About Me

My photo

Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lawyers - Ian Ayres - author of SUPERCRUNCHERS

Lawyers contribute to our society in many surprising ways. Here is a professor at Yale Law School, writing a book on econometrics: SUPERCRUNCHERS; Why Thinking-by-the-Numbers is the New Way to Be Smart.

Ayres tells us there is some good news about data-gathering. In this only recently-enabled technology, "evidence reigns supreme": it is "data". He gives us a tour of this data-driven world.

Two statistical tools propel the screws: REGRESSION ANALYSIS ("RA") run on raw data which uncovers connections between different "subjects" or patterns, and RANDOMIZATION ("RZ") which reveals the influence of a single factor in the presence of multiple effects.

For example, RA can determine which characteristics such as gender, age, income, job, or pet food purchase are involved, influence, or correlate with people defaulting on mortgages. RZ is used by medical scientists to identify a life-saving therapy via randomized controlled trials offering alternative modalities.

Ayres is enthusiastic -- he likes "data" as a basis for making decisions. He also offers examples of the GIGO caution, and that "correlation is not causation". For example, several States changed laws to encourage gun ownership because of a putative correlation to lower crime rates, but this "evidence" was shown to be spurious.

Abramowitz QUOTING the great Actor Ashraf Bahrom

It does not get better than this:

The veteran in-depth Hollywood interviewer, Rachel Abramowitz {LA Times 9/23/2007}, has caught and highlighted the significance of THE KINGDOM. And she quotes one of the great Galilean stars in that film, ASHRAF BARHOM:

"I'm a mammal at the end. I breathe out and breathe in and eat.

"At the end when we go to sleep, nobody lives this political definition. It's something we connect by and we try to understand each other by, but at the end, we know that this is not who we are. We are more simple. I don't see much differences. We talk different languages, eat different foods, but all huymanity has one ancestor, which started from one person, which started from one God. I don't think politics can bring a better situation. They try, but you see how much corruption there is. I believe change should come from the real leader, who can make a real peace, and his name is God."

Arabs and Jews - Media Tribes

Nations have fallen. We suffer no more nationalities, no more pretensions to Kingdoms where there are no Kings, no States where there are no "moi" L'Etats {insert bow to the last fictional Sun, King Louis XIV}.

Sure, there remain the empty invocations. Remnant Nazi sympathizers still people the globe with scapegoats for their own alarming defalcations and failures -- for example, even IF there was a "bad Jew" somewhere doing something, is there anything WORSE than what Hitler/Himmler/Goebbels directly did TO THE GERMAN PEOPLE? Now, we appreciate the fact that Hitler's grandmother was Jewish, but it is not Justice to blame the victim for being the victim while claiming the predator is the victim.

There is great news coming out of the Media Tribes. Great news in terms of world peace, and the hope that men and women really love their families and want to prosper, that is, want peace, rather than suffering in constant war. The Media Tribes have supplanted the "nations". Granted they have the chaotic limitations of tribes, but the new tribes are inspired in ways that "nations" are not.

The new Media Tribes which form around the grand enterprise of making Movies, for example, have over-powered the narrow and self-defeating provincialisms of the old tribalisms. But one example, THE KINGDOM, a film made by a Hollywood tribe which has accreted a wonderful cast and team from around the world. Whether the film as film is any good is beside the point -- it took a magnificent tribe to make it. And this making is in the millions, and arches over borders and hatreds and old wars. Ironically, of course, it depicts the old wars.

ASHRAF BARHOM is an intense 30-year old Christian Arab-Israeli actor/poet who plays a Saudi Colonel "Al-Ghazi" teamed up with an FBI Agent Ronald Fleury, played in turn by the brilliant black American, JAMIE FOXX. The Islamic terrorist mastermind of the film is played by a Jew, and it was shot in Arizona, with exterior driving dub-shots done in Dubai.

Just the fact that this has happened, that this film-making is a consummated reality, is wonderful news from The-World-is-a-Better-Place-Than-It-Appears front. We are seeing waves of these new tribes-people -- new associations, new invasions, new nomads, new settlers. They are bringing their gifts and talents and hopes into areas of spent tyranny: Ironically, the "kingdom" referred to here is "Saudi Arabia". This is complicated, but Hollywood has found geopolitics. At last.

We are all Arabs. We are all Jews. We are all mongrel tribes, trying to raise our families in peace and looking for prosperity. We are all minorities -- especially those of us in Power at the Top. Minorities. And we move in a mob: The Pack, the Tribe, with its own hopes for the best.

Preserve us from those who would "save" us

Do you see a rise of "finger-pointing"? The recent welter of Rovian "attack ads" are nothing more than the application of mob-mongering scape-goating from the Dark Ages of every previous political disaster. Yet, in pointing this out, am I also doing that which I accuse Karl Rove of doing -- that is, "attacking" him?

