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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Papacito Trump

NBC es un muchachuello pequeño, Papa Trump es muy fuerte, y muy dotado !
Y qué?


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Life Imitates Life, Art, And Life Again

 La Horde Outside The Helping Hand

I had a post on an arson in an Arab-Jewish bilingual school in Israel last year.

The prime minister’s reaction — or lack thereof — to the arson attack against Jerusalem’s bilingual school reflects what can only be understood as contempt for Palestinian-Israeli partnership.

The arsonists who set fire to the Arab-Jewish bilingual school in Jerusalem Saturday night decided to pile up the first graders’ books and burn them in the middle of the classroom. Jews burned books. Belonging to six years olds. In Israel’s capital...

I called it Brennungsnacht 2014 creating an echo to the past night of broken glass...

But now the name of the school, Hand In Hand, sounds ominously like the name of the help center in the French series Les Revenants. That center was La Main Ouverte (the open hand)  or The Helping Hand as it was translated.

Nothing in particular, but an edge between life and death, flipping from one side to the other, and everything looks slightly different each time we flip over. In each environment, the reality of Israel and the story of a town in France, the Helpful Hand becomes a focus of unknown powers of hidden malignity or beneficence... leaving us in the dark... in the night; a night of arson like Azimov's Nightfall where deliberately set fires give light and hope/despair.

Es errinert mich an Siegfried Kracauer...

Von Les Revenants in die Zukunft,  eine psychologische Geschichte des  Films

 (From "Les Revenants" to the Future, a Psychological History of the Films)

There are too many threads of possibilities here!


Wild Life

The four purple finches we have been mother-henning have taken flight today. Their parents were screwing around at another balcony pillar, telling them to come along. Two have flown, two are flopping ( not flapping yet ) their wings. It's tough work and they have to take another break for a while. Whew. Last year goldfinches, year before that robins.

Bloody aviary.


reprint, yet applicable

Saturday, June 27, 2015

La Main Ouverte

The Open Hand, Corbusier, Chandigarh, India


Will Homeland Security Kill Moriarty As They Did His Henchman?

It is quite apparent that the two fellows who escaped from a New York correctional facility were rather well-endowed with the grey matter. In fact, the story was quite a bit like Moriarty versus Inspector Lestrade; not a very even match. Now they have killed a henchman, and only Moriarty is left.

All the power of the Department of Homeland Security and all the manpower and firepower of the militarized police departments of the USA could not find the miscreants, for indeed is it not truly said by all and sundry that

Once Privacy and Freedom   are outlawed,
only outlaws will have Privacy and Freedom!

 They killed one. I think it was the one with the artistic talent.
Agents were heard boasting that they shot him with bullets as many as his IQ.

Now they will kill the other one.
They cannot let them live.

Chase Moriarty - the one who yet lives - all the way to Reichenbach Falls, and there do the dirty work.


The Supreme Court on Same Sex Marriage..., And The Rabbi Of Goray

Bitter dissents in gay marriage case lay bare deep divide in high court
Liz Goodwin
Senior National Affairs Reporter June 26, 2015


Justice Antonin Scalia... went even further than usual in his criticism of Kennedy’s signature flowery language. He wrote in a footnote that he would “hide his head in a bag” if he ever signed onto an opinion containing this first sentence, which he said contained “the mystical aphorisms of a fortune cookie.” ...

All pretty profound stuff. That Scalia guy, either channeling the Founding Fathers in his own mystical way, or disguised as a junkyard dog going after Justice Kennedy.

The only eternal verity here is the universal gulf that exists in cultures with Writings they hold to be sacred  -  whether they be religious or political documents   -   between the learned who believe strongly in the unchanging Mana of the written, and try to preserve, scrabbling about, keeping every vowel and consonant in the right place, and the learned who believe that the world changes and have compassion for people in a changing world, and see the Mana of the scriptures emanating not from an adamantine monolith, but from a formation and reformation of changing within change...

The Rabbi of Goray... a story I have told many times here.

Rabbi Benish Ashkenazi had inherited his office in Goray from generations of rabbis. He was an author of commentaries and responsa, a member of the court of the Council of the Four Lands, and was reckoned among the most brilliant men of the day. In former times, many deserted wives had made the long trip to out-of-the-way Goray to receive permission from Rabbi Benish to remarry  -  for with all his learning and brilliance, Rabbi Benish was one of those who construed the Law liberally.

I repeat what I said three months ago when speaking of Rabbi Benish Ashkenazi:
I woke up in the middle of the night with a thought in Latin in my head and no scrap of paper nearby, so I scribbled it down on a Yiddish copy of Isaac Singer's    
דער שׂטן אין גאָרייַ

(Satan In Goray) which has been on my night stand
all this brutal winter:

and on the back I wrote:

illi credentes mortui sunt;
currentes cum Deo vivunt.

which translates as Those who believe are dead; those running with God are alive.


Philosophy Takes A Holiday

Philosophy, Disguised As Prince Popoff, Toasts Miss Take (left) and Mr. Clap-Trap (right)

Asia Times
The problem with Pope Francis’ encyclical is that nature is nasty
By David P. Goldman on June 24, 2015

The trouble with natural theology (the notion that nature itself points us to an understanding of the divine) is that nature herself is a nasty piece of work. When St. Francis of Assisi and his namesake, the reigning Pope, laud nature as “mother” and “sister,” they open a can of theological worms. Nature is no sister of mine. Christians like to view things in terms of teleology–their ultimate goal–and the teleology of the world we know is to be destroyed in a fireball.


