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Monday, September 30, 2013

Breaking Bad Finale: Der müde Tod

Breaking Bad

The screen capture is the bleak pick up spot in Breaking Bad, where the people whom Saul Goodman helped to disappear into new lives awaited the arrival of the van which would take them off to obscurity.
I use it here because when I saw it, it reminded me of a scene in Fritz Lang's film Der müde Tod, where Death sits in front of a bleak wall.
(The title of the film translates as Weary Death. It also appeared in America as Destiny.)

I just finished watching the finale of Breaking Bad.

I enjoyed it very much.

It also shows how you can take murder and make it wonderful.
For that reason, it is something we should keep in mind. We should always remember how attractive killing can be.

Murder and Vengeance makes us dance and smile. In truth, it can be one of the Fine Arts.

Der müde Tod

On The Wind

My mother received a letter - quite a long letter - from some group whose money-raising wheeze was the assertion that the UN was waging a war on religion, and the UN was trying to get the Vatican kicked out of the UN.

First, it was much too redolent of H.G.Wells account of the war against religion in The Shape Of Things To Come, 1933, which I had just read the day before, and I wanted to mention this, but this was not my mother's obsession at all; it was my obsession, and, as such, she would not or could not pay attention to a report on the coincidence.
So Wells had to languish.

Second, I was not aware that the Vatican was a member, but upon "wiking" it up, I learned that it had "observer" status until 2004, when it received full membership, except for voting rights.

Third, the letter was a gem of obsessional nonsense. It was at least 10 sheets of paper long, printed on both sides, and rambled on through various scripts, scenarios, legends, myths, some truths and some falsities until it came to rest upon the altar of supplication: give us money to assist our noble effort.
(For example, on page 3 there was a spirited reference to "false gods". I asked her whether "false gods" was repeated somewhere else in the pamphlet. She did not think so. It was more like a subliminal appeal to her outraged sense of orthodoxy rather than an assertion that the golden calf had been erected at UN HQ.)

I'm not so sure.
I'm not so sure that there is any "New World Order", or international UN power, or UN government that requires a tax on every citizen, or any other of these nonsensical gaspers, for it seems to me that the edifice of any sort of Order has been falling apart, brick by brick,until the copestone remains teetering precariously.

My problem is pirates, the Somali pirates.
There is a new Tom Hanks film out based on a piratical hijacking of a ship off the Somali coast. It is based on a true story some years ago, but the pirates are still there. In fact, it was Somali As-Shabab people that shot up the mall in Kenya.

Pirates in my understanding have always been a feature of an environment in which central power has broken down.

It was a part of my education. When Rome was on the verge of empire, Pompey and Caesar rid the Mediterranean of the brigands; the Dark Ages led to an infestation of pirates and highwaymen, a limited state power allowed Robin Hood to flourish within the "sea" of the Forest of Nottingham, and in all the dystopian visions of the future, from A Canticle For Leibowitz to Waterworld to Mad Max, the proof of societal breakdown is demonstrated to the reader or viewer by the lawless freebooters and buccaneers infesting the place.

Now these Somali pirate types have been around for a long while. There seems to be no international order or power available to clear them out.
So how effective is the UN? And why don't the member states care about the situation?

It has been my opinion for a long time that we were in a long, drawn-out, slow motion death spiral, a lemming-like march to oblivion that seemed to culminate in the period of 1989 to 2003 with the incredible story of how we supported bin Laden in Afghanistan against the USSR, how the USSR fell apart, our parochial arrogance as that happened, then our experience of 9/11, and then the War in Iraq to which we sent our dearest people and our fortunes in pursuit of illusory weapons that we knew we had given to Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran...  and how Saddam Hussein completely buffaloed us by actually telling the truth about the weapons!
(Imagine being totally bamboozled by the truth! Tells us something about our frame of mind at the time.)

And do not forget torture. We not only instituted a regime of rendition and torture, our finest minds argued about its desirability - the argument about the ticking bomb and the captured terrorist - and the legal bases of it.

It was as if we feared that the sins of the fathers would be visited upon their children, and the only way we could bollox up that karma was to commit our own sins... and lots of 'em!

Once again, President Obama's surprising choice of peace over war in Syria is the very first act I have seen where one of our leaders has stepped out from the lemming march to the sea, held out a hand and said, "Stop!"

It was the first major push-back against the spiral downwards. And make no mistake, the fruits of a Syrian war would have been devastating, not for the debacle in Syria itself, but the contribution it would have made to making a permanent preference for violence and destruction.....

....for as we become more and more befuddled by the bullets whizzing by our ears, and our schemes continue to collapse into failure, we would have become more and more brutish. (You only have to recall the speech of the NSA "Commandant" about how he wished to be able to keep every telephone call in the USA to realize how degraded we have become!)

We may actually live to see pirates cleansed from the seven seas.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

An Adventure In Art (43)


Karin Jurik
A Painting Today


Pow Wows 2013

Gathering Of The Nations, April, 2013
New Mexico




Great Expectations

 Shallow Water

I may not be writing a great deal for a few days. With the prospect of a government shut down, I withdraw from current events. If the House is arguing, they should not seek to entangle me in their tortile arguments.