The difference is that I BLAME HIM, not a scape-goat. I do not blame a Race, a party, a group with unalterable characteristics. He is to blame. He vigorously applied the "strategy" -- not original to him -- of spreading false rumors about other candidates so as to distort every campaign he touched. At the time he spread the defamation, he knew the truth -- for example:

(1) on the eve of George Bush's first race for Governor of Texas, Karl Rove knew that Ann Richards was not and never was a "lesbian";

(2) during the party nomination for President, Karl Rove knew that Senator McCain was not a "traitor",

(3) in the election of 2004, Karl Rove knew that John Kerry acted honorably in discharging his duties as an officer on a Swiftboat; and

(4) when Karl Rove, who never served in the military, never served his country in any capacity, and has lost no limbs or undertaken risks on its behalf, smeared Max Cleveland as a "sniveling defeatist", he knew the truth that Cleveland was a war hero.

Why has this man been able to "accomplish" so much for himself at the expense of the public? Because Rove spread the defamation under color of righteousness -- by claiming to be saving us from the Bad Thing he rumors of his opponent. And surely we need the redemption.

But now, what saves us from the false redeemer?

The Rise and Fall of Scape-Goading

Goading the mob, invoking a tribal hatred the embers of which have always warmed our fears, is a sure sign of tyranny afoot.

A bully, the one parading in the sand-lot of his infantilism, will always pick on the vulnerable, the tolerant, the ones whose humiliation brings no immediate consequences. Do you ever see bullies "picking on" the powerful?

It appears that certain people are out looking for a "scape-goat". Why? What oversight or error of their own are they trying to hide? Why goad the mob with fingerpointing and accusations against "others"?

We face the scape-goaders on all sides of the extremes:

The goaders from the CONSERVATIVE soap-box try to blame a "conspiracy" of change, as if anything ever stays the same. These goaders only replace others in power with themselves and nothing is preserved as a result of their false restorations.

The goaders from the COMMUNIST soap-box try to blame a "conspiracy" of stasis, as if anything ever changes. These goaders only replace others in power with themselves and nothing changes as a result of their false reforms.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The sudden disappearance of Great Rulers - the Moche

We have seen so many "civilizations" which have fallen. All people have "classes" -- the plebians and the patricians who rule them. But the "rulers" are rarely wise, rarely deserving of the special treatment they require. Tney "spell out" for us how worthless and empty the pretense to superiority is.

In South America, I have seen the Huacas. In the desert, the Moche built great cities. The Huaca del Sol and de Luna are the greatest structures built in the New World before 1500 A.D. The Moche were also the greatest craftsmen of the chaleolithic peoples. Their food was grown using wonderful brick aquaducts. But what do we know of their disappearance?

They left a record of images and stories on pots and walls, including the slow blood-letting and "sacrifice" of prisoners captured live in battle.

Dr. John Verano, Tulane University, was the bone specialist who studied a field of skeltons to determine cause of death. Thin slash marks to the front of the neck bones, some with hundreds of marks -- indicating the muscle was cut and removed from the bone. The images on the pottery were not "stories", they were pictures of actual sacrifice.

Around 650 A.D. the Moche quite suddenly vanished. El Nino - the name we give to the wet weather that hits the coast of Sur America -- strikes every five years or so, but at exactly the same time the Moche collapsed, the weather was going haywire. A major El Nino on the coast, with flooding and landslides, occurred, and drought and dust conditions followed in the mountains -- a mega-drought.

Here is a clear example of a huge and specialized civilization which was powerless before an epic change of weather.

Conquest of the Inca - by women, and Atahualpa's enemies

We are told that the pig-sty maker Pizarro, wielding steel and harquebus' from horseback, conquered tens of thousands of warriors and seized the Inca Empire. In fact almost everything taught about this event is untrue and so implausible that it is monument to human gullibility that it has stretched over our "education" for almost 600 years. Perhaps the true story some day will be told, and it will be revealed from two sources:

(1) archeology - which will reveal how the warriors in the great armies of the Inca actually died (Hint: few were killed by steel weaponry, most by native stone clubs and spears), and

(2) the law suits in which Pizarro's children, who were born of the great and largely unknown "wife" taken by Pizarro at the outset of his "conquest". His wife was a princess of one of Atahualpa's enemies. Curiously, the legal records completely contradict the so-called historias of the priests who recorded Pizarro's conquest.

Trumpeters - one of the mirroring leitmotifs of a culture

Most of us honor the Sunday Park "airing" of Arban in developing the trumpet as an outdoor instrument; we still use his book.

Then the black New Orleans/Chicago influences - brought mainstream by Bix Beiderbeck, and opened internationally with Sachmo - Louis Armstrong. A Big Band golden age led by Sachmo and "Big Bop" Maynard Ferguson, Dizzy Gillespie. Still dancing zydeco java jazz - Al Hirt.

Ralph Mendez - warmed up the Latin influences and showed that trumpeters could play continuously using circular breathing. The Cubano, Arturo Sandoval with the most beautiful sound, and Latin jazz.

Maurice Andre reached up into the C and G ranges, and the piccolo and classical trumpet. Maurice also gets credit for bringing out the "charm" of the instrument -- smooth, easy-listening, supple phrasing.

Tijuana Brass sound of Herb Alpert. His 1965 Album, "Whipped Cream and Other Delights" sold more than 14 million copies, and by 1966 he was bigger than the Beatles. From dancing to nervous breakdown and later, serious consciousness raising, always improvising off interesting melodies and rhythm structures.

