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Friday, March 31, 2017

Sometimes The Headline Says It All

Spiegel Online    International

Trump Steers into Global Economy Collision Course

U.S. President Donald Trump is currently steering his country into economic isolation. Bodies like the IMF, the G-7 and the G-20 fear for the future of the global financial system. They want Germany to take on a stronger role in standing up to the Americans.
By Christian Reiermann
March 29, 2017 04:43 PM

What we see here is the end of the World War II era that our Greatest Generation established, an era which saw the USA and the USSR defeat Germany and Japan and take upon themselves the leading roles in the world.
Part of this new order of things was efforts to ensure that Germany and Japan would not start another war.

There is no way I think Germany wants to start a war.
However, in the newly created vacuum in leadership in the Western world, we see here in the headline above that there is a large group that now suddenly looks to Germany for leadership. It is a most interesting irony, and it may be the most important outcome of the Trump administration.


I Support The European Union!

Founding Fathers of the EU

A political and economic advisor, Monnet helped to create the Schuman Declaration of 1950, a milestone Franco-German rapprochement after World War II and the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, and promoted international industrial cooperation.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

I Support The European Union!

Founding Fathers of the EU

Winston Churchill

British Prime Minister during World War II, Churchill called for a "United States of Europe", organised democratically, to prevent future wars in Europe


I Support The European Union!

Founding Fathers of the EU

Konrad Adenauer

First chancellor of West Germany, Adenauer attempted to restore relations with France during his term in office between 1949 and 1963. He was instrumental in bringing about the 1963 Élysée Treaty between the two countries. He signed a treaty of friendship with France.

We studied these guys and their union back in the first years of grade school in the 1950s.

I think Herr Adenauer's nickname was Der Alte, if I can remember properly; "The Old Man (of Germany)".

The IRS, Civil Rights, And Right Wing Politics


Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.
Evangelical: Religious Right Has Distorted the Faith

by Linda Wertheimer
June 23, 2006 2:20 PM
... Let's remember...that the Religious Right did not come together in response to the Roe [Roe vs Wade on abortion] decision. No, Weyrich insisted, what got us going as a political movement was the attempt on the part of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to rescind the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University because of its racially discriminatory policies.

Bob Jones University was one target of a broader attempt by the federal government to enforce the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Several agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, had sought to penalize schools for failure to abide by antisegregation provisions. A court case in 1972, Green v. Connally, produced a ruling that any institution that practiced segregation was not, by definition, a charitable institution and, therefore, no longer qualified for tax-exempt standing.

The IRS sought to revoke the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University in 1975 because the school's regulations forbade interracial dating; African Americans, in fact, had been denied admission altogether until 1971, and it took another four years before unmarried African Americans were allowed to enroll. The university filed suit to retain its tax-exempt status, although that suit would not reach the Supreme Court until 1983 (at which time, the Reagan administration argued in favor of Bob Jones University)...
Then, if you doubt the segregationist attitudes imputed to some Southern "Christians" :

 The inset is from a message the founder of Bob Jones University delivered on April 17, 1960 in response to Brown vs. the Board of Education and its impact on the desegregation of all white colleges and universities. Plus, the fact that, like many whites in the south in the 1940’s, Bob Jones Sr. was a member of the Ku-Klux Klan.

When Dr. Martin Luther King was killed in 1968, the BJU student body cheered in chapel and Dr. Bob Jones, Jr. said he would not fly the university’s flag at half staff to honor this communist agitator.

The following paragraphs were taken form a 32 page booklet sold in the University’s book store in 1972 (when I was a student there) to support the Biblical bases for the University's stand on Biblical racial segregation, a point so strongly believed he even base the inspiration of the Bible on it:

“Now, we folks at Bob Jones University believe that whatever the Bible says is so; and we believe it says certain fundamental things that all Bible-believing Christians accept; but when the Bible speaks clearly about any subject, that settles it. Men do not always agree, because some are dumb-some people are spiritually dumb; but when the Bible is clear, there is not any reason why everybody should not accept it.” (page 1)

“Now, what is the matter? There is an effort today to disturb the established order. Wait a minute. Listen, I am talking straight to you. White folks and colored forks, you listen to me. You cannot run over God’s plan and God’s established order without having trouble. God never meant to have one race. It was not His purpose at all. God has a purpose for each race. God Almighty may have overruled and permitted the slaves to come over to America so that the colored people could be the great missionaries to the Africans. They could have been. The white people in America would have helped pay their way over there. By the hundreds and hundreds they could have gone back to Africa and got the Africans converted after the slavery days were over.” (page 10)

“I want you folks to listen-you white and you colored folks. Do not let these Satanic propagandist fool you. This agitation is not of God. It is of the devil. Do not let people slander God Almighty. God made it plain. God meant for Christian people to treat each other right. … Yes, Paul said, ‘God…hath made of one blood all nations of men…’ All men, to whatever race they may belong, have immortal souls; but all men have mortal bodies, and God fixed the boundaries of the races of the world. Let me repeat that it is no accident that most of the Chinese live in China. It is not an accident that most Japanese live in Japan; and the Africans should have been left in Africa, and the Gospel should have been taken to them as God command His people to do.” (page 13 - 14)

“If we would just listen to the Word of God and not try to overthrow God’s established order, we would not have any trouble. God never meant for America to be a melting pot to rub out the lines between the nations. That was not God’s purpose for this nation. When someone goes to overthrowing His established order and goes around preaching pious sermons about it, that makes me sick - for a man to stand up and preach pious sermons in this country and talk about rubbing out the line between the races - I say it makes me sick.

