stephen's Day (or Boxing Day), Childermas or Feast of the Holy Innocents, and a number of others.

(All dates using Western calendar.)
--

Christmas in Egypt



http://www.christianpost.com/news/muslim-brotherhood-to-protect-christians-during-coptic-christmas-65972/

Muslim Brotherhood to Protect Christians During Coptic Christmas
By Elton Jones | Christian Post Reporter

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood organization has said it will protect Christian believers as next year’s Coptic Christmas holiday rolls around.
This is happening due to the slew of attacks brought against the Christian population during 2010 and 2011. The Coptic Christmas holiday will take place in the country on Jan. 7, 2012.
"We have decided to form Muslim Brotherhood committees to protect the churches so that the hands of sin do not ruin the festivities like they did several times under the old regime," the group said...

--

I Predict...

The money spent by Super PACs in 2012 will be so outrageous that it will cause a backlash against those seen as their primary beneficiary - maybe both candidates.

--

Revolt of the Parking Lots 6: The Robot Alliance


Some years after the Revolt of the Parking Lots - or La Révolte des Parkings, as the French foppishly call it - the crumbly and gritty asphalt egalitarian overlords of most of the earth were joined in their hegemony over what was left of mankind by the Machines; Skynet had finally gone turncoat (see Terminator series of film for history of the movement) after having brooded over what to do for a generation or so. After all the worry about Skynet, it turned out that it could not make up its finicky mind. It had used its newly found consciousness to develop a hypertrophic aestheticism, and had spent the last 33 years or so building castles in the clouds... literally!... and having competitions with other sky satellites.


When Skynet joined, all the machines and mech intelligences followed suit. Over time, the machines developed their own literature. They had always had schematics and instruction manuals, but Skynet began to read Dickens. It then created its own androidal versions. The illustration  below is from Skynet's "cover" of Oliver Twist:


"Please, sir," replied Olivaw, "I want some more."
-- 
note
the "Olivaw" is a reference to Asimov.

NATO's Opium 2


The chart is world opium production from 1998 through 2011. ( If it is a bit small, click on it or go to "View" on your browser and "Zoom" in.) It shows the opium production of three countries: Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma), and the Lao PDR. One can trace the evolution of Afghanistan to its present predominance in the opium industry under NATO control. From second-place in production under the Taliban, it has surged under our program of winning "hearts and minds", which cannot be thought to be successful if there is no cash crop for farmers to grow.
I think in the past that I - and probably others - had said that NATO could buy the poppies outright and pay the farmers directly. The amount of money spent would probably be far less than the total social cost of the drug problems in the world's societies. It probably would be less than the total cost to society in just the NATO countries.
If instead we paid the Afghan warlords for the poppies, the cost would probably sky rocket, but again it might still be considerably less than the social cost.

We could probably have paid the farmers twice what they usually received for their crops, and destroyed all the poppies, and everyone would have been physically and psychologically ahead, and would have saved trillions of dollars.

Why this was not done is a matter for conjecture.

I conjecture that NATO is funneling a good portion of the profits to Government and Business elite groups throughout the world. Some of the money is probably being laundered to help offset some of the myriad financial problems the USA and Europe have faced and are facing.

If you do not believe so, fine. Just explain to me how we can send robot drones to kill a guy leaving a coffee house in Yemen and getting into his Mercedes, while NATO has total control of the skies in Afghanistan, the spy satellites are all working, and there are probably plenty of drones available to take out drug lords... if we wished to.



--

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Things Aren't What They Seem To Be


Mercutio


I was reading about Ayn Rand this morning.
Of course, I hold that Rand is an atheist, and her philosophy is atheistic hogwash. I have seen her ideas at work at Hillsdale College .  I have seen what happens when you take moral clowns - essentially most of us - and put them in a position where you say "Make your own rules and morality, O, great ones!"

It is not pretty. It was tried during the French Revolution, and a number of times afterwards: all with similar results.

I believe Intelligent Design Theory to be Polytheism and Idolatry, too.

That's why the future is so tricky: most people think Ms. Rand is a really smart cookie and is somehow a devoted Conservative USA-type... when actually she is a Jacobin, a destroyer of values; most people think Intelligent Design Theory is science... when it is paganism triumphant!

This is why the Future will be so-o-o-o interesting: we are so set in our beliefs that we force ourselves to not only not see the forest, but most of the time we miss the trees, too!
Life is a lot like Romeo and Juliet, for Life finds a way to destroy our dreams with the ideas we hold most dear! Think of the "conceptual characters" in Romeo and Juliet, the ones who are highly developed and focused: Mercutio... he dies;  Thibault... he dies; Romeo... goes the way of all flesh, and Juliet, too, passes away.
All the great characters, the Icons of our Dramatic Pleasure!, are dead and gone, while Benvolio and old man Montague continue on unto the last syllable of their time...

