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Sunday, November 30, 2014

My Nephews Arrive For The Season

 My Three Nephews On Whitey Bulger Look-Alike Day

Humbled and exhausted, we try to form up our ranks after the Eating season. People have actually gone to airports and gone somewhere on an airplane, not spending endless nights sleeping on cots in the airport. Hereabouts in Michigan yesterday was Airport Day, or, more realistically, Remember-To-Wear-Clean-Underwear-Day!!
Yes, we have come full circle from the days when our mothers told us to be righteous in our choice of briefs on the far off chance we may be in an automobile accident and be taken to the hospital and the ER personnel may have to remove our outer clothing to swab our wounds, discovering to their dismay - and it takes a lot to dismay urban ER personnel!- that we wore our underwear on bi-diurnal cycle: changing every other day.

Nowadays there is a very good chance that the TSA will touch and view your undergarments... while they are still on your person! Had our mothers only known what a baneful breed their monitory cautions would grow into one day.

60% of the flights leaving  DTW  were on time, 30% were late, and 10% were really, really late. I was not flying  myself, thank heavens ( May God turn away such plagues!), but the numbers game did not instill much enthusiasm. I had noticed that etymologically this was the very same "really, really" that George Bush had used to justify the Iraq War, saying Saddam Hussein was a "really, really" bad actor. I had a sense that someone was about to steal one trillion dollars from me, as well as wiretapping my phone and forcing me to wear clean underwear with a relentless intent.

As is the case in the popular  mind, what goes around, comes around. This is a philosophy which stands us well and is perennially verified by all of us, having been based on the Farmers' Almanac's observations of a whirly-gig or weather vane back in the day when maiden aunts still believed soon-to-be-General George McClellan to be quite a catch for their as yet unmarried wards.

As some airplanes took away, others landed and brought gifts. As I stood on the tarmac and noted these things in a desultory way - thinking that this may have been a cognitive state similar to that of St. Joseph who noted a lot of things in the first couple years of his marriage and kept them under his yarmulke - it dawned on me that this was the type of logic that gave rise to the Cargo Cults during World War II: on Polynesian islands certain inhabitants prayed for the airplanes to come back down from the heavens bearing gifts (war supplies, weapons, and Hershey's bars) and angels (US air men).
They even used driftwood to build crude idols resembling the remnants of balsa-wood gliders I used to play with. I know this. I saw it all in the film Mondo Cane back in the 60's.

This airplane brought the gift of Nepotism; nepotism being derived from Latin nepos, meaning nephew... all three of them - Ayden, Austin, and Aloysius (pronounced a-LOY-shus for all you who are not Sons of Hibernia). Once again they had flown in on Lucky Airlines. All this lines' craft had a picture of a winking card sharp - one hand holding a royal flush, the other on a glitzy lady's anatomy - painted on the vertical stabilizer and rudder. I had to admire it all since they had just come out of bankruptcy, and I had expected that Lucky Airlines might have changed their logo to "The Busted Flush" or something along those lines, along with a suitable icon on the fuselage. But they had come out of bankruptcy better than ever, and were a real success story of the period of the "Financial Unpleasantness".
Ah, I thought: good things come in threes, shortly followed by three on a match is bad luck. This got me into the suitable mood of feckless befuddlement which people have come to expect of me and are mightily disappointed if, perchance, I show up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed: they say afterwards that there was something wrong with old Montag, didn't seem himself... wasn't properly spaced-out; displayed unsettling signs of being-with-it, and so on.

We embraced with avuncular joy - on my part - and nepotistical joy on theirs. (By the way, nepotistical is the only word that rhymes with nepotistical. It is unique that way. Look it up in a rhyming dictionary if you don't believe me; it is considered mono-rhythmistical, as they foppishly put it.)
We bundled into the venerable VW - which I now refer to as The Hindenburg, referencing the General, not the Dirigible - and prepared to run the gauntlet of the various devices in parking lots, airports, and toll roads which suck currency and specie from one's pockets.

They had been some time at their Aunt Sophronia's in England, and had welcomed me with a number of endearing sobriquets. In the space of five minutes, I was quickly and seriatim referred to as "old puddingstone", "old stub", "you-old-soak", and "great Booley"!

I did not recognize any of these, but I was not deceived, either. I knew my nephews, and if they were to refer to me as "The Boss", they would not mean it in the sense of  "patron" or "chief" or Springsteen; they would mean "boss" in the sense of a massive protuberance, such as are often on the intersecting wooden ribs of a church roof whereon medieval artisans sculpted grotesques and gargoyles.

We drove home to Linden Lea - as the goodwife calls it - to be met by an designedly artful display of joyful barking and slavish fawning put on by Cymbalta and Zoloft who well remembered Xmas three ships, three gifts, and three the kings... or three nephews bringing treats for the canine palate.

