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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump's Version Of Exodust... So Sad

Boss Holocaus'

 In which Trump takes on the Holocaust and straightens that bad boy out!

White House calls outrage over omitting Jews in Trump’s statement on Holocaust ‘pathetic’
The White House says President Trump is aware of some of the criticism from the American Jewish community over the omission of Jews in his statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, but White House press secretary Sean Spicer called the controversy “ridiculous” and “pathetic.”

“He’s aware of what people have been saying, but I think by and large he’s been praised for it,” Spicer told reporters at his daily briefing on Monday.

“The president recognized the tremendous loss of life that came from the Holocaust,” Spicer said. “To suggest otherwise, I mean, I’ve got to be honest: The president went out of his way to acknowledge the Holocaust.”


Trump’s six-sentence statement, issued by the White House on Friday, honored “victims, survivors [and] heroes of the Holocaust,” but made no specific mention of Jews:

Let's get it straight. Trump said 6 sentences on the Holocaust, one sentence per million Jewish lives lost. Modesty forbade him from using the word "Jew" or "Jewish"

It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.

Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest...

Possibly he is thinking of Life Is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni:

As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.

In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.
Spicer said the statement “was written by an individual who is both Jewish and a descendant of Holocaust survivors.”
Yet there is no mention of the centrality of this event to modern Jewish life. The Holocaust has become a definiens of  Judaism from the 20th century on. Just as Exodus and the Babylonian Exile defined Jewish life in their times and into the future, so also the Holocaust, yet the Trump and his crowd show absolutely no grasp of that fact.

 On the Rivers of Babylon,  Ephraim Moses Lilien

“The Final Solution was aimed solely at the Jews,” John Podhoretz, a conservative columnist, wrote in Commentary magazine. “The Holocaust was about the Jews. There is no ‘proud’ way to offer a remembrance of the Holocaust that does not reflect that simple, awful, world-historical fact. To universalize it to ‘all those who suffered’ is to scrub the Holocaust of its meaning.”
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was asked by host Chuck Todd if the administration was effectively whitewashing anti-Semitism.
“I’m not whitewashing anything, Chuck,” Priebus said. “It’s a terrible time in history. And obviously I think you know that President Trump has dear family members that are Jewish. And there was no harm or ill-will or offense intended by any of that.”
Trump has family members that are Jewish... so what? How does that fact gloss over the omission? Did he mean to say that having a Jewish member of his family sort of evens up the score, Holocaust-wise? Who knows what the imbecilic sycophants around Trump mean?
Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, blasted Trump for “overlooking the defining aspect of Holocaust Remembrance Day — the horror that befell the Jewish people.”

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine was equally critical. “This is what Holocaust denial is,” Kaine said on “Meet the Press.” “It’s either to deny that it happened or many Holocaust deniers acknowledge, ‘Oh, yeah, people were killed. But it was a lot of innocent people. Jews weren’t targeted.’ The fact that they did that and imposed this religious test against Muslims in the executive orders on the same day, this is not a coincidence.” ...

So, in honor of Trump, Spicer, Priebus, Miller, Bannon, et al. I present the Trump Era version of

The 10 Commandments
Piece of Toast Upon which Trump Staff Claim to See the Boss of the Old- Timey Slave Brick Makers

The Exodust book tells how some guys and dolls who made awesome bricks for Boss Egypt King leave slavery in Egypt through the strength of some god who has chosen the incredible slave brick makers. Led by the brick makers Boss, they journey through the wilderness, where their god promises some real estate for development. The brick makers and slaves and their women enter into a covenant with their god who gives them their laws and instructions to build a temple, the means by which the god will come here from heaven and dwell with them and lead them in a holy war to possess the land, and then give them peace, and lots of other phenomenal stuff.

Oh, and that great guy who was the Boss brick guy literally split the Red Sea. I mean, divided that baby in two. And then they walked through it.... on the sand, not through the water...


Monday, January 30, 2017

Trump Travel Ban Is An Attack On Family Values!

Evening Standard
Donald Trump's travel ban omits countries that were home to 9/11 attackers
Donald Trump has not included countries that were home to the 9/11 attackers in his controversial travel ban.

The president said the new policy was designed to reduce the risk of terror attacks in the US and singled out seven countries as part of the ban.

The executive order, signed on Friday, put a temporary stop to the US's refugee programme, indefinitely banned Syrian refugees, and suspended all nationals from six other Muslim-majority countries - Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Yet the order does not exclude Saudi Arabia, home to 15 of the 19 terrorists involved in the 9/11 terror attacks and a country where Mr Trump has previously identified personal business interests.

This young lady's mother is contemplating legally changing the young lady's name, since although it is not Arabic, it sounds Arabic.

We think of the life in the near future as a mixed race child with an Arabic-sounding name in a country ruled by people whose coherent view of life excludes other races, excludes, other religions, excludes people who speak funny languages and have funny names....

... unless we have business dealings with them.

Now the Trump is messing with me.


...At The Last Trump

I thought that Mr. Trump might actually pull it off. I really did. A combination of street smarts, savvy, and cunning might work. I thought there was something there beyond the intellect revealed by his Tweets.

There apparently is not. It seems Mr. Trump is even shallower than his worst critics have ever imagined.

