About Me

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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. 

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Leading Cause of Death - the Cost of Velocity

It always makes sense to look closely at Death; after all, our lives depend on it.

The phrase "cause of death" is deceptive, and invites serious second looks. Most of us die of SHOCK, as a result of trauma or disease, in turn caused by negligence or micro-organisms whose impacts are aggravated by a pre-existing condition, and all of which occur naturally.

The world's leading cause of death among adults is "heart disease"; the pump stops, and for lack of circulation, death ensues. The leading causes of death among children under the age of five years old are neonatal causes (37%), respiratory infections (19%), and dysentary (17%). Malaria kills one million people (and disables 500 million) annually. (Reference: World Health Organization Report 2005).

However, second only to heart disease as the world's leading cause of death is...{drum roll}...TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS. Based on projections from the number of passenger miles and manufacturing data on trucks and cars, in 2008 it is almost certain that 1.3 million lives and $500 billion in damages will be suffered as a result of increasing traffic carnage. Most of this harm is preventable, but almost none of it will be, and very little will be compensated. Millions of people's lives will be altered forever in the course of mundane traveling.

The carnage is deliberate, anticipated, and certain: Get in a car, increase your risk of death and crippling injury. These casualties are entirely artificial, having little to do with insect vectors, disease, or biology. It has everything to do with marketing -- few people would replace their bicycle with a car except for an appeal to irrational hopes and the juvenile emotional appeal of velocity.

Is there any REASON to replace "fun" (horses, bicycles) with high-risk comfort (sitting in a luxurious lazy-boy recliner moving at 88 feet per second...)?

Is it reasonable to risk your life to go to work every day? Is it reasonable to risk your life to go shopping for non-essentials? In the United States, more people are killed annually on highways than were killed in the Viet Nam War with people TRYING to kill them in a twenty-year war. More soldiers today are killed on our own highways than are killed IN IRAQ.

I will never understand why the parents and families of the dead are not screaming for compensation from automobile manufacturers. The cost of velocity is not built into the products. The people who profit from the suffering are deaf, those who benefit are indifferent and ignorant, and as a society we have not moved into the Industrial Age; we are forced to live irrational lives.

Most of what we Believe is Not True; especially in Court

Repeatedly, studies have shown that everyone believes at least a few things were are false, many believe a lot of things which are false, and a few believe a lot of things which are false.

Lets look at Courts of law -- every day, two sides of a dispute or event are put forth. A remarkable number of contests simply involve a misunderstanding. A definition of a word, or a concept of "business" that means something different to people with different expectations.

Melvin Pollner, in "Mundane Reason: Reality in Everyday and Sociological Discourse" wrote that we build our sense of reality "inside a bubble" made up of beliefs and assumptions. Inside this bubble is what a person believes, a version of reality that may be shared, or not. Pollner, a UCLA sociologist, thought that all of these versions of reality were subject to negotiation.

What happens when the bubble ruptures?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lonely, misunderstood, accused falsely, and in excellent company!

Another day of false accusations, and (no big surprise) the resurrection of battles lost at the threshhold of my career when Justice Gardiner first got wind of my "multi-professional" model for practicing law. Somehow the richness of my life, and the many victories since, all seem to pale against the pain of those old wounds, the crass and unjust misunderstanding of people in authority sitting upon laurels they do not themselves remotely deserve.

So, to fight off depression, what to do? To walk in beauty. Fine. After a brutal and utterly imbecilic Deposition, I took the Razor out for a spin, or a "scoot" to be precise, along the cliffs above the long beach for which Long Beach is drawn. The sun was setting over the Queen Mary, the Spruce Goose hanger, and the rippling bay. A gallery of portraits was showing in the Art Museum. And all the lonely people walking by, smiling at the bit of fun an old man is having on his scooter....

Picked up dum sum for dinner with my wonderful family. Then to the library to indulge, on this day, this particularly horrid day with a contemptible life, entering into the JUNGLE again. Find the Darwin quote - the one where he says there are no words, no way to convey the sublimity of the great rain forest.

Absorb those photographs, the pictures of things that will soon be no more. No More! So dear in being here, so scarce, so magical, so real to those who have the hope of conscious existence.

I remember seeing, hearing and smelling the great domino tree-fall as the swidden farmers notched the trunks along the lee, then felled the giant, and it pulled down an acre, left to dry, and then the burning. We collected orchids and ants, never again ever found. Oh where is that Darwin heart when we still forever need him!

So Darwin suffered the same. Hardly anyone to share on board a boat. The Captain was treasuring his soul to a jealous God, the crew was amused but saw no "use" - the crates and boxes were bilge at best. But then in lieu of a long-awaiting celebration, to be cast out of his church community on baseless lies? Then there were the whispered accusations -- kept Darwin from publishing, delayed his marriage/family, ruined his hopes for a small fortune.