They will be here for a while. I shall issue an update.


Broken Hearts And Bicycle Parts

I pray to the Virgin.

I can't think of anything further to say about it.

pix: Black and White Dreams

The Baleful Trinity of Power, Alcohol, And Delusion

US lawmaker's aide draws ire over first daughter scolding
Washington (AFP) - A US lawmaker's communications director was facing social media calls she be sacked after her Facebook rant about President Barack Obama's daughters prompted widespread anger.

Elizabeth Lauten, spokeswoman for Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, wrote a scathing post to her Facebook account scolding Malia and Sasha Obama, 16 and 13, for looking bored while attending a public event with their father on Wednesday.

In the post...  Lauten tells the girls to "try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play."

The girls stood beside Obama -- looking vaguely bored -- as he issued the annual Thanksgiving turkey "pardon," saving two birds from the dinner table.

The underwhelmed expressions of the teenaged sisters sparked mainly amused comment, but Lauten's remarks were notably more caustic.

"Then again, your mother and father don't respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter," Lauten wrote in her post.

"So I'm guessing you're coming up a little short in the 'good role model' department.
"Nevertheless, stretch yourself. Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you."
Supremely inadvisable Facebook posting. In fact, it is the type of social gaffe that we would expect Ms. Lauten to preach to young folk about not doing, something like,  "Once you post it on the Internet, it'll be there forever! Use some good judgement, youngsters!"

It was Thanksgiving. There was probably alcohol or other feel-good stimulants. It amazes me how easily we forget that feel-good stimulants very often leave us not feeling good, but that is a post for another day.

Ms. Lauten needs to realize that she deals in politics, not in religion and metaphysics. It is dirty, power-grubbing politics, and it has many participants, and each participant has different views. To pretend to be above it all with her own glorific vision of the shining city of the USA on some hill... probably overlooking some heavenly Jerusalem... is painful to watch as it meshes with her mud-slinging and self-demeaning nastiness.

It's politics, Ms. Lauten. It is the parliament of differences. If difference to you means a moral short-coming, what have you learned from your own mess?

The USA is no shining city on a hill.
There was plenty of good seasoned by lots of evil. The notion that somehow this country has a blessed history is the stuff of kindergarten tales.

The country had slavery, and that evil could not be negotiated out of existence. There was no politics able to deal with it, so began the great blood-letting of The Civil War.

At the same time, there began the genocidal war against Native Americans:
The Horrific Sand Creek Massacre Will Be Forgotten No More
The opening of a national historic site in Colorado helps restore to public memory one of the worst atrocities ever perpetrated on Native Americans
... When hundreds of blue-clad cavalrymen suddenly appeared at dawn on November 29, a Cheyenne chief raised the Stars and Stripes above his lodge. Others in the village waved white flags. The troops replied by opening fire with carbines and cannon, killing at least 150 Indians, most of them women, children and the elderly. Before departing, the troops burned the village and mutilated the dead, carrying off body parts as trophies.
Col. John Chivington led the raid. (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs division)

There were many such atrocities in the American West. But the slaughter at Sand Creek stands out because of the impact it had at the time and the way it has been remembered. Or rather, lost and then rediscovered. Sand Creek was the My Lai of its day, a war crime exposed by soldiers and condemned by the U.S. government. It fueled decades of war on the Great Plains. And yet, over time, the massacre receded from white memory, to the point where even locals were unaware of what had happened in their own backyard...

It seems to be our common condition to see things in black and white, we are either supremely good or we are incorrigibly evil; Wall Street is doing well or Wall Street is headed for disaster; it is the best of times or it is the worst of times... but not both: either Judgement Day or endless Progress to Utopia.

Politics is constant palaver and negotiation. If you make your opponent a devil, you impugn him and degrade yourself.

... and a "shining city" descends not into the valley of darkness violence.

Ms. Lauten goes on:
In her apology, Ms Lauten wrote: "After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents, and re-reading my words online I can see more clearly just how hurtful my words were."

It really took you "hours of prayer" to see how nasty you were being? Others can see how crude it was even without having recourse to the Deity!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Post-Thanksgiving

We are going to my parents for Thanksgiving dinner. We have not been there for two years for T-day, and we have been wondering how my mother is going to surprise us.

My mother imagines herself to be in a hurry most of the time, so she always puts the stove burners on HIGH,  intending to turn them down after a minute or so. The rest is very predictable. The last time we were there, she had poured some gravy from a jar into a saucepan, set it on the burner, and burned it. However, this did not deter her. She poured it into the antique gravy boat, a double-hulled monstrosity that needs a full one extra leaf of the holiday dining table to come about when being passed from one end of the table to the other.