Controversial Trump aide Bannon elevated to WH security council
Washington (AFP) - Donald Trump's controversial senior adviser Steve Bannon will have a permanent seat at White House National Security Council (NSC) meetings, solidifying his role as one of the most powerful members of the president's inner circle.
In an executive memorandum signed on Saturday, Trump elevated Bannon, while downgrading the status of the Director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the security council's principals committee.
The DNI and Joint Chiefs chairman now will only be present at meetings "where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed," the memorandum said.
Bannon, 63, credited in large part with successfully orchestrating the billionaire's upset presidential election victory, led the Breitbart News website described as a haven for the "alt-right" anti-mainstream movement.
The site ignited controversy during the presidential campaign because of its alleged alignment with white supremacists, white nationalists and anti-Semites.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in an interview Sunday with ABC television that Bannon was part of "an unbelievable group of folks that are part of the NSC."
"The president gets plenty of information from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and gets briefed and what they've done is modernize the National Security Council, so it's less bureaucratic and more focused on providing the president with the intelligence he needs," Spicer said, explaining the shuffle.
Bannon, "is a former naval officer with a tremendous understanding of the world and the geopolitical landscape we have now," he said.
Spicer added: "Having the chief strategist for the president in those meetings who has a significant military background to help make, guide what the president's final analysis will be, is crucial." ...

I am not partisan. I really dislike stupidity.

And stupidity is a White House Cheerleader talking about  "an unbelievable group of folks that are part of the NSC." Unbelieveable?
That's OK for Mariah Carey. Maybe for some new pop group. A movie premiere, a new TV series?
The NSC?!

Why doesn't the White House spokesman, Mr. Spicer, just send it in on a Tweet? Obviously that medium is designed for the type of twaddle that will come from this White House.
And will Mr. Spicer tell us to put our hands together for Trump? Or that Trump has left the building?
Yes! He will, and probably soon.

And then,
"...The president gets plenty of information from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and gets briefed and what they've done is modernize the National Security Council, so it's less bureaucratic and more focused on providing the president with the intelligence he needs."
I get the impression Trump (no more "Mr." Trump; he has lost that distinction now) is on the defensive with brainy intelligence professionals and prefers a chum who was in the Navy, who worked at Goldman Sachs, who ran a new website, and who was politically savvy enough to make a significant contribution to Trump's election.

It will be like having a political commissar overseeing things NSC. Perhaps they could appoint Kellyanne Conway to a supervisory position at the CIA?

You know, I always thought Mr. Obama should have appointed Michael Moore to the NSC. He would have added an unbelievable input to that body.

 Michael Moore

Now, who wants to make a bet how long it will be before there is a leak of national security information to Breitbart News?

Before today, I would have never expected it. Now I say 3 months. I know that seems awfully abrupt, but these guys are bad news like quicksilver, and they are almost fully inflated megalomaniacs. I always said that Trump's opponents best strategy is to flatter him and feed his ego.
His megalo-mania-meter is already in the red zone.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Mr Robot

Sorry. Wrong photo. That's Ed Norton in Fight Club. Here's Mr Robot:

I started to watch the first two seasons of Mr Robot Friday and continued Saturday. I liked it and understood why a number of guys and dolls had said that it would stand the test of time, win multiple awards, and be all around good viewing.
By the time I got to the last episode of season 1 I said "No more!", but I started season 2. I made it through one half of the first episode and decided to go cold turkey.
No more. No more.

I really enjoyed the beginning of the series. By the time it cast away its novelties and revealed itself as an update of Fight Club - complete with a doppelgänger which we are led to believe is real for a time - I was mired in the tedium of the whole thing.

I am not the first to notice this.
Den of Geek
Mr. Robot Is Fight Club’s Spiritual Successor: Just as Rebel Without A Cause couldn’t have predicted Taxi Driver’s post-Vietnam disillusionment, and Taxi Driver in turn couldn’t have foreseen the ad-led consumerism that Palahniuk savaged in his debut novel, Fight Club had little notion that the world was just years away from a tech revolution that would endow corporations and governments with levels of intrusive power that make its diatribes against IKEA seem quaint by comparison. Front and centre is the series’ voiceover by lead Elliot (Rami Malek), which captures the same sense of paranoia and sardonicism as Edward Norton’s fast-talking Fight Club narration.

With his raised black hoodie, vacant good looks, withdrawn demeanour and counselling sessions, Mr Robot’s lead Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) even channels the hero of another turn-of-the-last-century cult favourite: Donnie Darko. Moving even further down the timeline, casting Christian Slater as a co-lead almost certainly knowingly takes the influences back to 1990’s Pump Up The Volume and 1988’s Heathers, and Slater’s anarchic, criminal mischief-makers characters, Hard Harry and J.D.

I like the reference to Donnie Darko and I understand the channeling, but Mr Robot does not "channel" Fight Club; it is Fight Club, and it is Fight Club on and on and on. I mean, it even has at least one group therapy session for Elliot instead of his usual one-on-one with his lady psychologist, and that is probably as an "homage" to Fight Club again.

Christian Slater is co-lead because he is a producer and instigator, not any other reason that is apparent. Maybe it was his role in Interview with the Vampire that knowingly takes us back to the horror of mortal boredom of Poe-like disturbing imagery that spreads like a miasmic vapor over a shallow pool of algae beside Roderick Usher's condo development.

And Carly Chaikin as Elliot's sister looks an awful lot like Helena Bonham Carter in Fight Club.

At last, the V for Vendetta touch in Mr Robot's masked man videos was as almost as nauseating as V for Vendetta's own recreation of Gaston LeRoux's The Phantom of the Opera updated for our times with a touch of the new and improved ultra-vi.


Boss Holocaus'

As chronicled in my post

From The Jerusalem Post:

Stephen Bannon, in a 2014 talk, said racism would eventually get “washed out” of right-wing nationalist movements, and spoke repeatedly of Western society being built on “Judeo-Christian” ideas...

And last week we have seen:

The Forward
White House Insiders ‘Astonished’ by Influence of Trump-Whisperer Stephen Miller
January 27, 2017 By Josh Nathan-Kazis
The White House influence of Stephen Miller and his ally Steve Bannon has “astonished” insiders, according to an unsourced report in Washington journalist Mike Allen’s morning newsletter Axios AM. Miller, who is Jewish, wrote President Donald Trump’s inaugural speech with Bannon, according to Allen’s report. The speech revived Trump’s use of the phrase “America First,” which many Jewish groups decried for its anti-Semitic historical resonance...