The trouble today is a Satanic agitation striking back at God’s established order. That is what is making trouble for us.” (page 15)

“Now, you colored people listen to me. If you had not been bought over here and if your grandparents in slavery days had not heard that great preaching, you might not even be a Christian, You might be over there in the jungles of Africa today, unsaved. But you are here in America where you have your own schools and your own churches and your own liberties and your own rights, with certain restrictions that God Almighty put about you - restrictions that are in line with the Word of God.” (page 22)

Born in Sin... Come on in!

Join the Party!
It was Civil Rights that killed the Solidly Democratic South, and given us the Republican Party of today.


My Book Part 5

We are still on Beliefs... ( ... sigh!!)

Consider this
... The cause touched on some of Bannon’s deepest beliefs, including nationalism, Judeo-Christian identity and the evils of Big Government. In early 2014, Bannon launched a London outpost of Breitbart, opening what he called a new front “in our current cultural and political war.”

Obviously "beliefs" is some sort of short-hand slang we use for complex behaviors. All the things we do are encapsuled into small "headlines".
Steve Bannon (or whatever his name is..., I think it is Steve. I do not really care.) does not have something like a card catalogue with short snappy beliefs somewhere in his mind. He does  "DO" things; he behaves in a certain way.

To capture these complex ways of acting, which may take a long time in execution, we shortened them up to "belief".

Sound familiar?

Sound like a Tweet?


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

My Book Part 4

After forcing myself to write "My Book" parts 1 through 3, I find that I do not like the way it is going, I do not like the whole tone of the thing. So I fret a bit, feel worthless, than decide to change it to a way I prefer.

I shall no longer provide links to previous posts of this series. They will be titled "My Book     Part x"
and will be labelled "my book", so anyone wishing to follow this will just have to search on the label. Otherwise it takes too much of my time.
I must say that at this point, it is my time that is important. I need to get it right. Nobody comments on my posts anymore (not complaining... observing) so I have to write, edit, and so on, and I can't spend time printing out links.

First, I hate the term "belief system" and always thought it to be a pseudo-science term and formed on some misbegotten analogy with computer expert-systems. I am going to drop it like a hot potato.

As I have mentioned, the only time I deal with anything remotely resembling a "belief system" is when I am personally intimately involved with some investigation upon which I am focused and am trying to find an answer to some puzzle.
Other than that, I do not have any "Belief System" (capitalized or uncapitalize).
I do not really "believe" in the Theory of Evolution. I am not a student of the natural sciences. If I were in a bar and the discussion were to turn to "Evolution or Genesis?", I would probably choose the pro-evolution side 50% of the time and the pro-Genesis side 50% of the time. If one of the sides had a preponderance of the ladies present as supporters, that fact would skew the probabilities somewhat.

As I have mentioned, I do not "believe in" God.
I expect God.
Does any atheist wish to argue about my expectations? That would indeed be a fruitless argument, and I would ignore any attempt to argue the basis of my expectations, for I do not do apologetics.

"Belief system" tends to ignore the individual believer, which again is an attempt to simplify a complex situation, making an intelligent person's history a reduction to reams and reams of statements about beliefs.
It is a lousy concept.

Second, my emphasis on science versus other disciplines as having a robust process of verification seems to me to be very ill-conceived.
Most of the world's major religions have lasted quite a long time and they do have their dogmas and credos and these winnow the wheat from the chaff, thank you very much, and have been succesful at it.

Living at the times we do, we tend to focus on science because of its achievements. Within a little more than 100 years humanity has gone from a small planet in a small galaxy to a small planet in an astoundingly large universe... if not multi-verse.
Most of our immediate impressions and concepts tend to be sciencey.
It is only since 2008 that many people have begun to understand the place of the irrational in economics, for example; that we stand not in the stasis of supreme rationality, but upon the edges of chaos.

Science has a verification procedure that depends upon a set of physical properties that are subject to experiment.
This fact makes it different from other knowledge, which have their own verifications based on different things. Just as Science is superior in building spaceships, Religion is superior is superior in the spiritual realm of humanity.

However, remember that right now there is considerable concern and discussion in science circles about theories which do not seem capable of experimentation. There is a discussion about the very nature of Science.

I do believe that Experiment - the scientific verification process - provides the dynamo which has fueled scientific progress, which is then part of a loop that re-enforces itself.
All knowledge has feedback loops. There is action followed by result; if the result is "good", it re-enforces the whole process, whether we talk about science or religion or politics. However, the inputs that energize the process are different. Science has experimental inputs. Other knowledge has other inputs.

