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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Automobiles Of The 2016 Blizzard

From L'Obs  (or L'Observateur):

Automobiles in Washington



Snow-fies From Maryland

photos from the big storm:


Friday, January 22, 2016

One Thing To Remember... Tar Candies

Tar Candies Growing from the Asphalt

Information is everywhere and easily available.

Being intelligent beings, we take a great deal of pleasure in processing information, generating belief systems, and generally establishing credos of common sense and how-the-world works.

That's why the cable TV 24-hour/7-days-a-week and the Internet are like colorful, appealing, sweet jujubes made of tar and turpentine: they make us bite, we find they are not quite what they promised to be, and we have the mess stuck in our teeth forever.

Back before 2008, I was all gloom and doom. Very few others were.

Now everyone is gloom and doom, except the people like bank presidents who are interviewed on (1) cable TV, and (2) on the Internet.

Every attitude acts like tar candies, and it is a struggle to find what's really going on. Just as we should not have believed those who in 2008 said the DOW would hit 50,000 - and that right soon - so should we not hearken to those who say the sky is falling now.

Look at the herd mentality that we exhibit.
I mean, is this the species that we really want to have unlimited access to automatic weapons?


The "tar candy" was based on the notion of "tar baby", and that concept has become murky as it has been used sometimes in what might be considered racist form over the years.

I wanted to use "tar truffles", but it was too, too, reminiscent of Tartuffe, and I would constantly be wondering why Moliere was popping into my head.... as he seems to be right now.

Peak Creative Destruction

Joseph Schumpeter

In the world today, creation is destruction and destruction is creation.
This has been brought about by philosophers and economists and scientists, and has been handed down to the rest of us.

Markets no longer act like they did in 1955; markets are active growth/destroy machines now, wherein speculation - which used to provide a chaos in the movement of money smallish in comparison to the rest of the market - now dominates the marketspace.
This is reflected in the present day, where markets giddily swayed and zoomed up and down even before corporate earnings were presented...
corporate earnings are a smaller component of market movements.

Schumpeter stated that capitalism was a process of Creative Destruction, which was used to study innovation in the economy: steam locomotive manufacturing companies are destroyed and diesel engines made by GM take over.

However, the notion was derived from Marx's critique, and Marx wrote:
... And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented...

We have reached Peak Creative Destruction almost, and that is when creation and destruction merge into the Future Nausea we have created.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Et... Après La Tempête

And... after the storm...

One of the victims of the Al Qa'ida North Africa attack in Burkina Faso:

Leila Alaoui, photographer

At this time, we may wish to remember that it was our government that funded Al Qa'ida when it was just a fledgling terror wannabe.

Tempête du Désert

... or, Desert Storm.

Twenty-five years ago on January 18, 1991.

I was reading L'Obs a couple of days ago and they remembered the day with all the pomp and circumstance that was due it, being the beginning of the design of the shape of things to come.
I remember sitting comfortably, watching TV, watching smart bombs fall down air ducts, stop, retrace their steps, take a left turn, and find a nest in the HVAC unit of the bunker of Tariq Aziz, born Mikhail Yuhanna, Iraqi foreign minister and deputy prime minister and member of the Chaldean Catholic Church.

He was not in the bunker, but if he had been, he could have been the first Christian killed in the Middle East in our ongoing wars. As it turned out, he was in jail indefinitely until June, 2015, when he escaped by cardiac infarction.

If you recall, the paths of missiles bombing Baghdad looked like a premonitory trailer for Independence Day fights against alien motherships.

It marked the beginning of that battle for hearts and minds in the Middle East that we are still engaging in today.

pix: L'Obs

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


I am listening to Takashi Shimura singing Gondola Na Uta and I cannot escape!


Oh, Happy Day!

Montag, As He Wishes He Could Be!

I have been reading my blog.

It is such wonderful nonsense!

It is not nonsense, nor is it sense! I feel such love for you all.


La Déesse De La Ville

Statue at the National Seminary  Park in Silver Springs, Maryland, or wherever...!

The Goddess of the city...

I remember staring at this statue and trying to figure out what city it was the titular goddess of... !
I absolutely loved!! the National Seminary Park.
You have no idea. It is all the dreams and cauchemars of life!

la déesse de la ville,
tu n'as aucune idée,
aucune idée,
ce monstre plaisir!
monstre plaisir!


Moscow Storm

Moscow had a snow storm.

If I remember correctly, there have been some interviews and stories about people wondering and wailing about a lack of snow so far this winter in Moscow. Well, here you go! Imagine complaining about a lack of snow!