The Forward
Trump Doesn’t Mention Jews in Holocaust Remembrance Day Message
January 27, 2017 By Daniel J. Solomon 
President Donald Trump issued a statement on Friday’s Holocaust Remembrance Day that left some scratching their heads due to its omission of any reference to Jews. “It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, and heroes of the Holocaust,” the statement from the White House Press Office read. “It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.” The remarks immediately drew criticism from Jewish leaders, including Anti-Defamation League head Jonathan Greenblatt.
1/2 @WhiteHouse statement on #HolocaustMemorialDay, misses that it was six million Jews who perished, not just ‘innocent people’— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) January 27, 2017...

Maybe the president thought it was his new Patriots' Day and he wished to remember all the people killed in the Second World War. Maybe he thinks WWII - horrible as it undoubtedly was - was sort of a capo di tutti capi, a Boss Holocaus' of all Holocausts?!
(The Shoa being a mere subset of the set of slaughters of innocents...)

So it is abundantly clear that anti-Semitism can be washed out if no one ever mentions "Jewish" again. It is a master stroke of the alt-right and their dupes.
I am impressed by the new bosses.
They are not the same as the old bosses.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Powers Of Prayer

Thomas Merton

I do not like essays and papers. They are much too long.
I don't like sermons for similar reasons.
But we are talking of prayer...

I create a world as I live and interact in my environment.

During this time, things emerge from the interactions between myself and my environment, then between myself and my world.

Some of the emergent things are the Powers of the world.
These are the inexplicable and miraculous which we believe to be -in some sense- greater than we are.

These powers are what most of mankind prays to, expecting answers.
These powers are the statues, the icons, the idols, the images in our minds.
These powers are not illusions, and some of them are intensely miraculous.

This is an ancient quest of intelligence, and I get a hint of it in William Ellery Channing's  works:
"... Whence come the conceptions which we include under that august name {i.e., God]? Whence do we derive our knowledge of the attributes and perfections which constitute the Supreme Being? I answer, we derive them from our own souls. The divine attributes are first developed in ourselves, and thence transferred to our Creator. The idea of God, sublime and awful as it is, is the idea of our own spiritual nature, purified, and enlarged to infinity..."
But not quite.
I do not think it derived from the soul, but rather from our worlding process. And I do not believe that we somehow forge it, render it, purify it, and finally shape it in an awful symmetry, but IT emerges together with us from the I-and-Thou mutual engagement between me and environment.
IT is the new synthesis between I and my world as I grow and age.

Here are the ancient gods, those gods to whom we pray and who answer us loudly, or ignore us with cutting chasms of despair.These emergent powers still have remnants of their birth from the intimacy between ourselves and the environment, for they are each different: St. Patrick does not tread on St. Anthony's domain of lost things; Joan of Arc spoke with St. Michael the Archangel, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret...
there are many distinctions and lines of separation.

Yet there is another step which we see within the Abrahamic religions and others,  and that step is the further emergence of God totally remote, yet totally intimate. God having no attributes other than a shining of infinity where all separations have lost their seams, and the selvage of all rugs has unwound, and the privacy of individuality has grown otiose under the spell of the One.

Thomas Merton:
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world. . . .

This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.

We have discovered at least 4 stages:

1) the closed self,
2) the opening self, (I-and-Thou)
3) the emerging Powers,
4) the undivided One

When I pray, I am usually back at stage 3, trying to cage favors from powers with faces and bodies and haloes and what not.
But when it goes good, we shine.

And when I pray, I think of prayer as an emblem, not as words.
Prayer is my ensign's uniform that covers me in the stormy quest to my daily, weekly, yearly harbors.
I wear it on my way to report to the Officer of the Watch.


Continuous Transportation: Palestine Trains

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

Palestine Railways Signal Box, Jerusalem,  2012

Historical Railway Images

Trump's Free Lunches

Mr. Trump thinks that we should of grabbed the oil when we had it in our hands:
"We should have kept the oil when we got out. And you know, it's very interesting. Had we taken the oil, you wouldn't have ISIS, because they fuel themselves with the oil. That's where they got the money," the President told ABC's David Muir.
Apparently the genesis of ISIS was similar to venture capitalists and seed money for new industries, like Terror Associates, LLC.

Likewise, force some other schlimazel country to pay for building a wall (probably with its own oil revenues), as seen in the photo above.

I am sure that numerous times in his life, Mr. Trump has repeated the old adage, "There's no such thing as a free lunch!"
And apparently numerous times in his life - such as those two noted above - Mr. Trump fervently believes in a free lunch, bought with the money and resources of other people.

So contradictory.


Cinéma En Plein Air [01/27/2017-answer]

The clue was:

Seen in a bar on the old-timey TV in the corner by the front door.
Hint: It is in black-and-white, so it narrows the search somewhat.


The Spierig Brothers
Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook

Sci Fi
Time Travel
Previous Incarnations
La Jetée, The 12 Monkeys, etc.

I know, I know; it was just a brief scene; seconds, microseconds. But it stuck in my mind.
As to how I knew the location of the TV, go back and analyze the set-up for the first bar room scenes.

original post

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Obamas Leave The White House

As I watched the Obama family getting ready to leave the White House, I saw them with their two daughters and remembered my early studies in Cowan's Grammar:

Please remember this is a book written before Mr. Obama was even in college, and this is not a proof of any conspiracy theories......

Or is it!?


Cinéma En Plein Air [01/26/2017-clue]

I show you a picture of something very much germane and involved in a movie and you guess the movie. Got it?