I wrote in a 2012 essay:...

We are not the passive victims of nature. We strive to establish human dignity by mastering nature. We are neither gods who can grasp the infinite mind of the God of Creation, nor mere animals for whom evolution is destiny. We do not need to worry whether there is an Intelligent Design, nor whether we might grasp such a design if it indeed exists: As creative beings, we are part of the design. We do not know the full scope of the design, because we do not know what we have yet to accomplish. God does not need us to justify his position as creator; our task is nobler, and incomparably more challenging, namely, actually to advance his work of creation.

And while Phil is on holiday at the Maldives, we could feel the freedom to recast the last paragraph above:

We are not passive victims. We strive for dignity. We are not gods nor animals. We do not need to worry if there is an intell..., intelly..., in-telly-jint ! Deeee-sssine.... (whew!) nor something else.

There's a lot we don't know, but we try harder!




Friday, June 26, 2015

Continuous Transportation

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

Auto Ferries Between Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas 
Before the Mackinac Bridge was Built in the 1950s

Late 1957; The Mackinac Bridge Completed but not yet Opened

Swinging west from Arenac County and Pinconning, the clouds become closer to us. We feel elevated and exhilirated.
When I reach West Branch, the air is sweet and the elevation high.
When I reach Grayling, I know it is but a hen's race to the bridge, past Gaylord, past Indian River, and when I reached the bridge, it rises up before me like a tiara of natural artifice crowning all that is good in Michigan.


The Trump Test

Obviously Donald Trump is the exact response to have to answer someone who states that what the USA needs is a president who is a highly successful businessman.

Then there is Dov Charney of American Apparel also.

And not mentioning any names, but if CEOs are picked on the basis of short-term return to shareholders, then many CEOs will be psychopathological items that lay off thousands of workers, which acts are regarded as masterful strokes of business genius.

To be good in one field does not guarantee success in another, nor are the talents for being the executive of a large country the same as those for being the executive of a business. For that matter, what it takes to be successful in one business is not necessarily what it takes to be successful in a different business.

Furthermore, it is one thing to speak your mind and be a straight talker, and quite another to broadcast utter trash just because it comes from your mind.  And one cannot make a silk purse from a sow's ear, no matter how preciously the popular media may talk about it.


Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal presidential bid sparks Twitter mockery
25 June 2015 From the section India
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's announcement that he is entering the Republican presidential race has become the subject of online mockery.

Mr Jindal launched his campaign with a call for a uniform US identity, saying he disliked Americans being identified by origin, ethnicity or wealth.

The hashtag #BobbyJindalisSoWhite began trending on Twitter after the launch.

The tweets poked fun at Mr Jindal's speech and alleged attempts to distance himself from his Indian heritage.

"We are not Indian-Americans, African-Americans, Irish-Americans, rich Americans, or poor Americans. We are all Americans," he told supporters.

Also a subject of ridicule was the fact that Mr Jindal railed against allowing "people to immigrate to this country so that they can use our freedoms to undermine our freedoms".

I laughed out loud when I read this at 4:30 AM.  Ah, the tales and stories of politicians!


Thursday, June 25, 2015

I Coulda Been A Contenda !

On The Waterfront

Sometimes film and cinema does not get the respect that it deserves. Sometimes it is treated like a book to read at the beach during summer vacation. Sometimes it is made sacred as a work of Art, and thus, is in a sense removed from the material world and the hustings and hustlings of history.

Great Art moved the souls of mankind. It was not remote from the world when it "kicked soul".
Literature of all types set wildfires or contained them in our hearts.
So,too, the film is in history, causing effects and effecting new, potential causes.

How an Infamous Movie Revived the Confederacy
100 years ago, Birth of a Nation reimagined the Civil War and created the modern and enduring cult of the noble Lost Cause.
By JOSH ZEITZ June 22, 2015
In the immediate aftermath of last week’s appalling act of terror at Charleston’s Emanuel A.M.E. Church, Republican presidential candidates found themselves in a tight bind: how to acknowledge what everyone in the civilized world seems to understand—yes, the crime was racially motivated and, no, you can’t decry hate crimes and defend the Confederate flag—without giving offense to Tea Party voters in early primary states?

The subsequent discovery of the alleged shooter’s rambling, racist “manifesto,” along with photos of him brandishing a Confederate flag, either threw the GOP contenders a lifeline or further complicated the issue, depending on whom one asks.

As the United States revisits its enduring debate over the meaning of the Confederate flag, we also mark the centennial of its initial political resurgence. One hundred years ago, the pioneering director David Wark Griffith released his epic masterpiece, The Birth of a Nation. The first-ever feature-length film, it reimagined the events of 50 years earlier —the end of the Civil War and start of Reconstruction—and created the modern and enduring cult of the noble Lost Cause. Its artistic accomplishment is undeniable, but the film also distorted American political culture in all the wrong ways for many decades to come...

Films shape thoughts, and then thoughts shape new films, and the process continues until the inspiration dries up into a desiccate arroyo, like the Colorado River does, far from the ocean, or forges on, the same or mutated, re-invigorated by new streams of thought, or fed by the same rains that fell in the past.

I find very few films that are only worth one look. They are deep, deep communal efforts of joint artistry that speak to us in all the voices of the creative crew and all their ancestors of influence, and we may respond!


Proverbs Of Storm

"It rains on the mighty oak and the heliotrope alike."