I remember so very well the winter of 2013-2014 when we experienced what was deferentially referred to as the Polar Vortex. I went downstairs to check on things, and the air was blowing in by the front door filled with ice particles that skimmered in my flashlight...

I literally... literally felt like McReady in John Carpenter's The Thing walking through an Antarctic scientific station with every window broken. I pulled out wide insulating tape and sealed the door. It remained sealed in this arbitrary and goofy manner for almost 2 months... and intercourse was conducted.... or, rather, we exited and entered the old homestead through the back door... in the garage.

Sorry about that...


A Good Thought

Petoskey Stones from Michigan, Ancient Corals that Transcend My Understanding

But when you come to think of it, what does not transcend my understanding? Not much.
I was wondering about some things and came across this:

In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful.

A Hadith of Rasul (SAW) says that,

“Whosoever knows himself knows his Lord.”
“man 'arafa nafsahu faqad 'arafa Rabbahu”

This particular Hadith is highly focused, qualified for achieving and realizing closeness to Allah (S). What is meant by the idea of “knowing oneself” to achieve a close relationship with our Creator? What are the various entities of ourselves and the requirements of knowing oneself?

On examination of the Hadith, it communicates the design, way or method of knowing oneself through the understanding of knowing Allah.
Allah makes it clear in Surah 50 Al Qaf, Verse 16 that:

“It was We Who created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.”

This verse illustrates and beautifully explains the position of our relationship and the closeness to our Creator which must be realized for our guidance and transformation.
To be closer then the “jugular vein” relates to the core and the nature of ourselves. Let us examine the entities within ourselves to achieve and discover this close proximity to our Creator, the Lord of the heavens and the earth.

Very interesting... although I would have to say that the English translation leaves a bit to be desired, for I would look closely at the word "faqad"  and think to translate as:

"Whoever knows himself has thoroughly known and learned to continue to know his Lord."


You have no... idea.... how this makes me want to dance...

like some Sufi nerd...

Mein Kampf

The authorities will print an annotated version of Mein Kampf, and they will speak about it, and they will be interviewed, but they will not allow such attention to be paid to Triumph des Willens.

And that interests me.

For they have control over the printed book... and may amend it to what they wish...
but they have no control over the effect of the film.

We think that we have thing under control, but that is an illusion. I am growing fearful... a bit more than is the norm.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

The "Friendly Fire" Damage Of Michigan's Republican Administrations

 Governor Snyder of Michigan

You may have heard about the lead poisoning that stems from decisions made about the City of Flint's water supply:

The controversy continues about Republican governor Snyder's response to the lead poisoning of children.
I mean, you can't sell a house constructed before a certain time period without a certified test that there is no lead paint in it. Yet the Republican government of Michigan saw fit to deliver lead wholesale to Flint. Of course, Flint, rather like New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, is largely a poor city with a large black population.

The contempt that threads through Ideology becomes habitual and comes to the fore when circumstances permit. The pagan and heathenish Ideology of the present age will kill everyone, if given it way. Of course, the rich will be the last to die.

Forty years ago, fire-retardant PBBs were dumped into Michigan's cattle feed, and the crisis was handled by the then Republican administration in pretty much the same way: they looked the other way while meat and milk and cheese were tainted with PBBs and worked their way into the food supply and were consumed, where they were stored in fat cells and became difficult to remove from the body.
PBB is one of just six substances — along with lead and mercury — banned by the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive.

Except, of course, in mothers' milk, in which the PBB laden fats were transferred to the children.

Yesterday's Memories and other Useless Thoughts
... a vet in Big Rapids was threatened by the government if he went public about the ordeal. The government realized that people have been infected with the bad meat and there wasn't much they could do about it at that point. Products were quietly pulled off store shelves leaving many wondering what was going on. Think about it. You had milk, butter, cheese, eggs, chicken, pork and beef products pulled off the shelves. Farmers who were using manure to fertilizer their crops now had traces of PBB on the vegetables. It was literally everywhere. Food from outside states were quickly shipped in while Michigan grown food was destroyed. The PBB laced manure eventually soaked into the water supply poisoning some of the farmers wells...

The children, again. Open season on children yet again. The rest of us are damage due to friendly fire, I guess. I mean, we did vote for them.

PBB Affected Cows Being Killed in Michigan

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Merry Christmas!

We have been out of town; out of the country, actually. And so we have had my iPhone turned off to avoid the vultures of data roaming charges, and usually do not bother to even crank up the lap-top, using only to store my reading materials.