Seen in a bar on the old-timey TV in the corner by the front door.
Hint: It is in black-and-white, so it narrows the search somewhat.

Anyone?... Anyone?

original post

A Flocc Of Anglo-Saxons

Nigel Farage Talking Some Farrago

note; flocc is Anglo-Saxon for a crowd or flock.

The Guardian
Nigel Farage to become commentator on Rupert Murdoch's Fox News
Former Ukip leader’s love affair with Donald Trump’s America grows as he lands political analyst role on US news channel
Nigel Farage’s love affair with Donald Trump’s America has taken another leap forward with news the former Ukip leader is to become a commentator on Fox News.

Fox announced Farage would be joining to provide political analysis on its main news channel and its business network in a short statement during Trump’s swearing-in as the 45th US president.

Fox is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who has attempted to forge ties with Trump following his victory, and was also a backer of the campaign to leave the EU. New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman has reported that the media mogul, who owns the Sun and Times newspapers in London, speaks to Trump at least three times a week...

...Farage repeatedly praised Trump, describing him as “the only person I have ever met in my life who makes me feel like an introvert” and saying that “Brexit is great, but Trump is Brexit plus plus plus”...

Great. More Brits on TV. And these are not the witty ones, like Monty Python, nor the tastefully talented ones, like Masterpiece; these are more like Benny Hill, only a bit lower of the brow.
I don't like what that Australian Rupert Murdoch is doing to the country.

However, going back over that "...Brexit plus plus plus..." bit of Farage-o (or farrago)  indicates he might be good on FOX and Friends or whatever that morning blah is. He is apparently capable of profound thoughts.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Privacy 2

Scene from I, Daniel Blake   (The Atlantic)

I wrote on privacy a few days ago, and the darn idea has become obnoxiously intrusive. Everywhere I go, there privacy is, hanging out in the background, sometimes in the foreground, sometimes jostling my elbow, always humming some horrid tune that I can't subsequently purge from my mind.

The Atlantic has a review of the film I, Daniel Blake
I, Daniel Blake Satirizes a Brutal Bureaucracy
Ken Loach’s new movie, which triumphed at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, is a Kafkaesque tale of one man navigating Britain’s welfare system.
Daniel Sims
Daniel Blake is a carpenter living in Newcastle, England. He’s 59 years old, he’s recently suffered a heart attack, and his doctor is concerned enough about his health that she’s ordered him not to exert himself as he recovers. A government evaluation, however, has deemed him fit for work and ineligible for disability benefits—an illogical and brutish bureaucratic decision that slowly begins to eat away at his life. Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake is a typical slice of socio-political realism from the legendary director, but it’s tinged with an infuriating, Kafkaesque sense of humor, as Daniel tries to explain his administrative predicament to a legion of unfeeling government employees.

The film is offering a pointed take on the current state of the United Kingdom’s welfare system, one Loach believes is designed to turn people away by making it as humiliating and arcane as possible...


Loach’s crucial point is that Daniel’s many opponents in the Department for Work and Pensions are not monsters, merely cogs in a faulty machine. In one of I, Daniel Blake’s most telling scenes, a worker finally takes pity on Daniel as he tries to fill out a form online, hovering over his shoulder and directing him, until she is taken aside by her manager and loudly chastised. If she gives one person special attention, she’s told, then the whole system collapses—better to have unfairness for all, the implication goes. Loach makes his political points with brutal directness, but I, Daniel Blake comes at a particularly brutal time for the world, making it all the more important to see.

What is the deal with Bureaucracies?
Or, putting it slightly differently, what is the phenomenonology of Bureaucracies?
I mean, in the review there is the description:
...byzantine Department for Work and Pensions...
"Byzantine". How redolent of Kafka.
The review also mentions the film Brazil, and if you have seen that film, it is Kafka's The Trial with amphetamines.

But there all the same, aren't they? All these stories and films about bureaucracies? The Trial, Brazil, Ikiru... vast agglomerations of working cubicles and regimented choreographed movements in and out... rather like the nurseries in The Matrix, too, which sort of specialized in the bureaucratization of aliens.

Read the last paragraph which I quoted above. The remark about "special attention" gives us our hint.
Bureaucracies have large numbers of people working with even larger crowds of people. The only way you can get through the work load is regimentation: treat everyone alike.

That means do not open up to anyone, do not form even a crude and rudimentary "I and Thou" relationship. If you attempt such and "I and Thou" relationship, that is giving special attention and "...the whole system collapses."

The only way to give special attention is to hire more functionaries. For example, in a school, if we wanted to actually give students special attention, we would have to have smaller classes and more teachers... but who would pay for it?

In the medical profession we have a cultural mythology to explain why medical professionals are remote. We believe - quite correctly - that if doctors and nurses formed special relationships with each patient that was sick, then the doctors and nurses would be opening themselves up to endless grieving and sorrow.
Of course, not all patients are all that sick. And a lot of medical people are just remote, because the medical system is a type of bureaucracy and they have to process a large number of people, so some doctors tend to treat people as numbers, just to clean out the old in-box.

We all do it.

Kafka felt it during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire when he wrote The Trial. The Empire paid little or no attention to minorities' desires; the Austrians were oblivious and the Magyar Hungarian aristocracy was actively inimical.
Minorities were abstractions upon the imperial map.
And Kafka was a Czech and Kafka was Jewish. There would never be any special attention between him and the Empire.

Now lets us think how we are to be in this world with growing populations. How are we supposed to be able to escape the alienation of extreme privacy?
When do we open up and when do we stay behind closed doors?

How may a government treat its people as human beings and not as (1) annoying intrusive species, or (2) guinea pigs for tests based on political ideologies?