The unwary diners poured the smoky liquid over their foodstuffs, eagerly anticipating the feast. My niece yelled out, "Something tastes burnt!"  The glistering lights dulled in the waiting eyes as we resisted this attack on our feast-beginning; our eyes slowly moved downwards to inspect our own heavily laden plates: mountains of mashed potatoes and stuffing and veritable cords of turkey meat, swimming in a gravy that made us recall British Petroleum with a sense of dreamy longing.

To be honest, though, if my mother had not used the gravy, she probably would have frozen it and served it to the unsuspecting diners the next Thanksgiving. Last year she served my father a piece of his birthday cake from the previous year, frozen full twelve months. It was reported to be "good".

Then there was the year she melted some butter, and then let it blaze up, causing consternation and smoke alarums. At the present time, the City Fire Department calls up each Thanksgiving morning to chat briefly, wish my parents a happy T-day, and politely drop a few reminders about safety in the kitchen.

This year I went shopping with her. There are only going to be five of us at dinner, so we were intent upon securing a smallish sized bird. There actually is a limit to the amount of left-overs one can deal with effectively. Bayesian analysis holds that a normal group of T-day toffers can handle left-overs equal to 40% of original bird and side dishes, with a .05 probability of error.
After wading through piles and piles of frozen 16 to 22 pounders, we discovered a bin of what seemed in retrospect to be some sort of miniature or dwarf turkeys, weighing in at 7 to 10 pounds, specially bred for the smaller enclaves of gluttons.

So we got a 9 3/4 pounder. Of course, in time we realized what we had bought was a large turkey breast, not an entire turkey: all white meat. Not all of us love white meat, but the gravy may add moisture... if we do not compromise it somehow.

Such things are common in the elderly: the small print on turkey bags is hard to read. That and forgetfulness and being dotty and whatnot.
However, when She-who-must-be-obeyed now tells the story of "The Enormous Turkey Breast" (and tell it she does, for within the short space of 3 days it has become a bit of the legendary), she embellishes it with the story of the time I was full 29 years old, it was my daughter's birthday, and I went to pick up the cake at the store that morning.

The saleslady got the cake, opened the box, I looked at it and remarked how lovely it was.

When I got home, She-who-etc. had a cake platter ready, and opened the box to get the cake and place it thereon.

There was a horrible silence... I mean, actually blood-chilling and breath-congealing ghastly silence - sort of the type of petrified  "Mums the word!"  that the victims of Medusa experienced as they felt their bodies turn to stone.
The tableau of icing on the cake was composed of the pleasures of a golf game, and was titled with "Happy Birthday, Dad".

The 10 pound turkey breast was a blessing, for it could have been worse.

Denier Chickens Coming Home To Roost

The “rescue” of the Detroit Institute of Arts has resolved nothing
By David Walsh
20 November 2014
The population of Detroit and beyond is currently under bombardment from the media and political establishment to the effect that the city has been “brought back from the brink,” “reborn,” and generally rescued through the shrewdness, generosity and even “sacrifice” of the elite.

Since the rich in America are criminal and predatory, and refuse as a matter of principle to give up a penny of their ill-gotten gains, this propaganda barrage ought to be viewed with the greatest skepticism.

In reality, the “Grand Bargain” imposed on Detroit includes robbing the legally protected pensions of thousands of retirees and gutting their health benefits, extorting $100 million from the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), and carrying out other violations of basic democratic rights. It opens the door to further savage attacks on wages, benefits and public services, which will not be long in coming. The precedent has been set...

This post is not about the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), even though I have "deked" you into thinking is was.

This is about (1) inability to grasp the necessity of action, and (2) inability to act.

In the 1990s there were early warnings about the coming public pension debacle, as benefits continued to outstrip reasonable estimates of future revenues. This also held true of private pensions... General Motors comes to mind.

If the accounting and mathematics were true - and they were - and if the policy makers were not totally incompetent - and the jury is still out on that one - some of these problems should have been addressed.
They were not.
We lived on in our eternal expectation that there is a Free Lunch, and we are the recipients!

Same thing holds true for the warnings today about various other matters: early warnings, inability to comprehend, inability to act.

The Deniers of today become the I-told-you-so-ers of tomorrow.


I Do Not Understand Our Policy In The Middle East

Washington denounces Syrian air strikes on ISIS
By Peter Symonds
28 November 2014

The US has seized on Syrian air force strikes on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) stronghold of Raqqa to denounce Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and push for his government’s removal. For the past three years, the Obama administration has backed anti-Assad militias in Syria. The main aim of its new Middle Eastern war remains regime-change in Damascus.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Wednesday said the US was “horrified” by reports that Syrian air strikes the previous day killed scores of civilians. She condemned the Syrian regime’s “continued slaughter of Syria civilians” and “callous disregard for human life,” declaring that “Assad long ago lost all legitimacy to govern.”