So we were walking across Sanderling Place in Toronto, just off  The Donway, on the night of January 7. It was well after sunset, which is about 3:00 PM nowadays, it being cloudy again and threatening rain, and it was quite dark. We saw two tall dark figures coming across the walkway from the direction of Lawrence Street, the Congee Queen, and Divine Lashes, heading west along the Paperbirch Walkway.
They were dressed in black, but were wearing brightly colored stoles, that glowed in even the little light that there was available.
"What's today's date?" I asked.
"January 7, " She-who-must-be-obeyed answered.
"It's Christmas..." I said.
"... the Feast of the Epiphany..." she added.
She was thinking Western Rite, and I was suddenly back in the realm of the Eastern Rite: it was Orthodox Christmas!

So merry Christmas!
It marks the beginning of one 12 Day of Christmas while marking the end of another.
This business of multiple calendars and the extenuation of feasts by having a few days between the feasts of different rites is a rather good idea.

 Eve of Orthodox Christmas in Kazan Cathedral in Volgograd

 Palestinian Marching Band at Church of the Nativity in West Bank, Bethlehem

Procession awaiting Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem Metropolitan Theophilos 
outside the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank, Bethlehem

 Saint Porphyrios Orthodox Church in Gaza City

  Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul, Turkey

 Armenian Orthodox Christmas in Iraq, Dohuk Province

Armenian Orthodox Christmas in Aleppo, Syria at Holy Mother of God Church

 Christmas Eve Mass in the St. Volodymyr Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine

President El-Sisi of Egypt Greeting at Coptic Christmas eve mass led by Pope Tawadros II, the 118th Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark Cathedral

 Armenian Orthodox Christmas in Iraq, Dohuk Province

Russia's President Putin at the Church of the Intercession of the Mother of God in Turginovo, Tver region, where his parents were baptized more than a century ago

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Fiddling While Rome Burns

Nero Being Lectured By Seneca

(note: Nero has his fingers in his ears and is singing aloud
"Tinniti! Tinniti!
non te nihil audivi!"
which could be translated as "La-la! Can't hear you!")

Our popular representation of Nero is actually a pretty good symbol, a metaphor for the inability to focus on real dangers and problem - i.e., the fire - while occupying oneself with non-essentials - i.e., rosin the bow, lads!

If you read my post Oil Answers, it is clear that we could be in a position like being in that fabulous creek of popular proverb, without a paddle... without a canoe, actually, just plodding and mucking about in the creek.

We Are At Peak Oil Now

It is a marvelous presentation outlining the many mistakes in our understanding of Peak Oil, and how that scenario will play out in the real world.

One would think the choice of future leadership would be very important and that a good deal of  focus would be on the economic theories of the various contenders for the presidency...

Not quite yet, however. It has been more like Madea Runs For Office.

There have been other issues, too, such as human rights; these are real and important issues, but they have been pretty much addressed by routine party lines.
Human rights, Black Lives, Abortion, Immigration, Guns; a lot of sound and fury, but the discussion is on the level of bar room political debates. That is OK for a while, I suppose, but we really should be aware that the louder noise level is a defense mechanism we use to avoid the anxiety of actually dealing with things...
Dealing with them before everything falls apart...

Or burns down around us.
Good metaphor.


Monday, January 04, 2016

Kyoto Sketches: Page 6



I had origins.
I had no background, though, no ground upon which I grew and into which I sent down roots.
The photos of my past were flat and mute. They still are like ancient gods forsworn, yet quaking with a redolent strength that I can only surmise.

I think a good deal of my interest in foreign languages and cultures was due to this feeling of shallow roots.
I think that this symptom of rootlessness presents throughout our society, and a good portion of our interest in Zen Buddhism and Yoga and Taoism and other practices stems from this search for root substance. Truly our interest in these things stems from other things, also, but part of the fascination is an inexplicable boredom of being within the face of the universe, where we feel ill at home.

How many of our younger relatives have left their faith?
God must come through the conduit of the past... otherwise, it is science, social media, cold steak, and weak tea.



If you are interested in the history of the written and printed word, and if particularly in Wissenschaften des Judentums, a great article in Tablet:

Catalogues and Critical Scholarship: The Fate of Jewish Collections in 19th-Century Germany
Tracing the birth of ‘Jewish studies’ as we know it
By Ismar Schorsch


Continuous Transportation: Rail

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige



Sunday, January 03, 2016

My Next Working Idea

OK. So I wuz reading 'bout the A and L (Arts and Letters) and the B-A (Beaux-Arts) and the AGA (ars gratia artis) and I come across a book:

The Washington Post
Just wait — everything will work out for the better
By Jim Tankersley December 31, 2015
... Matt Ridley shares America’s eroding faith in institutions, but he doesn’t much believe in supervillains. He is a true libertarian, to an extreme you rarely see in American public discourse. He doesn’t believe in God, doesn’t have much use for government and argues in his new book, “The Evolution of Everything,” that people generally place far too much stock in the notion that individuals can shape the course of world events — or perhaps even their own lives.