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Toutes Les Nouvelles De France

So I am taking my ease, sitting and reading; un singe sur une branche, as Voltaire or some other brainy Gallic wit said. I have covered all the news of the world and the events of science; I have read all about South Carolina, the Confederate Flag, the removal of Confederate flags from places and from stores, and people rushing to get what may be the last store-boughten pair of Jefferson Davis's Braces (what I call the Confederate flag - "braces" means "suspenders" for the haberdashorial inept)... and my gaze lightly falls upon this:

A Detroit et à Philadelphie, des inconnus ont ouvert le feu sur des vacanciers, faisant un mort et seize blessés.
Le président américain Barack Obama accuse le congrès de ne pas vouloir restreindre la circulation des armes dans le pays. Il montre aussi du doigt la société américaine, qui par son apathie ne permet pas de changer la situation actuelle.

in Alter Info
Fusillades en série: Obama accuse le congrès et le peuple américain

And it takes a major intellect like my own not a second to see a story not about Charleston, SC, but to all intents and purposes about Detroit and Philadelphia!
What, ho!?

At first, I interpreted "vacanciers" as "vacationers", but it was obvious that "partiers" was meant.
I had a most unfortunate glimpse - a quick mental Salome's veil-type of vision - of Mr. Hulot's tragic holiday...
Les Vacances Tragiques de M. Hulot... réalisateur Jacques Tati... Tati tragédien

We see from the Associated Press on June 21, 2015:
A gunman opened fire on a block party in Philadelphia on Saturday night, leaving seven people injured, including two children, ages 2 and 10.

In another block party shooting, the Detroit police said one person was killed and nine were wounded on Saturday night when someone opened fire at a party on a basketball court.

That will hardly move the PolitiFact statistic of "fatalities per 100,000 people" even a hair.

And I had to read it in the news from France, since we were all paying attention elsewhere.

Les Vacances de M'Hulot: still

Now That Was An Innings !

Nothing like watching a free cricket match, with free parking, and a cooler and well-stocked tiffins in the shade!


Floggery In The Bloggery


definition:  Saudi Arabian punishment meted out to bloggers for truth-speak.

Just when ISIS beheads a brace of Christians, or the Taliban chants an informant to their "sticks and stones may break your bones" death,  our ally Saudi Arabia will quite likely cut the hand off someone for the theft of petty change, flogger a blogger, or behead some hapless schlubs, and we find ourselves mystified by friend and foe alike.



Terror Groups That Did Not Make It

The Flag of  Al Maq'ada;
Sometimes referred to as Al Qa'da.

This is from the same  3 letter root   '  d    as   Al Qa'ida.

Al Qa'ida means "base, foundation, that which something rests upon,  etc." , whereas  maq'ada literally means "sitter, that which is doing the sitting";  that is, posterior, buttocks, etc.
There were factions back in the 1990s which wanted Al Maq'ada as the official name, but they lost out, and sort of sat on their hands since.


Nuestra Senora De Chimayo

{ notes:
Chimayo is a sanctuary in New Mexico. Starting from Los Alamos where the atomic age was born, descending to the desert into Espanola, the low-rider capital, to the eastern mountains wherein lies Chimayo is about 60 some miles.

Sandia is a mountain.

An acequia is a water-course or aquaduct in the desert, running from higher to lower elevations

Chimayo is the locus of miracles, and people who have been cured have left crutches and splints and wheelchairs there.}

Our Lady Of Chimayo

He was an acequia
and she a cottonwood tree;
The Lady of the desert placed them
outside the church at Chimayo.

I am rooted in the soil.
What is it to run o'er the earth?
(she looks into the distance)
I see far off within the sky
clouds as big as Sandia,
running faster than a ghost!

I hear your voice in wind and leaf...
I sense small lives upon my course.
From afar, from ridge and mountain top,
I burst free to come to you!

The Lady of Chimayo who stands within
Her holy sanctuary filled with emblems
made from mankind's suffering,
has turned her and him upon Her loom
and wove their souls from cactus fiber,
so that she would not live without his blood,
nor would he flow without her need.


A Google Moment: New Mexico

The intersection of Cowboy Lane and the arroyo seco in the town of Arroyo Seco, New Mexico.
Arroyo Seco is east of Los Alamos and Espanola, and west of Chimayo.
The dried river bed is on the left, Cowboy Lane on the right fork.

106° 1'54.12"W


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

College Independent Films

Canada, Ontario
G. Gauvreau - Director, Writer, Producer


My Mama Always Said That 
Statistics Is Like An Onion... 
Forrest Gump

I was reading Breitbart, which I do not do often, since ideologues think slowly and tend to bore me.
So I read:
Serial Lies: PolitiFact Blasts Obama Over Gun Claim About Mass Killings In Other Countries
by John Nolte22 Jun 2015
Just hours after a racist terror attack took the lives of nine black parishioners guilty of nothing more than attending Bible study at a Charleston, South Carolina, church, Obama stood before America and did what he usually does when standing before America: He cynically exploited a tragedy to further his political agenda, and he lied:

“At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it.”

That statement is such a brazen and provable lie that even the left-wing PolitiFact couldn’t find a way to turn it into anything but a “Mostly False.”

Still, using this data, it’s easy to dispense with the first claim Obama made — that “this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”

Over the decade and a half studied, the researchers found 23 incidents of mass shootings in the other 10 countries, resulting in 200 dead and 231 wounded. In the United States over the same period, there were 133 incidents that left 487 dead and 505 wounded. …

[T]he U.S. doesn’t rank No. 1. At 0.15 mass shooting fatalities per 100,000 people, the U.S. had a lower rate than Norway (1.3 per 100,000), Finland (0.34 per 100,000) and Switzerland (1.7 per 100,000)...