Doc Severinson made it nightly with Johnny Carson's Tonite Show. One of the first of the great Monsters, and showing the power of space-age pop.

Jack "trying to get good" Sheldon broadened the play as Merv Griffin's superior sideman -- not only as a jazzman, but with a 17-piece orchestra, as a balladeer, goldening the age of Los Angeles Hollywood.

Miles Davis influenced Chet Baker, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Herb Pomeroy, Alan Dawson, Dave Lambert, Charlie Mingus. Eventually the incredible "screamers" (Ferguson) were surpassed with jazz fusion and smooth jazz.

Hugh Masekela - In the 60's introduced the 8-quarter runs echoed in traditional drum-song, and became a global music legend (with his sweet former wife vocalist). In 2000's he is still show-casing with the Chissa All-stars.

Chuck Mangione - opened up the range between elevator background and fluegel horn concert arrangements.

Finally, a kind of apotheosis: Wynton Marsalis - the first musician to win Grammy's in both Classical and Jazz performance. Top improvizations. Maybe the greatest combination of ear, talent, heart and intelligence.

Now, a new generation is stepping up. The English-woman, Alison Balsom is performing in 2008 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Walt Disney Concert Hall, not only from her Andre-influenced easy-listening honey-coated effortless high notes, but also with avant-garde jazz. Debut on Prairie Home/Keillor January 2008, showing how a gold trumpet can deliver "folk" melodies.

WADADA LEO SMITH. Leading brass instrumentalist composer and teacher. Working free jazz and world music for decades.

FESTIVAL OF NEW TRUMPET MUSIC. Trumpeter Dave Douglas has sponsored "FONT" for now its Sixth Year in New York City. Strong performances and compositions with Taylor Ho Bynum and Jeremy Pelt, Eddie Allen, Ralph Alessi, Mark Isham, Pheeroan ak-Leef, John Zorn. www.fontmusic.org.

CHRIS BOTTI. Album "Chris Botti in Boston" {Boston Pops}. With Josh [Berman? tenor], Sting (both had the nerve to start over on improvs that do not go right, and audience appreciated/remembers "Shape of my Heart" - squared, harmon mute), John Mayer, etc.

GREG ADAMS - works with mesmerizing vocalist Daryl Walker, composer, producer, player. Mix of jazz, pop, San Francisco funk since the 1970's, and just played Laguna Festival of Arts on 2010 tour. Soulful touches.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Alan Greenspan documents the abandonment of fiscal restraint by the Republican Party leadership

Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve Chairman who served as the leading economist of our once-respected Republican Party for 3 decades, has capped his service in his book, The Age of Turbulence. He documents the fact that President George W. Bush, and the entire GOP under the leadership of his cabal, completely abandoned the "conservative principle" of fiscal restraint. He expressly honors President Clinton for his intelligence, principles, and antideficit policies.

According to Bob Woodward (Washington Post), Greenspan has repeatedly expressed deep disappointment with the Bush-Cheney-Rowe Administration and its out-of-control spending. Greenspan frankly viewed the 2000 election "as a golden opportunity", with the GOP in control of the Courts, Congress, the Presidency and the Media. Like the rest of us who feel that the Republican Party was taken over by pirates, he feels betrayed. Like only he could do, however, he has documented the facts of the betrayal -- the occasions missed and miss-steps taken.

On his Watch - US Attorney General, Alberto R. Gonzales

"Over the past 2 1/2 years, I have seen tyranny, dishonesty, corruption and depravity of types I never thought possible."
Mr. Alberto R. Gonzales, appointed US Attorney General by his long-time friend, George W. Bush, at the ceremony "in his honor" on the occasion of his resignation from the scandal-scarred Justice Department. Under previous Administrations, the Department had the mission of ferreting out injustice. Now, it appears, we had an individual in charge of prosecuting injustice who by his own account was observing it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Personal Motto - official announcement of abeyance

Jahresbericht or Soup d’ Journal : REGARDING THE PERSONAL MOTTO

Maybe it’s a bad idea to have a personal motto. When it’s not a senseless burden, it gets me into trouble. I started with JURIS PRAECEPTA SUNT HAEC: HONESTE VIVERE,; ALTERUM NON LAEDERE; SUUM CUIQUE TRIBUERE (“The precepts of the law are these: to live honorably; to hurt nobody; to render everyone his due”). Of course, that never worked: my peers thought I thought I was better than they were. My superiors thought I was trying to hurt them by making them look bad. As for people subordinate to me, all of them seemed to think that I was trying to take away the nothing they had. Both of them savagely accused me of trying to render to them what they deserved.

So, I took as motto what became my shibboleth : SEEK TRUTH, BE LOVED, AND MAKE A LIVING. At least this motto was not in Latin, a language of arenal failures, and ancients who erst-whiled away their time burning libraries, and crucifying Zionists for which they blamed the Jews, triply victimizing their victims. Secondly, it contains a vector of direction from the tension of an expanding trinity, a sort of Hegelian dialogue, suggesting that in practical action (the artifice of “making” a living out of Doing and Being) can be found the common ground between the incompatible antipodes of Truth and Love.