Ridley is the best-selling author of “The Rational Optimist” and a member of the British House of Lords, though his new book often reads like the diatribe of a freshmen who just discovered Ayn Rand. Still, it arrives at an opportune moment in American politics. “The Evolution of Everything” is a preview of what America would sound like if the country were to lose faith entirely — in institutions, in public servants, in the very idea that heroes and villains exist.

In the world Ridley sketches in the book, everything will eventually work itself out for the better, thanks to free markets and survival of the fittest — so no one feels any obligation to try to change things for the good.

The crux of Ridley’s argument is that evolution guides the forward march of human existence, not God or government or individual actors. He begins with a deconstruction of religion and a veneration of evolutionary biology: There is “no need for God” to explain the course of human history, he says near the outset. Life appears to follow a design only if assessed in hindsight. “Bodies and behaviours,” he writes, “teem with apparently purposeful function that was never foreseen or planned.”

In this spirit, Ridley claims that society overrates inventors such as Edison and Pasteur — better to think of an innovation as a foregone conclusion of human progress to that point, as opposed to a burst of genius. He sees morality, family structure and technology as products of long strings of adaptation and not choices made by individual actors along the way, at least not to any meaningful extent. He discounts free will: “The illusion of an individual” with the power to make decisions, he writes, is no more just than the idea that “each person is the sum of their influences,” from genes to school chums to society at large.

He saves his greatest praise for the economic analogue of evolution — the free market — and some of his greatest scorn for government, which he casts as the closest thing he has to a villain; more an annoyance, a sort of swift current crashing against the healing powers of unfettered capitalism, than a conspiracy to work ill in the world. He wants to abolish public schools and central banks. He dislikes patents and believes that if government got out of health care entirely, history shows that doctors would take it upon themselves to ensure that the poor were cared for. He confesses some belief in global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels, but he worries more about countries reacting too strongly rather than too weakly to combat it...
 (emphasis mine)

This appeals to me since I have a very poor opinion of Rationalism in the bedlam of the present age.
I mean, Rationalism is well and good when you are sitting in the Diogenes Club and smoking a pipe and sipping scotch, but it is quite another thing when bombs are dropping, drones are flying, heads are rolling, and what have you.
In such desperate straits, rationalism merely uses game theory to find the cleanest and fastest way to suicide.


Case in point: evolution as emphasized above.
Why couldn't evolution select for villainy and bale? (I mean, a case could be made right now.)

That's my new idea. The future of AI lay in dealing with evolved mankind, which have come to resemble a vast group of Doctors Moriarty involved in deeply laid plans to subvert the non-evolved Neanderthal-like moral dolts... like us.


Three Kings

I forgot about the three kings. I forgot a lot this Christmas. It was a busy time with the kids, the expecting kids gathering about and scattering about.

I like these three kings, the long ears, gourd ears, and the silver ears. I have no memory where the "ear" motif came from.

Três tribos desse país ...
havia três reis ...
ouro, incenso e mirra ...
brilhante, fumaça e amargo.
Homens do orelhas longas,
do orelhas de cabaças,
do orelhas de prata ...
todos eles navegaram
o mar e o deserto
para ver o recém-nascido.

Searching for Christmas

Three tribes of those countries...
they have three kings...
gold, incense, and myrrh...
shining, smoke, and bitter.
Men of the long ears,
of the gourd-ears,
of the silver ears,

(I inadvertently left out the last 3 lines...)

all of them navigated
the sea and the desert
to see the new-born. 

Oil Answers

An answer to what is going on with oil:

Our Finite World
Why “supply and demand” doesn’t work for oil
Posted on November 23, 2015
by Gail Tverberg
... The traditional view of the impact of low oil prices seems to be, “It is just another cycle.” Or, “The cure for low prices is low prices.”

I am doubtful that either of these views is right. Falling prices have been a problem for a wide range of commodities since 2011 (Figure 2, above). The Wall Street Journal reported that as early as 2013, when oil prices were still above $100 per barrel, none of the world’s “super major” oil companies covered its dividends with cash flow.
Thus, if prices are to be sufficiently high that oil companies don’t need to keep going deeper into debt, a price of well over $100 per barrel is needed. We would need an oil price close to triple its current level. This would be a major challenge, especially if prices of other commodities also need to rise because production costs are higher than current prices...

