Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2 Year Old Shoots Mother In Idaho

After the shootings in Newtown, when nobody anywhere would do anything to make a sensible gun policy, when the country was crazed and was sure that the only thing to save us from the abyss was guns in everyone's hands, it was very clear that unlimited guns and weapons would mean unlimited mayhem.

If everyone can have a gun, if everyone thinks they may stand their ground and use it with impunity, if there are so many guns that the possibility of tragedies increases exponentially, then we will have tragedy after tragedy.

Not just tragedy, but bizarre and ironic tragedies that burn like an aurora across the sky and proclaim to us our madness.

Is a two year old killing his mother in a WalMart in Idaho enough?
I don't know how to respond to it. I cannot cry and I cannot laugh. It calls for some emotion that I have never expressed before.


Monday, December 29, 2014


 It's All About Water, Mr. Gittes

As Life imitates Art even when we are asleep, I arose this AM and read:

Doubts as giant China project's water reaches capital
by Staff Writers
Danjiangkou, China (AFP) Dec 27, 2014

A towering dam in central China holds back a vast expanse of water destined to travel over 1,000 kilometres north to Beijing, but critics say it will only temporarily quench the city's thirst.

China's capital on Saturday received its first flows from the South-North Water Diversion Project, one of the most ambitious engineering projects in Chinese history.

After decades of planning and at least $33 billion of investment, over a billion cubic metres of water is projected to flow to the capital every year, through more than 1,200 kilometres of channels and pipes -- the distance from London to Madrid.

"Beijing is now formally receiving water" from the project, the city's government said in a text message...

And as in the inevitable course of events, when a film comes to be made about the diversion of China's water to the capital in the desert north, what will that movie be called?

Drawing a parallel between the Chinese experience in The American West, particularly Los Angeles and the possible near-future of the American experience in Asia, I suggest:


which is "ghost people town" or possibly "foreign devils town", but the nickname captures some of the old nuance in John Huston's Chinatown (and serves it right back to us foreign devils).


Sustainable Size

We flew from Flint's Bishop International Airport on our recent trip to Maryland, arriving at Baltimore under a sunny sky. We left the grey skies of Michigan behind, only to return to the same sullen bunch a week later.

Flying from Bishop airport is like flying 50 years ago: the scale of operations is considerably smaller than that at Detroit Metro.

I parked the auto in the long-term lot in a spot about 400 feet from the front door of the terminal. Inside the terminal, we walked to the TSA area and did a quick glissade into our respective lines, and we were through before my pants could fall due to the belt being removed for the x-ray machines.

We flew back from Baltimore, a much larger airport, but it was similarly under-crowded, and our trip was pretty much a sly portamento of bags into cargo hold, AIS (as Frank Barrone would say on Everybody Loves Raymond), meditation on the transitory nature of life (I'm not a fond flyer), grab a soda, eat some nuts, read a paragraph or two, and land.
Then walk a sixteenth of a mile to baggage claim and stand around like 30 sardines packed into a largish Home Depot bucket, waiting for one's club bag while having enough room to practice one's golf swing.

Of course, a lot of this is due to General Motors' abandonment of the city of Flint, as documented by Michael Moore in Roger and Me. However, why do we have to wait for the painful contractions of capitalism to demonstrate to us that there is a point at which economies of scale begin to break down under their own weight, and the quality of life begins to plummet?

I was reading about China's South-North Water Diversion Project:
... But the 1.05 billion cubic metres it is intended to deliver to Beijing every year will be not be enough to end the city's thirst.
As China's cities become richer, water consumption by citizens has rocketed, and is set to grow further.
The capital's annual water use has reached 3.6 billion cubic metres, and with supplies at only about 2.1 billion cubic metres it already faces a 1.5 billion cubic metre shortfall every year...
I have written before about Henry Ford's idea of "cottage" industry: various manufacturies being dispersed through the countryside, powered by hydroelectricity (an today, he'd probably add wind and solar).
The hydro was small scale dams and hydroelectric plants. I used to work near one in Ypsilanti, Michigan, which still stood astride the Huron River, and provided power to the original Ford Rawsonville Plant at 10300 Textile Road, Ypsilanti Township, Michigan:

Turbine Building on the Dam on Bridge Road facing South

One may see the plant water tower in the distance. Here's a close up:

photo: Dwight Burdette

Then there's a monument at the plant:

photo: Dwight Burdette

and according to Dwight Burdette's site
August 18, 2011
My sister did some research and determined that the statues are of UAW President Stephen Yokich, Ford CEO, President and Chairman Bill Ford, and Ford Vice President Peter Pestillo.There are duplicates of the statues in front of UAW local 898 a mile west on Textile Road, but in the statue there Yokich is not wearing glasses.
(I include the photo of the statue, because Steve Yokich once helped me with my golf swing. This happened at Brys Park in St. Clair Shores. He actually tried to negotiate me never to play golf again.)

Enormous scales require enormous expenditures.
Even though there are economies in providing services in a compact area, when the city population surges into the multi-millions, things begin to fall apart, and there are fewer economies and the quality of life decreases.

Quality of life - even when poor quality leads to increasing health costs - has never truly been a major factor in decision making in a system devoted solely to profit and power.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sow The Wind...

Flag Of The Syrian Social National Party

When slapped, it is said to turn the other cheek. After that, there is no further direction.

The first response being one of peace will engender a peaceful response in most people who have offended us in some way. Those who are immune to the peaceful response have to be handled some other way.
Even Gandhi missed this essential point when it came to dealing with Hitler.

Now the Christians of Syria have taken up arms.
It's time to read and inform ourselves.

Resurgence of the SSNP in Syria: An Ideological Opponent of the Regime Gets a Boost from the Conflict
Posted by Matthew Barber on Friday, December 19th, 2014
by Joel Veldkamp

The Facebook page of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party’s Homs branch recently boasted: “The families of Homs return to their homes and thank the Party for providing security for them.”