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Continuous Transportation: Israel Trains

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

Extension of Tracks from Jaffa Station to the Sea

Historical Railway Images


The Brand New Prometheus

Is there something odd (and threatening) about this article?

The Guardian
Organisms created with synthetic DNA pave way for entirely new life forms
E coli microbes have been modified to carry an expanded genetic code which researchers say will ultimately allow them to be programmed
The need to supply the bugs with the X and Y molecules is meant to ensure that the cells will die should they somehow get out of the lab. But Romesberg said that despite the protective measure, he still gets asked if he has seen Jurassic Park. In the 1993 movie, Jeff Goldblum questions whether the park’s dinosaurs might breed in the wild despite the failsafes built into their genetic makeup. “What the movie depicted is very different to our failsafe,” Romesberg said. “Our failsafe is based on the availability of X and Y and the cell could never make them.”


Over the past two years, his team worked out how to make the microbes hardier and pass on their synthetic genetic bases more faithfully when they divided. If the X and Y are not passed on, the bugs’ DNA quickly reverts to the standard four letter genetic code, he said.

It took three crucial fixes for the microbes to survive and reliably pass on their new genetic material. In one key improvement, Romesberg modified the microbe’s immune system so that it destroyed any DNA that was missing the synthetic X and Y bases. The end result, he says, is that the bugs can hold the new genetic material indefinitely. “Now you throw the switch and the light stays on,” he told the Guardian...

Read the whole article.

I mean, I get the impression that although the present day microbes cannot do this horse-and-pony-DNA show, their descendants may very well be able to use the new forms and have a go at creating new life forms.

The argumentum ex Jurassic Park is nonsensical.



The Wall

Hawaiians call Mark Zuckerberg 'the face of neocolonialism' over land lawsuits
Attorneys for Facebook’s CEO have filed suits against hundreds of Hawaiians centered around his 700-acre Kauai estate, alarming neighbors
A few days after Christmas, Mark Zuckerberg shared a series of photographs of his family at their $100m, 700-acre property in Kauai. The Facebook CEO and his wife “fell in love with the community and the cloudy green mountains”, he wrote, and decided to “plant roots and join the community ourselves”.

Two days later, Zuckerberg’s lawyers filed lawsuits against hundreds of Hawaiians who may own an interest in small parcels within the boundaries of Zuckerberg’s estate. The “quiet title” suits, first reported by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, are used to clarify the often complicated history of land ownership in Hawaii and can result in owners being forced to sell their land at auction. In some cases, defendants are even required to pay the legal fees of the plaintiff – in this case, the world’s fifth richest man...

We have talked so much about privacy over the recent time that for me the word has lost definition; it has become hazy with widespread use and application to an enormous range of phenomena. SO I just stopped when I read this and just started thinking about privacy - privacy not as defined by the legal system, but as it occurs when we are confronting the world.

This reminds me of Martin Buber's Ich und Du - I and Thou, and Kierkegaard and dozens of other writers and Heidegger.
I think we do not stand apart from the world and experience it, rather we open a door in the wall of our being and present ourselves to the world, which world in turn presents itself to us. Our experience of the environment is a mutual engagement of an intimate sort.

When I spoke of love being a private madness, this is an echo of this process: in love we open ourselves to a lover, to a parent, to a child, to a book, a movie, a piece of music.
It is easy for us to sort of make a case for a parent, say, reciprocating our opening engagement, but it is certainly more difficult for us to imagine how a piece of music open itself to us. We can imagine how we enjoy music, but how do we imagine music "enjoying" us?

Good point.
A lot depends upon the capabilities of the individual.
Someone who is vile, suspicious, untrusting, and dirty may indeed find it difficult for a lover, for example, to open up to them.
I am musically illiterate. How can music open itself to me? I find that films could be said to do so, and books, too, but not music. A musician, however, who applies themselves to a piece of music may indeed very easily transform that music. As a close analogy, consider the history of the staging of Wagner's operas and the musical interpretation of them: there is a history of evolution and change.

But one must be able to communicate.
We must be able to communicate musically to say that music itself opened to us and was in a primary engagement with us.
We must be able to love before we can say that another being could engage in a primary engagement of intimacy.

And then there is the madness of such intimacy....

There is the madness of eros, which we speak of "behind closed doors".
There is the "madness" of Socrates and his intellection when he speaks of his daemon.
There is the madness of the othernes-of-mind which we inhabit when fully engaged in a pursuit which fills us with the Enchantment of body and soul, like a book that cannot be put down, a TV series whose ending fills us with longing of elongation, a prayer to the Virgin which haloes us with a sense of sanctity we strive to recall......

Opening and Closing.

Privacy is very, very mysterious and basic. I shall be thinking of it lots.



A very nice article on a Russian pipe maker in Rostov-on-Don.


Monday, January 23, 2017


Kellyanne Conway's position on Alternative Facts may indicate she does not have the intellectual infrastructure sufficient to pour water out of a boot with instructions writ on the heel, but I may not either; I am sure I would ask, "Why?" and ponder the necessity of an empty, yet still thoroughly wet boot.

However, she has a heck of an idea for the Christmas season. Next year I am giving scads and scads of Alternative Gifts or Alt-gifts for those special people in my life.

I sort of picture it as sending along a description of a marvelous gift, costing a bundle, and possibly so grossly self-indulgent that even Kanye West would never have thought of buying it. Accompany it with a photo and the best of Season's Greetings and whatever, and there it is: alt-gift!

My first one:

Garmin Approach® G10

Handheld golf GPS — covers over 40,000 courses worldwide

1.3" monochrome display
digital scorecard and stat tracker
waterproof construction

I am sending out a bunch of belated Xmas presents. Merry Christmas, Mike!