And it is the Inputs that are interesting, the sources of energy.

What is the input into a group of people who read Heaven Is For Real (HIFR) and makes them accept it as true?
Southern Baptists have spoken against these heavenly jaunts and discountenance them. So does the Catholic Church and I feel that if I were to bring it up in a classroom in Qum it would be frowned upon.
The propositions of HIFR are being subjected to verification procedures.
Some accept it, some don't.
What are the energy inputs of the accepting group that makes them differ from their parent group in accepting the truth of propositions as are in HIFR? To make this "break" - although it may not be a radical break - there has to be some impulsive energy.
What is it?


Rep. Poe Resigns From Freedom Caucus

One of the founding members of the House Freedom Caucus has resigned in protest of the hard-line conservative group’s opposition to the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, said that both President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan reached out to the caucus and made changes to the GOP health care proposal several times.

“No matter what changes were made, the goalposts kept getting moved,” Poe said on “Fox & Friends” on Monday. “And then at the end of the day, ‘no’ was the answer. And sometimes you’ve got to say ‘yes.'”


The Texas Tribune
WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, a Republican from Humble, announced Sunday afternoon he is resigning from the hardline Republican group that helped sink GOP attempts to repeal former President Obama's 2010 health care law.

"I have resigned from the House Freedom Caucus. In order to deliver on the conservative agenda we have promised the American people for eight years, we must come together to find solutions to move this country forward," Poe said in a statement. "Saying no is easy, leading is hard, but that is what we were elected to do. Leaving this caucus will allow me to be a more effective member of Congress and advocate for the people of Texas."

"It is time to lead," he added...

It was always time to lead. This action is that of a profound change and was based on profound importance, and it wasn't conservative doctrine - for that has not changed. What has changed is the race of the president.

Mr. Poe has done a George Wallace: a reformation following a period of severe illness and time of reflection:

The Texas Tribune
... A day later, Poe, R-Humble, announced he was fighting leukemia — a cancer of the blood and bone marrow...

When Poe announced his diagnosis, he said had every intention of defeating cancer and continuing to serve in Congress. And after a summer of treatment, Poe is back in Washington for the September round of legislating.

“I feel real good," Poe said on Wednesday, in his most extensive interview since his diagnosis. "I do. The treatments are going well. Everything is right where it’s supposed to be.”

While his hair is thinner from chemotherapy these days, his spirits are high. In an interview with The Texas Tribune, he sported the tie color of leukemia awareness — orange — and talked about his battle and the support system he has enjoyed over the last couple of months.

After Poe was diagnosed with leukemia, his Washington physicians promptly directed him to return to Texas and the world’s most renowned cancer treatment center.

“The doctors, of course, said, ‘You need to go back to the best place in the world,'" he recounted. "It’s Houston, Texas, MD Anderson."

Oncologists treated him with inpatient chemotherapy intravenously, and he’s currently taking the treatment in the form of a pill.

“I take a chemo pill everyday,” he said. “I will forever.”

But Poe’s focus is not just on his own personal battle. He talks about how that it’s possible to find a cure for cancer, and that access to centers like MD Anderson is key.

It is a human story and one  we should all admit to being familiar with or liable to experience. We are all good and evil and as time and learning permits, we become better.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

CBS Sunday Morning

She-who-must-be-obeyed loves CBS Sunday Morning.
It is pretty good. I listen to it as I sit at the computer.

Today they had a segment with Ted Koppel interviewing Sean Hannity. Mr. Koppel deprecated the fact that ever since the FCC dropped the Fairness Doctrine [ if a broadcast airs a view, it must make time to air the opposing view] in the late 1990s, political radio has become strident and one-sided and divisive.

It's the Internet.
Blame the Internet.

The Internet revolutionized communications.

Just as did the printing press.

They printing press oversaw the era of Martin Luther, yet it also nurtured Thomas Muntzer and chronicled the Peasants' War.

If the Internet is revolutionary, how do we make sure the revolution does not eat her children?

 The Internet Devouring His Children


My Book Part 3

part 1
part 2

It is time to assess where we are.
A) Belief Precedes Truth, and
B) Science Is Not Inevitable.

What possibly can those mean together? I mean I do not even give anyone time to settle in; I just throw a mosh-mish in front of you and say, ""Eat hearty!"
My friends know the feeling.

What I am looking at are beliefs and the people who hold beliefs, for this is how I try to understand why someone would at heavenly trip narratives - Heaven is For Real and The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven - and either accept them as true or claim that they are false.

Now in our personal belief systems, we tend to believe before we even consider whether something is true or not.
As luck would have it, The Conversation has an article this month which deals directly with this.

The Conversation
How our morals might politically polarize just about anything
March 5, 2017 9.17pm EST


As America is more ideologically divided now than any other point in history, these results illuminate two things about the psychology behind political polarization.