But this has not worked either. A motto becomes a rut, a sewer, and not in a good way. The motto only reminds me of my flush, epidemic, broad, and abundant failures - my axle-broke cart dragged to the sunken shoulder. I am road killed, over-run by a million, count ‘em, Sport-Utility Vehicles. What I thought had utility has become someone else’s sport. My wheels are not merely broken, they do not fit any known chassis. I have not found truth. I have not glimpsed even a passing resemblance.

As for the second clause, it is harder to be Loved than I ever imagined. It feels like an un-natural act. It may even be that “crime against Nature” which is so often discussed in the literature of pricks. It is clear to me, it is often spelled out and spoon-fed to me, that I am not loved outside my immediate family members, a dwindling group which is calling in help as we speak . Most people have never even “liked” me – we are hardly in the swill ball-park of Love. The mutuality of open hostility appears to be growing. Large parts of me seem to have joined the “other” side of this issue.

As for my livelihood, it has never risen to the level of being a “livelihood”. There is no “there” there. I struggle for existence, overwhelmed by the details of survival. Just the other day I was accosted by a man who owes me money for services I performed at his request – and he wanted to know when I would pay him. Whatever I seem to have made, is not a “living”.

It does not appear productive to pretend to a motto more painful than aspirational. So, I am looking for a new motto, something more appropriate to a man of my station: A terminal station at the end of a parallel line of rust in a jungle of desert at the bottom of a dry sea. A slogan suitable to someone who has been handed the remote which controls no known appliance.

I am thinking of “To sow the sea, reap the tears, and fake a dying”. This ought to give pauze to myself as I plunge into the rigors of remorse, remonstration, and regret. It may also give bone to that jaw of steps, a run of landings in that “hindsight” of the brain – its espirit d’escalier – which can see patterns of Guilt emerge from the shadows of the past, and which is really the only window in my log-cabin.

Or perhaps the cheery bon-mot “Memento Mori”, for those of us who love life, but not particularly this life. Unfortunately, I do not think there is any other “life” – after, or extra-terrestial, or otherwise – so perhaps this adversion to death, as if it has consequences, is too hopeful.

Well, I have not found a suitable replacement. And having lived so long with the “tape” of a motto, replaying the worm so to speak, with the having of a motto, I will try to find one before I jettison my old one. But you should know, for the record, or for the DVD in the sky, that my old motto – Seek Truth, Be Loved, and Make a Living – is no longer, if it ever was, invoked.

Under the circumstances, no decent burial arrangements are being made. We cannot afford the fuel for a pyre. We were thinking of exposing it to the sky and letting eagles tear out its liver every day. Eagles eat fish and this one is fishy enough.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pechanga Casino Indians are denying membership to documented clans

Pechanga Indian leaders hired anthropologist John Johnson in 2004 to determine whether or not the Madariaga clan were members of the tribe.

Generations of Madariagas had grown up on the reservation. Family patriarch Lawrence Madariaga, 90, built his home there. He also built the local clinic, served on tribal committees and lived on Hunter Lane, named after his great-grandmother, Paulina Hunter. He received a lifetime achievement award from the tribe.

However, now that the tribe receives significant monthly checks from casino profits, there is a motive among Members to restrict Membership. When tribes are paid royalties from oil or the BIA by head-count, then Membership was inclusive. Now, when the pot stays the same, and the more Members, the less each receives, some family members were found to be frauds unfairly pocketing income. Most receive $20,000 each in monthly checks from casino profits.

John Johnson, the curator of anthropology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, hired as an expert witness on Luiseno genealogy, concluded that the Madariaga family was indeed descended from Hunter. He presented the proof that Paulina was a Temecula Indian from the Pechanga reservation. He showed her lineal descent from an original tribal ancestor.

However, the tribal enrollment committee, chose to ignore the facts. Ignore the facts, and keep more money for themselves.

Apparently rich people are pretty much the same, whether they come from poverty, spiritual traditions, or have access to the clearest expertise and wisdom. When people get rich, they want to keep it, and they want to be better off than others. Why keep the eggs if you can kill the goose?

FOOTNOTE on the Law. In cases around the country, the State and Federal Courts are "deferring" to the Tribal Councils who are excluding competing clan members they don't like, even when the decision is clearly contrary to the facts. Funny, the courts never deferred to the Councils when they were claiming lost land, resources, damages for broken treaties. All of a sudden Federal Courts no longer have jurisdiction over disputes between local sovereignties?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Cahokia and the 53 women in Mound 72

I am an apologist for the native and the immigrant, the builder of cities, and the nomad wanderer, or the brave immigrant looking for a place to raise a family. Still, let's accept the tangibles, the facts you can hold in your hand.

We have only recently unearthed the Mississippian cultures which reached a kind of apex in Cahokia -- at the confluence of three great rivers, and the soft riparian "bottom land" of America. The grayware is beautiful, the stone-ware stunning, the lay-out -- with its own solar Wood-henge -- is impressive. The symbols are almost all around the sun and fertility, almost none about war, and nothing has yet been unearthed that looks like blood-letting and human sacrifice.

Except there is that deep pit inside a charnel house with 50 men tossed contemporaneously and carelessly into it. There is the door-less stockade built by itself which appears to be a prison. While there is little evidence of war-loving or anthropophagous habits, there is this evidence of at least intermittent reprisal and severe punishment.