I seek sanctuary from the Present.

Right now, I am watching Lincoln on Showtime, and Secretary Seward is referring to the House as a "rat pack". Harsh words. The question is whether they are apt.

I have stated that I do not believe in God.

I have no "belief systems" in the area of religion.

I expect God.

Now, the question is whether this is a mere playing with words, or do I actually have some deep waters here, and not merely shallows whose turbidity impedes perception, and disguises how little draft there is.

If I expect God, when I come into contact with the Holy, I shall be experiencing everything possible, for I have not put any blinders of dogma over my eyes.

I shall be swept by the infinity of detail in the past, present, and the future.

If on the other hand, I believe and have a "belief system" and am a creature of dogma, I shall see only that which I have trained myself through long years to see.

To expect is the anticipation of a primary and intimate relationship, and it is to be amazed. It is not the mere filling in of blanks of a catechism. It is not data-driven religiosity of memorized Bible passages.

Great Expectations.

Deep Water

Friday, September 27, 2013

Again: Murder Considered As One Of The Fine Arts

Here we are, awaiting the finale of the series Breaking Bad.

It seems another series, Dexter, has come to an end. It was a series dealing with a psychopathic killer, delving into his "good" side, and illustrating with loving detail his "bad" side. Funny how rich and complicated are the characters of mass murderers.

The Dexter finale has been roundly criticized as feeble and unimaginative.
They should have had him go to Syria and join the heart-eating jihadist group. Or they could have followed him into a near-death or real-death experience and taken a peek at the afterlife of a murderer.
Come to think of it, maybe that lumberjack thing was supposed to be the afterlife of pedestrian brains.

I have talked to people who have watched the series. They told me it was riveting in the beginning, then began to lose its luster.
That is normal.
It is hard to write a TV series and keep it crisp. Look at the second season of Mad Men, or the 4th seasons on to the present of The Big Bang Theory. They are more memorable for what they contain that you crave to forget.

When a series based on a serial killer loses its luster, it means that the artifices of Art has become weak, and the Horror of what the show is actually about begins to ooze out.

I do not mean the make-believe horror of depicting serial murders, I mean the real horror of the world and the fact that we are making a celebrity of monsters for money.
That's the horror.

Daniel Defoe, of Robinson Crusoe fame, penned the pamphlet On Murder Considered As One Of The Fine Arts.
(referred to in: )

As I read the title, an insight not only came to me, but became part of my deep cognition of the world and society, and it was the simple fact that anything may be considered to be an Art, if there are enough people willing to believe it, and there are enough self-appointed critics, and there are essays devoted to it.
Even serial killings.

We seemingly take horror and trivialize it into TV shows that the word "superficial" is too good for. 

We have trivialized the experience of war:
(1) by watching the USA bomb various peoples on prime time,
(2) by insulating ourselves from the horrors of war,
(3) by making war more of a budgetary matter than an ethical one,
(4) by ignoring the true cost in human lives lost and injured in our wars.

The entire flocking of war hawks and ravens and vultures to bomb Syria was an example of people who fancy themselves so totally defended against the horrors of war that they blithely wish to inflict it on others. Norman Podhoretz comes to mind as a giant of an intellect that needs Paul Bunyan size servings of Middle Eastern blood.

Remember how governments beat the drums for war.
Remember all the propaganda flowing that sought to secure the bombing of Syria.

Those things are the equivalents of script writing on a TV series: their objective is to keep the minds of the audience captivated by the "Story".

Once the "Story" falters - like is sort of is right now with Breaking Bad , maybe - the the Horror shows through and the audience feels the repulsion. The people look around at each other, ashamed for their disgusting thrill seeking... wretched people in wretched rain coats in disastrous porn movie theaters of reality.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Organized Religion

What most people - including myself - call organized religion is a misnomer. The phenomenon is complex, and we grossly oversimplify by using the label "organized religion", and we do a great diservice by using such a blanket term with connotations of opprobrium.

I shall make every effort to emend my ways; I don't know what anyone else will do.


Detroit Ideas

As the broken city thinks big and radically about its future, a developer is stepping forward with a revolutionary idea: Sell the city's Belle Isle park for $1 billion to private investors who will transform it into a free-market utopia. The 982-acre island would then be developed into a U.S. commonwealth or city-state of 35,000 people with its own laws, customs and currency.

Under the plan, it would become an economic and social laboratory where government is limited in scope and taxation is far different than the current U.S. system. There is no personal or corporate income tax. Much of the tax base would be provided by a different property tax — one based on the value of the land and not the value of the property.

It would take $300,000 to become a "Belle Islander," though 20 percent of citizenships would be open for striving immigrants, starving artists and up-and-coming entrepreneurs who don't meet the financial requirement.

Interesting ideas, and it has interesting ideas behind it, making up its science fiction thrust into being.

When I think of Australia and New Zealand, not to mention our own country, which were settled by many folks who were "throw aways" and undesirables and trouble makers, I am dubious about this plan for an instant Singapore in the Great Lakes.

Constantinos Doxiadis write and planned extensively on a Great Lakes Metropolis, but he did not foresee the self mutilation that globalization would bring. Who could have?