While the SSNP does not spout sectarian rhetoric, it goes without saying that Syrian Christians perceived the rebel attacks on the Christian towns of Saddad, Maaloula, Sednaya and Kassab as attacks on their faith group. One possible interpretation of the SSNP’s vigorous fight against the Syrian opposition is that of a Christian resistance against Sunni Muslim attack...

Al Monitor
Christians taking up fight in Syria
In the midst of the civil war currently raging in Syria, the phenomenon of “fighting Christians” has appeared. It is clear that this phenomenon in western Syria is geographically confined to Christian villages in the area of Safita, its extension in Wadi al-Nasara, near the Christian quarter in Damascus, in the village of Saidnaya, in some of its surroundings in the Damascus countryside, and in perhaps limited areas with Greek Orthodox and Melkite concentrations...

Syrian Greek Catholics Fighting in Dukhaniyah


(Dis) Continuous Transportation

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

Toronto at Danforth and Main, December 26, 2014


Thanks, and a tip of the hat to: Gil


Great Health Care Systems: Canada

My sister is dying of cancer in Toronto.
We had been there just before Christmas for a final Advent Calendar and a last Stollen, and to help plan the funeral.
(She is sister-in-law, actually, but I dislike the appendage "-in-law". If I like someone sufficiently, I drop it altogether. My future biographers will have to hash it out.)

On Saturday, yesterday, Childermas,  she had a seizure, and was rushed to hospital. My wife received the phone call just as our plane landed on our return from our Christmas trip to Washington D.C.
It is unknown whether the cancer has spread to the brain or whether it is some other problem.

They need to do a number of tests.

She-who-must-etc. told me moments ago that the tests would be done Monday. Sunday, you know. No testing done.

I looked at her and I grinned malevolently.

"Death takes a holiday?"  I asked.

It does no good to rage at the idiot bureaucracy. The good people will take care of us as much as they are able - God bless them! - and the dead wood suits of politicians and health care executives - damn them! - will pipe us all to our final rests.

I often smile malevolently these days.


Having Funn Yet?

I was watching Mel Brooks' Silent Movie, in which he plays a movie director named Mel Funn, who used to be a big cheese, but drink caused his demise into a has-been. He was with Dom DeLuise and Matry Feldman, waiting to have an interview with the studio boss, played by Sid Caesar.

They were in front of the studio office building, and they were embracing each other for the enthusiasm of the moment and for support, when two women walk out of the studio office building, and the larger version of the fair sex says to the other (on a title card) "Fags!"

Just before that moment, I had digested the fact of Mel Funn's fall from grace due to drink - again, relayed to me on a title card... Silent Movie is the film.
In the moment of their enthusiasm and support I felt a deep understanding of how people achieve the things they do - their art - and once that fame is achieved, how easy it is to support the easier version of fame in the virtual reality of mind and drugs.

I felt it very deeply.
I tasted it.
Whenever I understand something as a very basic level, I have always said that I could taste or smell it. It was no longer words and concepts and pictures. It was primitive sensation shared with even the most basic life forms: eating and smell (or, detection of things by having their molecules come into contact with the olfactory nerves).

However, I did not much like the movie, notwithstanding.


Old Fashioned Christmas

A Christmas program at the Number 8 School in Hickson, North Dakota, in 1952.  

Daily Yonder

Speak Your Piece: Schoolhouse Christmas


No holiday celebration -- no matter how large and well produced -- ever matched the jubilation of the "Christmas tree program" in northeast Oklahoma. Rudy Taylor shares the Christmas-pageant spectacular of a three-room school.
By Rudy Taylor

... A tiny stage at the front of the room turned into our performing arts center as we sang carols. One special little girl was given the honor of carrying a China doll, gazing into its eyes all the while. There was no doubt in that schoolhouse on a hilltop in the country who we adored that night. It was the baby Jesus who was the center of attention as we sang, “Silent Night, Holy Night,” and “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.”

The characters in the Christmas play were tattered. Halos bounced on angels’ heads like springy loops. Our teacher gave us pats on the back for sounding like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Over my 69 years of living, I have participated in many Christmas pageants and sat in the audience to hear wonderful holiday performances. But I don’t think I ever experienced the jubilation that I felt in that old schoolhouse, with common folks packed wall to wall and everyone united in thought for one evening.

While that hilltop was far from being a mountain, I can’t keep from hearing the George Huff carol that has become a Christmas season standard.

Go, tell it on the mountain.
Over the hills and everywhere.
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.


Photo by Cal Olson

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Relativity Of Morals

 Rudyard Kipling, Author Of The Jungle Book

Moral Relativism has been made a big deal in our time.
I consider it another one of those conceptual prisons we find ourselves lured into, then become too lazy and befuddled to find our way out from. It is, indeed, a classic fly in the fly-bottle.

I was reading about Mary Zimmerman's production of  Disney's The Jungle Book in Chicago, and some questions posed to her as to whether Rudyard Kipling's racism were a problem for her.

Chicago Magazine:

How Mary Zimmerman Handled Kipling’s Racism and Misogyny in a New The Jungle Book Musical
The adapter extraordinaire dives into the controversial aspects of the story she’s staging at the Goodman Theatre.
By Catey Sullivan
...The Jungle Book, and King Louie in particular, has been criticized as playing into racial stereotypes. Was that a concern when adapting the film?
Yeah, it was a concern. But I’ve decided to make it not a concern. I know what the lyrics say and how squeamish you can get about that. But we’ve done some things with casting that I’m not going to give away, but that I think will remove that element. I know what the lyrics of [“I Wanna Be Like You”] say, but look at the original—it’s sung by Louis Prima. He’s the King of the Swingers. It’s something I think where the racism is in the eye of the beholder, you know? If you look at that as racist, doesn’t that say more about what you’re projecting on to the character? There’s clearly politics in the [British] accents Disney used, but I don’t think we’ll be using accents at all...

And it occurred to me that racism is not in the eye of the beholder, until the point is reached when one begins talking about racism.

Once individual speakers begin a palaver about racism or any moral virtue, it does indeed take on the appearance of some notion of relativism, or - as is often expressed - "true for me."