Since I sort of agreed with Mr. Obama's point, I thought that I had better check this matter out, because maybe I was mistaken. However, I was also acutely and painfully aware that the statistical analysis outlined above did not jibe with what I heard when the President spoke.

I heard, " ... this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency."
This is seemingly what Breitbart's Mr. Nolte heard, and one must assume it is what PolitiFact heard.

I interpreted this statement of Mr. Obama's on the fly as meaning approximately the following:
(1) "this type of mass violence"  means something like a killing spree involving at least 2 or more victims, and the victims are not all members of the same family, and
(2) one is not talking about a war zone, and
(3) such sprees happen with a greater "frequency" in the USA.

Since the punctuation of the spoken word is hard to see, what I heard Mr. Obama say is,
"This type of mass shooting, comprised of a number of deaths of non-related people, happens frequently in the USA, and that rate is much greater than mass shootings appear in other advanced countries."

So I was somewhat surprised at seeing statistics about "fatalities per 100,000 people";  one good-sized killer clown carnival spree of death taking down a hundred peeps or so and occurring in a country of small population would send the fatalities per 100,000 skyrocketing, while a desperate drudgery of mini-sprees only managing to kill 3 or four people in a country of great population would find its "fatalities per 100,000" stat positively running in place.

PolitiFact has:
Is Barack Obama correct that mass killings don't happen in other countries?
By Keely Herring, Louis Jacobson on Monday, June 22nd, 2015 at 10:54 a.m.

It is a pretty good discussion, although it does start out with the straw man that "mass killings do not occur in other countries", which I guess was a criticism that the dumber critics of Mr. Obama picked up on.

It comes down to a judgement call, and PolitiFact quite badly handles that one.
It says,
EDITOR’S NOTE, June 22, 2015: We heard from several of you regarding Obama's use of the word "frequency," and that frequency could refer to the incidents of mass shootings, not deaths as we examined. Looking at Obama's claim by incident, the United States has a higher rate of incidents than Finland, Norway and Switzerland. We agree that there is no preferred comparison and each is valid, and we've changed some language in this article to reflect that. We also agree that China has a larger population than the United States, a fact we weren't initially clear about but have since fixed. That said, we are sticking with our rating of Mostly False, in large measure because of Obama's claim that "this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries." That is incorrect. We know some of you will disagree, and we'll be sure to air out some of your objections in our next reader mailbag.
This is nonsense, and again it seems to be based on a faulty interpretation of what the emphasis lay on what was being said.

If Mr. Obama said and meant that such mass violence does not occur in other advanced countries, period, full stop, no grey areas; then he was grossly mistaken, and there is nothing really to talk about. Certainly there is no need for this statistical rigamarole.

If, however, Mr. Obama meant something else, the most obvious interpretation is that he meant what he said about frequency, not fatalities per 100,000.

Having said this, we are left with the sentence I put into italics above:
"We also agree that China has a larger population than the United States, a fact we weren't initially clear about but have since fixed."
and that is a troubling sentence.

I have a feeling that this was a master plot by The Onion.


Monday, June 22, 2015

The Sorrowful Mysteries

We have HBO and Cinemax until midnight, so I have watched some films, new and old.

This afternoon, the new film Nightingale with David Oyelowo was on. I was unfamiliar with it, and the scene where he is putting on his bowtie seemed to move me in an uncomfortable Norbit way, but I did not know what was going on.

When I understood, I was drawn into the story of a disturbed individual, who reacted in a certain way to a number of traumas in his life. At the very least, the Oyelowo character was a liminal person who seemed to be arrested at certain limens  - or threshholds -   in his life, perhaps at the traumatic times, and revisits them: he moves back and forth in time in a way normal people do not.

The film shows the main character killing his mother. He also makes videos talking about things and posts them on YouTube.I am not sure that that is to be interpreted as actually happening, or as a nightmare that is triggered by his traumatized personality.

One thing was clear: the absolute depths of sadness and sorrow.

So I had three decades of the rosary left to say today. As I have mentioned, sometimes I recite the Hail Mary - English, Latin, Greek, or Arabic - but most of the time I start and just shine in and around the words.
Thus, I finished the rosary with the sorrowful mysteries that the film held, and I started the prayer and let the horrible sorrow take hold for a short time, then repeat.

At the end, David Oyelowo holds an empty rifle and awaits the police to storm his house, and probably shot him. On his final video, he asks everyone watching the video that they will hug their babies as hard as they can...

And I alone saw the Virgin hugging the Child and then - suddenly! - stepping over a future threshold, and straining to embrace Him as He died in front of her.

It moved me on limitless levels of mothers, fathers, and children, and the traumas that diminish us all, and then all the years of effort needed to rebuild.

I thought much of the future, for David Oyelowo is of Yoruba descent, and so is my son-in-law.

Madonna Of Czestechowa


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Continuous Transportation

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

Electric Train in Uzbekistan

Sun shades are deployed...


Saturday, June 20, 2015


photo: Reuters

Manitoba apologises to indigenous families for 'cultural loss'
19 June 2015
The Canadian province of Manitoba has apologised to indigenous families for decades of forced adoptions. Premier Greg Selinger said on Thursday the practice left "intergenerational scars and cultural loss".

The programme sought to integrate children into mainstream Canadian society, but in doing so rid them of their native culture. The Canadian government apologised in 2008, but this is first time a province has taken responsibility.

"I hope that we can join together down a new path of reconciliation, healing and co-operation," Mr Selinger said. "There is a long road ahead of us. It takes time to heal great pain."