This idea of Belle Isle is a gated community that has too many objectives: tax-free haven, entrepreneurial zone, freedom from vast areas of poverty, a dependence upon intitial conditions that is terrifying to me....
I mean, what are the initial conditions within this Belle Isle maze which is to function as an economic and social laboratory? What is the manner of social customs and law enforcement? Will there be freedom or a monstrous conformity?

It could be Escape From L.A., it could be the Hive of the Umbrella Corporation, it could be paradise gained or Paradise Lost.




Suzhou On The Canal




Leningrad  1965


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Max Planck 2

Max Planck
Scientific Autobiography
"It is of paramount importance that the outside world is something independent from man, something absolute, and the quest for laws which apply to this absolute appeared to me as the most sublime scientific pursuit in life."

I notice how the great scientists seem to resemble the religious geniuses in their Quest for an absolute, whereas most scientists and people involved in religion just put in their time; Science, Religion... it's a job, like any other.
What do they seek?
I would not say "a higher power", because I find the concept vague and uninformative.

The proper pursuit of mankind is that Quest that never ends.
An Absolute never ends.
It is a mistake to conceive of the absolute being limited. The Absolute can be approached, but only asymptotically.
If the Absolute were to be grasped, if it were indeed possible to place the Infinite into that grain of sand, then the Absolute would be a parvenu and given the bum's rush...

It is Absolute in that it is absolutely beyond the language and logic and imaging available to us.

It is only available to unformed and meditative intuition. In that moment, we do touch God.



Granola is not like I remember it. I just had this this morning, some commercial granola sold in stores, and it was way too sweet.
I remember homemade granola, and I could eat a lot of it, and the sweetness came from raisins, and was not cloying like the corn syrup coated oats I just ate.

I will stick to my walnuts, almonds, and raisins.

The Thermodynamics Of Sports

Yahoo News:

''If you look at it realistically, Tiger's probably got another 10 years of top golf,'' Nicklaus said. ''That's 40 majors. Can he win five of them? I think he probably will.''
That's been his standard reply. More relevant is the record book.
Hogan is the only player to win five majors after his 38th birthday - the number Woods needs for the record. Nicklaus and Old Tom Morris after the only others to win as many as four after the age that Woods will turn on Dec. 30. Also consider: Gene Sarazen is the only player to win as many as four more majors after a major-less streak as long as Woods'...
I do not think I will ever understand sports writing.
This presentation of statistics merely does two things:
(1) it parades a knowledge of golf history, and
(2) it asserts that the probabilities are against Mr. Woods.

The glory of Sports is its freedom and its ability to deny entropy, its ability to break the second law of thermodynamics, for every state of sports can be perfectly reversible: the under-dog may win, the mighty may fall. Sports escapes the rigidity of Ballet, where the Mouse King will always be defeated by the Nutcracker, year after year, Christmas season following Christmas season.

Even though the writer cites a limited number of names in each category of accomplishment, thereby implying low probability of achievement by Mr. Woods - or any one person in a similar situation, the mere fact that there are such attainments in reality accomplished by competent, but not supremely competent, golfers indicates that the probability is finite and small, but not vanishingly small.

Now, having said this, the NFL football Detroit Lions are another matter entirely, and they do seem to have achieved maximum entropy, and they can sink no lower nor ever rise higher... a sort of "heat death" of the universe of the franchise.



The best soap is the simple olive oil soap made in Lebanon.

We buy it 6 large cubes for $5, and it even cleans granite without leaving smudges.

It also seem to look like a block of cheese. I caught my mother 2 years ago placing a cube of soap on a cutting board, and beginning to try and cut slices off from it.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Original Sin

Our usual interpretation of Original Sin is faulty.

It has a logical dynamic which is equivalent to making a 20 mile run as a warm up for a 6 mile run: it "tires" us out before we even start the race.

Maybe that's the point of childhood baptism. But even so, the burden of a propensity to sin is heaped upon our shoulders.

It is quite mad, I think.


History Pop Quiz

The Only Surviving Silhouette Of John Adams' Inauguration Speech Broadcast

Yahoo News:;_ylt=AhzOw7lbi.WWgeRNfSmiuPEJVux_;_ylu=X3oDMTI5bGc3NzBsBG1pdANBVFQgMyBTdG9yeSBKdW1ib3Ryb24gSG9tZSBDYWNoZWQEcG9zAzMEc2VjA01lZGlhQXR0V2lkZ2V0cm9uQXNzZW1ibHk-;_ylg=X3oDMTFkcW51ZGliBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3BtaA--;_ylv=3
... Only 27% of Americans knew which country we fought in the Cold War – the Soviet Union -- and even fewer, 25%, knew the name of the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which is John Roberts.Scholars agree that one reason for the poor results is that America has a complex political system, which can take years to fully understand...
I really cannot agree with this.

This is like saying that the very complex human brain evolved so that mankind could roll in mud wallows without swallowing great gobs of offal.
Intelligence is intended for complex tasks.

Even more complex than remembering John Roberts' name.

Things like remembering Justice Thomas' name... that's a poser.