There are absolutes until we begin to image and speak; then we break the absolutes down into a negotiation of individual expressions. These expressions are mixed into a communally agreed upon world view, not because that world view is true, but because we actually agreed upon it.

Our communal world view is "relative" to us in the sense that we negotiated and caucused it together.

But racism is not in the eye of the beholder.
There are moral absolutes.
There is no Atomism in Ethics....

Philosophy broke down into (1) Atomism, which modern science has as its realm, and (2) Aristotle, Aquinas, Averroes, and Akiba, which is the proper realm of ethics.
Religion suffers most in the modern day by ignoring the active participation of religious people in the active negotiation of the communal vision. Our common belief is mostly a creed, a Credo, a Shahada, which acts like a person's cartel of inclusion into a religion, but avoids the strenuous "quest" of that person to seek the absolute of salvation.


Friday, December 26, 2014

December Can Be The Cruelest Month

Today is Boxing Day, or ST. Stephen's; tomorrow is Holy Innocents or Childermas, the feast commemorating children slaughtered by the order of King Herod, who wished to ensure that the new born child Jesus was killed, and no longer pose a threat to his dynasty's rule.

Ironic that the Birth and Death of children is celebrated in December.

The Newtown Massacre was in December.
The Peshawar Massacre in Pakistan was in December.

And in 1984, Bhopal was in December.

Der Spiegel
This December marks the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster, which is still the biggest chemical accident in history. It was even worse than the uncontrolled dumping of waste containing mercury in the Japanese city of Minamata, and its long-term effects are perhaps comparable only with those of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Some who feel reminded of the scope of the disaster caused by the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima call the Bhopal disaster "Bhoposhima."


In the poor residential neighborhoods over which the gas cloud descended in 1984 and where the worst of the toxic residues remain today, there is a disabled child living in one in seven huts. The rates of premature births and stillbirths in women who were exposed to the gas are about three times the national average. But there is a lack of long-term scientific studies. No government agencies and no hospitals in the city keep track of the abnormalities. Midwives from the neighborhoods, who practiced before the accident and have observed developments over the years, report gruesome abnormalities, including fetuses with greenish skin and deformed heads. "The birth of a child is normally a reason to celebrate," explains Parwati, who is from a family of midwives. "But in this area a birth comes as a shock to many parents."

The company responsible was Union Carbide's Indian subsidiary. Union Carbide is now owned by Dow Chemical.

These companies are among the entities that our Supreme Court has endowed with rights surpassing our rights, with the right to influence elections with voices far louder than our individual voices.

Skynet has already sent in his advance guard of corporate citizens free to commit crimes with the back-up troops of mindless governments.


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Continuous Transportation

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

Transit Toronto


Changing WIth Change: The Tomb Of The Prophet Ezra

Prophet Ezra's tomb in Iraq is now a Muslim shrine
By: Mohamed Ali
LOS ANGELES, United States

... His [ Ezra's ] shrine still exists in this predominantly Shiite district of Amarah province. Bashir Zaalan is the custodian of Ezra's shrine. Zaalan inherited the job from his blind 100-year-old father, who hobbles around on crutches. Iraq's once sizable Jewish population, which thrived in Baghdad, appointed him caretaker long ago. The capital is 268 miles away.

If the shrine was forgotten after the creation of Israel in 1948, when most Jews left Iraq, Uzair (peace be on him) has proudly embraced its cultural heritage. Like other prophets in the Bible, Ezra is a holy figure in Islam. And the wooden shrine and blue mosaics in the domed building are treated as sacred by visitors.

Visitors touch the wood out of reverence. People visit the shrine to hold classes and deliver sermons on Islam.

"Before, people had no idea who Ezra was!" Zaalan said.

Zaalan guesses the brick building is 150 years old and replaced a reed structure. Until now, Zaalan says the shrine has received no funding from the national government, but he plans on heading to Baghdad to request money. Once Zaalan and his father visited Baghdad's old Jewish community and informed them they needed funds for renovations. They were told a committee would be sent down to inspect the building.

No one ever came, but in 2000 a contractor showed up in the village and carried out some repairs. "We don't know who paid for it," Zaalan says.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Continuous Transportation

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

Sculpture in Station Monk in the Montreal Metro.


Twilight Of The Idol

There is nothing like a little volatility in the financial markets to make true-believers question their beliefs in the power of free markets. They switch from being stern and serious Jehovahs to some prancing golden calves that bear little resemblance to almighty gods at all.

The following article was posted December 15, when things were grim for markets, but I think it is very illustrative of some of the problems we face, one of which is that we don't really, really, really know what economic gods to believe in.

A number of things have already been mentioned here, but I never, ever made the incredible leap of neo-conservative-communist faith that the writer below had the audacity to make.
He has chutzpah.

The Fiscal Times
Why Big Oil Needs a Bailout in New OPEC Price War
By Anthony Mirhaydari,
December 15, 2014
Let's just admit it: We don't have a true free-market economy.

If we did, the market would set the price of money, with the supply and demand for credit setting interest rates rather than a handful of unelected bureaucrats at the Federal Reserve. If we did, politicians wouldn't dole out tax credits, subsidized loans, and generous government contracts to preferred industries and companies.

And if we did, we wouldn't have bailed Wall Street out of the mess it created during the housing bubble with nary a slap on the wrist — with some estimates putting the price tag at nearly $8 trillion — as their CEOs spent millions on bonuses and office redecorations in the midst of the downturn.

All of this meddling is justified, so we're told, in pursuit of that elusive state of economic nirvana: Full employment and low inflation...