First, people might think they are able to use their reasoning to decide whether, say, a minimum wage increase will have positive or negative consequences. However, moral impulses have likely already nudged people toward disagreeing with their opponents before any deliberative thinking on the issue has begun.

Second, the effects observed here are likely a passive process. Participants did not want to feel urges to make an error in the Stroop task, and they likely did not want to feel urges to contradict their own opinions in my studies. The urges just happen as a result of a morality-driven psychology.

These results suggest that efforts to bring those on the fringe closer to the middle will likely fall on deaf ears. A more optimistic interpretation is that polarization might have its roots in unintentional partisan urges. While there is no shortage of moral issues that lead to polarization, polarization does not necessarily result from the malice of those involved.
So I assert that Belief Precedes Truth.
Truth is always an after-thought in our quests. We usually seek an iconic presence that we "think" must be divine. On seeing the icon, we kneel. Proving truth is forgotten, for what need have we of truth now?

(By the way, I describe how I think things are; I do not prove anything!  To prove something implies that one has a robust verification procedure. That I do not have. Nor do you.)

Now we come to Science not being inevitable.
What does that matter?
It matters because I wish to use Science to demonstrate a complex belief system, capable of adaptations and change, which is vibrant and vigorous. I will claim that the fact that Science has a verification procedure of experiment and reduplication of experiment is what allows Science to make claims about Truth.

One of the reasons for this state of affairs is that most of the thinking and writing done about Truth in the past hundred years has dealt with scientific truth as defined by scientists and logical positivists and philosophers who want to be seen as scientists and mathematicians rather than philosophers. (Thank you, William Barrett.)

When we confront accounts like Heaven Is For Real, we naturally lean to a show-me attitude, being doubting-Thomases who were born at night, but not last night!
But if there is no way to demonstrate truth, how may someone show-me?

We shall contrast Science, as a People-and-their-Beliefs System with a well formed way to determine truth acceptable to people even outside the group of scientists - with Religion and Politics, which do not have a means of proving truth that is acceptable to people outside the group.

The reason behind this being that Truth is usually defined for everyone, whether it be well-defined or not; whether it uses experiment or syllogisms from dogma.

Even scientists do not agree all the time on all matters. There is considerable dispute on Dark Matter, which has not been observed yet, and there is great concern over theoretical constructs which cannot nor seem ever likely to be able to be subject to experiment forming the foundations of modern science.
Many people of science hold beliefs which are no more capable of experimental proof than the statements in Heaven Is For Real.

If we seek not to deny these good people, how shall we evaluate their beliefs?


The Legacy Of The Past

We watched Selma yesterday and were amazed how much we had forgotten, which - I guess - sort of shows me why one should remember the Holocaust and not trivialize it; one should remember all great moral history and not trivialize it.

We thought of the divide between the political groups in the USA, and we remembered how the Solid South, the Democratic South which went solidly for the Democratic party, splintered on Civil Rights in 1948 with the presidential aspirations of the Dixiecrats, and finally fell apart in the 60s when the Democrat, Lyndon B. Johnson, was a moving force behind the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The displaced southerners went into the Republican Party in great numbers and southern church groups opened their own schools which did not accept federal monies.

Today we often see the Confederate flag in public, which may indeed be seen as an attack upon the memory of my ancestors who fought for the Union in the Civil War.

At this point, you may disagree or you may assent, but take a moment and realize that I have just severely trivialized history.

So let's get serious.

What is our untrivial legacy that still haunts us today? Read the following:

The Tablet
Book Review
Was Nazi Germany Made in America?

A new history argues convincingly that institutionalized racism and common-law pragmatism in the United States inspired Hitler’s policies

Historians have downplayed the connection between Nazi race law and America because America was mainly interested in denying full citizenship rights to blacks rather than Jews. But Whitman’s adroit scholarly detective work has proved that in the mid-’30s Nazi jurists and politicians turned again and again to the way the United States had deprived African-Americans of the right to vote and to marry whites. They were fascinated by the way the United States had turned millions of people into second-class citizens.

Strange as it may seem to us, the Nazis saw America as a beacon for the white race, a Nordic racial empire that had conquered a vast amount of Lebensraum. One German scholar, Wahrhold Drascher, in his book The Supremacy of the White Race (1936), saw the founding of America as a “fateful turning point” in the rise of the Aryans. Without America, Drascher wrote, “a conscious unity of the white race would never have emerged.” Rasse and Raum—race and living space—were for Nazis the keywords behind America’s triumph in the world, according to historian Detlef Junker. Hitler admired the American commitment to racial purity, praising the anti-Indian campaigns that had “gunned down the millions of Redskins to a few hundred thousand.” ...

How Race Questions Arise.’ A map of the 48 states showing ‘Statutory Restrictions on Negro Rights,’ which appeared in the Nazi propaganda magazine Neues Volk in 1936. (Courtesy of University of Michigan Library, appearing in James Q. Whitman’s Hitler’s American Model)

This is still living history. Less than 3 generations ago, fine minds in our country were devoted to keeping the races separate and denying rights to groups of citizens.
There still are today.