Intellectual Infrastructure

I do not have quite enough functioning Intellectual Infrastructure to make a reasonable post on the Inauguration and the Womens' March quite yet. I know everybody else does... even Madonna who jumped into the Violent Scenario mosh pit by talking about exploding White Houses.

So sad.

However, Kellyanne Conway to the rescue.

Merriam-Webster trolls Kellyanne Conway for calling falsehoods ‘alternate facts’
Kellyanne Conway made headlines this weekend for rebranding the White House’s false information about Donald Trump’s inauguration crowds as “alternative facts.” So, the social media team behind the Merriam-Webster Dictionary felt the need to clarify the definition of the word “fact.”

Linking to a trending topic page for Conway’s quote, Merriam-Webster tweeted, “A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality.”

A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality.

— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) January 22, 2017

On Saturday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer scolded reporters during a press briefing for spreading what he deemed falsities about Trump’s inauguration, according to CNN. “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” he said, despite contrary findings from aerial photos, Nielsen ratings, and Metro reports on subway riders in Washington, D.C.

During a Sunday interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Conway defended Spicer’s false claims as “alternative facts.”

“You’re saying it’s a falsehood, and they’re giving — Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that,” she said. Host Chuck Todd countered, “Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods.”

Ms. Conway seems to be a Presidential-Election-Campaign-Manager-Autistic savant, sort of like the Rain Man of politics. She is a wiz at the campaign stuff, but a bit hazy when matters diverge from reading polls and getting out voters.

Furthermore, if Alternative Facts is acceptable ontologically and philosophically, then Alt-Right would seem to be next in line clamoring for acceptance.

Almost as bad as exploding White Houses.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Inauguration Day

I saw a number of marching bands, marching in the dark streets, making their way to the reviewing stand. An interesting effect, I thought, and I was glad no band member seemed to have lost their way in the gathering dusk.
As I watched, they rose from the shadows, marched by the light, and went on into the night. It was a metaphor I was not all that fond of. I think I could have done without it. Surely, not everything is a metaphor... or is it? (Did Bishop Berkley ever consider that "to be" is "to be a metaphor"?)

That's all I saw. I do not watch inaugurations and never have. I think I watched President Obama take the oath, but did not stick around for the rest. I did also see Justice Clarence Thomas' severe and jowly face as he administered the oath of office to Mr. Pence. He has a nice voice, but he always seems to be doing a Harriet Tubman impression.

Some people have said Mr. Trump not my president and never will be.
I never did buy into the ritualistic idolatry of the president. I mean, he is elected to serve us and he should work from 7 AM to 7 PM to do so. The question whether he is "mine" or not never, ever entered my consciousness before.

From what I read, Mr. Trump sees himself as the character Bane in the Dark Knight Rises, a figure who is to go to war against all elites - whether Democrat or Republican - and restore power to the "people".

I'm all for it.
The only fly in the ointment so far is that everyone over the past hundred years who has promised power to the people has identified themselves as "the people" and has forced their own personal history and worlding-view upon the rest of the schlubs standing around.

Mr. Trump may find his lack of a real political ideology will work well, preventing him from forcing a non-existent ideology onto the backs of others. However, ideologies are also wonderful short-cuts: when faced with a situation that requires the bravery of Daniel and the wisdom of Solomon - and finding oneself a little short of each that particular day - the best way to "cut to the chase" is to rely on good old ideological belief system which one shares with a bunch of other of the clueless.

Mr. Trump, lacking ideology, will have to create his own coherence that extends beyond merely make America great again.
I mean, a National Patriotism Day! What the heck is that? The 4th of July celebrates a factually real struggle and accomplishment. Patriotism Day?!?! How can you celebrate an abstraction? Maybe you can force people into some "patriotic" mold.

We need something a bit more substantial. I think Mr. Trump knows it.


Cinéma En Plein Air [01/21/2017-answer]

The film is Moonrise Kingdom.

This was the Britten musical piece being performed by the children in the church during the storm.

Règle du jeu

Friday, January 20, 2017


I mis-titled my current flash fictions. They were supposed to be Ade Ilekes, short fictions, and not "flash fictions" which was supposed to be reserved for mob fictions.



Cinéma En Plein Air [01/20/2017-clue]

Cinéma en plein air means "movies in the wide open spaces" and I call my new game that because it is pretty much the exact opposite. It is covert - couvert - and not open at all - ouvert. I mean, what kind of game would it be if it was immediately obvious and open and you could guess the right answer right away?
Not much fun, I would think.
And I think about films in French, so there.
And there is a real film festival called  Cinéma en plein air  in La Villette, so the title is very much 24 frames a second, non?

 Film Festival  (estivale aussi !) in La Villette

[Last year it was partly behind closed doors (à huis clos) due to the prefecture of police figuring that such an assemblage of people in the open air would - in the case of terrorism - be too much like shooting fish in a barrel ( tirer des poissons dans un tonneau - or, as I say it, "teeray-d'poizon daz ut'tno".]

 Anyway, the game!

I show you a picture of something very much germane and involved in a movie and you guess the movie. Got it? 

For example:

and the answer is.... anyone? anyone?

Answer tomorrow.


Continuous Transportation: Trains

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

UK, Ministry of Funny Transport, Shropshire just outside Whitchurch on the Welsh Marches Line.


The Dynamics Of Morals: The Big Lie

 George Orwell

Orwell, Freud, and 1984
By Paul Roazen
... Double-think is a Newspeak word for mastering reality by means of controlling memories. In 1984 old-fashioned contradictions become increasingly unsettling as apparent paradoxes dissolve under Newspeak logic. Since there are no laws, nothing can be illegal. The central principles of 1984— war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength—gain an eerie meaning by the end of the novel. Orwell once labelled schizophrenic “the power of holding simultaneously two beliefs which cancel out,” and considered similarly pathological the manner of thinking which ignores “facts which are obvious and unalterable, and which will have to be faced sooner or later.”
Double-think is described as the means by which one can hold “two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously,” and accept both of them as true. In this respect double-think is almost a parody of the psychoanalytic ideal of normality—the capacity to endure in the face of ambiguity, frustration, delay. By contrast, 1984 suggests that through neutralizing knowledge and altering the past, it becomes possible to forget that one has forgotten anything...
I have expressed my view that we are good and bad at the same time. We do not have to be tempted by the devil to be bad, for the probability of evil is always greater than zero.