I have to admire his trashing of everything, just to set things up. The logic is impeccably insane.
In fact, Deutsche Bank's David Bianco recently warned clients that as things stand now, the oil price collapse could result in a rare profit recession for the economy — something that hasn't been seen since 1998 and has been associated, historically, with an average stock market decline of nearly 17 percent. The 1998 pullback totaled more than 22 percent. To put that in perspective, a similar decline now would take the S&P 500 back to levels not seen since the summer of 2013. Profit recessions were also seen in 1967 and 1985-1986.
Wow! Say it ain't so, Tony!
So maybe it’s time to start thinking about another bailout. Outside of the economic justification for assistance to the energy industry — perhaps in the form of a federal tax holiday — there are also the foreign policy implications of the oil sheiks' cold-blooded attempt to bolster OPEC's market share at the expense of domestic U.S. producers. The government already provides billions in annual tax breaks to big oil, but continuing America's path to energy independence is worth something; it reduces our exposure to risks such as transit bottlenecks (such as Iran's presence in the Strait of Hormuz), vulnerable regimes (such as the West's intervention in Libya in 2011), and a repeat of OPEC's oil price shocks of the 1970s.

I know this is all pie-in-the-sky stuff given political realities and the impossible task of explaining to voters why cheaper gas could be a bad thing. But I wonder if by indulging in the short-term satisfaction of cheaper fill-ups we're inviting long-term pain down the road.
All that happened is that it took the markets some time to figure out whether cheap oil - good? or cheap oil - bad? That's where the volatility came from. The cheap-oil-goodniks seem to have prevailed.


I really dislike the ending paragraph.
It turns my stomach when one of these princes of finance bemoan the fact that "voters" have to be catered to, and why they have to explain why the "voters" should make the princes' investments iron-clad, while the voters themselves have to buy fields of chaff on windy days!!



( I've decided to use potted plants instead of the familiar
light bulb glowing over one's head.)

I recently used the expression "salad greens".
It reminds me of how I think, or how my thinking seems to me. When I first have a glimpse of a structured idea, it is all one particular locale or focus, emotion and feeling, taste of time and place, smells, and things like fluids flowing under the influence of the moon.

If I had written Romeo & Juliet, the first step would have been love... young love and young discovery of love... discover... Verona... dust... sun... smells of love... taste of tragedy; all jumbled in a primitive layered onion, layer after layer, and part of undifferentiated greens and herbs for a salad.

And I don't know what you mean by salad, but a salad to me is a positively ancient Permian explosion of vegetation: all these new types of greens - Mizuna, Mesclun, Bok Choy... where ordering in a restaurant becomes as unnerving as being in Prep School unprepared for Latin class, under the withering eye of the magister studiorum, reading Caesar and stumbling like unhappy Vercingetorix in chains: AruGAla ?, the teacher moans and corrects
Arugala, I say, with the accent in the correct place (shame-placed might I say I mightily be?!)

The shame of even dreaming of salad greens - I ask you, how do I retain that thought from its first tentative sketch as I sit in the easy chair, until I run to write it down? Emotion, taste, smell...old school colors and feel of cardigan sweaters stored in lockers. But sometimes I don't make it... and it becomes infinite lockers in my shady school corridors, filled with cardigan details and wreaths of neckties...

... those rectangular ruins of youth!


Continuous Transportation

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

Transit Toronto


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

In The World Of The 12 Monkeys

... not over against it; not as a isolated subject viewing it as an object.

We have been too long enslaved by the Cartesian dualisms of the thoughtful soul which perceives and thinks about the body and the world in which the body finds itself.
The thinking "we" are in the world, negotiating meanings, palavering, caucusing, deal making and breaking,  selling and buying in the market, making love and war. In all of this, we rarely ask which propositions we use are "true". Rather, we use those words which are part of our lives already and work to make another daily extension into the foggy future.

Quote from a book review:
The enactive approach is a growing movement in cognitive science that replaces the classical computer metaphor of the mind with an emphasis on biological embodiment and social interaction as the sources of our goals and concerns. Mind is viewed as an activity of making sense in embodied interaction with our world...
 Activity, act, doing.

As Sister Maria says in The Great Beauty  "Poverty is to be lived... not to be talked about".

We talk about everything and get nowhere. We talk about politics and terror and epidemics, and then spend time surfing for more discussion. A few years ago we talked about the Federal deficit incessantly, and now no one mentions it.
It is old hat.

We are not truly living when we are jabbering, chattering, and jibbering. We are only partly alive. We must act.
The future generations will travel in time, and avoid our era, referring to it as the Zoo of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys...
... the first monkey sees all evil, and the next eleven go on cable TV to discuss it.


Man/Woman Of The Year: The Fern !

End of the year cable news nonsense: lists of the best, the worst, the most beautiful, the ugliest, those who have passed on, and the man/woman of the year.
In all of this, I never heard of this bit of business, which sort of took my breath away when I came across it this morning.

Ferns borrowed genes to flourish in low light
Apr 14, 2014

During the age of the dinosaurs, the arrival of flowering plants as competitors could have spelled doom for the ancient fern lineage. Instead, ferns diversified and flourished under the new canopy—using a mysterious gene that helped them adapt to low-light environments.

A team led by Duke University scientists has pinpointed the curious origins of this gene and determined that it was transferred to ferns from a group of unassuming moss-like plants called hornworts. The findings were announced today, April 14, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Three scenarios could have explained how the gene came to be shared by ferns and hornworts: 1) a common ancestor that had the gene; 2) independent evolution of the gene in both groups; or 3) a process called horizontal gene transfer, which ferried neochrome from one group to the other.

To sort out these theories, the team looked not only at the evolutionary relationships of land plants and algae, but also at how all of their light-sensitive genes were related.

Ferns and hornworts diverged in evolution 400 million years ago. If neochrome came from a common ancestor, it would have been passed on to many other plant families, too. But then it had to have been lost in all but the ferns, since no seed plants still have it. The analysis also didn't support the idea that an unusual gene like neochrome evolved independently in both hornworts and ferns.

What the scientists found instead was strong evidence that the fern version of neochrome descended from the hornwort version. By looking at sequence changes in the gene's various spellings, they constructed a family tree of light-sensitive genes, in which fern neochrome "nested" neatly within the hornwort lineage. The analysis also showed that the gene versions separated about 179 million years ago.