And as righteous as...even as Spinoza, similarly cast out of his community of Sephardic emigrants in Holland, quietly grinding and polishing his optics, unknown really even to his landlord living below. And the ETHICS published posthumously. As if we can wait for Death? Again, the loneliness, the isolation, the accusations, the injustice never redressed.

What good company it is to be among those falsely accused!

And to further enjoy almost complete anonymity. This I do not share with Darwin and Spinoza, of course, but it is my special badge. Anonymity is my reward for being thick, sick, homely and having such little and so singular a talent....

I have only one talent: To be able to recognize those we must appreciate, and to distinguish those who are imbeciles. I recognize Darwin and Spinoza, for example, as people around me today, and as giants who lived 200 and 400 years ago (give or take).

This is my only talent, and it is so rare today, it can hardly be noticed. We are awash with pretenders to our offered arts of appreciation, and my peer group seems to fill all available posts with imbeciles. The thought that it has perhaps always been thus is of little comfort.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Military Veterans are "homeless" and wounded

The Bush Administration has created a wounded and marginalized class of poor -- the Veteran's who once fought for Liberty. One in four homeless people in the United States is a Veteran--where they are only 10% of the general adult population.

The lack of medical and transitional support for Service-persons, abandoned people, is appalling. I lobbied in Washington DC - summer of 2007.

The Necessity of Impeachment - Saving the Constitution

Representative Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) sponsored a bill to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. Progress has been impeded, but not for lack of evidence. Pure "politics". Congressional leaders are clearly doing their best to avoid what the Cheney ideologues are probably promising them, "a bruising floor fight".

Here is a man responsible for an illegal WAR, and the Congress is afraid of a "floor fight"? Cheney has violated his oath of office to protect the Constitution, but do not the persons of Congress also violate their oaths to the same Constitution if they fail to root out the offense?

Interestingly, the majority of the People favor impeachment. LAT 11/8/2007 letter reporting 54% according to American Research Group, confirmed. Thus, although the "political" obstacle has stalled the process, it is only temporary.

The impeachment is necessary to remove and prevent this billionaire from continuing draw "public benefits". The criminal indictment should be right behind the impeachment, and a disgorgement of his war profiteering could go toward compensating his victims.

Injustice in Court - top to bottom injustice, racism - Play: "Dawn's Light"

"DAWN'S LIGHT; the Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi", a thoughtful one-actor Play by Jeanne Sakata based on the true story of the Nipponese student in Seattle who refused to turn himself into the internment camps set up for persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II.

Hirabayashi was arrested, tried, and found guilty of violating the Enemy Alien statutes passed by the US Congress. He himself took the case to the Supreme Court, seeking to declare the law Un-Constitutional. He lost, the Supreme Court refused to question the "military necessity". However, 40 years later, proof being shown that the government had suppressed key evidence at his trial, his conviction was over-turned.

Are we learning from any of this? Our immediate past, proof that leaders lead us astray, and Courts cannot make decisions based on law, but instead cave in to racist prejudices. The "top" is not good at correcting error.

Smokers and the 20% plateau, raising $77 million for education

LAT 11/9/2007: "After declining for seven years, national smoking rates have remained steady at nearly 21% from 2004-2006" and not much change since hitting a plateau in 2002, from the significant drops in previous decades from 43% in 1965.

States like California that have restricted the marketing of tobacco products, primarily by taxing cigarettes (Proposition 99) to pay for health programs and education, have rates below 13%. This tax was $77 million in 2007.

We need a Milton (he did not blame the royalists when the republic failed, he blamed the people who failed to do what had to be done) to declaim our own inability to do what is good for us and not to do things that are bad for us. Why is this so difficult?

And where is the enormous amount of money going? Is it making a dent in Ignorance?

Neil Bush is subsidized by Federal Government

Once again, evidence that the Bush-Cheney-Rove cabal is illegally profiting from the Big Government it claims to despise, and which it now runs. They took over the Federal Government and then they direct funds to private entities which they themselves control. This is hypocritical because they got into office under color of "conservative" values. They claim to be limiting government expenditures. Instead, while in public office, they are creating their own private "entities" to which they funnel Federal money. These entities could not otherwise survive in the marketplace without government subsidy. This is "privatizing"? It is theft.

For example, look at the "educational" program these thieves have spent long hours designing. Neil Bush, the brother of George Bush, set up not one but a series of firms which in fact received money from the Federal Government through the "Department of Education". Neil Bush has absolutely no experience as an educator or education administrator. Yet, suddenly this entities, which have no other source of money other than the Federal Government, are suddenly being funded with millions of dollars of taxpayers' money.

This is a program which has no "educational" function or special expertise. It is a politically-motivated profit center.