And Mound 72 -- at the edge, and askew by 90 degrees. The burial of a Lord, accompanied by four men whose hands and heads were removed, and by 53 women, laid in in two ranks, and apparently strangled.

There are many mysteries, but there should be no mystery about our Lords. They manipulate us with beliefs they themselves do not cherish, and they behave entirely differently than they require of us.

And we have only excavated less than 5%...? The past is the thing that haunts us. Is it possible to live? Knowing what comes out of the dirt of our past? The facts are damning.

Choice - choosing the Chooser

There are many perfectly helpful concepts for which we have no "word". There are many words we actually use, but which have lost all usability; they no longer "apply". Choice is clearly a residual "word" used by people who no longer believe in the concept. Or we do "believe", but we understand that the "chooser of the chooser", or the chemistry of desire, and the inner embedded story-teller, are all things that negate or neutralize the concept of "choice". It is of no consolation that the concept of "belief" is also horning the dilemma of our sit.

I want to suggest that the brain/personality is up to the task of finding "choice". Do not let yourself off this hook: You are choosing your life. Look at the exceptions that prove rules. And those desires -- how many of us would lose a head if our dreams were judged? How bitter, how salted, how merciless are our whims. Are they to be irresistable as well?

We are inside our story. Still, that next page is blank. There is really no law, no chemistry inside, and no judge, no tyrant, which can force the ending. Who knows.

Larry Craig, booked and pled guilty, taking a "wide stance" in a men's room

Curiously, a Republican Party which almost unanimously took the position that a Blow Job was "sexual intercourse" -- which would surprise most people who look up actual definitions and the definitions which were in play during Clinton's deposition -- is now claiming that expressly signaling for a Blow Job from a cute blonde police decoy is not "solicitation". I do not know why we bother with "definitions". People make up their minds based on ideology, prejudice and politics.

It is obvious that "family values" are not, and probably never have been, maintained by the elites who run things.

Where is the "moral outrage" of the Conservatives now? Jesus never directly decried the practices of Man-Loving. Read carefully about John the Beloved. It is not good enough to say that he adverted to the teachings of the Prophets, and some of them lived in a society which made homosexuality a capital offense. Or not -- there is a huge translation issue here, but it should be obvious to everyone that homosexuality is simply NOT one of the Ten Commandments. By ANY interpretation.

Jesus was not subtle, however, in condemning hypocrisy. Or untempered condemnation -- "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone", is the sound bite most of us come away with.

Pavarotti and the Requiem, Panis Panorum

The Music at Pavarotti's Funeral -- in Italy which adored him and had time to prepare -- these things do not always provide that luxury coupled with political opportunity -- should be listened to. I think they performed the LIBERA ME from Verdi's Requiem. It is almost an Opera on its own. The Introit, Dies Irae, the joy of the Sanctus. I think Placido Domingo was conducting it. Sting was there - did he sing? And I hear they played a video of two Pavarottis singing the Panis Panorum -- done as a duet with his Pappa. Andrea Bocelli sang deeply. And then there is that final C-major chord of the Requiem.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Origins of Language - and the Brain

How much of human language is actually "innate"? People seem to be able to speak "automatically", replaying tapes, much akin to the pigeon coo, the cat caterwaul, the wolf howl, and the monkey chatter. Elephants, bats, cetacea, and three orders of birds (parrots, hummingbirds and songbirds) have the ability to remember and reproduce sounds.

Yet humans, at least when young, are able to do more than "imitation", and can create different meanings from new sounds, a skill set no other creature has. The response of horses and dogs to specific vocal commands, the "sign language" learned by some Bonobos, and the mimicry of mynahs, all come short of the mastery which is the unique cultural artifact of humans, our Language.

Still, chemistry seems to lie at the heart of Language. Are there other brains we can study which would reveal the chemistry involved in producing Speech?

Enter the Zebra Finch. A native of Australia, with a brain smaller than most seeds, it has much to teach us about "vocal learning". The bird brain is in many ways more similar to a mammalian brain than first thought.

Erich Jarvis, 41 year old neurobiologist out of Duke University, is studying the chemistry of the Finch's songs. He asks: "What's the most complex thing a brain can do? Language." He says: "I am starting from the naive position that if you can decipher the most complex thing about how the brain works, everything else will fall into place."

Fashion and the Renaissance we are inhabiting

In our contemporary times, we are sharing an enormous number of attributes that arose during the European Renaissance of the 1400's, including lack of central authority, creativity across a number of "arts", danger and disorder.

Take "fashion". Four hundred years ago, textile manufacture and arts were reaching "extreme" forms in Italy, France, England, Austria and Germany, breaking out of the black robes and white ruffles of medievaldom. In the last 50 years, again, we see extraordinary creativity in Fashion -- with the dominance of Fashion Houses and the living legends of Valentino (red evening gowns), Giorgio Armani (chic suits for men), Karl Lagerfeld (reinventing the Chanel suit), and the international powerhouses of Dior, Lacroix, Prada, Gucci as brands.

It is insensible, but it is part of "renaissance".