Only one mechanism could explain how the gene hopped from hornworts to ferns so long after the lineages themselves diverged: horizontal gene transfer. But researchers have only just begun to explore how this occurs in plants.

"We're actually seeing more and more incidence of horizontal gene transfer in plants, but there's no definite answer as to what mediates it," Li said...

and horizontal transfer is not your usual reproduction and Darwinian natural selection. It is more like handing your sick pal a bag full of the genes that prevented your lactose intolerance,  and a week later finding him smiling and eating a wheel of cheddar!



Christmas Flooding!

The front door is a gentle rain to its friends,
readily fills the dining room reserve,
while busy cooks swell aromatic rivers;
mill dams of desires!


The Ironic Emotions

Stories and Myths as Wind-Dancers

The Pride felt at something one had done and has done well is very different from the Pride one feels going forward: the first is a feeling of excitement and joy at a job well done; the latter is a long-term mythification of one's superior abilities.
This is why Pride goes before the Fall: an ongoing mythification of an emotion based in the past, a deceptive emotion. For example, the Pride felt by the USA after the end of World War II was an immediate and excited outburst of emotion that stemmed from the years of effort and a job well done. Part of the end of that job was the foremost stature of the USA in the world, along with the USSR.
However, the ongoing sense of superiority based on this exceptional victory was a mythification, a spinning of a story built upon Pride that was a thing of the past. It led the USSR to its dissolution and the USA to its American Empire, during which time I watched amazed as we marched off to Iraq, thinking it would be a "cake-walk" and that somehow, magically or supernaturally, everything we believed to be the case would be true.

It was very different.
And in 2008, the American Empire realized that it had shot itself in the foot severely, and we are still waiting to see whether it will recover fully, and how long recovery to any state of health will be.

To be Humble is not to never feel Pride; Humility is to not create a culture of Pride, a complex of proud myths, which transforms itself to Arrogance.
The Evil in Pride is not the quick and immediate outburst: it is the "lamprey" of emotion based on something past... as if History itself marks us as being worthy forever. Such long-term Pride is like that lamprey that attaches itself to our flank, bores into our interior, and parasitically lives on until its host dies.

Pride as a Myth is Arrogance, and it will be Humbled by its very existence, for there is nothing in the universe to maintain the life of such a fiction. Pride undergoes an ironic change as it slips on a banana peel of asset bubbles, for one example. Even the Hate of the families of Verona could not resist being switched to Love by the star-crossed lovers that were their children. And in this story we see the difference in the nature of the emotions when they are quick and immediate versus the long and drawn out myths of emotion: the love of Romeo and Juliet was so intense - like the fire being brought to the gunpowder and by touching, consumes itself violently! - that Friar Lawrence thought it best to marry them hastily.
The Love which follows on after the years is a different love, as we know. And furthermore, this later type of Love does not so easily reverse itself into Hate. Intensely emotional Love may pass into Hate, but the long-term Love - such as that of a Mother for a Child - does not easily undergo an ironic transform.

To be plain and simple, humble and meek, is to be as complex and convoluted, as full of pride and the boastful joy of accomplishment in the immediate presence of one's accomplishments, but it is to decline to extend these emotions to the future where the accomplishments themselves are memory and no longer substance. 
(Some religious groups emphasize the avoidance of the original emotion itself in order to avoid the long-term problem of emotional attachment to great feelings and myths based on them.)

Emotion based on memory changes with the memory... that is why Orwell had his Ministry of Truth in 1984: to show us that History is a story that may be changed, and we allow it to rule our emotional lives at our own peril of enslavement.

The soul needs to embrace the immediacy of life, and to shun myths and accounts of the past. We are not talking about past events per se; we are talking about "past events" that are recounted as a drama to slake our emotional thirst, and which are little more than juvenile day dreams. If we wish an account of War, read Tolstoy, read Hemingway, but enjoy them as Momentary Catharsis, for such works of art are individual and they are well-defined and limited; if, for example, War and Peace could as if by magic continue to spin out its story after hundreds of years, it would no longer be a work of art; it would have become a sorcerer's artifice and a baneful will-o-the-wisp that would enchant us and deprive us of our independent thought, and lead us to our ironic doom.


Monday, December 22, 2014

一只青蛙....( My Life )



a frog finds a pen,
he does not quite know what to do with it.
pix: Integral Options Cafe

The Brooklyn Police 2

The Prince of Verona:
"All are punishèd"
(and All are to blame!)

I have been reading detailed accounts of the killing incident and the killer. I have also been reading some analyses of violent incidents in general.

It is so very obvious that there is an incredible amount of detail in every act of violence. These actions are not necessarily random, and they are not reducible to the singular events that those who wish to place blame try to reduce them to.

In short, to blame any one person's acts or words for an act of violence now in this country - the most violent country in the world with the most privately held weapons of violence - is idiocy.

All are to blame, and all are punished.


Fundamentalism And The Talents

I received my comment about my post Drunk On Power, which was a slam on Islamic fundamentalism as expressed by the Saudi ruling elite.
As I acknowledged the comment, it dawned upon me - and I wrote down - that Fundamentalism is actually an escape from responsibility.

 Not very long ago, I posted about the parable of the Talents from the New Testament.;postID=392867342484688671;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=1;src=link

The story is that a man had three stewards. He was going away for awhile, and he entrusted each steward with a certain amount of money. The third steward receives the least amount, just one talent, and he buries his talent in the ground, whereas the first two put theirs to work in the workplace and reap some good returns:
(The third servant, however, has merely hidden his talent in a hole in the ground, and is punished:)

He also who had received the one talent came and said, "Lord, I knew you that you are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter. I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the earth. Behold, you have what is yours."

But his lord answered him, "You wicked and slothful servant. You knew that I reap where I didn't sow, and gather where I didn't scatter. You ought therefore to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back my own with interest. Take away therefore the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who doesn't have, even that which he has will be taken away. Throw out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
I looked a long time for an intelligent explication of this, but I did not look long enough, because I could not find one. Most of them seemed to be fixated on the meaning of "talent" as "God given abilities", rather than "talent" as a sum of money.