I believe that the US airstrikes against ISIS also had some spoil sports grumbling about civilian deaths, and they kvetched about callous disregards.

(1) The USA is on track here to destroying another regime and replacing it with another incompetent buffoonery of democratic government which will be unable to defend itself, and

(2) the USA is arming militants who may - as did Al Qaida - turn our own arms against us.

Whatever this group in Washington thinks may be gained for the people of Syria by establishing a vast vacuum of leadership in this area will be lost 1,000 times over by the rush of violence coming in to fill the emptiness.

The only way any of all this makes any sense is the hypothesis that the USA wishes a Middle East filled with turmoil for the near future, perhaps another 66 years.


Goodbye, Mr. Hughes

Cricket has lost a fine player.


Thanksgiving Apple Pie

Almaty (Alma Ata) Market

My daughter and I made an apple pie for the T-day, and we found it a little surprising.
Being used to store pies with lots and lots of sugar and tapioca stucco filling so firm that one could bed down on it, it was much, much more subtle.

She finally came up with the apt description: it was aromatic.
There was something about the apples - five MacIntosh and 2 Granny Smith - that was very much like those elusive bouquets that one hears so much about from wine lovers.

The MacIntosh apples had some indefinable aromatic, that struck me as evanescent lavander - a fugitive perfume that underlay the Life of Apples, that came to be in that original fruit-filled Eden that rose in Alma Ata, between the mountains and between the rivers.

It was like an answer to a prayer, for it was one way we converse with the world, by the hardly grasped aromatic concepts of taste and smell. They have those "long waves lengths" that make palaver last a billion years.


Opiates For The Masses.... The Pharma-Imperium

As we prepare to leave yet not leave Afghanistan, the only sure beacon of success is the country's ever in creasing production of the opium poppy.

Future historians will talk about how Afghanistan displaced other Asian countries as the King of Opium under the aegis of NATO and the War on Terror. We obviously cannot.


Into The Wilder Place

I have been focusing on Chris McCandless and his life as told in the book Into The Wild and the film Into The Wild, and then everything else produced about it.

More and more people journey to Alaska and visit his bus, like pilgrims visiting the tomb of a famous marabout or to visit San Diego at Compostela. And it is this connexion between people alive and people gone that has fascinated me.
First, this connexion mirrors the aboriginal connection between land, the open road, the wide open spaces, and Chris McCandless: it is a subtle attraction that is strong, yet is almost invisible to those of us standing nearby.
Second, the connexion between McCandless and people of the present is an equally strong yet invisible - and for many, very hard to understand or feel sympathy for - attraction that is a metaphor of the present for gods and heroes of history... it reruns the play of Power in the world, and how long its conversation with us - usually without the aid of words or language - takes...

... for the things of the world and universe which do not have language, yet which converse with us seem to speak in a language with a wave length so long and slow and deep that it requires 30 years on the average to get through the basic hellos, introduction all around, and howdy-dos.

I can observe the beginning of a spiritual connexion, and observe how one death seems to uncannily free other people who feel the need of the particular spirit clarity found at the end of their pilgrimage.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Morning Blather

My daughter is in town, so I hear news not only at dinner time, but also in the morning, as Joe Scarborough holds forth about everything under the sun. This morning he told us his can't-lose solution to the ISIS problem: arm the Kurds in Northern Iraq, let them go wild, and peace will reign.

One of the many problems with this particular solution is the fact that every group we have armed with weapons has turned them against us sooner or later as our interests and theirs diverged.

Once IS (or whatever the bloody name is!) is defeated, then the vision of a Greater Kurdistan will take form, and we won't be on board the same ship of fools anymore.


The Greatest Generation

The Spirit Who Always Denies

I was hanging around someone who was talking about "The Greatest Generation".

Of course, I - being der Geist, der stets verneint - decided to disagree, saying that the decision to fight to defend oneself and one's country has been a common phenomenon throughout history, and in no way makes one generation of people in one country a greatest generation.
They can be pretty good stuff, but not the best.

I said that it was probably just another form of the idea of America being exceptional in the best possible sense, and heads and shoulders above the rest of the world, which, truth to tell, was a bunch of third world riff-raff and G20's barely 40 years from Hershey bars and Lucky Strikes and various benighted troglodytes.

My experience with "The Greatest" nowadays is pretty much my mother.
I printed some financials articles on various things, one of which was the federal deficit and the fact that it was decreasing and revenues were increasing.

Nobody disputes it.

That is why it was not a factor in the election last month: it could not even light a fire under a tinderbox.

My mother said that maybe the Financial Times was   slanting   the news to make Obama look good. It was a distinct possibility in her opinion, formed by FOX.

I said that the notion that everybody was lying to you (except your cable news shows) was a pretty good definition of paranoid obsession.