Unsung role of Dinner in the Historical rise of Cooperative Action

Why is it that at particular times and places, a certain collection of individuals set aside their competitive natures, their feuding, and take collective action? The otherwise inexplicable "union" of disparate peoples into Mongols (from feuding tribes), or British, or Americans, for example, how does this happen?

We know that Ghengis Khan met with the man who had killed his father and who, by all the traditions of race and tribe, he should have avenged in blood. We know that instead of combat, the two met over Dinner, again and again, and invited others to the feast, and instead of continuing centuries of blood feuds, they formed a new and unitary concept -- the "Mongol" meme was formed.

More recently, we are able to give names to the people who were in charge of the unifying Dinner. For example, the American Colonies were extremely fractious. Even after cobbled together in the sinews of War and Treaties of Trade, each "State" was jealous and a creature of its native and competitively loyal sons. In particular, the "Southern" Virginians (Jeffersonians) and the "Northern" New Englanders (Federalists) were riven by major cultural and economic divisions. Yet the "United" States held together through the War of 1812 in spite of the total destruction of its capital, its economy, its Navy, its military, and the loss of every possible ally. France did not come on this occasion. The best explanation for the residual survival of the Americans as a unified country is...Dinner! Dolly Madison, the wife of the President during this "final" destruction of the Revolutionary impulse, was such a great hostess, we are still familiar with her name to this day as a Dinner enabler.

Again, a hostess serves as the best explanation for the ascendence of the "British" people in their most golden hours. At the turn of the century in the 1800-1900's, Dinner became a profound event in England. The viciously competitive scions of the nasty little prep schools -- widely and uniformly described by a variety of writers (C.S. Lewis, Shaw, Chesterton, Dahl) -- set aside their squabbles and dominated the world in a thinly-spread unitary action. Why? In the same period, it was the golden age of Dining. Jenny Churchill would deliberately invite arch-enemies to dinner, and somewhere between the chery and the cheroot, they would put aside their hostilities, and proceed to govern ungovernable India, build railroads in Bolivia, and trade centers in Africa and Hong Kong.

Of course, the hostess was a woman, and the "event", Dinner, was hardly monumental. Nothing is left in stone. Still, the China is there.

Speaking of "the China", the discovery of ceramic techniques in China is itself a large and as yet unexplored explanation for how the Chinese civilization unified. Again, it was a Dinner event. The appeal to graces and the belly, under the auspices of a hostess whose name, and whose critical role, has been overlooked.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Legacy of a Secret Regime

A curious paradox has emerged from the heretofore VOLUME of books written by the officials who have fled their erstwhile positions in the Bush Administration: First of all, the expositions fly in the face of the insularity which characterized their office. It is so bizarre to hear this spectacle of song -- blabbing like gossips gathered at a watering hole -- after their service in the obsessively secret and press-shy administration of Bush-Cheney-Rove.

As Tim Rutten noted in his Bush-of-the-Month Club suggestion, "It's impossible to recall an administration in which quite so many people -- from the President on down -- were so eager to rat each other out." LAT 9/7/2007 book review.

Secondly, the number of song-birds are UNPRECEDENTED. In history, has there ever been such a wholesale effort to exploit Public Service -- however paltry the accomplishments, however insignificant the achievements -- for private gain? Even to the degree of trying to sell books "about" this Administration for royalties!

Apparently the secret is out. There were No Secrets. There was never a Plan, never a Good Idea, never a Vision. We were hoping, behind the non-disclosures, the secrecy, that our leaders had a vision. That hope is now in the waste-bin, put to rest by a tidal wave of eye-witness accounts giving comprehensive details to an Administration which has destroyed America with deliberate, consistent, and unflinching incompetence. It is a secret no more.

The Invasion of Iraq - Clear Error; an equipoise of Idiocy

There is a part of me still carrying DE OPPRESSO LIBER in my pocket. This is not only to honor my Green Beret brother, Hayden, but also because I know there are many victims of tyranny whose only hope is that someone will SHOOT the tyrant. There is no "dialogue" of words which a tyrant can understand. Tyranny is all about Power. Getting physical. That is the only language which tyrants speak.

So many of us were openly in favor of invading Iraq after 9/11. We were told, by the Bush Administration, that it was an appropriate action to take. We were dealing with a tyrant who was oppressing the people of Iraq, and he had clearly telegraphed his intentions to extort wealth from others. Thus, the Bush "rationale" appeared to be plausible.

It is now time to be Real Clear about Why the invasion of Iraq was exactly the Wrong Thing to do.

Those of us who thought that the President of the United States had a Plan and was surrounded by intelligent people who could understand Public Policy, were not only misled by the express lies of President Bush, but also by our own assumptions. But our assumptions were informed by the lies. For this, the Administration is quadruply responsible -- they were idiots (making decisions without information), they held Public Office only to benefiting themselves (in the actions and failures to act), they made us believe a "scapegoat" was the danger, and they lied to us.

Our knowledge that we are in dire straights and in danger is continually corroborated . Now add to this, the knowledge that our Administration is not going to help, is not capable of helping, and cannot "understand" the concept of Public Good. We are in REAL danger.