A Walk With Planck

While I was reading about Max Planck, the distinction between organized religion and Religion seemed to be made a bit clearer.

I cannot write it now, because She-who-must-be-obeyed waits for the laptop. I shall write it tomorrow, before I leave for my mother's for a couple days.

I have to get it done, because there are no internet connections at my mother's. She took a Luddite stand against computers early on, and has only modified her stance recently to have me order things for her online, to look up movie stars' names and who starred in such-and-such a film on Google, and to respond to Publishers' Clearing House nonsense.


Old Age SATs

The "Old Man" Of Auto Painting

My brother had an aneurysm hemorrhage last Friday, and by the grace of God, he will be leaving the hospital today or tomorrow.

In the meantime, I sped into the medical system of the hospital my brother was recuperating in, and had a battery of tests, including ultra-sounds for the carotid and abdominal arteries, costing $70 for the lot! Since my father had also had an iliac aneurysm operated on back in 2006, I saw no reason to put it off any longer, and decided to pay the $70, then see if I could re-imbursed later.
Even if there is no way to separate the costs of the tests and to re-imburse me, it probably would have cost me almost $70 to see my doctor and go to various places for some of the specialized tests.....

So a friend wrote me and said that these test were "the SATs of old age", which I thought was pretty funny. I seem to remember gerontological groups clustered together and comparing cholesterol stats in pretty much the same way as we used to talk about which SAT percentile we landed in.

Having said this, I think it is pretty obvious that this is a clear case where the simple, strong, and direct Anglo-Saxon expression; i.e., "old age", is not the preferred means of communication.

I need another word:

The Latin "gerontology" and its brothers and sisters have been placed in a state of eternal "dibs" by the medical community, so that is out.

The Greek "presbyter" and its ilk are similarly monopolized by the Presbyterian Church, and even though it does not offend me to be characterized as being as dour and staid as a member of the Scottish Church of the Glasgow Assembly (beware the curse of Hiel the Bethelite!!), it would be much too ambiguous and people might mistakenly take me for an elder of the church.

The French "vieillesse" is precise and succinct, but given the ambivalence of Americans to things French - American fries versus French fries and the unshakeable belief that the French waiters are arrogant in their attitude to American tourists who are dressed like comedic beggars and who make no attempt to speak French - it would give the impression of being a  Précieux Ridicule. 
(this last sentence being a self-fulfilling prophecy, I suppose.)

The German "Altertum" is off the table. I would not mind being referred to as "der Alte", and thus imagining myself to be Conrad Adenauer, but it won't fly.

Ditto for Russian "старость", or "starost", and the Chinese "晚年".  They will only generate blank stares.

So I have decided on the Arabic "shaib", which means  "a state of having white hair".
Merely having white hair does not necessarily mean being old, which itself is a big plus.
Furthermore, it is pronounced just like "Scheib" in "Earl Scheib", the automobile painting magnate, who himself was of Lebanese descent.

So "shaib"... or "Scheib"...  for "old age".
If someone (not me!) were to be referred to by age, particularly "old age", they would be called  الشيب
which would be  "Ashyab", but there's no reason I could not use "scheib" for this, also.

So, the battery of tests are Scheib SATs.
And I have accomplished what I set out to do: I have totally turned attention away from my antiqueness.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Republicans Cut Food Stamps!

Maybe the Republicans think that Food Stamps put the WIC into Wicca.
They have made important decisions based upon goofier beliefs than that one.

(1) The gap between the wealthy and the rest of the population is increasing rapidly,
(2) Wages have been stagnating for years,
(3) Medical costs are increasing exponentially,
(4) There is inflation; it is low, but it is greater than any interest rate you can get on a low risk investment,
(5) There is no vigorous job growth,
(6) Most new jobs are low wage,
(7) Pensions are being cut, taxed, and reneged on...........

Does this not imply that most of us will be "poor" sometime soon.

Therefore, we shall need Food Stamps, will we not ?

Or, what have I missed here?



Housing Prices

Apparently, in China there has been a 20% tax added to the price of previously owned homes.
Other than possibly providing an impetus to newly built housing, I do not understand the reason for it.


For Sukkoth 2013

Culinary Sukkoth

We had a gingerbread sukkah,
resplendent in design;
the gum drops were from Wal-Mart,
the inspiration, mine.

Our harvest was enormous,
of wheat and tares combined;
gathering in by hands full,
hushing them while we bind.

Some we threw in fire,
some we threw in graves;
some we cast on water,
and some in silos save.

Some we kept in sugar,
to keep and crystallize;
to roof it as our skach,
and eat it with our eyes!


Education As Tradition

  Karl Theodor Körner

... and Education, and tradition in education, too.

Intelligent beings have the ability to believe, but they also have the ability to believe just about anything, no matter how benign or malign, pedestrian or outrageous, rational or utterly fantastic. The entire process of sensing, discovery, cognition, recall, processing, and establishment of hardened systems of belief unfortunately have no absolute methods of winnowing the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

We may believe in angels dancing upon pin heads as easily as fluctuations within a quantum vacuum.

So also may we believe in Freedom or Tyranny.