It has been a long 68 years.


News From Ferguson

I just now - 9:05 AM - heard on MSNBC News from Ferguson that the clergy in Ferguson who, when things get hot, work to defuse tension between protestors and the police...  "Blah, blah, blah."

Literal quote.

"Blah, blah, blah."

Now that's coverage.


Les Sports


Les pompons de la gloire
Elles tiennent une place aussi dorée que détestée dans les  " rom com "  que dans les séries américaines. Si la vie de cheerleader professionnelle n’est pas aussi pailletée qu’il n’y paraît, certaines équipes savent se faire remarquer...

"les rom com"  =  romantic comedies... at least, I am pretty sure it does.

长征.... Changing Times

Postcards my dental student at University of Detroit-Mercy College School of Dentistry sent me.


A Possible Scenario For 2017: Terminator-Style

I have been scratching my head (and other parts) trying to figure out what's up with 2017.
I mean, the year 2017 does not exist in my consciousness...

All the other years are there: the painful process of trying to get through the telephone and media attacks running up to the presidential elections of 2016, the hazy future of 2018, a blip for 2019, and a future unclear from then on.
The point is not that the picture is unclear or hazy; the point is, to quote a fine figure and to make a fine point of it, is that 2017...

"...  It's not there, Mac !"

 (Donald Moffat as Garry to...

Kurt Russel as MacReady... 

in John Carpenter's The Thing)

Here's a maybe-why or a possibly-might scenario dealing with equity market flash crashes, about which I have written before:
Breakdown: A Glimpse Inside the 'Flash Crash'
By Scott Patterson
June 10, 2012 5:56 p.m. ET
Pools of Darkness
In the weeks and months following the flash crash, a fierce debate erupted over what had become of the stock market. Angry words were exchanged in the halls of Capitol Hill, on financial television shows and at trading firms in New York and Chicago.
Congress held panel discussions. The Securities and Exchange Commission grilled the previously unknown chieftains of the high-speed merchants, including Mr. Cummings of Tradebot and Mr. Peterffy of Timber Hill.
The complex, labyrinthine nature of the market vexed ordinary investors. Years ago, before the rise of electronic networks, most trading took place at the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq.
BY 2012, trading occurred in roughly seventy different venues, including giant hedge funds and banks. So-called "dark pools," private markets in which trading took place away from public exchanges such as the NYSE, accounted for more than 10% of all U.S. stock trades, according to Tabb Group.
As the markets slid into discrete pools of darkness, investors, too, had been left in the dark.

It is only our dire lack of imagination that forces us into Terminator 2 and Terminator 3 modes of envisaging the future.

Skynet may destroy the future of many generations of mankind as effectively with a Flash Crash of equity markets, power grids, and many other complex system which have abandoned human oversight and control, as with the robotic armies sweeping through the streets of Los Angeles.

We have trouble imagining the banes to come that we have not yet afflicted ourselves with.

We will have placed the Robot boot upon our skulls.

Despair is worse than slavery.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When The Flash Uses Public Transport

 ...    he uses a bus just like this bus.

photo: Himmel Uber Berlin

Storm On The Great Lakes

I forget exactly when this occurred, but it was within the past 5 years. I do not think this vessel is still in service under the name Selkirk Settler that appears here.


Last Adjustments Outside The Chapel

I think I may have taken this picture.
Can't recall.


My Beautiful Laundrette Journal

Goodbye To Summer...

This is from the blog  I Am A Washing Machine


Tales From Immigration

"Lez jus put all them immigrants back on them boats, and let 'em sail back ta where they come from, back ta Mexico."
Sarah Palin

pix: stefanparis  wednesday bad dream

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Approach To The Mount Loretto Girls Orphanage

photo: Shaun O'Boyle

Tales From The Drought

There's a yarn hereabouts that the infernal drought has got so bad in Californie that even the sea coast is beginnin' ta dry up!

pix:   stefanparis: changing world

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Extremely Close And...

I watched Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close again.

Of course, I liked it again. I give it just over 92% in my Rotten Tomatoes rating system, and sucks to the critics and the audiences who poo-pooed it.
I paid close attention this time......

(By now, if you have read this blog long enough, you must sense that I have a bit of a problem paying attention to things which are not my real focus at the moment. I mean, in the film we are talking about, I could have been paying too much attention to the fact that Viola Davis cracks open the door and does not want Thomas Horn's character to enter and looked exactly the same as she did in Solaris when she did not want George Clooney's character to enter her cabin.
I coulda been doin' that.)

... and I understood the grandfather storyline.

Now I suppose that the critics say that the reunion of the grandfather (Max von Sydow, who incharacter was to have witnessed the death of his parents in Dresden... probably the Fire Storms) with the family after the death of his son (Tom Hanks) in the World Trade Center, and particularly his new relationship with his grandson (Thomas Horn) is rather unbelievable and saccharine.