The only thing that "saves" us is the fact that virtually all the so-called "Terrorists" coming out of the so-called "Islamic tradition", are ALSO idiots. They are not "real" Terrorists -- most of these losers could not terrorize a nursery school. They are incapable of fighting and so they resort to blowing up unarmed civilians and children, in their own villages. They should not be elevated by comparison with real warriors -- for example, the American Indians on their Warpaths, the kidnapped Unitarian children in the Janissary cavalry of the Ottoman Empire, the Bedouin raiders, the Roman Infantry.

Iraqis are a brave people. Many are warriors. Real warriors have a distaste for arbitrary killing of unarmed women and children -- it is not honorable, it is a perversion of battle -- marketplace bombings are not worthy of a plan, monuments will not be built in commemoration of perverts and cowards. A bombing of a Mosque during prayers is not something a "believer" could do. It almost defines "idiot" -- sort of equivalent to the bombing of Saddam Hussein's palaces by Bush, who destroyed the country he was invading.

So what we have, what we end up pinning our hopes on, is the equipoise of idiocy. We who are caught between idiots, are only saved by the fact that on both sides the perpetrators of idiocy are hag-ridden by their own ignorance, incompetence, and wild devotion to blaming others. Their attention seems to drift except when finding fault. Whether it is Bush, or Bin Laden, or their utterly depraved minions, the only thing they seem to accomplish is blame. What are they capable of building?

When a "scapegoat" is persecuted, we are in danger

Sad day. I happened to Google "Jews", and discovered that many nakedly "anti-Jew" points of view are current. Why is this of Great Concern? Because in history, when someone starts picking on someone else who is for whatever reason relatively defenseless, it is a Very Bad Sign. It is a sign of tyranny.

In the last few centuries in Europe, The Jew has been a target of calumny. The defamers have used the Jew as a Scapegoat to avoid their own responsibilities as persons in Power. Scapegoating is NEVER a solution, final or otherwise, to any actual problems. The Tyrants always have an ulterior motive, and in the case of calumniation against the Jew, a fiendish cowardice. For centuries, tyrants have been picking on a group who are for the most part unarmed, poor, and powerless. The exceptions -- the Rothschilds, the Zionists -- actually prove the rule.

One of the first and largest sites with this invidious interest in "Jews", claims to be "the Internet's Largest Scholarly Collection of Articles on Jewish History". However, instead of being scholarly or historical, it meticulously reprints the most fiendish frauds and vicious calumnies. The result is to create an irrational hatred against an "other" group. Why would anyone do this?

First, because unlike attacking Power, an attack on a race almost guarantees that a warrior will not seek reprisal or justice against the defamer. No direct physical "counter-attack" is likely. Thus, the perpetrators of race calumny are the ultimate cowards.

Secondly, the calumny justifies theft. Describing the oppressed group -- the native people, ex-slaves, starving Irish, Huegenots, Moros, gypsies, Jews -- AS IF THEY WERE THE OPPRESSORS is done specifically so that a private person can benefit himself at their expense. A tyrant will get the mob to terrorize the victim into abandoning everything and fleeing. And then who gets the abandoned "stuff"? It has always gone directly into the private pockets of the defamer. This is Theft.

The bottom line here is that there are CURRENT attempts to duplicate the Nazi achievement: Hiding their cowardice behind the bullying of those who are helpless--making false accusations against "scapegoats" -- tyrants seek to enrich themselves at the expense, ultimately, of all of us. Will it work?

Thank God for Jews. They continue to serve as the "canary in the mine" of liberty. When they are attacked, we should all take immediate action. The air is souring, we are losing oxygen. It is getting dark. Life and Liberty for all is threatened. "The Jews" have never been the CAUSE of all the wars, diseases, famine and plagues. In fact, as relatively powerless and formerly stateless people, they suffered MORE from these events. The gratuitous name-calling of course, simply aggravates the suffering of poor people.

For the record, WE ARE ALL JEWS. We are all native people. We are all immigrants. We are Gypsies, Apaches, Aboriginals. We are Arabs. We are all a proud and distinguished race.

I am a Welsh Guardsman at the bridgehead, a Scottish claymore swung at the throat of tyrants, and a gentle Buddhist monk with his tire and a can of gasoline. I stand with the oppressed. If a tyrant thinks, for a minute, that he will ever, ever, take the stuff belonging to another, or benefit himself at the expense of others, or cause harm to another person, then he must also KNOW that he will never have peace while I live....

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Keeping the pig in the epigram - archeology

The pig is not only an intelligent creature, remarkably similar to homo sapien in many ways. We share a similar digestive tract, omnivorous diet, curiosity, and ability to live alone or in herds.

We also share a long history of living together, although this relationship is recently betrayed on our part, now we are raising pigs in "factories". Pigs were probably the first "domesticated" animal after humans first domesticated themselves. In the Near East (Sumer, with possible earlier domestication at sites in Israel and Scythia), agriculture began 10,000 years ago, and only after a relationship with pigs was begun.

The migration routes of humans into Europe -- mainly along the Mediterranean and the riparian banks of the Danube -- are marked with pig bone. The Near Eastern pigs reached the Paris area in the heart of Europe around 4000 BC, and were thereafter displaced by a domesticated European boar, which was then taken back down the migration routes to the Near East and the rest of the world. By 600 BC the European pigs, the ancestors of our modern friend, had spread throughout the Near East and beyond, into Asia.