And there are still people who feel we need a "conversation" of race relations.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

My Book Part 2

I use this blog as a place to develop ideas. Most of this writing is first draft.
So if it appears "daft", remember it is "first draft daft" and hopefully will emend.

I know I said that film editing and what-not would form the body of this post, but I lied... again. It is about what I am trying to say about "belief-systems".

When we speak of belief-systems, we are actually talking about People-and-their-Beliefs-Systems.
Without the individual people, belief systems are nothing but empty, bloodless creeds - possibly like those data bases one used to call 'expert systems' - which are pretty much lifeless.

Beliefs on their own are inert and inane. They are a collection of propositions or statements that have no behavior of their own, they have no inspiration of their own, they cast no shadow - as it were - nor do they have a reflection within a mirror.

I must remember that I am dealing with People-Belief-Systems, not merely some arcade of propositions.

Now, what invigorates People-Belief-Systems? The people themselves are living, but that does not explain when and why a People-Belief-System ( which I shall call P-B-S from now on for brevity) is alive and vigorous rather than in a dormant state, or - worse - in a moribund state.

Consider Religion. There are P-B-Ss where the practice of religion is humdrum and there are occasions of spiritual awakenings and revivals. There are periods during which Judaism was a tidal wave in parts of the world, and there were times asleep in shtetls scattered across Eastern Europe.  There were times when Islam was a tidal wave of change, and there were times it slumbered - providing sustenance for its children, yes - but it did not thrust itself outside the avergae run of history.

A P-B-S system requires dynamic inputs to rouse itself from somnolence to activity.
The individual people that form the P-B-S may indeed be veritable boiling maelstroms of activity and creativity and - in the case of religion - enormous spiritual journeys and attainments, but the overall P-B-S in which these individuals form the parts may yet be somnolent.

Here we have arrived at a point where we ponder:

Science is not Inevitable

What was the "input" that created modern science? What was the "dynamo" that powered its development? I see no reason to believe that the rise of Science was inevitable. There must have been at least one dynamic input and most probably many more than served to transform society.

I am talking about Science, not the Industrial Revolution, not about the use of technology to build continent spanning railroads, telegraphs, telephones, roadways, etc. I am talking about Science as practiced by scientists.

The invention of a set of verification procedures to prove and to re-test and prove again in order to establish "scientific truth" was the dynamo that drove Science.

It was Galileo's
... eppur si muove!

"Yet, it does move!" which he is reputed to have uttered after certain forces in the Catholic Church forced him to publicly recant his views on the motion of the Earth.
It does not really matter whether he said it or not, for his subsequent life still shows his devotion to experiment and the scientific truth derived therefrom.

 The dynamo of the Indistrial Revolution may have been British coal, the limited size of the island kingdom, the status of the commons or even the Corn Laws. But the dynamo of Science was the invention and establishment of experiment as the accepted verification manner by which we could establish the Truth value of a scientific proposition!

It is not at all inevitable that a group of bricoleurs - people that assemble this and that of worldy thing in various ways and pastiches - will turn into scientists. Not a bit. The group of bricoleurs, collage-makers of gears and clepsydra, need to be galvanized by truth.

note: "bricoleurs" in more or less the sense that Levi-Strauss uses it.

Milo Finds Support

We forgot the great and mighty who supported Milo in the past.
In an alt-time-line history, this could be now instead of more than a month ago.

New York Times
Feb 2, 2017

 In an appearance on “Fox and Friends” on Thursday, Kellyanne Conway, one of Mr. Trump’s top advisers, compared the protest to those that took place at airports across the country over the weekend in opposition to the president’s executive order on immigration.

So what was Plan B when Plan A for Milo fell apart?


Friday, March 24, 2017

The Burden Of Brilliance!

Not mine, other peoples' !

I can barely get through reading the news without stumbling across some officious and loquacious bloody genius-essay written by some guys or dolls high on the grey matter scale. I mean, I am desperately looking to close everything and do some real-life work, but Closure of the Browser escapes me... and the brilliant words tick in my tinnitus like some canine Tell-Tale Heart following me around, barking, and waiting for tickle behind the ears!

So I found this essay about the double standard fascinating. It boils down to:  there are no real problems until they affect white men.
I have lived in this country all my life so I get it in spades.

When Life gives you lemons:

Make lemonade... or

or make sure White Men have to suck on those same lemons! Then the government might do something. Sheesh! 25 cents a glass!

I particularly remember Reagan's ignoring the AIDS epidemic, as if disease followed his political inclinations. Incredible.

So read:

The cruel double standard that could save Obamacare
Story by John Blake, CNN

...  A change in complexion leads to a change in perception...


My Book Part 1

Reportedly I have been working on a book for 6 years or more; a case might be made for 50 years, but that is a figure way too high, I am sure.

I want to set forth some of the basic parts that will be in it.