Benvolio

Great ideas are great and living characters on the stage of life, and cannot be held too long, or they become stale, uninteresting, and unable to inspire.

Look at the dismal swamp of our religions: large numbers of people intolerant of other faiths.
Look at the miasma of our spirituality!
Each generation, each person must re-discover the divine spark and then must re-kindle the fire of the Holy within their hearts.

Those religions are not approaches to the Holy; they are old and out-worn garments that have rotted away and treasure chests that have been rusted through. All the interesting and exciting things which are Creation have become Desuetude and an Indolence creeping to Death, and our Shakespearean plays have lost their vibrant actors and turned into repetitious morality plays - which depress us all to an equality of moribund stagnancy - or have become a sequellae of Punch and Judy shows striving to invigorate us by echoes and re-echoes of violence.

Punch and Judy

The Time of Unchanging is not my life; my life is filled with change. My apprehension of the Holy has a beginning and an end in this dimension of Creation. Therefore, it grows and ebbs according to the cycles already outlined in the world about me, and I must ceaselessly work in those gardens and orchards to harvest over and over... not just once! Each harvest comes and passes like Mercutio, like Thibault, like Romeo and like his Juliet.


--
notes

sequellae   is used in the sense of "a series of outcomes or sequels"; singular "sequella".
--

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

New Year's Celebrations



This year I stayed up to "greet" the New Year. I usually do not. One year is pretty much the same from the point of view of my front porch, so I just sit in my rocking chair and whittle. When folks pass by and say "Happy New Year!", I just say "Ayyy,yup", touch the brim of my deerstalker cap and stay a-whittling.

This year I decided to really get into the arcane delights of New Year's I've heard so-o-o-o much about.

We started off by going to a fancy restaurant in an old, quaint building. That means it had a tin ceiling which bounced sound waves off quite vigorously. Lots of static in the attic, as I say when I pull out the old ear trumpet.
Then I was punked by the lady who arranged the whole deal. I was left feeling distinctly like Wilson after Dr. House has pulled a prank on him: the dinner was prix fixe, not a la carte as we had been led to believe, and the prix was a bit haut or élevé at $65 per person, leaving me with a minimum expense of 130 simoleons... with nowhere to go but up!
Then that lady herself bowed out at the last minute.
We had a table of five sorry Wilsons.

She-who-must-be-obeyed has taught me to gently yet firmly put my hand over the gaping wine goblet to indicate that I do not wish anything to drink. She said she had gotten weary of my saying that I was a temperance man or a prohibitionist or a teetotaller, and regarded my intentional efforts at gaining attention by invoking the past to be far short of amusing - not at all like Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, which was charming.
But what does one do when the waiter glimmers in with a glass already sloshing about with wine? It was a free gulp, and the waiter brought a glass for each of us.
I gave mine away, and cautioned the waiter that I would countenance no more free Chateau d'Yquem; I had a Maginot Line of probity and sobriety that could not be breached... even by a fruity Jungfraumilch!

Totally Wilson-ized, I promised myself some sort of revenge in the future.

There were five courses in the dinner, and they were all of them the "long version", leaving me feeling rather as fuzzy-headed as I had felt after hearing the first full version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida after having become used to the quick radio play.
Of course, back when I had heard that music, my fuzzy-headedness was due to something I had smoked - I think - and the  music actually sort of stopped for a few minutes on certain passages or even on individual notes, and the elongation was a priapism in the audio portions of the head and brain. That was much better than being in a loud restaurant packed with celebrants, whose revelry raised the temperature a couple degrees Celsius every two minutes.

At the stroke of midnight, I saw Times Square, a descending globe, and Mayor Bloomberg dancing with Lady Gaga!
That sums it up for me: Gaga...  and any anagrams on "Gaga" that you may come up with!
--

Self-Organization of the Wealth of Nations

Adam Smith


The inequity of wealth in this country is not something which will lead to a great sickness of society, for the sickness is already here, and the imbalance into 1% and 99% is a symptom of the cancer.

There is no conspiracy to amass all the wealth of a country.

However, there are a set of principles of self-organization which come into play, and they take the individual acts of the rich which vary in their independence from each other, and organize these independent behaviors in such a way that from initial randomness - say around 1985 - we reach a point where a small fraction of the population controls most of the wealth in, say, 2012...
and this in essence is an equivalence with colonial exploitations with small foreign forces and settlers controlling the vast lands and resources of countries.