But Orwell here is talking about active belief states, not about potential states. Whereas I am capable of waging war and enjoying peace, I do not actively believe that both are the same thing.

Realizing that I am both good and evil does not neutralize morality, rather it sharpens my quest for whatever level of perfection I have set for myself. However, to believe that "good" and "evil" are the same thing - somewhat like the Marquis de Sade and his emulators in today's films and novels - does indeed neutralize morality.
It is true that the initial confrontation with the pornography of evil is incredibly intense. Think of some of the really good torture scenes in Game of Thrones. Wow! Get things moving, don't they?
But after the initial horror, it deadens us to horrors and we need to seek more if we wish to feel that intensity again.

Think of the progress of Violence and Sex in the films since the 1960s. What was considered horribly violent in 1965 is laughable now.

I am not condemning anything. I am interested in the dynamics of morality. I do not seek to moralize.

 Sigmund Freud

There is a similar dynamic in the phenomenon of "Fake News", where we have a recreation of the Cretan Liar paradox:

Empedocles says All Cretans are liars.
Empedocles is a Cretan
Therefore, ... ?

which now is:

All statements about events are fake.
This is a statement about an event.
Therefore, ... ?

We are all liars and truth-tellers, but we must not believe that truth is a lie.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Racism In A Suit And Tie... And Flag Lapel Pin

Jean Genet Thinking Hard About Health Care
and Michel Foulcault's Naissance de la Clinique

As mentioned in my previous post
even though Mr. Trump speaks of a replacement for Obama Care that is universal, other Republicans realize that they cannot accomplish it.

In essence, Universal Care = Obama Care.

Thus, it cannot be universal for all the reasons of politics and religion and economy which can be found. It can't be universal because it just won't work, and anything that does work, like Mitt Romney's work in Massachusetts and the ACA which took many of its parts from Romney, will end up being Obama Care!

So... it won't be Universal. So what?

The "what" is actually a "who", and that is who is going to be left out. 

Why, the people that will be left out will be really, really, really poor (ouch!) and preferably dark-skinned.
After 8 years of President Obama, the masks begin to come down and the white elite breaths a sigh of relief. Now let the others put on their white masks and try to fit in.

It is cyclic:

Ivy Style
Medgar Evers’ Widow: Jim Crow Wears A Brooks Brothers Suit
June 13, 2013
The latest to invoke the unique set of connotations that hangs over the Brooks Brothers brand as is Myrlie Evers-Williams, legendary civil rights activist and widow of Medger Evers, who was assassinated 50 years ago Wednesday.

In an interview with Al Sharpton on PoliticsNation on the anniversary of the assassination, Evers-Williams said, “Jim Crow is alive, and it’s dressed in a Brooks Brothers suit, my friend, instead of a white robe.” The reference comes at 4:30 in the video above, and the quote served MSNBC as headline material for its recap of the interview. The remark was also tweeted many times on Twitter, though it’s impossible to say how those who retweeted it interpreted the comment. Needless to say, as race in America always is, it’s a complex issue.

Evers-Williams’ remark, linking a clothing brand to institutionalized racism, may be hard for younger people to understand. It feels unfair Brooks Brothers, which, like America, has changed with the times. During the ’70s and ’80s, its catalogs featured illustrations of idealized gentlemen, all white. Today, the company regularly features black models in clothing and settings once considered exclusive to white America...

And now we are off onto a different cycle of exclusion. The Republicans in their white heat haste to rid the country of the vestiges of the first African-American President have no compunction against displaying their hearts of darkness.


Health Exchanges For Judaeo-Christian Values

 Four horsemen riding, riding, riding to my chamber door...
We come to kill your health care... nothing More!

I have decided to adopt this wonderful drawing as my metaphoric representation of the US Congress, for it works on so many levels. As previously mentioned, the Congress has had a tendency to act as the stable boys and grounds keepers at some hunt club frequented by the Night Breed

So it comes as no surprise that Republicans - being rational actors, although their rationality is tainted by a severe strain of dubious ideology - would go about reconfiguring health care and repealing the ACA (ObamaCare) in a way that is "rational"... meaning that some people (think of them like salami) will be "left behind" (think of the salami hitting the fan).

It was obvious to anybody.
They have neither the motivation nor the charity nor the brains to effect such a change, as I said previously.

On health care, Republicans consider the meaning of ‘everybody’
01/18/17 09:20 AM—Updated 01/18/17 10:41 AM
By Steve Benen
Congressional Republicans recently conceded among themselves that they’ll “never” be able to craft a health-care reform plan that covers “as many people as Obamacare does.” No one, however, told Donald Trump.

The president-elect boasted to the Washington Post this week, “We’re going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.” Trump added that Americans “can expect to have great health care…. Much less expensive and much better.”

The benchmarks, which Trump has no idea how to meet, were fairly specific: his administration is committing to universal coverage, “much lower deductibles,” and a simpler and less expensive system in which all Americans are “beautifully covered.”

Was Trump over-promising? Yes. Will he fail to meet his own goals? Definitely.

The funny part, however, is watching Republicans deal with the consequences of the incoming president’s rhetoric. BuzzFeed had this report late yesterday:

[S]ome Republicans in the Senate say they are working on repealing and replacing Obamacare under the belief that Trump misspoke.