I became interested in Todd Burpo's book "Heaven is for Real" written about his son Colton's illness and unusual experiences and read it. Then I discovered that there was another book about a young man and his heavenly trip: this one was written by Kevin Malarkey about his son Alex's severe injuries and trip to heaven, "The Boy who Came Back from Heaven".

There is a lot of interesting stuff in these books and their ongoing histories, but I am primarily focused on one thing: how does one deal with claims about extra-normal experiences without being (a) credulous, or (b) intolerant, for it is clear that some people may too easily accept narratives that reflect some (not necessarily all) of their beliefs and other people will treat such stories with scorn.
There is a third way which corresponds to Agnosticism, and Agnosticism itself may run hot or cold, from being neutral in judgement yet totally uninterested to being neutral in judgement yet still wondering about the phenomena.

What is the status of truth in belief systems?
For these books are directed to a certain group with certain similar belief systems, and it is those groups which will most probably believe the book narratives to be true.
Other groups will believe the book narratives to be false.
I cannot embrace the story as "true" and yet I refuse to condemn it as "false".
The stories of good people have some important facets which go beyond true and false. What is it?

I think that to understand the reality of human actions, one must look at what is happening and try to suppress the urge to judge immediately. When confronted with raw evil, of course we must make a quick judgement, but when confronted by the actions of good people, we must make every effort to understand.
In doing so, it may help us understand ourselves, for we are no that much different - if at all! - from the Burpo family and from the Malarkey family. These families have had very different histories and their experiences cover a lot of experiences of all families - good experiences and bad ones.

How does one determine truth for events that do not have an independent way of finding out truth other than appealing to the basic underlying belief system?

That was the goal.

First, what we call belief systems are often otiose and unnecessary. Are religious credos and political creeds necessary for us to orient ourselves in the world? Probably not, for there are many religious dogmas in our faiths that we have probably never heard about and do not understand.
When was the last time the arguments against Pelagianism and its tenets were in your consciousness?

Belief systems have their uses and I would think that it would be in areas where the beliefs are in frequent use. Modern Science would be a good example, for the use of "beliefs" is so vigorous that we have experienced quite a few scientific revolutions within our lives, for with science there are established ways to verify scientific claims.
Not so with religion, and very little with politics.
Religious revolutions are sparsely scattered across history - although there may be more frequent Great Revivals and Bonfires of the Vanities - and Political revolutions are a bit more frequent but still not that frequent.

Religion and Politics (which I often lump together for the nature of "truth" in them) are systems in which:

Belief Precedes Truth

It is part of our history. 
We learn a passel of truths when we are kids.
Later we learn to be critical of our beliefs, but many of the beliefs which are fundamental to our personal lives and histories have been canonized as "truthful" due to the fact that we believed them when we were younger; we accepted them from unerring parents whom we thought were perfect...
(then we discovered they weren't... and many years later we discovered again they were!)

 Signe Wilkinson - Washington Post Writers Group and Cartoonist Group
[a cartoon based upon the description given above: "University of ideas I agree with", "Tweets I agree with", "Websites I agree with", and "Publications I agree with" are the captions within from left to right.]

The Truth of Religion and Politics we shall call Belief-Based. (And we shall rather dimly think of Truth in Science as Experiment-Based with more-or-less defined verification procedures.)

I like this sign


My Book  Part 2 will be   an essay on film editing and "coherence"

When I say that belief precedes truth, I guess I do not literally mean "in time", but that in knowledge or belief systems, belief in a statement will precede our finding out whether the statement is true or not.
Belief epistemologically precedes Truth

I think this is quite the norm for Religion and Politics, for it is our "group affiliation", as it were, that sort of wedges all sorts of tsotchkes into our brain pans and we believe them without having any intention of establishing the old truth ourselves.

AND - this does not imply that we necessarily have to verify anything at all!!!
It merely says that we believe before "truthing" and does not really say anything about whether one should believe. There is no imputation of credulity because we do not test truth. It is just the way it is.

The last thing I want to do is set up my view-point as somehow superior to another, for I posses no justification for that judgement, other than my self-infatuation!


Thursday, March 23, 2017

This Rotten Apple Didn't Fall Far From The Tree

The Guardian
Donald Trump Jr called 'a disgrace' for tweet goading London mayor Sadiq Khan
Donald Trump Jr is facing a backlash for criticizing London mayor Sadiq Khan with a scornful tweet sent hours after an attack at the Houses of Parliament left four dead, including a police officer.

The US president’s eldest son tweeted a link to a September 2016 story in the Independent, which quoted Khan saying terror attacks were “part and parcel of living in a big city”, and “I want to be reassured that every single agency and individual involved in protecting our city has the resources and expertise they need to respond in the event that London is attacked.”

“You have to be kidding me?!” Trump Jr tweeted, quoting the headline: “Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan”.

Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr)

You have to be kidding me?!: Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan
March 22, 2017

It’s unclear if the president’s son read the article or understood that the quote was from six months ago and not a response to the Wednesday attack, which police are treating as a terrorist incident....