The Dumb Bid Markets

 The Bulls and the Bears.... and the Dumb Bidders

Take the time to read this article, and then think how often you have heard that Wall Street provides a real benefit - thus, justifying their enormous profits - to the economy.

What financial people very often do is provide a dumb bid to provide liquidity for the markets. When I was growing up, we were taught that market makers put their own assets on the line to provide liquidity. In retrospect, how could we have been so naive?
Particularly in Junk Bonds...

In essence, the Bank Bail-Out was an involuntary Dumb Bid. The American Public provided the money for the Dumb Bid to purchases the "Troubled Assets" of banks, and these "troubled assets" were in every respect equivalent to Junk.

Wolf Street
Howling About Business And Finance
Where’s the “Dumb Bid” in the Junk-Bond Rout?
by Wolf Richter • December 28, 2015
... A point that repeatedly emerges from discussions of the current state of liquidity is the importance of the dumb bid   (“dumb” is not used in this context in its literal sense of “mute” but in the slang sense of “stupid”).  The only reason market-makers were sometimes able to make semi-respectable bids on deteriorating credits is that they had an outlet in the form of uninformed buyers...
(my emphasis added.)

How much of your pension has been drained off by your own or your representatives' being sucked into a dumb bid? Probably quite a bit.


Saturday, January 02, 2016

Trauma Dreams

I wrote some nonsense or other during that interlude of 2015 when Brian Williams was being disciplined for his memories of being in helicopters in a war zone and William O'Reilly was also excoriated for slips of memory while in a riot in Argentina.

And PTSD, post-traumatic stress syndrome.

I know that if I were in a helicopter and another helicopter 3 miles away from me were shot down, I would be traumatized; I would be traumatized being up in a helicopter itself, having a fear of heights and a vast dislike of flying.
Ditto if I were in the middle of an urban riot anywhere.
My memories would be like hash.... something-something on a shingle, as the expression goes.

So the point is that we live in the 21st century...

The Traumatic Era

... real and imagined horrors.

The 20th century was merely real horrors. Now we add imaginaries and action figures of our nightmares.

Back before 9/11, President George W. Bush was pushing for gun controls in his program for Safe Neighborhoods. After 9/11 that all disappeared and the sale of guns began to rise, the Gun Bubble started, and we prepared the Patriot Act entry into the Weaponized Society...

... a society in which all were weaponized against those who were different and dangerous,
... and libertarians were weaponized against the infringements of weaponized governments who were out to get those who were different and dangerous,
... and pretty much everyone's hands are raised against each other.

The Gun Bubble started before President Obama. It started right at the beginning of the century: 2001.

It would be best to begin to understand the role of Trauma and Stress and PTSD in our lives.

New Scientist
The lifelong cost of burying our traumatic experiences

Past trauma can mean not feeling fully alive in the present

The trauma caused by childhood neglect, sexual or domestic abuse and war wreaks havoc in our bodies, says Bessel van der Kolk in The Body Keeps the Score
WHAT has killed more Americans since 2001 than the Afghanistan and Iraq wars? And which serious health issue is twice as likely to affect US women as breast cancer?

The answer, claims psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, lies in what we now understand about trauma and its effects. In his disturbing book, The Body Keeps the Score, he explains how trauma and its resulting stress harms us through physiological changes to body and brain, and that those harms can persist throughout life. Excess stress can predispose us to everything from diabetes to heart disease, maybe even cancer.

Take his two examples. The number of Americans killed by family members exceeds the number that country lost in both wars. But it doesn’t stop there. Imagine the fallout for all who witnessed the murder or likely violence in the years preceding it. And women have double the risk of domestic violence – with the health consequences that brings – as they do of breast cancer.

Van der Kolk draws on 30 years of experience to argue powerfully that trauma is one of the West’s most urgent public health issues. The list of its effects is long: on mental and physical health, employment, education, crime, relationships, domestic or family abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction. “We all want to live in a world that is safe, manageable… predictable, and victims remind us that this is not always the case,” says van der Kolk. When no one wants to hear about a person’s trauma, it finds a way to manifest in their body...

I believe it.


Oil Questions

On the national news last night, a report on fuel said that the price of oil was still down because Saudi Arabia and others are flooding the markets with oil.

However, my recollection is that Saudi Arabia and others are holding production levels steady, not increasing them, which is what would happen if they were "flooding" the markets with oil.

Therefore, we are only left with:

(1) a radical decrease in demand, and/or

(2) a removal of some process which artificially held prices up for a long time, and/or

(3) Scrooge McDuck actually does run the world economic system.