Consider Prussia and Germany, of which we read in the early 19th century:
The life-blood of Germany was never roused nor quickened with greater impetus, than when the old fatherland sprung to arms to assert its rights against the tyrannical sway of France, towards the close of the first Napoleon's career. For years she had groaned under the sway; but repeated defeats had taught her to succumb to the oppression which it seemed impossible to resist.

Hope at last gleamed upon her from the lights of burning Moscow, and in 1813 she rose, determined to throw off the yoke. In thus vindicating her outraged rights, she was nobly supported by the intellect and genius, as well as military prowess of her sons. The stirring lectures of Fichte, and the martial lyrics of Körner, were no less effective towards the liberation of their country than the valour and strategical skill of Lützow and Blucher.
Today is the birthday of  Karl Theodor Körner, to whom reference is made. He died in 1813 having fought for German freedom, written poetic lyrics to that cause, and honored so by all Germany.
(Not Karl Körner of the Waffen SS; if you google this name, include the "Theodor".)

Within 120 years the Nazi party came to power in 1933.
Within that space of 4 generations, how great a change!

Great discoveries such as the exaltation of Freedom over Slavery and Servitude need become Tradition and the new generations must be taught such truths, along with the truths of science, math, and ethics; the young must be exposed to the arts of Freedom and Respect for one's fellows along with literature, poetry, dancing, music, and the plastic arts.

When Faith, Hope, and Charity are lost, when love of freedom and respect for humanity is in eclipse, there are no remedial courses in our school of life... except for that college of hard knocks of the most grisly type.

Tevye, der Milchiger (the Milkman), was designed to show us the importance of tradition, and the fact that Tradition must be comprehended by the old and passed on to the young. Tradition is like Simcha Torah: the Law must be read  in the language that must first be taught by the learned to the young; then it may be passed down as a gift from generation to generation, and become alive again in the hearts of mankind.

And all our days may be zeman simchateynu; the season of our joy!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Congressman Cramer, Marie Antoinette, and Lenin... and Patrick Henry

Raw Story:
A Facebook question from a Bismark, North Dakota resident to his congressman started off rockily yesterday, when the congressman dismissed a religious argument opposed to cuts in the federal food stamp program with a religious quote.
“2 Thessalonians 3:10 English Standard Version (ESV) 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat,” Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) posted in reply Friday afternoon to an inquiry from Kevin Tengesdal, a Bismark-based actor and activist.
House Republicans narrowly passed deep cuts to the food stamp program Thursday, despite opposition from the Senate and a veto threat from President Obama. In a op-ed published on his office webpage Friday, Cramer railed against exemptions to the work requirement for food stamps, arguing that “We can generate $20 billion in savings by ending these waivers while encouraging able-bodied people to work … When did America become a country where working for benefits is no longer noble?”
The quote Cramer used in reply to Tengesdal is an admonition against Christians failing to plant seed and harvest food because anticipation of the imminent return of Christ might seemingly make that toil unnecessary...
Marie Antionette, who was actually quite a fine Austrian lady, allowed that under circumstances of malnourishment or under-nourishment, the poor who had no bread, could eat cake instead, or brioches, if you will. A brioche is more like a roll than a creamy, rich cake.

St. Paul's words in 2 Thessalonians might be written with the obvious meaning that the Second Coming is very soon, and "toil is unnecessary", thus reminding us of the lilies of the field, or it might be a bit more like a parable, and mean that he who does not prepare himself spiritually for the Second Coming will miss out.

In either case, the spirit of Mr. Cramer's quote is closer to Lenin:

On The Famine
A Letter To The Workers Of Petrograd
22 May, 1918

“He who does not work, neither shall he eat”—how is this to be put into effect? It is as clear as daylight that in order to put it into effect we require, first, a state grain monopoly, i.e., the absolute prohibition of all private trade in grain, the compulsory delivery of all surplus grain to the state at a fixed price, the absolute prohibition of all hoarding and concealment of surplus grain, no matter by whom.
Secondly, we require the strictest registration of all grain surpluses, faultless organisation of the transportation of grain from places of abundance to places of shortage, and the building up of reserves for consumption, for processing, and for seed.
Thirdly, we require a just and proper distribution of bread, controlled by the workers’ state, the proletarian state, among all the citizens of the state, a distribution which will permit of no privileges and advantages for the rich.

I think the spirit is much closer to Mr. Cramer. The words seem different; sort of which whom do we attack? the rich or the poor?
If that is the case, then the spirit is the same, that is, an attack against some group, and it is merely the target of the mean-spirited attack which is different.
(As I write this, I stop and wonder just how clearly we truly understand the statements we make: all those "truths" of politics and life and religion we hold so dear... do we understand them as through a darkling mirror?
For, indeed, the words of Thessalonians are unclear to me, for those who "eat" but do not work are called "busybodies", and there is no indication that there is a subsidy of bread to them, nor that they beg for food. St. Paul seems to be talking about something quite apart from our daily squabbles.)

Nonetheless, the use of St. Paul to back up a dubious political stand is atrocious. Let every saint denounce those religious carpet-baggers who seek to confound us with inspired words squeezed dry of every last drop of spirituality!