However, when I followed it along - resisting diversions, which were plenty, I can assure you, such as taking tambourines along and shaking them to keep one's cool! - I realized that the story was no sugary nonsense, but it immediately reminded me of the play Copenhagen, in which the characters of Werner Heisenberg, the German atomic scientist, and Niels Bohr, the Danish genius behind Quantum Theory, had so achingly much to say to each other.
They had so much that they met in the midst of World War II, but discovered that they could not really open up and talk like Buber's "Ich und Du" - I and Thou. They discovered they had to wait until after death until they could speak in Copenhagen.
(To my mind, that almost defeats "I and Thou".)

That is no small thing.
So there had to be a Death intervention before the grandfather could come back to his family. Good. There had been enough Death, so why begrudge an ending with Life?

I suppose if everyone had died in Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close that the critics would have been somewhat more positive.

Life should be all sugar, honey.


Old Doc Landon

My old sawbones sent this along, saying that he used it to scare me back in the day.


Scrimmage At The Institute Of Arts

Ms. Gabriela Montaño de Bolivia

Ms. Montaño, who lives in Bolivia, is my ideal political-type-person.
I do not know where to start, so I won't.

However, when I attended a lecture by Edouard Duval-Carrié on the Arts of Haiti at the Detroit Institute of Arts (The DIA) , and the lecture was plagued with electronic problems, and I asked whether it was because we were in Danto Hall (playing on the closeness of "Danto" with Elizi "Dantor", which is often spelled Dantò anyway.... so I thought "Close enough."

So Elizi Dantor is a lwa or power of Haiti with which one should not get on the bad side of. In fact, one should never mess with any of the powers of Haiti, or of anywhere else, for that matter. 

Of course, my suggestion implied that M. Duval-Carrié had in some undefined way "messed" with the aforementioned Elizi Dantò (using the variant spelling), so he took offense, upset enough already by the shambles of his lecture.

I was sitting three seats away from a lady who looked exactly like Ms. Gabriela Montaño, so I was in heaven.

If you know anything about Elizi Dantor, it will be clear that she had picked me to be on her team for that day! We were "Skins", the others were "Shirts".

 Edouard Duval-Carrié


Getting In Shape For Thanksgiving

Even though this cartoon is for Christmas ( Natal ) rather than Thanksgiving, the thoughts remain the same.

Loose translation:

Lady on Treadmill:  You really have to lose weight for Christmas.

Turkey on Treadmill:    Even if it kills me...

Everything I know about Portuguese, I learned on the Net. I think it is a totally wizard and shaman way to learn a new lingo. Next I shall attempt English.

reprint from past Thanksgivings

Acceptable Statistics Of The Heart Rending Kind

After a great deal of study and soul-searching (!?), it has been determined that the following story is an Acceptable Statistic - and thus receives a big "thumbs up!" - of a Modern Weaponized Society:

Boy With Toy Gun Shot By Cleveland Police Dies At Hospital

Mark Hanrahan, International Business Times
UPDATE 11:14 a.m.: The 12-year-old Cleveland boy shot by police has died, a representative from the Cleveland police union confirmed to the Cleveland Plain Dealer....
 A police officer in Cleveland shot a 12-year-old boy who pulled a realistic-looking toy gun from his waistband Saturday. The boy, who was shot in the stomach, was in “serious condition” and undergoing surgery...
The officers responding to the report saw a group of people sitting outside the rec center and a black gun on a table in front of them. The boy picked up the gun and put it in his waistband. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer description of the incident, one officer told the boy who had picked up the gun to raise his hands, after which the boy grabbed the gun from his waistband. An officer then fired two shots, one of which hit the boy in the stomach.

WOIO-TV, Cleveland, reported the weapon was subsequently determined to be an “airsoft”-type replica, and an orange safety indicator clip that normally would be around the muzzle had been removed.

Another thing we did not hear about in the last election. Heck, things are tough everywhere.


Misperceptions Of Celebrity

I always thought that celebrities merely had to snap their fingers from the back of the limo, and heaps of willing guys and dolls would respond to be their playmates. I did, really. I thought that celebrity had an aura about it that made hooking up the simplest of the day's tedious chores.

Apparently not.
Bill Cosby was a celebrity going back to the 60s, and he was popular for a long time, yet he required drugs to ensnare someone into having sex with him. The running total today - on the totalizator bar running in Time Square - has 12 drugged, 1 attempted drugging, and 3 otherwise misled or overpowered.
And these cases are old, back in the times when he was actually good looking, not at all like the fuzzy, mottled, keratin-blistered antiquity of today.