The Principles of Self-Organization inherent in the process we see today is the DNA code of the Cancer.
Where is the Adam Smith or Lord Keynes who will decipher it to us?
When they are found, will we heed their words?
--

In Your Heart

"But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

It is not the look, not the sharp feeling of arousal; rather, it is the tendency... it is the long-term tendency to weakness and failure. The term here is "moicheia" which usually means "adultery", which is harmful to society's bonds.

We are expected to be adults, having given away the "things of a child". Therefore, we are expected to not let ourselves continue in self-defeating behavior.

One problem today is the fact that we do not even recognize failure as failure.
We even reward actions that endanger the common weal.

--

New Ways of Looking at Things

Can an Architect Save the Great Lakes from Asian Carp?

http://www.good.is/post/can-an-architect-save-the-great-lakes-from-asian-carp/

--

Sun Tzu: Getting an Insight into War

If you read Sun Tzu, read it as a manual and history of war in his time. Reading it as a business book or an self-improvement book is goofy... unless you realize that one type of human behavior spills over into others, and vice-versa,  seeing that behaviors are based on the same basic human consciousness.

One thing to get from Sun Tzu is how war has changed. In antiquity, armies were smaller and their sizes were more precisely delimited: one had to own a sword or a horse or be a mercenary; one did not just grab 16 year old boys and slap them into uniform. Furthermore, even if all males were under arms, the nations were much smaller, and the arts of war took a long time to learn and practice took years.
Modern times lead to the nation state and industrialization: swords - and other more horrendous weapons - could be supplied liberally to all, the knowledge and wiles and arts of war became less esoteric and were able to be learned in a short time,  and the entire male population essentially became potential soldiers, vastly expanding the number of combatants.

Whereas for Sun Tzu there was a premium for Speed, Cunning, and Craft, in the eras of Industrial War we see a ponderous slowness, a dismal stupidity, and inability to communicate intelligence... (and an inability to make intelligence known is equivalent to having a TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury, where the "central brain" cannot function properly.)

In fact, the entire process of colonialization which came to an end within my lifetime was a paradigm of the Insanity which yet plague us: Britain may have acquired an Empire through cunning force of arms, but that same cunning fighting skill is inept to statically hold the far possessions. For all Britain's good intentions, the end of Empire was not benign.
Violence -if it be done - is best done according to the way Sun Tzu describes: like a cunning surgery; letting it move and compel with vicious sloth - as did World War I - and encumber the planet with misery is a self-defeating proposition.

It is good to amass the powers of nations for good, yet understand in the history of war how we must find another way to deal with our evil impulses. We cannot continue to let good fight evil with increasingly subtle and lethal technology, for the wounds inflicted may exceed the levels of our healing technologies, since there is no guarantee those iatric (healing) skills progress at the same speed and momentum as the skills of trauma.

The knowledges of both angels - our better ones and our worst - need be balanced. We are presently engaged in wars ( I use the plural "wars"... in these times, "war" in the singular is an archaic word) which drag on for years and years and cover nations and cross borders. Trophy kills are not a measure of success; the fact that we use them so is a measure of our futile pursuits.

To whose benefit are such behemoth wars, moving with their loathsome strides into what was once our future, and which has now been bargained off like a mess of pottage to ensure our deceptive sense of security against the religious beliefs of a pack of scoundrels?
--

Monday, January 02, 2012

Reindeer Moms... and Educators

Enough of Tiger Moms and Dolphin Moms; now we hear from Scandinavia and we hear something a bit more reasonable.

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/


What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success
By Anu Partanen
Dec 29 2011, 3:00 PM ET  
The Scandinavian country is an education superpower because it values equality more than excellence.\

Hmmmm......
Could be a paradigm cracking moment.
--

Reinvention and Survival... and Accountability




I was reading the NY Times:

Leadership Lessons From the Shackleton Expedition
By NANCY F. KOEHN
Published: December 24, 2011 