The Talents, the sums of money, represent the Torah, the Law given to the children of Israel.

If you receive the benefit of the Law, yet you hide it out of sight and out of mind, you are wicked and slothful; you are, indeed, a fundamentalist who wants to get back to a simpler time and a simpler interpretation.
By burying the Torah, the Law, we remove it from the "market" of mankind, the ongoing history of humanity. Changing times require changing understanding. If God did not want change, the universe would have been immobile and static.
But the universe is dynamic. It is filled with the palaver and negotiation of minds and tongues, of accusations and recriminations, of blessings and prayers, of rights and wrongs, and nothing stays the same. Even in jurisprudence there are some judges who fancy themselves able to go back to the time of the Founding Fathers and read their minds from the Constitution they have buried deep in some political fundamentalist grave.

Fundamentalism is truly an escape from our most serious responsibilities. Fundamentalism is an attempt to break out of the scarey place called Being-in-the-World and jump over the wall to Death-in-Life.
Living in the detailed infinity of God's creation is true Being and Becoming, while Fundamentalism is the Nothingness of the denial of progress in understanding and the denial of increase in grace.

By way of being extra-tedious, I also mentioned in my comment response how I do not use the term "belief".  You must be very tolerant and kind to read my postings.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

An Adventure In Art (62)

Dave 'Diamond' Merritt
Diamonds Blog: Art Relating to Animation and some Painting


The Brooklyn Police

The Blame Train Arriving On Track #2

What a horrible event it is that 2 police officers were shot while sitting in their police car.

As appalling as that killing is, it does not stop the politically minded from their agendas of assigning blame. Whatever problems we face will not be ameliorated by finger pointing.

The chain of causality goes on a very long way.

The chain of causality goes back beyond the killing, beyond the most recent statements; it goes back to earlier killings and statements at that time. It goes back even further to historical killings and historical statements of justice and injustice.

Once you climb aboard the Blame Train, it will go on as far as it can. It will not merely go as far as your idea of justice wants it to.


Drunk On Power

The Masjid an-Nabawi in Mecca, Green Dome on the Right

There has been a lot of talk about Saudi Arabia not firming up the price of oil by not agreeing to restrict OPEC production.

What the Saudi elite turns on, they can turn off.

Remember the oil embargo in the 70s?

When the US fracking producers and the Canadian oilsands producers have been hurt enough that Saudi oil increases it proportion of US oil imports, then a decrease in production may be wielded as a weapon to punish US consumers, just like in the past.

Or, if Russia is hurt enough, it will not be able to support the Assad regime in Syria, and the various radical fundamentalist factions ( the Takfiris, as the Shia publications call them) will establish their caliphate.

Similarly, when Iran is wounded, its support of Assad is diminished, and its nuclear program must slow down; the Saudi elite has no fear of the nuclear weapons of Israel, because the Saudi elite has no political agenda other than its own continuation.

This same elite fancies itself a defender of religion.
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

One of Islam’s most revered holy sites – the tomb of the Prophet Mohamed – could be destroyed and his body removed to an anonymous grave under plans which threaten to spark discord across the Muslim world.

The controversial proposals are part of a consultation document by a leading Saudi academic which has been circulated among the supervisors of al-Masjid al-Nabawi mosque in Medina, where the remains of the Prophet are housed under the Green Dome, visited by millions of pilgrims and venerated as Islam’s second-holiest site. The formal custodian of the mosque is Saudi Arabia’s ageing monarch King Abdullah.

The plans, brought to light by another Saudi academic who has exposed and criticised the destruction of holy places and artefacts in Mecca – the holiest site in the Muslim world – call for the destruction of chambers around the Prophet’s grave which are particularly venerated by Shia Muslims.


The 61-page document also calls for the removal of Mohamed’s remains to the nearby al-Baqi cemetery, where they would be interred anonymously.

There is no suggestion that any decision has been taken to act upon the plans. The Saudi government has in the past insisted that it treats any changes to Islam’s holiest sites with “the utmost seriousness”.


But such is the importance of the mosque to both Sunni and Shia Muslims that Dr Irfan al-Alawi warned that any attempt to carry out the work could spark unrest. It also runs the risk of inflaming sectarian tensions between the two branches of Islam, already running perilously high due to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Hardline Saudi clerics have long preached that the country’s strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam – an offshoot of the Sunni tradition – prohibits the worship of any object or “saint”, a practice considered “shirq” or idolatrous.

Dr Alawi, director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, told The Independent: “People visit the chambers, which are the rooms where the Prophet’s family lived, and turn towards the burial chamber to pray.

“Now they want to prevent pilgrims from attending and venerating the tomb because they believe this is shirq, or idolatry. But the only way they can stop people visiting the Prophet is to get him out and into the cemetery.”


King Abdullah has appointed the prominent Wahhabi cleric and imam of the Grand Mosque, Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, to oversee the expansion project – necessary to cope with the huge number of pilgrims who now visit each year.

Dr Alawi says the consultation document for the al-Nabawi mosque in Medina, by the leading Saudi academic Dr Ali bin Abdulaziz al-Shabal of Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, has been circulated to the Committee of the Presidency of the Two Mosques.

Several pages of the consultation document have just been published in the presidency’s journal. They call for the destruction of the rooms surrounding the tomb – used by the Prophet’s wives and daughters, and venerated by the Shia because of their association with his youngest daughter, Fatima.

The document also calls for the Green Dome, which covers the tomb and these living quarters, to be removed, and the ultimate removal of the Prophet’s body to a nearby cemetery.

The al-Baqi cemetery already contains the bodies of many of the Prophet’s family, including his father who was removed there in the 1970s, Dr Alawi said. In 1924 all the grave markers were removed, so pilgrims would not know who was buried there, and so be unable to pray to them.