Everything about this situation is disgusting, including my interest.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Yet Another War

Do you have any idea how  cool  is a right wing war on science?
That would be a true global game changer!

The Battle Of Iraq

There are some of soft heart and weaker mind that say that President Obama pulled the troops from Iraq too early. We should have left them there for another ten years or so, or just until everything was hunky-dory.

A nation and a people have to fight their own battles.
The USA did in the American Revolution. We had help from the French, but the most critical help was the fleet at Yorktown, not troops on the ground.

We can help, but everyone has to fight their own battles. Otherwise, they will never be free.


Duchess Of Alba

She-who-must-be-obeyed was perusing the NY Times...

(I call it the Nī Tī - I mention that even though you could care less. I refer to the Xinhua of China as Xin Xin, and nobody cares, either.
Le Figaro of France is il Barbieri, and Al Jazeera is  D'j'a read uh?, as in "Did you read it?" , which is supposed to be a joke - not one person has laughed yet - based on the Arabic word for "newspaper" Jareeda.)

and she mentioned that the Duchess of Alba had passed.

I said that I had seen a photo of her earlier, and she looked like a crazed Ruth Gordon. I hesitated briefly before adding that when I said "crazed Ruth Gordon", I was not being redundant.


The Meeting Of The Film Society 1

I am watching Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds again on Turner Classic Movies (Huzzah for TCM!), and for the first time I am appreciating it for how well executed it is. I am also enjoying seeing Tippi Hedren as an actress, instead of a Hitchcock protegée.

(Of course, it is not as quite as perfect as School Of Rock with Jack Black, which was perfect in all regards, from writing to acting to directing to wardrobe to editing to sound to Foley artistry, etc.,etc., etc.
School Of Rock had the extra added gold star of ignoring the question of what immediately happened in the aftermath of the story. There were scenes at the end showing how things were in the near future, but it totally - and correctly! - ignores the ridiculous business of trying to square a fantasy with reality; i.e., how the kids and their fast-tracking parents were immediately reconciled to having lost a semester of studies.
One does not reconcile fantasy with reality within the context of the film. School Of Rock did a slight return to the normal world by adding those scenes at the ending credits, which did not detract from the main story in the slightest.)

I find myself liking The Birds a good deal. Of course, there is the lovely Veronica Cartwright, whom I would not see again until Alien some fourteen years later, and a mesmerizing Jessica Tandy who floats like a butterfly and stares like a cobra.

I think it a shame Tippi Hedren did not have a more robust career as an actress. Unfortunately, with a first name such as "Tippi", I suppose most of us expected her to be associated intimately with "Longstockings", or something along those lines.


The Dizzy Distaff Side Of Commentary

 Politician, Commentator, Author, and Quitter

Sarah Palin apparently said - in reaction to President Obama's speech on immigration - that we should round up (or did she say Round Up™  !?) all the Mexicans and put them into boats and send them back across the ocean to Mexico.

Perhaps she had them mixed up with the Vietnamese with whom we actually do share a common border.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

中國戲曲... ... 好消息

I do not know if that is exactly correct, but "Chinese Opera"! Yay! Huzzah!

There is another coming to the area, and I'll be able to attend.

The first Chinese Opera I went to in Ann Arbor, I moaned and groaned for the first ten minutes. Then, suddenly, I became totally enchanted by the beauty of all the arts upon the stage.


Old Man River 2

If the certitude of death is like falling into the dark ocean and finding the bottom just 2 feet down, then the absolute of the Holy is like having a hand reach out and grab you to end your fall.

Such certainty transcends the need for knowledge.


Mad Max's Oil Futures

"GDP Rose Again For The 6th Straight Month..."

At CBS MoneyWatch

there is an eye-opening and rather alarming article for those believers in a constant march upwards of Progress and Gross Domestic Product.
Succinctly, there is work suggesting that after a recession, the economy does not return to long term trend of GDP, ratherthe trend line itself tends to lower a bit and make it look like the GDP has returned to the trend line.

The economy doesn't return to trend so much as the trend is revised downward to reflect weaker economic output.


The conclusion is that demand shocks may have a permanent impact on a country's GDP. In short, the shocks are not fully reversed over time as economists have long believed. What does that mean in practice? In the job market, it could mean that the long-term unemployed never find work.
If the Fed researchers are correct, that has enormous implications for what might be necessary to help the U.S. economy get back on track. Government policies to maintain employment -- by modernizing the country's aging roads, bridges and other infrastructure, for example -- may avoid some of the permanent effects of the cataclysm that followed the 2008 financial crisis.

What does this mean?

Well, I find it rather astounding, as it flies in the face of our quaint faith in progress.

It is the Science Fiction of Dystopian Futures made Mathematical and Real.


It's In The Blood

Two Palestinians entered a synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood and carried out a terrible terrorist attack with butcher knives and a gun, killing a number of them. The attackers were killed by security forces.