Hundreds of thousands of indigenous children were taken away from their parents by welfare services and put into the care of mostly white families between the 1960s and 1980s in Canada.
In some cases, the forced adoptions resulted in the rape and beatings of the indigenous children by their adoptive parents.

Justice Murray Sinclair, head of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said he was happy about the apology, but if there is no action, it is meaningless. The Commission's work recently concluded. Its report found rules that required Canadian aboriginals to attend state-funded church schools were responsible for "cultural genocide". The group was created in 2006 as part of a $5bn (£3.3bn) class action settlement between the government, churches and the surviving students.

"The real question though is how are they going to change?" he said. "Everyone needs to accept the fact that they have been responsible for the perpetuation of the cultural genocide that we identified."

Survivors are still healing...
How could intelligent people not know what they were dealing with? To take children away from their parents, to put them in the charge of others not of their culture. Did they not expect abuse? Or did they think that child abuse was a small price to pay for whatever political, sociological goal they had?

I have no idea.

I do know that North American society is geared towards abuse and exploitation.
Our own personal histories of abuse keep us in a revolving door that prevents us from crossing over the threshold into a better future.

When will we here in the USA have our Reconciliation?
Even now after the Charleston shootings by a racial terrorist, there are those who are trying to pervert the perverse, to call the crime an attack on Christians, instead of a racially motivated crime.

They must be remembering how their ancestors were skewered on tridents and served up as strange fruit to gladiators in the Flavian Amphitheater. It wasn't that long ago, and they seem to be able to remember it better than crimes not 50 years old.


Tiger Takata

There was an old advertising campaign for ESSO Oil that said "Put A Tiger In Your Tank".

This is "Put A Tiger In Your Face", based on the recall of Takata air bags.


The Science Of Anagrams

 Peter Vincent, Dark Matter Sceptic and Slayer

In a recent post on the prestigious, yet tediously elusive of proof, theory of Dark Matter, I made the statement that "dark matter" is an anagram of the Bulgarian expression for vampire slayer, "drakula-tamer".

I wuz called onto the carpet for this, because some bright thing noticed that drakula-tamer has  (1) one "a" too many, (2) a "u" which does not appear in "dark matter", and (3) a funny "l" that just seems to drop by for lunch.

I was forced to point out that the bright things were not conversant with the science of anagrams.

In the case of the so-called extra "a" and "u" and "l", these are well documented instances of what we on the front lines of theory and experiment into anagrams and puns call "degrees of redundancy"  -        [ "a" and "u", so this anagram has two degrees of redundancy]   -  and "inflationary liquid consonants"  -  [the "l"]   -   which sort of pop into existence from the quantum literary foam.

How these are all put together is an instance of Anagrammatical String Theory.


Continuous Transportation

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

Train 22 Kyzylorda - Semipalatinsk, hauled by a Kazakhstan Temir Zholy 2TE10U engine. 
Picture taken near Aynabulak, Kazakhstan. Photo: David Gubler


Friday, June 19, 2015

Benighted Twits

That's us.

I just watched Brian Williams interview with Matt Lauer.
Being asked why he told whoppers on late night TV, Mr. Williams answered that it "... must have been ego..."

As soon as I heard that, I put on my glasses (I don't wear them at the computer), turned my arthritic back, and looked right at the TV screen.
I knew that Mr. Williams did not believe in his heart what he was saying. Somebody talked him into some pop psych explanation and understanding of what happened, but it did not "click" with his intellect, but he accepted the explanation, because that's what he had to do.

He reminds me of not only PTSD victims (and PTSD exists on a range of severity and the trauma varies also), but others, such as Wendell Furry, friend of Oppenheimer, who invoked the fifth amendment during the McCarthy Era interrogations. After retirement and the death of his wife, he woke up yelling that the FBI was after him.

I also believe that Bill O'Reilly probably did not knowingly distort reality in his account of being in Argentina.

There is something going on, and we idiots do not understand it.

I really hate seeing a nice guy feel that he has to grovel to a bunch of benighted twits, such as we are.


Twitter-ized Observations

Amur River, Courtesy Russia Ministry of Transport

Friday, June 19, 2015

Reading about the new railroad bridge over the Amur River that will join Nizhnleninskoye, Jewish Autonomous Region, Russia, with  Tongjiang, China.

On Google Earth, it appears there is a bridge there presently. Do not know how old it is. Will investigate.


Those Were The Days!

Jaws: Shaw, Scheider, Spielberg, and Dreyfuss

The days before 9-11, before Al Qa'ida, before the Iraq War fiasco... before ISIS stretched their muscles by walking along the  beach for their daily dozen beheadings.

Jaws is coming back to the theaters on Fathers' Day. I think I shall go see it. I just want to remember the old days, when things were different and violent dismemberment was rare.
So I read an article about the X number of things I didn't know about Y, in this case being the 24 items I did not know about Jaws.

The well-reviewed The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz opened during filming, making Dreyfuss a star...

 Henry Ramer as the Boy Wonder from Duddy Kravitz

Boy, do I remember Duddy! It was about Montreal and the wonderful country north of Montreal, and it all looked like Lac Achegan where brother Billy had a place.

To pass time on the set, Spielberg and Dreyfuss sang songs by comedian-musician Stan Freberg...

I think I know the exact songs! My brother and I used to sing them. It was my brother who passed away suddenly last October. He was Sherlock to my Mycroft.
Let me see... "Take An Indian To Lunch This Week" was probably one song, and "Come On And Put Your Name On The Dotted Line" was another.

Producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown spent $150,000 for the film rights to Jaws, and agreed to allow [Peter] Benchley [the author of the novel Jaws] to take a few stabs at the screenplay. His versions were never used, but he remained involved with the production: In a letter to Zanuck in 1974, he described an early script of Jaws — which depicted the shark as a rogue, “world-girdling maniac” out for blood — as an “insane farce.”

Imagine. Back then, a shark - never the wisest of swimming companions - was the basis for an insane farce.
Mr. Benchley, the best was yet to come.


I also read a great many of the books and reviews by Peter Benchley's father, Robert Benchley.

The Shatila And Sabra Of South Carolina

I found this very interesting.
Obama Uses SC Church Shooting To Call For More Gun Control
Whenever there is a mass shooting, like the one in South Carolina yesterday, it’s a guarantee that liberals will exploit the bodies of the dead to push their unconstitutional gun control agenda. Surprise surprise, President Obama jumped immediately on this to call for, as far as I can tell, a total ban on private gun ownership.

First, let’s understand the gun killer Dylan Roof used and how he got it. According to Roof’s uncle, Dylan was given a .45 caliber automatic handgun for his 21st birthday by his father. Roof was not a convicted felon, nor was he judged to be mentally incompetent. He was of age and not banned from gun ownership. The gun was purchased legally and transferred legally to him.

With that in mind, Obama said this, as reported by The Hill:

“Now is a time for mourning and for healing, but let’s be clear: at some point, we as a country we will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence doesn’t happen in other advanced countries,” Obama said.

Joined by Vice President Biden, Obama cited the Charleston shooting as another example of innocent people being killed “because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.”
“It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency,” he said. “It is in our power to do something about it.”

Okay Mr. President, I’ll bite. What law would have stopped Dylan Roof from getting his hands on the gun he used to kill 9 people in Charleston? Until he pulled that trigger, he was a 21-year old man with no felony convictions and no mental health issues.

When Obama says this shooting shows that we need to do something to stop an incident like this from happening, what he’s really saying is he wants laws that prevent law-abiding adults of sound mind from purchasing and possessing firearms. There’s no other way to look at what the President said because the only law that would have stopped Roof from getting the gun he used would be one that bans legal gun ownership.

When Obama says this shooting shows that we need to do something to stop an incident like this from happening, what he’s really saying is he wants laws that prevent law-abiding adults of sound mind from purchasing and possessing firearms. There’s no other way to look at what the President said because the only law that would have stopped Roof from getting the gun he used would be one that bans legal gun ownership.

Don’t get me wrong. Roof is a complete piece of sh*t and I hope he gets the death penalty. I’m not trying to defend him, I’m just pointing out that lax gun laws didn’t put the .45 in his hands. He snapped and there’s no way you can predict that from happening. The only way you can legislate that from happening is to ban and confiscate all firearms.

In addition, it is illegal to murder people. It is illegal to fire at random worshipers in a church. If Roof was unwilling to abide by those laws, why does Obama, and all liberals, think that more laws would have stopped his rampage?

It should also be noted that the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where the massacre took place, was a gun-free zone. It is illegal to carry a gun, concealed or open, in a church in South Carolina without explicit permission from the pastor. While libs look for connections between mass shootings in this country, they may want to notice how frequently they occur in places where there are lots of disarmed and defenseless victims.

No legislation could have stopped Dylan Roof from doing what he did. Well, that’s not entirely true. If people were allowed their 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms, an armed member of the church could have stopped him or at least mitigated the devastation.

The point that is missed is that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. The author points out that mass shootings occur frequently in places where there are lots of disarmed and defenseless victims. Does that mean that he considers the USA to be on the same plane as the killing fields of Cambodia, the slaughter fields of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the refugee camps of Shatila and Sabra?

Imagine:  all sorts of weaponry should be freely and openly carried  - just like the Weapons Shops of Isher by A. E. vanVogt  -  because our society is less secure than a refugee camp on the border of a battle zone.
If we agree with this premise, we condemn our society in all its aspects, not just the ones we are politically in love with, but everything. We consider our society to always be on the verge of chaos and incapable of providing the means for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In short, we have a microcosm of the State of Constant War in the world: the state of constant warfare in our country's social structure.

And the Greek philosopher Heracleitos is correct that Strife and Eris is the father of all...

And maybe it's true...

And maybe Christianity and its Sermon on the Mount are just cotton candy for the wide-eyed simpletons we used to be...

The afflictions are real, and the most menacing are the spiritual ones we suffer from.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Belief And Action

Beliefs do not form the basis for action.

They paint the corridors to action with murals of enchantment, good or bad, or they are a rousing remembrance of things past. The anticipate or they recall. They do not inform the act.

A religious credo or catechism does not impel the soul to God.
It is an inventory by spiritual bean counters.


Lip Jobs


I just saw a glimpse of Caitlynn Jenner on the TV - an advertisement for her show, I suppose - and it looked as if she had lip implants and other work.

She unfortunately looked liked Ricou Browning in his most famous role, or possibly amphibious like Abe Sapien in Hellboy. The whole business is like a graphic novel. I wonder if the girls will join BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) and they and Abe will go to Syria to fight ISIS?



Politics And Papal Encyclicals

Pope John XXIII, who was the impetus behind the Second Vatican Council, issued his encyclical Pacem In Terris (Peace on Earth) in April, 1963, two months before he died and 6 months after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

His openness to the world, even beyond Catholicism, left his open to attack.