In summation, we paraphrase Patrick Henry

""Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, France's Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette, had their Revolution, and the Republican House Majority...
  — [at this point, "Treason!" cried the Speaker of the House]
... may profit by their example. 
If this be treason, make the most of it."


The Rump Congress

In 1653, Oliver Cromwell addresses the Rump Parliament,  


The "Rump" Congress has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act 41 times.


Cutting Ourselves

The nation's financial problems are not over.
The recent Fed decision to not taper its quantitative easing demonstrates to me that this is an economy that has gotten so used to artificial supports, that it can barely function on its own anymore. Oh, it does go through the motions, quarterly reports, shareholders meetings, lots of sounds and furious effort, but I think it is becoming clear that the overall financial edifice cannot function.

The financial reform accomplished little and not enough. Intelligent minds call out for the job to be finished, but the will is gone.

Congress can, however, find the will to shut down government.

What kind of a government is it that can only harm itself? Cut itself? Suicide itself back to nothingness?

We do not deserve this House of Representatives.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Family Circus

Aug. 31, 2013. Johascara performs at the family-owned circus Clavito in Managua, Nicaragua.


Thankx,  and a tip of the hat to The Frog Dwarf

Take A Poll!

I am amazed at how many people I talk to, who, after I say that I do not listen to nor watch the news anymore, agree and say they also have gone cold turkey of the news cycles.

How many people are "tuning out"?


Something Rotten In The State Of Michigan

When I was young, my maternal grandparents had a place in Marine City, Michigan, where we would spend a great deal of time in the summers. We spent as much time there as "Dill" (Truman Capote) did down by Jem and Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird, at least.

It is in St. Clair County, Michigan... my favorite county for any number of reasons, some of which will become apparent in the following:

We followed links to FaceBook pages, and the outhouse laughs just kept coming.
As Dr. Sheldon Cooper once observed, there is no law of diminishing returns when it comes to toilet humor.
"Yeah, I have to say, I thought the toilet humor would get less funny with repetition.
[shakes his head]
Apparently, there is no law of diminishing comedic returns..."


Wings Over The World

 Charles A. Lindbergh (middle)

Bear with me. I am sore oppressed by time, yet this yells for me to put it down, so I shall do so in a very sketchy form.

I have been reading the Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh, and am fascinated. I find his admiration of Nazi Germany to be founded upon Germany's advanced concept of war in the air, as well as the efficient industry and science of aeronautical engineering.

I find his lack of empathy for Jews living under the Nazi regime to be due to a one-sided man, a man who only views the world through the science in which he thrived and which rewarded him so greatly. In effect, Lindbergh rationalizes emotions, and has no understanding of true evil, which he seems to think is a momentary aberration from good, sound business practices.

Recall that the Wright Brothers flew in 1903, 110 years ago.
Aeronautics was the grand Science of the time. Pilots were celebrities and geniuses. This same era, from around 1890 to 1945, was the time of revolutions in physics: Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, Einstein and Bohr.

H.G. Wells wrote in 1933 in his The Shape Of Things To Come:
Wells predicted a Second World War breaking out with a European conflagration from the flashpoint of a violent clash between Germans and Poles at Danzig. Wells set the date for this as January 1940...  The war ends [in 1950] with no victor but total exhaustion, collapse and disintegration of all the fighting states, and also of the neutral countries, equally affected by the deepening economic crisis. The whole world descends into chaos: nearly all governments break down, and a devastating plague in 1956–57 kills a large part of humanity and almost destroys civilisation.
Wells then envisages a benevolent dictatorship—"The Dictatorship of the Air"—arising from the controllers of the world's surviving transport systems, who are the only people with global power. This dictatorship promotes science, enforces Basic English as a global lingua franca, and eradicates all religions...
Notice how all religions are eradicated.
Surely this must be poetic license of the author, and there can be no hidden connection between his science fiction forecasts and the coming Holocaust, as well as the subsequent genocides which seem to take place every decade around the globe!
Wikipedia, op.cit.

The abolition of Islam is carried out by the Air Police, who "descend upon Mecca and close down the main holy places", apparently without major incident. Eventually Islam disappears, its demise accelerated by the decay of Arabic and its replacement by "an expanded English"...
In the 1979 of real history, Khomeini's Islamic Republic of Iran came into being".

There is only a brief reference to the abolition of Buddhism and no reference to any serious problem encountered by the Modern State in eradicating it from East Asia.

The most prolonged and formidable religious opposition envisaged by Wells is from the Catholic Church (there is little reference to Protestants). The Pope and the entire Catholic hierarchy are gassed unconscious when blessing the new aircraft built by a revived Fascist Italy. After the Catholic Church is decisively crushed in Italy it finds refuge in Ireland, "the last bastion of Christianity". Ireland is also subdued, and then Catholic resistance is maintained only in Latin America, under "a coloured Pope in Pernambuco", until it too is finally put down.