...But later on Wednesday Trump Jr wrote in an email to the New York Times: “I’m not going to comment on every tweet I send.”

Trump Jr's Tweet was a comment, yet when he - like the old man - gets everything mixed up and wrong, he cannot comment !
What is in their DNA that makes them comment only wide of the mark?!?!


Cinéma En Plein Air [03/22/2017 - answer]

Answer to yesterday's clue:

Clue 1

Answer:      Breaking Away

Remember this scene?

Cutters and Bicycles


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I Explain What I Told Ya

I did a post a few days ago titled Told Ya!
and it was ostensibly about the economy as I saw it in 2013. The post ended by saying that the nonsense worked by the Republicans (meaning lack of financial oversight and the Iraq War... I suppose I should have included the Democrats, too) would come to a horrible fruition in 2016; Yep, 2016 was when the bottom would drop out.

Of course, the economic bottom did not drop out. It was an election year and we had a different outcome, one I referred to early on in 2016 as the abomination of desolation (standing in the holy place, etc.)

I wanted to clarify that the post Told Ya! was about economics, but the reprint a few days ago was about what actually became clear in 2016: not economic catastrophe but the unveiling of our spiritual and moral catastrophes.

Thirty-five years ago, I worked with a guy who had bought into the religion of Armageddon and End-of-Times-Around-the-Corner. He studied the Book of Revelations, carried a small copy with him, and spoke of the coming wrath.
As it turned out, within five years his wife became ill, she then had an incapacitating stroke (at a quite young age!) leaving him to raise the three children, work a full-time job, and to take care of her.

After some years of this, she recovered a good amount, at which time she divorced him and went off with someone else.

So this guy's prophecy was correct in that there was catastrophe in the near future; he just got the details a little wrong, for it was his own personal disaster and it was his own family, not the world.

And this happens an awful lot if you take the time to notice. The intuition of disaster very often takes on religious iconography and we think our own intimations of bane are general to the world.
This is why I like good stories. All the stories of plagues and zombies and future horrors frighten me with their cumulative intuitive burden. Let me see the good stories! Let me see a crowd of stories that redeem us!

We are at the edge of chaos.

Health Care Now

A good article on the present rush-to-legislate debate on health care that takes place in the hospital in which I was born!

The Guardian
24 hours in a Detroit ER: on the frontline of America's healthcare debate
Henry Ford hospital is one of the busiest in Michigan, and with many patients on Medicare and Medicaid it stands to be impacted greatly by an Obamacare repeal. As the debate rages, one doctor remains the calm at the center of the storm


Cinéma En Plein Air [03/22/2017 - clue]

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


Night And Silence, Who Is Here?

Oberon in A Midsummer's Night's Dream; One of the Chatty Gods

We wrote on God and Silence vs. Chit-Chat on a previous post:
and we continue here.

I believe the following to be an excellent example of talking to God or intuiting the mind of God; i.e., knowing what is going on in God's mind:

The Guardian
Rex Tillerson: 'I didn't want this job … my wife told me I'm supposed to do this'
Secretary of state said he had not met Donald Trump before he was summoned to Trump Tower to discuss ‘the world’ and was offered the role
... “I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job,” Tillerson told the Independent Journal Review (IJR), in an interview conducted on his official plane during the three-nation Asia trip. “My wife told me I’m supposed to do this.”

He said he had not met Donald Trump before being summoned to Trump Tower after the surprise election victory, ostensibly to talk to the president-elect “about the world” and his experiences as an oil company CEO.

“When he asked me at the end of that conversation to be secretary of state, I was stunned,” he said, adding that at 65 years old, at the end of a four-decade career at ExxonMobil, he had expected to retire: “I was going to go to the ranch to be with my grandkids.”

However, he said that when he returned to his Texas home after meeting Trump in New York, his wife, Renda St Clair, shook her finger in his face and said: “I told you God’s not through with you.”

He said he now feels his wife had been right: “I’m supposed to do this.”

The Tillersons know the mind of God.

They know the mind of that god who talks, gossips, and lets his covert meanings be known to the faithful by his body language and gestures.
The poor and the suffering wonder why that god is so silent.

Make up your minds: is God silent or chatty? How easy is it to engage Him in conversation? It is how you define the spiritual aspects of the world, so it may indeed be an important question.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Told Ya!

Cassandra, the Prophetess whom no one Believed

While looking for my photos of my date with Katerina Witt, the Olympic ice skater, in the New York Public Library (no details, please!) I came across the following post, which I re-print without editing.
All the emphases were there in the original.
I was spot on, but missed the fine, fine details, and we know who is in the details.

I thought it was Economics 101, but it was Introduction to Politics in the Trump Era, who was not on my presidential radar in 2013.

The following re-print is reproduced exactly as it appeared in 2013.

Published  October 14, 2013
My Goofy Economics

My Favorite Economist, Katerina Wittgenstein

If you have ever read my posts about my "intuitive" view of this economic structure, I had been aware of a reverse Fibonacci series of economic disasters... or mini-disasters.