The Tablet
Pope John and his critics
Peter Hebbkthwaite

The second charge — that of aiding the Communists with Pacem in Terris — certainly pained him. The newspapers had linked the encyclical with his meeting with Alexis Adjubei, Khruschev's son-in-law and editor of Izvestia, which took place on 7 March. They had put two and two together and made 17. On 7 May, Mgr Loris Capovilla, his private secretary, asked him whether it would not have been wiser to have delayed Pacem in Terris until after the election (an Italian political election at the time where the Communists made gains). Pope John replied: "The doctrine expounded in the encyclical is in accord with the gospel of the Lord and in harmony with the papal magisterium of the last 60 years; the meeting with Adjubei fitted in perfectly with the general line of my ministry. I've said clearly, several times, that one could publish the transcipt of our conversation with perfect tranquillity."

The fact that the meeting with Adjubei had been secret did great harm: it gave scope for the wildest speculations about Pope John's alleged weakness and softheartedness in dealing with Communists. He felt "sharp bitterness" (pungente amarezza) as he scanned the right-wing press (including the unspeakable Ii Borghese which combined nudes with "insidethe-Vatican" stories). There was a simple way to scotch the nonsense: the conversation had been written up by Fr Alexander Kuolic Si, the interpreter: it should have been published. Why was it not published?

The plain answer — however shocking it may seem — is that the Secretariat of State did not want it published. In this last phase of his life, Pope John's orders were not being carried out. Pope John himself is our witness. On 1 March he wrote the follow ing note "for history": "The absolute clarity of my language, first in public and then in my private library, deserves to be known and not artificially withheld. I have told Dell'Acqua and Samore repeatedly that the note written by Fr Koulic, the sole witness to my meeting with Rada and Alexis Adjubei, should be published. The first section (of the Secretariat of State) does not agree, and I'm unhappy about it."

The note stutters, and Pope John, always a man of obedience, reveals his utter incomprehension of disobedience: "A desire of the pope . . . When I was nuncio or patriarch. . . When it's known what I said, and what he said, I think people will bless the name of Pope John. Everything should be carefully noted down. I deplore and pity those who have lent themselves in these last few days to unspeakable manoeuvres (giochi innomabili). Ignosco et dimitto". The last phrase, which might be translated, "I'll overlook it and dismiss it from my mind", comes from the prayers after Mass to be said by a bishop. Despite his hurt, Pope John did not harbour grudges. He appealed instead to posterity, that is, us. We must pay that debt.

Pope John wrote this note three days before Pacem in Terris had been sent to press. Its confidence in human nature was cruelly mocked by the mistrust which surrounded him. A further irony was that, although the Secretariat of State could prevent publication of the transcript of the Adjubei interview, it was powerless to halt the encyclical (which did not stop it from trying). So Pacem in Terris appeared, but without anyone knowing what had happened in the meeting with Adjubei, and so without the commentary which would have demonstrated beyond doubt that for Pope John, dialogue did not mean submission or the surrender of principle, but a readiness to talk with anyone in love.

The Secretariat of State did not oppose the Pope because it was wicked or villainous. It was looking "across the Tiber" and had a different estimate of the political consequences. If the Pope were seen to be talking in friendly fashion with a leading Communist, then it would be extremely difficult for a Sicilian parish priest, say, to excommunicate those of his flock who voted Communist. (The 1949 ban was still in force.) The late Archbishop Igino Cardinale who was at this date chief of protocol, confirmed to me that the Secretariat of State took the view that, at 81, Pope John in his naiveté no longer saw the political consequences of his acts and (though Cardinale was too discreet to add this) regarded him as a liability if not a . menace.

This misunderstanding was his final cross, a last purging. On 1 May he had a meeting with John McCone, head of the CIA. McCone, invited by the Secretariat of State, had told him about the damage which his policies were unwittingly doing to the western alliance. Pope John's only comment was: "I'm not worried by incomplete rumours that people use to impress churchmen . . . I bless all peoples and do not withhold my confidence from anyone." He could be stubborn when it came to political charity. He was greatly consoled by a telegram from the American President, John F. Kennedy, received on 18 May: "The Pope should know that the American executive deplores and believes to be unfounded the insinuations made in some political circles and certain press organs".

Pope and Politics.

And the CIA and its Military-Industrial-Lobbyist mindset.


Laudato Si'

Pope Francis' encyclical was delivered today, and for the first time ever, I am going to read an entire encyclical on the very day it was delivered, and read it as eagerly as a I would read a newspaper on a sensational day.

There is controversy about the pope treading into politics.

That is either nonsense or mendacity or both.

It was right-wingers who sewed together their Frankenstein monster of climate denial from various parts ripped willy-nilly from the body of science.
It is the politicians who have taken science and turned it into politics.
The fact that obscurantist politicians politicize a topic does not mean we cannot discuss it; it does not mean the pope cannot mention it, nor an imam speak about it, nor a rabbi deal with it.

All the truths of the world cannot be removed from the public forum because some political clown decides to politicize it.

Furthermore, it is quite obvious that when an item X becomes politicized, that means that it CANNOT be talked about at all!
"Politically correct" is a notion that applies to left and right, and it removes a topic from serious discussion. It "Twitter-izes" topics into a group of bits which winnow supporters from objectors, but does not allow serious consideration.

(A proof for this statement resides in the infamous trope that "a real conversation about race in the USA is long overdue."
Heard that one for years.
But it was about race, and we all thought we had pretty good race relations, and it was Twitter-ized into stories about good stuff, and Bumper-ized  (turned into bumper stickers)  into pictures of the Confederate flag.

This state of affairs required a whole lot of people being killed recently.)