The earliest voyagers in the earliest ships, from the Phoenicians plying the Mediterranean, to the Portugese exploring Africa, to the fleet led by Ferdinand Magellan which first circumnavigated the globe in 1519, all carried pigs.

Today, many people, from Switzerland, through Turkey, and as far off as Indonesia, the Philippines, and South America, live with pigs in their homes. They are more than pets, and the relationship remains crucial to human survival.

You can hardly speak of human history without noting the fact that we share it with so many other creatures. Only three species on the planet lived so closely together, grew so attached, and are now no longer capable of being feral or living independently: the domestic human, dogs, and hogs.

Linguistically, our ancient connection to pigs survives to this day. Second only to the "dog" words, the "swine" words and expressions are the most commonly invoked animal words we use: pig in a poke, pig's eye, piggyback, piggybank, pigtail, hog-wild, whole hog, hogshead, hogtie, high off the hog, roadhog, pearls before swine, etc.

The Biblical expression "fat of the land" actually refers to the swine that provided lard for light and heat, and thick leather for shoes, even for those whose diet did not include pork. In fact, the relatively recent dietary restrictions by the Semites (Hebrews and Arabs, among others) apparently reflects a hatred of the Hittites, whose homes were entirely shared with the domestic pig, and an independent recognition of the economic value of pigs. The Bible is filled with proverbs and accounts of "swine-herders" -- showing that the relationship is more complex and nuanced than a simple dietary exclusion.

"Pork-belly" and "hog futures" have long been and continue to be one of the leading growth areas of the Markets across the planet. Unfortunately, some piglets are raised in horrid factories. We torture our food. This is surely unnecessary and ultimately unwise. Not just from the moral POV, which apparently does not exactly shine among us, but from the economics. How long will our late experiment with Urban Life last, where we have excluded our closest allies of 10,000 years of domesticity.

Our friendship is obviously betrayed. To what extent is this wholesale betrayal ultimately self-defeating? We are exposed to "market" forces which do not preserve long-term values. Piglet is hidden away with a million sows in a NIMBY factory polluting our water. The scale is distorted. We have become the fat of our land, overweight and useless people apparently destined for the same restricted "factory" life. We seem to have become our animals.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The purposes of language: Thoughts, Feelings, AND....

It is a warm day. Wife is off creating Quilts with a dear friend. Stunning textile tiles, BTW. So it occurs to me that my Aristotelian-Hegelian diadic dialogue is just another one of my categorical imperatives which should be gently shown the door, or I will brake another wheel in the great mud-rutting of my already swung-too-low ram-chariot and be further nowhere faster.

I am caught, of course, on the idea that Language is the handmaiden of Thought and Feeling - according each in their measure, as the candle flickers its light and sputters heat. This is surely a mistake. Another "theory" which hag-rides the Data, distorting the actual facts. It should be obvious to anyone actually trying to herd the word-cats, that The Great Communicator, Language, gives a rat's ass for either thinking or feeling. Nobody thinks about what others say or write -- most of what Plato wrote was lost out of indifference, and what remains, is it guiding our lives?

It is as obvious as gravity that our leaders are as ignorant of any wisdom tradition as it would be possible to be, and our "artists" are more concerned about expressing themselves through their agents for a bigger shot at wealth than about any contributions to beauty or esthetic "experience". No. Language is not the servant of Thinking and Feelings. Most people go blank, they play tapes, they speak what they learned as 4 year olds in a sandbox magically contracting grammar like a disease. We spend out lives in an echo-chamber, like birds "winging it", and profiling our Who-ing we Are-ing, largely for the purpose of perpetuating genes, breeding the breeding of our breeding. As lofty as any other life form. As responsible as a worm, and with as many clues about the sources of validation, the meaning of life, the arc of choice growing like a wild rose on the tangle-trellis of choosing.

Language. No. It is not necessary to quote Buddha/Socrates/Jesus/Mohammad/Smith, none of whom wrote ANYTHING. It is not necessary to invoke the experts, the Harvard faculty, the Blue-bloody Ribbon Committee, the Congressional Record. Each Word is another brick in the Wall. Words are no more vehicles of "thinking" or "expression" than they are obstacles to thought and feeling. Words are more Are than the linguists admit. The Language has much more to do with Singing, with being able to "go on" after a death, with moving into Imaginary Worlds, with the disposition of "a" on the XYZ dimensional grid, with foreplay. The Words just Are. There was the Beginning of them, and the painting of them on skull-caves, and the elaboration of them in giant Guilt-tiles we sew together in color and in designs and in patterns we can explain we do not know why.

Language has a lot to do with us. The television of it is an insult to your residual intelligence and my hopeful dreams. The radio of it falls on my head and suddenly the gravity of words motivates a thousand Newton you's to devote all of them/yourselves to algorithmic mad math-ness, to "prove" the core, to score the more and worry the less. The computering of words is the General Rule that proves the exceptionals, the purple people-eating hypothemus, the death of understanding and long-live understanding!

Eat my syllables. Got milk? Eat in rememberance of milk. The language you learned at the nipple, hoping for more.