A Fibonacci series is  {1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34..., } where the nth term = (n-1)th term + (n-2)th term.

A reverse Fibonacci just flips it:  { ...., 34, 21, 13, 8, 5, 3, 2, 1}

If all is clear - and it should be, for we are at the very end of this series and we need only pay attention to  8, 5, 3, 2, 1 - we come to the present day.

I maintained that the Great Recession of 2008 was part of the series, and the previous part was the Dot Com Meltdown in the time period 1999-2001.

So, 2000 (average) + 8 (Fibinacci term) = 2008, which indeed was the year of the next disaster, the Great Recession.

Over the last few years, I had lost a great deal of confidence in this "intuition" of mine, because the timing seemed out of whack.

However, today I look and I see a looming USA default.

2008 + 5 = 2013 !!

or, the year of the Great Recession plus the next term in the Fibonacci series is year 2008 + 5 = year 2013
The years we are dealing with are:    2000, 2008, 2013, 2016, 2018, 2019
(the bold print years are past, the underlined is now, and the rest are in the future.)

The only good thing one could say about my goofy economics is that is has worked so far.
Personally, I feel 2016 will be........... the interesting year. I won't go into details, other than 2016 will be the culminating year when the Republican-created crises of 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 itself will come to fruition

That is why I wish to create a sanctuary. Can you blame me?
I have had this type of premonition for an extremely long time, and I would rather be thought goofy and daft than be proven correct, but I am merely a messenger, and not a very good one.


I take back that bit in the last sentence, " I am merely a messenger".
I am myself and speak for only myself.


I wuz gonna title it "prophecy", but "told ya!: - or "I'm tellin' ya!" - mean the same thing and are not so annoying.

Monday, March 20, 2017


Katerina Witt

 (I could not find a suitable picture of Ludwig Wittgenstein so I got one from my date with Katerina Witt.)

Although we have all grown up idolizing Wittgenstein, his assumption of a world of facts is a metaphysicsal construct that sort of assumes what it was to prove, at least in the dim-light-bulb factory of my head.

Propositional logic applies to propositions. Period. A true proposition corresponds to a Fact in the world, at least we hope so.
However, there are no "true" facts in the world - "true" in the same sense as propositions are true.
Wittgenstein wants a Fact to stand for what-is-the-case, which is the surrogate for "true" in the logic of non-propositional worlds.

OK. But how does one finds these happy, happy facts?

We have religion and politics. Consider them. In politics, in a political party, we may have millions of adherents, each of whose belief system varies from that of their fellows in small degree or in large degree; they may contain contradictions.
Indeed, our own beliefs may contain contradictions, for as Christians we believe in love and peace, but as political Christians , we believe in force and compulsion... and that is the way of all flesh.

How does one describe these belief systems? Obviously if they contain contradictions, they cannot correspond to a Fact of the world in the Wittgenstein sense. Even if they differ in varying degrees, it is difficult how to see they correspond to any Fact.

Any reality may have a logic. Propositions have propositional logic. Then there are facts of the world and Wittgenstein tried to speak of what was almost unspeakable: the underlying Facts of the world. These Facts have their own logic, and their "truth value" is defined as "what-is-the-case"

It really does not work.
I also think Wittgenstein's Logical Atomism is responsible for his ability to envisage a clean and pure Fact - sort of like Descartes' clear and distinct ideas - which stands in Being as a tangible and non-volatile What-Is-The-Case.


Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

The painting is part of a mural by Thomas Hart Benton and depicts the movie industry in America. The film industry has absolutely nothing - Nothing! - to do with this post. However, yesterday I was thinking about something my friend in the film industry said and I had a sudden enlightenment of the Sunset-Boulevard-type  { "Lights! Camera!.... All right, Mr. DeMille. I'm ready for my enlightenment!"}, and this is how I remember things as they all come together like rushes from weeks and months of shooting film and trying now to edit it into something coherent.

There were a lot of important words in that paragraph, but I won't talk about them now. Now I have to talk about things that occurred to me while I was running this morning.

The question posed in the title, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" is but another form of the question whether God is silent or loquacious.
When things are going our way, I notice that people tend to believe God is loquacious: He is telling us the right road to take, the right course to major in, the right investments for our money, and we frequently find ourselves in the end-zone and dropping to one knee with hosannas on our lips.

When we suffer, God seems silent, on holiday, like your lawyer who won't return your calls while the lawyers of the enemy have nothing else to do but badger you, yet is everyday chatter, when we are bubbly and happy, when all we have to do is turn on the cable TV and get a few doses of God's advice to everyone from the lovelorn to the politically inept.

In Martin Scorsese's film Silence there is long meditation on divine silence.

So which one is it?

(I believe it is both; it is a superposition of states.)


Saturday, March 18, 2017


Well, it's a Fake President, isn't it?


A Private Hudson Moment

Private Hudson in Aliens

makes the following observation:

"How do I get outta this chicken-shit outfit?!"