“The Prophet would be anonymous,” Dr Alawi added. “Everything around the Prophet’s mosque has already been destroyed. It is surrounded by bulldozers. Once they’ve removed everything they can move towards the mosque. The imam is likely to say there is a need to expand the mosque and do it that way, while the world’s eyes are on Iraq and Syria. The Prophet Mohamed’s grave is venerated by the mainstream Sunni, who would never do it. It is just as important for the Shia too, who venerate the Prophet’s daughter, Fatima.

“I’m sure there will be shock across the Muslim world at these revelations. It will cause outrage.”

The Independent was unable to contact the Saudi Arabian embassy, but it said in a statement last year: “The development of the Holy Mosque of Makkah al-Mukarramah [Mecca] is an extremely important subject and one which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in its capacity as custodian of the two holy mosques, takes with the utmost seriousness. This role is at the heart of the principles upon which Saudi Arabia is founded.”

I get the impression that the Saudi Arabian elite is drunk with Power, drunk with Money, and drunk with Fundamentalist Intolerance.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Google Earth

In the autumn just past - I think it was September - I was near the St. John's March and somebody somewhere searched for the wretched thing on Google Earth, just as I and a group of marsh-fellows were hiking by.

photo: Jose Maria Aragon Pacheco


It Is Coming Fast

Paul Bonelli


An Adventure In Art (61)

 Still life with pumpkin slice, knife and cup

Julian Merrow-Smith
Postcard From Provence


Friday, December 19, 2014

The Grand Rogner Bad Blumau Hotel

Designed by Friedrich Hundertwasser, Architect.



Lenin Street in Birobidzhan (in Yiddish)  לענין גאַס

Birobidzhan, The Jewish Autonomous Region of the Russian Federation.

...Jews never constituted more than one-fourth of the population of Birobidzhan, and today their share has shrunk a lot more. Emigration to Israel, often encouraged by the economic crisis of perestroika and an active campaign by Israel and its local agents, has depleted this Jewish community just as it has many others in the former Soviet Union. At one of the synagogues I saw leaflets recruiting new immigrants for Israel, even though, as the former deputy governor of the Jewish Autonomous Region Valery Gurevich later told me, there are more Jews returning from Israel than going there...
The retro-emigration is interesting, but is a phenomenon attested throughout the ages.


An Interesting Practice

...When individuals of questionable Jewishness (a category expanded since the 1990s to include all immigrants from the Former Soviet Union) seek to marry, the rabbinical courts rely on the opinions of four state-appointed “Jewishness investigators,” who are tasked with investigating and determining who is Jewish and who is not.

Officially acting only as expert advisors, the four investigators have unfettered discretion to collect any information — and their opinions are almost never challenged. They apply a body of “expertise” on Jewish genealogy that was never subject to public scrutiny or debate. The investigators use a computerized database called Maayanot to perform their investigations, and receive assistance from the Israel Police’s forensic investigators to examine genealogical documents they suspect as forgeries...


An Adventure In Art (60)

Diane Hoeptner
Diane Hoeptner Art Blog


Thursday, December 18, 2014

An Adventure In Art (59)

The Cutting Garden

Margaret Dyer
Pastels By Margaret Dyer



I think "Katzenjammer" might be a more descriptive and precise term than "dyslexia of memory", and I think I may adopt it for regular use. I could use it in situations, like, "I had to read the whole megillah, and I made a real katzenjammer out of it!"

Anyway, "katzenjammer" is like this morning:

I am watching Turner Classic Movies' screening of Nazi Agent, starring Conrad Veidt in a dual role, directed by Jules Dassin.
Veidt in his role as the evil Nazi is appropriately menacing, and in one scene he reminded me of Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan in the recent Star Trek film Into Darkness.

So...  as I made my morning cocoa I hummed a tune:

"Fritzchen freudig, Fritzchen freudig! Morgen gibt's Selleriesalat!"
"Fritzchen freudig, Fritzchen freudig! Turing cracks Enigma code!"

translation line 1: "Little Fritz is happy, little Fritz is happy! There's celery salad this morning!"

which even incorporates Cumberbatch's recent film The Imitation Game, in which he portrays Alan Turing, but which has an unfortunate resonance name-wise to The Crying Game, which leads to Forest Whittaker, and from there to Idi Amin.............


Miami Cubans Emigrees See An End To Political Welfare Benefits

Republican Senator Marco Rubio is furious over President Obama's ending of the 53 year embargo against Cuba. I, however, welcome it.

I see no reason to continue to use my tax money to support such a policy. The Cuban emigres never lifted a finger to assit me when I needed help, but then I never actually had a problem that was caused by and supported by the Politburo of International Communism.

However, I do have a whole lot of stuff made in China, which I believe is stilled ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, and everyone seems rather cool about it.

Senator Rubio, if there is a problem, it is a Cuban problem, and you and your community in Miami will have to deal with Havana on your own from now on. That is, assuming that there is a community whom you represent anymore.
In an interview, Senator Rubio responded to a question:

The Washington Post

... Another questioner pointed out that younger Cuban Americans support normal relations with Cuba.
“I don’t care if the polls say that 99 percent of people believe we should normalize relations in Cuba,” Rubio answered, later adding: “I don’t care if 99 percent of people in polls disagree with my position. This is my position, and I feel passionately about it.”
Yes, Senator Rubio, you are on your own. We should not have to support your political differences. For the last number of years this has been a political welfare hand-out to the Cuban political community in Miami, and it is right that it comes to an end.