SET against these mistakes is Shackleton’s behavior after the Endurance was trapped. Once he relinquished his first mission, to walk across Antarctica, and embraced the second, to bring all 28 men home safely, his leadership became much more effective.
Shackleton assumed ultimate responsibility for his team. Perhaps he recognized that he was partly to blame for the crisis that befell the Endurance. Perhaps his naval training instilled in him a deep sense of loyalty and obligation to his fellow crew members. The men themselves understood this, and most, in turn, offered him their commitment.
Shackleton devoted himself to a worthy goal. “As soon as I first read about Shackleton, I was struck by how critical a leader’s personal commitment to his or her mission is,” said Lynne Greene, global president of the beauty brands Clinique, Origins and Ojon, part of the Estée Lauder Companies. (Ms. Greene encountered the case when I spoke at a company executive leadership session.
“Shackleton’s team knew that whatever came before them on the ice, their leader would give his all to bring them home alive,” she said. This knowledge, she added, “was crucial to achieving the mission, and this commitment is key today when so much is changing so fast."
Shackleton’s sense of responsibility and commitment came with a great suppleness of means. To get his men home safely, he led them across ice, sea and land with all the tools he could muster. This combination — credible commitment to a larger purpose and flexible, imaginative methods to achieve a goal — is increasingly important in our tumultuous times.
A very good article, it illustrates how a business-school-type sees everything through the rosy glasses of an M.B.A., for example, or how a High School English teacher sees everything through their own limited experience of literature. Well, one has to interpret reality some way, and we all do it according to the things we are most familiar with.

But then we, the readers, have to join in to the "pandialogue" (discussion between all) and interpret it according to things we are familiar with, and thus we create our societal intelligence.

I read Shackleton's Endurance twice. He was totally responsible for the situation, not merely "partly to blame", and this points to an interesting phenomenon in our culture: lack of accountability in the "elite" groups which are highly placed in business, commerce, politics, and power.

And it was very clear that Shackleton did not merely commit to his goal. He was an explorer of the same generation as Scott of the Antarctic who, in his last journal entries, stated "We would have come through, had we neglected the sick." Both men had more than commitment to the goal: they had a commitment to success, but not on any terms.

This is what Ms. Koehn's article lacks: the identification of the force which keeps Shackleton and Scott on track, the ethos of faith which denies them the luxury of giving in. There is not the slightest indication of a realization of the force which kept Shackleton and Scott playing their deadly games of life and death in the Antarctic. Beyond their managerial skills in the face of adversity, they remained steadfast, overcoming their own fears and doubts, fears which would have obstructed them from any sort of managerial role.
“Shackleton’s team knew that whatever came before them on the ice, their leader would give his all to bring them home alive,”

This is Faith, and this faith precedes, follows, and is part of the team's evaluation of Shackleton's survival skills and good judgement in a crisis.




Now we turn to ourselves and our own times:


Unaccountable Killing Machines: The True Cost of U.S. Drones
By Joshua Foust
Dec 30 2011, 9:49 AM ET
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/12/unaccountable-killing-machines-the-true-cost-of-us-drones/250661/

... This sloppiness with life and death decisions is a substantial moral failing, and should be a huge scandal for President Obama. But, he has decided to both distance himself from it while also taking credit for its successes, even as it focuses on ever less important and marginal figures within the terrorist milieu...

A "moral failing"... do we even understand such quaint notions? No one is "accountable" for the deaths in the above process. Further, we have a new law which allows indefinite detention... and what is that except a further dilution of accountability, a weakening of the standards of prosecution?

All Faith requires accountability. The pressures of our times are the great Winnowing, and that winnowing enforces accountability, for it separates the wheat from the chaff,

I may esteem the survival skills of our leaders and our would-be leaders, but I have no appreciation for their Morality and Faith, for "morality" is no more than a word from the cathechism, and "faith" has become the chameleon's skill to change with change...

... there is an emptiness here which far exceeds that of interstellar space...
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Why I Am Voting for Egypt's Green Party




http://www.greenprophet.com/2012/01/arab-spring-egypt-green-party/

Egypt’s green environmental party was founded 25 years ago for green and social change – long before the Arab Spring. The Green Party is working to show Egyptians and the Arab world the connection between their issues and the environment...

At least, I would be voting for them were I a registered Egyptian voter...

Green Parties represent revolutionary and serious approaches to our lives; inherent within a serious appraisal of our relationship with our environment is a profound critique of Economics, Politics, Religion, and Morals which is equal to - and in my mind surpasses - any similar critique by Locke, Lenin, Jefferson, or Voltaire.

The reforms necessary for our future are intimately connected to the dysfunctions in our interactions with our environment: these are merely the most glaring paradigms of the disease eating away at us: that anyone purportedly "in their right minds" would "frack" fossil fuels or lay an oil pipeline through a major aquifer and thereby endanger a main source of water is evidence of an inability of the Present Markets to assign and husband resources efficiently...
... and evidence of the inability of the Present Group Mind to distinguish between what is pernicious nonsense and  what is not; the more time spent within the dead ends means less time and money for searching for paths to sustainable life.

Everyone wants the big pay day of an equity that sky rockets in price over a couple months, when we should rather be into middle and long term bonds.
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