The right wing government of Israel then attacked upon their mediaeval belief that terrorism is in the DNA, and thus ordered that the houses of the families of the terrorists be destroyed, driving their families into homelessness.
It is not enough that the terrorist be killed.
It is a good thing to see that terrorism is a racial characteristic of Palestinians, and all relatives of terrorists must be dealt with harshly.
“Do not discriminate between blood and blood,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday night, calling for international condemnation of a murderous attack inside a synagogue that morning. Moments later, he announced the steps he plans to take in response to the senseless bloodletting.

“This evening I ordered the demolition of the homes of the terrorists who perpetrated the massacre and the hastening of the demolition of the homes of the terrorists who perpetrated the earlier attacks,” Netanyahu told the nation, asking it to allow the state to settle scores on its behalf.

Five months earlier, Netanyahu made a similar statement after the horrific murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir. “We don’t distinguish between [Palestinian] terror and [Jewish] terror, and will deal severely with both,” the prime minister said, vowing to bring the full force of the law down upon the murderers, who he said, “have no place in Israeli society.”

Of course, Netanyahu — like his predecessors — does discriminate between blood and blood, and he does distinguish between Jewish terror and Palestinian terror.

The prime minister did not order the police or army to demolish family homes of the suspects in the Abu Khdeir murder. Then again, they, and their families who live in said homes, are Jewish....

and from CNN:
Local media reports said one of the attackers worked at a store in the area. Freshly plastered signs on one wall read, "Jews Employ Jews."

A sign on a storefront that reads "Jews Employs Jews"... or Juden beschäftigen Juden...
What does that remind me of?

 Where else have I seen storefronts emblazoned with slogans that begin with the word "Jews"... or Juden?

Racism is still a prime weapon in the arsenal of violence. It is the proverbial two-edged sword which injures he who wields it as well as he who is struck by it.

Yet in the arena of our blood lust, who has time to contemplate such wisdom?
Ashkelon mayor Itamar Shimoni raised the ire of leftists on Wednesday after he ordered to temporarily stop the employment of Arab construction workers who are tasked with building protected spaces in educational institutions in the city...
As if the important point were the "ire of leftists".
The mayor did what he did for what he considered good reasons. Fine. I do not disagree, for there are always good reasons.
We are still dealing with good people here, so there are always good reason when we are dealing with good people. It is a tough call, isn't it? Add to it that everyone has a "belief system" in which the God of the universe agrees with them and them alone.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Odd Comments

 A Number Of Seamen

I have a couple of comments from the honorable Mr. Semen Rendi.

He touts cars and boats. He has an odd name.

He reminds me of the odd joke about the overweight person who says, "I'm on a sea food diet; if I see food, I eat it."

Mr. Rendi sells boats. Perhaps he is on a seamen diet.


Old Man River

Tomorrow my elder brother has the first of his 4 (minimum) operations to replace hips and knees. The ops themselves are not that much anymore, but there is general anesthesia, secondary infections, recovery, re-hab, and pre-existing conditions that may complicate things.

Earlier I was listening to the film Show Boat, and zeroed in on the song Old Man River, and I thought how interesting that sequence of arts is - a sequence being the novel and its history, the play and its history, the films, and the revivals.

I thought of Paul Robeson, and the mystic of the music that tells the story of oppression below the surface of white consciousness, slipping like water through an old earthen dam in that would collapse one day.

To be tired of living and to be scared of dying was sharp-pointed: was it uniquely American in its truly anti-Zorba spirit of abject acquiescence of a vicious status quo between the poles of life and death?

Later, upon waking from my nap, I saw my younger brother, who had passed just over a month ago. We took a ride over the ontology falls of the dream Zambezi, and things went really quite fast.
However, he said that Death is absolute certitude.
I asked whether he meant something like,
"The only sure things are death and taxes."

It was sort of like it.
We went to the dark sea where I had fallen once through the icy depths of despair, and it was a black, black sea with a wind not too strong blowing over the face of it. It was a dark, endless abyssal ocean without horizon of hope.
We jumped in, and it was about 2 feet deep!
So we walked about a bit.
And he indicated that was certitude: no abyss, no descent, just sure and steady sea floor beneath us.

What need is there of all the human tricks of knowledge in Death? In absolute certitude, there is no need of cunning, intelligence, curiosity, or fear.

Certitude never changes.

(By contrast, the final scene in the film Take Shelter discovers to us the bottom of the sea, where we did not step in, but the ocean was ripped from us, where the inconstant water has pulled far away, preparing to sweep in and change Everything.
Here the bottom of the ocean requires flight, cunning, fear, hope, technology of escape... as if we can gaze upon it, but only stand firm for a fleeting second.)