The Voice Of Palestinian Christians At Christmas

Zionist Christians’ war on the true meaning of Christmas
By Activestills
|Published December 17, 2014

Kairos is a group of Palestinian Chrsitians that issued "in Bethlehem in December 2009 of the Kairos Palestine document, full title of which is "A moment of truth: A word of faith, hope, and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering", a call by a number of Palestinian Christians to Christians around the world to help fight the Israeli occupation. (Wikipedia, "kairos")]
For the last two years, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest Christian Zionist organization in the U.S., has sent email blasts urging their supporters to fight back against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement by buying Christmas ornaments “Made in Israel.” Or rather, by receiving these ornaments as a reward for a tax-deductible donation. One message urges supporters to “commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ with this symbolic ornament that was made in the land where Jesus was born.”
Jesus was born in occupied territory. At the time, it was occupied by the Romans. Today, the West Bank town of Bethlehem is virtually surrounded by the Israeli separation barrier, which if completed as planned will confiscate some 64 square kilometers of the governorate’s land as nearby Israeli settlements continue to expand in violation of international law. How dare CUFI mention “the land where Jesus was born” without recognizing the plight of the Palestinian Christians who’ve carried his tradition to the present day?
Palestinians hold a Catholic mass as a weekly nonviolent witness against the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank village of Beit Jala, September 7, 2012. If completed as planned, the wall would cut off the Cremisan monastery from the Beit Jala community, blocking access to one of the Bethlehem area’s last remaining green spaces, and a source of employment for area residents. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/

When groups like CUFI do make a rare mention of Palestinian Christians, it is often to paint them as victims of Islamist persecution. This despite polls showing that Palestinian Christians overwhelmingly cite the Israeli occupation as the primary challenge in their lives.
In their Christmas email, CUFI claims that BDS supporters are: “Israel haters” who are “hoping you’ll not know that the freest Arabs in the Middle East are the Arab citizens of the Jewish State of Israel.”

While denying the persistent discrimination faced by Palestinian citizens of Israel and entirely ignoring the injustices faced by those living in the occupied territories, they also ignore fellow Christians. Some 3,000 Palestinian Christians, including the heads of 13 historic Holy Land denominations signed the Kairos Palestine Document, which calls for: “boycott and disinvestment as tools of nonviolence for justice, peace and security for all.”

Unlike the straw man “haters” of CUFI’s rhetoric, Kairos Palestine’s call for BDS is rooted in values of liberating love: “These advocacy campaigns must be carried out with courage, openly and sincerely proclaiming that their object is not revenge but rather to put an end to the existing evil, liberating both the perpetrators and the victims of injustice.”
If only groups like CUFI reflected the best teachings of their faith as clearly. Instead, they have made an idol of the modern state of Israel. They may mention Jesus every now and then, but they rarely quote him. Benjamin Netanyahu gets a lot more airtime. “Netanyahu” even returns more than twice as many search results as “Jesus” when searching their web site.

I was not surprised to learn — from the extremely conservative Christian magazine Charisma of all sources — that CUFI’s executive director, David Brog, is “said to run CUFI like a political campaign.” The report goes on to say that, “[o]ne by one, the higher-profile Christian leaders who helped [John] Hagee start CUFI are dropping off as the organization becomes more focused on political lobbying.”

Unfortunately, CUFI and similar groups have convinced many Americans that “blessing Israel” means rubber-stamping every policy of its increasingly right-wing governments. This includes a message filled with military imagery to “stand with Israel” during last summer’s assault on Gaza, with talking points like, “Israel must not be condemned for doing what any responsible government would do to protect its citizens from terror.” Another message demands, “[t]ell President Obama to stop blocking weapons to Israel!” And yet another email cites 64 Israeli soldiers killed and describes a CUFI-sponsored solidarity visit by pastors to Jerusalem, Sderot and Mt. Herzl. None of these messages even mention the 2,200 Palestinians killed in Gaza, most of them civilians.
One need not be a Christian to recognize that Christmas celebrates the arrival of the Jesus who preached, “blessed are the peacemakers”, “love your enemies”, compassion for “the least of these,” and who taught his followers to pursue “justice and the love of God.” But as a Christian, I am compelled to question the priorities of fellow believers who have placed loyalty to the government of Israel above the life, teachings and example of Jesus.

A Palestinian pastor friend put it this way: “my biggest challenge with Christian Zionism is that it doesn’t promote peace and it ignores justice.”

Where is the Jesus of sacrificial love, peace and justice for all amid the Israeli and American flag-waving and military imagery? I therefore suggest that we stop calling such groups Christian Zionists and instead use the term Zionist Christians, to more accurately reflect their priorities.
The Kairos Document offers a sharply contrasting vision of concern for all life, but will U.S. Christians listen to their Palestinian sisters and brothers?

Through our love, we will overcome injustices and establish foundations for a new society both for us and for our opponents. Our future and their future are one. … We call on the people of Israel to be our partners in peace and not in the cycle of interminable violence...

Politics is momentary; the Holy is forever.
Mixing them together makes the Holy seems transient, while Politics and Power emerges as an eternal object of idolatry.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

An Adventure In Art (58)


Jocelyn T. Bichard
Beauty In My World


The Trouble With Political Obsessions

 Alberta Oilsands

To paraphrase Scotty, in the film The Thing From Another World , produced by Howard Hawks and directed by Christian Nyby, "That's the Republicans for ya! Smart all the way to the top!"

Today's news:

First job for new Republican Senate is Keystone XL: McConnell
20 hours ago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The new Republican-controlled Senate's first act in January will be approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday.

McConnell told reporters that the bill would be based on a measure that failed in the Senate last month that was co-sponsored by North Dakota Republican John Hoeven and Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu.

"It'll be open for amendment," McConnell said. "I will hope that senators on both sides will offer energy-related amendments but there'll be no effort to try to micromanage the amendment process." ...

 And this is all fine. They did win the mid-term election.

Canadian heavy oil drops below US$40 as new oilsands projects rev up

Robert Tuttle, Bloomberg News | December 15, 2014 | Last Updated: Dec 15 3:58 PM ET
... Canada’s oilsands producers will probably be the first to cut output amid falling prices, Greg Sharenow, executive vice president of Pacific Investment Management Co. said this month.
Canadian crude produced from oilsands is some of the world’s most expensive to produce as it must be dug or pumped from the ground, turned into lighter synthetic crude and then transported by pipeline or rail thousands of miles to refineries...
Who knows?

And the trouble with political obsessions is the simple fact that what is does not always agree with a political viewpoint.


Christmas Street Again

I had a post Christmas Street a couple of days ago. I have updated the picture, and I include the original for comparison. It is sort of my Christmas Advent calendar where I make an improvement every day until Christmas.


picture today