Wells gives considerable attention to the fate of the Jews. In this history an enfeebled Nazi Germany is incapable of systematic murder on the scale of the Holocaust. However, Jews greatly suffer from "unorganized" persecution, and there is a reference to anti-Jewish pogroms happening "everywhere in Europe" during the chaotic 1950s. Then, in a world where all nation-states are a doomed anachronism, Zionism and its ambition to create a new state come to naught...
 Eventually, in Wells's vision, it is the Modern State's forced assimilation that triumphs and the Jews—who had resisted earlier such pressures—become completely absorbed in the general society and lose their separate identity...
We of a much later time than Wells are wiser with experience, and we know what form such "forced assimilations" would and will take.
How uncanny are the predictions of Genocide, as well as of Science. This should be called Ge-Fi for genocide fiction.
(And remember how we used to say that war was good for accelerating technological progress? As if new developments in poison gas and nuclear weapons are making our lives rosier... )

In the film based upon the book, Things To Come,produced by Alexander Korda and directed by William Cameron Menzies, a similar but different story emerges:

... By 1970, a local warlord called the "Chief" or the "Boss" has risen to power in the south of England and eradicated the sickness by shooting the infected. He dreams of conquering the "hill people" to obtain coal and shale to render into oil so his biplanes can fly again.

On May Day 1970, a futuristic aeroplane lands outside the town. The sole pilot, John Cabal, emerges and proclaims that the last surviving band of "engineers and mechanics" have formed a civilisation called "Wings Over the World". They are based in Basra, Iraq, and have renounced war and outlawed independent nations. The Boss takes the pilot prisoner and forces him to work for Gordon, a mechanic working on repairing the few remaining aeroplanes. Together, they [Cabal and Gordon] manage to fix a plane. When Gordon takes it up for a test flight, he flees to alert Cabal's friends.

Wings Over the World attacks Everytown with gigantic aeroplanes and drops sleeping gas bombs on the town. The Boss orders his biplanes to attack but they are shot down. The people of Everytown awaken shortly thereafter, to find it occupied by the Airmen and the Boss dead.
Sleeping gas is no longer deemed efficient by the world's military.

Now the reputation of Aeronautics is in decay. The great Genius Scientists spend their time looking for Dark Matter (and not finding it), or Dark Energy (and not finding it).
The idea of aeronautical personnel running a world government is laughable. The idea of the celebrity scientists of today running a world government is laughable. In fact, the idea of experienced politicians running a sole country seem to be verging on the impossible.

Today we see symbols of diminished aeronautical pretenses reaping random havoc on once thriving communities, which have the bad luck of being too close to the sacred enclosures of the one-time Dictatorship of the Air.

a city abandoned after Charles De Gaulle airport opened with flight paths directly overhead.

The Empty 14th Century Church With Airplane

A Street Desolate

Surfridge, California
abandoned due to LAX

 Before LAX Expansion in 1965

Surfridge Today

Are there common threads running through all this? Science, Genocide, Economic Destruction, Forced Migration of Populations? Which Dictatorships imprison us, and shall one ever free us, if we are to give up our freedom for evanescent peace?
It is all the story of our time. What we cannot see, historians of the Future shall.

We have been too one-sided. We either are religious at the expense of learning, or we are learned at the expense of religion.
God made us in His likeness:  Oneness.
Body and Soul. We must combine the Spirit, the Heart, the Body, and the Mind.

Then we may not have to rely on future historians to explicate our own lives to us!


Friday, September 20, 2013

Between A Rock And A Sax Place


Nouvelles de Sans Souci: Le Jazz Hot

Right near Sans Souci on Harsens Island, Michigan,  maybe a mile or two down route 154, is the old School House restaurant; it is the school house which is old, and it is the restaurant which is new.

How old is the school? My father went there one winter in the 1920's. I do not know if it is the exactly same building, but the brick school has been there as long as I remember.

It is now a restaurant, and a very good one, too. I do not usually like restaurants, much less praise them. The School House has a various menu, and everything I have had was of very good quality.
In this day and age, these things constantly surprise me. I am more used to the "P.F.Chang" type of approach, which is no quality spread thinly over an ambiance that might have been to the taste of the Dowager Empress of China.

It is so good that it has a problem keeping up in the summer on the weekends. We went in June this year on a Friday evening, and we sat outside. Unfortunately, the service was slow due to the crush of people, and the longer we sat, the colder it became. (I did not stop wearing sweatshirts in the morning until July 4 weekend this year!)

Recently, the Scott Gwinell Jazz Band played there.

 The Vegetable Garden


Scott Gwinell provided music at my daughter's reception. He was there alone, at the piano, and reminded me of old films with Hoagy Carmichael as he sat in the garden room of the old Russell A. Alger house.


FOX News Tries To Jump Start The Apolcalypse

Neil Cavuto, a hitherto likeable dolt on FOX, has propounded the theory that conflicts in Syria will usher in the End of Times, a theory not original with him, but new to the 24 hour cycle of News.
It reminds you of those people who thought Ahmadinejad wanted a bomb to start the End of Times according to some apocalyptical belief of the Twelver Shi'as of Iran.
(As an aside, just how many ways are there to jump start the Apocalypse?!)

First, I think it is refreshing that Corporate Media America feels comfortable in disclosing its insanity so nonchalantly.

Second, if Syria is the harbinger, why Syria, O, FOX-entities?