Ah yes, the misstatement. The incoming president assured the American public that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed and replaced with a system in which “everybody” has insurance, to which GOP lawmakers are effectively responding, “Let’s assume he didn’t actually mean ‘everybody.’”


Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence Flanking the Head Horseman

Rational actors...
Very soon, the "invisible hand" of political markets will move and write
Mene, mene  tekel upharsin

In the disaster of the Republicans we will all come to grief. 
And art anticipates life again, as we note that "left behind" and "left out" are the same thing, and an imaginary moral taint will accrue to those without health care....

I mean, they must be seen as inferiors and not deserving of health care, for how else could we live with our "Judaeo-Christian" selves?


From the same op.cit. above we see:
...All of which brings us to the larger problem of what Trump’s aides and allies do when the president-elect says something problematic or demonstrably false. As Corey Lewandowski put it a while back, voters “understood that sometimes, when you have a conversation with people, whether it’s around the dinner table or at a bar, you’re going to say things, and sometimes you don’t have all the facts to back it up.”

A member of Trump’s transition team added in December that Americans should take the president-elect’s rhetoric “symbolically,” not literally. Kellyanne Conway said last week that Americans shouldn’t necessarily “go with what’s come out of his mouth,” but rather, we should “look at what’s in his heart.”...
It is hard to know what to say when confronted by this magnitude of claptrap.

I read Mr. Lewandowski's statement as something like talk about the weather:
"Ah, yup. That there health care is mighty fine, but it is Michigan, so just wait a few minutes 'n' she'll change!  Yup."
 As for Ms. Conway's statement, it is not Mr. Trump's heart that gives us the shivers. It is the withered hearts of the Congress.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Stephen King

I suppose I need to explain the title. If you had read Stephen King's The Cell, like I told you to do, you would know already what is meant, and we could move along briskly. But, no. You wanted to read Picketty's weighty tome on the economic inequities and other stuff.

"Kashwak" is an area in Maine where there are no microwave towers to feed cellphones, hence, "Nofo" = "no phone". It was the signal transmitted through cellphones that brought the mighty to their knees, and left the country in mortal combat between two groups. (Hmmmm...)

Makes one misty eyed and come over all sort of  Sic Transit Gloria, eh? ...

... and renders us mindful of poems of decline and decay:

"I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said - 'In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
a stately pleasure dome decree...' "

All antique notions of foreign empires that did not punch their time cards in on that last era of recorded time...

Anyway, so I think Kashwak is sort of like old Xanadu, and Xanadu itself is a sort of TAZ. Now I know I am disclosing my age referring to a TAZ, a Temporary Autonomous Zone, but it is an idea too rich to let sit on the shelf.

A TAZ is that secret garden where we can go to escape whatever demons are pursuing us.

I think we'll need some TAZes soon, some strong Kashwaks to escape into, but where they will be...? Who knows?
As the old proverb says,

"The only thing uncertain is death (the time and place thereof) and TAZes."


Mystery Solved

Carly Fiorina, One-Time Presidential Candidate

If she were to run again, she would be quondam candidata, candidataque futura
to anachronistically paraphrase T.H. White. (And we don't mean Theodore White, if your memory extends back to the 1960s. This is a further stretch.)

Anyway, there has always been a mystery (take my word for it) about Ms. Fiorina's  pseudo-brother, Carlo Fiorina, a man of mysterious ways and one of the real-life blokes upon whom a character (I won't tell you which... figure it out) in the film The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen was based on.

{{spoiler alert:  if you're reading the novel Canaletto Blues, be aware that you may find out who really poisoned Bellini !}}

Interest sort of maxed out (like, it was, like, working to get traction before, but suddenly took off like a bullet) when advanced work on the theory of the georeactor nature of Earth's core was the center of all conversation not too long ago. Remember?

Apologies for the fuzziness of the photo, but there it is: the second author listed is Carlo Fiorina, yet another instance of the phenomenon noted by Dr. Sheldon Cooper of evil villains with advanced degrees.

Many, many people have argued on the media and in internet forums that Carlo is actually Carly; Carlo is an alter-ego of Carly Fiorina, when she tires of running a mega-corporation or running for president.
That notion actually held the field for a while.

However... have you seen a photo of Carly Fiorina lately?
Probably not.
And the reason why not is that Alan Rickman has left us. Please note the very close similarity between Alan Rickman as he appeared in Galaxy Quest and the photo of Ms. Fioriina above. Note particularly the lips.

If you need further proof, take a picture of Ms. Fiorina and color her hair black.
What do you see?!!?


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What Have We Done?


The Independent
Former MI6 agent Christopher Steele's frustration as FBI sat on Donald Trump Russia file for months
Exclusive: Steele was so concerned by revelations he worked without payment after Trump's election victory in November
Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who investigated Donald Trump’s alleged Kremlin links, was so worried by what he was discovering that at the end he was working without pay, The Independent has learned.

Mr Steele also decided to pass on information to both British and American intelligence officials after concluding that such material should not just be in the hands of political opponents of Mr Trump, who had hired his services, but was a matter of national security for both countries.

However, say security sources, Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails...

...Mr Steele produced a memo, which went to the FBI, stating that Mr Trump’s campaign team had agreed to a Russian request to dilute attention on Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine. Four days later Mr Trump stated that he would recognise Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. A month later officials involved in his campaign asked the Republican party’s election platform to remove a pledge for military assistance to the Ukrainian government against separatist rebels in the east of the country.

Mr Steele claimed that the Trump campaign was taking this path because it was aware that the Russians were hacking Democratic Party emails. No evidence of this has been made public, but the same day that Mr Trump spoke about Crimea he called on the Kremlin to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails...

It's not as bad as it sounds.