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

La Clé Des Champs

How we miss the restaurant La Clé Des Champs in Québec.
It was as enjoyable as L'Eau De Bouche, which was on the highway to Tremblant.

We would go from Lac Achégan in St-Hippolyte, go towards Ste-Adele, and head to Ste-Agathe, and somehow I would find it.


How Do We Exist Without Compulsion?

photo: (TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)

National Journal
How to Defeat ISIS With Millennial Spirit and Service
Terrorism and other 21st-century challenges require sacrifice shared by all Americans.
By Ron Fournier

June 16, 2015 I know a better way to fight ISIS. It starts with an idea that should appeal the better angels of both hawks and doves: National service for all 18- to 28-year-olds.

Require virtually every young American—the civic-minded millennial generation—to complete a year of service through programs such as Teach for America, AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, or the U.S. military, and two things will happen:

1. Virtually every American family will become intimately invested in the nation's biggest challenges, including poverty, education, income inequality, and America's place in a world afire.

2. Military recruiting will rise to meet threats posed by ISIS and other terrorist networks, giving more people skin in a very dangerous game.

This may seem like a radical plan until you compare it with two alternatives: the status quo, which clearly isn't working, or a military draft, which might be the boldest and fairest way to wage the long war against Islamic extremists.


I spoke about the concept with retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who commanded forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and now chairs the Franklin Project, part of the Aspen Institute that is trying to position a year of full-time national service—a service year—as a "cultural expectation, a common opportunity, and a civic rite of passage for every young American." His logic tracks with mine.

First, he's not sure Obama is fully committed to the goal of destroying ISIS.  Note A

Second, if this president or his successor gets serious about ISIS, McChrystal said the effort would require an international coalition and more U.S. troops. "Even if we didn't need a draft" to drum up the required troops, McChrystal said, "I would argue we need a draft, because it forces national commitment."  Note B

He knows a draft isn't in the cards. A national commitment to "service years" would prime the pump of an all-voluntary military, McChrystal said, while uniting the country in sacrifice.

It's not a draft, but it's not nothing.

"A problem in America is we've let the concept of citizenship diminish into a series of gripes," McChrystal told me. "One of the ways we can rebuild that sense of ownership, sense of shared ownership, is through experience, and so I believe that every young person deserves—I don't think this is an onerous thing—deserves the experience of being part of something bigger than themselves."  Note C

Bowing to political realities in risk-averse Washington, the Franklin Project aims to make a service year a social expectation rather than a legal requirement. I would mandate it. So would McChrystal—if he had his way.  Note D

While ISIS and other terrorist groups are having no trouble recruiting suicide bombers, McChrystal said, Americans are struggling to redefine their national identity for the 21st century. "A year of service for young Americans would be a step," he said. "Not a panacea, a step."

I think we should take it.

This is one of the worst thought out articles I have ever read.

That judgement may surprise you, since it appears that the writer agrees with my view of the situation: that the success of IS may have a  psychological side that adds greatly to its success. Mr. Fournier - and his amigo, General McChrystal -  want to inspire a similar psychological fire in the hearts of US citizens to fight against the fire of IS.

The big difference is this: IS relies on supporters who freely flock to their banner;  Fournier, McChrystal et al. want to compel support.
This whole idea of forcing  (Note B)  people to become psychologically inspired is not even worth spit.

Since when is IS the event which defines our lives? IS is the ghastly effluent of the river of lies and treachery of the Iraq War. IS is the karma we are burdened with for an unjust war. We are already spiritually burdened by our guilt, so does it make sense to double, triple, or quadruple down with more and more military effort --- let's be clear" MISGUIDED military effort! because nothing we have since 2001 when we drove the Taliban from Afghanistan has been guided by any strategy other than "Let's get them boots on tha ground!"

Note A  is nothing more than implicit criticism of President Obama, and has no place in this post.

Note C  is absolute crap.  I do not believe in being part of something "bigger" than myself, especially when "bigger" than is defined as a bunch of schlubs drafted into ill-defined organizations.

Note D  is interesting, in that it shows the role of force and compulsion in the minds of those who believe that persuasion is a dish best served like a force-fed meal in Guantanamo.

What does Mr. Fournier make of the history of the USA before the introduction of the compulsory draft temporarily in the Civil War, World War I, and the third incarnation from 1940 to 1973 during World War II and the Cold War?

How did the USA function without compulsion?

It had a dream.

It had a psychological and a spiritual reality that it now lacks, and this lack is very much in evidence in the insipid imaginations of Mr. Fournier and General McChrystal.

 Unconscripted Citizen Soldiers Fighting for Ideals


The Art Of Magical Thinking


On April 30, I wrote in response to something the President (George W. Bush) said:  

The President has stated that there is no magic wand which he might wave to force back the price of fuel. Unfortunately, he is mistaken. 

He seems to have forgotten that he himself established the existence of such a magic wand. When did this President abandon the ways of magical thinking? He used to think magically. What else could you call his actions: talking to some sort of deity about launching a war, looking into the souls of Russians? Pure magic. 

The old magical wand he used to believe in was: Invade a Middle Eastern country and oil will be cheap! 
The War will pay for itself and supply will be assured for the future.

Now we must add Perry Como's take on invading foreign countries: (To the tune of Catch A Falling Star.)


Invade a foreign country, put it in your pocket, Never let it get away!  
Invade a foreign country, put it in your pocket, Save it for a rainy day!  
For times may change and gas become expensive, it can come and go;  
And if you try to make it more regressive, you'll have a pocket full of petrol!