Is it because that, once upon a time long ago, upon the plains of Damascus a certain crime was committed?

What crime was perpetrated upon the Damascene plain? Anyone? Anyone?


Double Redemption

I am reading about the character of Walter White in the TV series Breaking Bad.

In my opinion, Mr. White will be a case of double redemption.

Initially, White is redeemed from a life in which he finds little meaning by his discovery of his cancer. This opens the door to a refreshing quest into the heart of darkness, wherein he finds all the manly virtues and vices. These are properly called the good and bad virtues: the strengths of mankind that are benign and malign.

The exercise of violence is not a weakness. It is a strength. Evil virtue, yes, but a an act of a man, a  vir  in ancient Latin, "virtue" being derived from "virtus", which itself comes from "vir".

White is being washed in the blood of the lamb of destruction, as it were.

He is due for another redemption... at least, I hope so. The Redeemer always Rings Twice.



I think the term "dream" is poorly understood when used in the phrase "the American dream".

The dynamics are very tricky.

Studs Lonigan in James T. Farrell's Studs Lonigan bought into the American dream and was destroyed.
Ditto Gatsby in another venue.

Dreams are often said to be wish-fulfillment. Perhaps these unconscious aspirations are subsumed under the admonition:
Be careful what you ask for; you may just get it.
Maybe; maybe not.
Suddenly what was common and simple is as mysterious as a ship with black sails upon the horizon.


O.K. Chad!

I notice that I have not had a visitor from the country of Chad since Lord knows when.

This is an insult to the memory of my serving as the UN Representative from Chad in the Detroit Area Model UN over half a century ago.

We gave our speeches in French.

Recently, I think I saw an article in a mag my mother reads, which decried the liberal brain-washing that the Model UN subjects the unsuspecting high school students to.

No fear. I am sure that the years and years of idiotic and baleful nonsense we learned growing up was proof against a couple of days of dreams of world peace.
Rest easy, miscreants and disturbers of the peace! Your wretched weapons remain in your hands and active!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Surrounded By Troubles

My elder brother is in the hospital. He had a hemorrhaging iliac aneurysm, went to the hospital and they operate right away. There are complications from blood in the intestines, which should clear soon, and now a very low potassium level...

I think of sickness and suffering, and I think of the world today, and how everything needed to create a paradise is within our understanding and grasp...

Then I recite:

"By Allah I wish I had only a thousand horsemen of Banu Firas ibn Ghanm (as the poet says):
If you call them the horsemen would come to you like the summer cloud ! "


Psalm 120:6

5  Woe is me, for I sojourn in Meshech, For I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
6  Too long has my soul had its dwelling With those who hate peace.  
7  I am for peace, but when I speak, They are for war.



The Wall Street Journal oddly has columns from Norman Podhoretz, a man who is so self-absorbed that as recently as two years ago, he was still convinced that Iraq had had weapons of mass destruction, and that they had been shipped in convoys to Syria, and he had photos from space clearly detailing all of this.

Just the type of man whose opinion I would love to hear.
... The problem for Mr. Obama is that at least since the end of World War II, Americans have taken pride in being No. 1. Unless the American people have been as fundamentally transformed as their country is quickly becoming, America's decline will not sit well. With more than three years in office to go, will Mr. Obama be willing and able to endure the continuing erosion of his popularity that will almost certainly come with the erosion of the country's power and influence? ...

Why does Mr. Podhoretz understand a "decline" as being something that can be readily fixed by a bombing here or there?

Why, indeed.

Decline is not something rotten within the state; it is something external, and as such can be remedied, such as by a bomb strike, preferably where Netanyahu and Podhoretz tell one to do so.

Podhoretz is an insult, and I very much dislike having a link to him in this post.


Interview With Francis I

Interview of Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., with Pope Francis I
America Magazine
...I ask Pope Francis what it means exactly for him to “think with the church,” a notion St. Ignatius writes about in the Spiritual Exercises. He replies using an image.

“The image of the church I like is that of the holy, faithful people of God. This is the definition I often use, and then there is that image from the Second Vatican Council’s ‘Dogmatic Constitution on the Church’ (No. 12). Belonging to a people has a strong theological value. In the history of salvation, God has saved a people. There is no full identity without belonging to a people. No one is saved alone, as an isolated individual, but God attracts us looking at the complex web of relationships that take place in the human community. God enters into this dynamic, this participation in the web of human relationships.

“The people itself constitutes a subject. And the church is the people of God on the journey through history, with joys and sorrows. Thinking with the church, therefore, is my way of being a part of this people. And all the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief, and the people display this infallibilitas in credendo, this infallibility in believing, through a supernatural sense of the faith of all the people walking together. This is what I understand today as the ‘thinking with the church’ of which St. Ignatius speaks. When the dialogue among the people and the bishops and the pope goes down this road and is genuine, then it is assisted by the Holy Spirit. So this thinking with the church does not concern theologians only...
I am fascinated by this interview, totally fascinated.


How Are Things Going?

Pretty good.

Last time I checked, we still had Somali pirates on the high seas.

Quite the Brave, New World we have here. Just like a kid's book.