This gets worse. The Department of Education is itself run by Bush appointees. The Inspector General of the Department is a Bush appointee. Now the Bush appointees are going to "investigate" whether the Department has appropriately spent the money it funneled into Neil Bush's "programs". They have set up their own putative "watch-dogs" to pretend to investigate themselves. They are not even looking at the "political" content of Neil's "education" programs -- IGNITE LEARNING INC.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Trick of Writing

The auditory, and even visual, one-liner. The motto. The blurb. The trade mark phrase that "things go better with". People are working on their "language" skills. We look "it" up, and depend on "how you define it". Every commercial, a tidal wave which hunts you down and not content to find you, uproots and sells you. Every political wand, a spin-meister's spell. Every emotional outburst, an evolutionary scream for survival.

And all of this, all of "it", is manipulation. A trick. Every word is a haiku for a book for a colloseum for a universe for a god-packed Court of opinion. An under-hatted trick. Is there any REAL thing in a Word? Is there any REAL thing?

We obscure the dark with the light of words. We illuminate the ventilated with the blanket of vocabulary. Between the speaker and the speak-easy, a peep-hole of communication, of explosion, of re-birth, of coming out of the Cave in order to get drunk. The quarks and leptons of Nature are staggering into each others' charmed particulars.

All of this noise, filling up the broad-spectrum of analog digital dividings, and not a drop to think. So little time in an eternity of blink and bling. Between the ego and the cosmo, a kind of stuttering. All of this noise.

Has it been said already? Too much? Or not enough. Or?

It is true. This language is the boa of our constriction, and the bird of our release. Clad in scales and feathers, it haunts and liberates out thoughts. Positioned nowhere, released forever. Nos habebit humus, stardust. Like nothing so much as a metaphor.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Jonah Lehrer calls for a new way of seeing the world, and he accomplishes it

Jonah Lehrer is a 26 year old science journalist with a degree in neuroscience. BLOG: http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/

His current book combines brain-science (a dynamic regenerating thing) with literature and the Arts, and is entitled PROUST WAS A NEUROSCIENTIST (2007). He traces the work of eight "artists" (Whitman, George Eliot, Auguste Escoffier, Proust with his re-remembered and altered memories, Cezanne, Stein, Woolf, and Stravinski) against clinical brain studies. Like his "modernist" heroes, he urges us look at the world anew. And again. Anew. And in his discovery of science and art, in which fields he reposes equal confidence and demonstrates equal appreciation for their respective beauties, he is doing himself what he urges of us.

John Gray's apocalyptic vision of ironic animals

John Gray is a professor with the London School of Economics. He has 19 books under his belt, including STRAW DOGS (2002) and BLACK MASS (2007). My notes from those two:

Primitive versions of religion are replacing the secular faith that has been lost. Gray identifies the ways secularism promotes this crude religious way of looking at the world.

Like Christianity in the past, the modern cult of science lives on the hope of miracles.

What would politics be like if science was taken seriously? No one would appeal to mastery of our destinies, no one would speak of "the progress of mankind", an abstraction cast-off from Christian hopes.

"Good politics is shabby and makeshift, but at the start of the twenty-first century the world is strewn with the grandiose ruins of failed utopias. With the Left moribund, the Right has become the home to the utopian imagination. Global communism has been followed by global capitalism. The two visions of the future have much in common. Both are hideous and fortunately chimerical."

Perhaps government can manage the tragic contingencies of life.

When a liberal society wages wars to promote its values, it corrupts those values. This corruption is the Bush Administration using torture--which had been prohibited since the 18th century--to promote democracy. The Bush Administration stands almost alone in American History side by side with the enemies of liberty, both foreign and domestic: The Saudis of Arabia (a clan which took over Arabia) are funding the terrorist camps and schools and are close personal friends of the Bush coterie. The arms-dealing war-profiteers and "privatizing" pirates pillaging the public coffers from the domestic front are also Bush appointees. This is all in corruption, in war, against the liberal values of the Founders.

Religion is a symbolic phenomenon, like culture or language. People use it to make sense of their lives.

The Greek etymology for the word "Apocalypse" shows that the End of the world was not referred to. Rather, it means "lifting of the veil", in keeping with the secret writing (Leo Strauss) of the ancients in their priesthoods, conveying secret knowledge, an excluding claim to Truth. Reference JOHN "the beloved", as the author of the gospel which begins "In the beginning was the Word", and Revelation, which is filled with inscrutable meanings inside signs. Baffling to outsiders.

Gray thinks that resource stresses (climate change, scarcities) will inspire new devotion to apocalyptic and violent religions. His vision of the future is bleak.

Yet, wonderfully, on the last page of BLACK MASS he sees the ironic fact that Judeo-Christian-Islamic Religion, with its overstatements, and its utterly false hopes, "can help humanity see more clearly". The Myth, the "story", is a vision tool:

"In the Genesis story humans were banished from paradise after eating from the Tree of Knowledge and had to survive by their labours ever after. There is no promise here of any return to a state of primordial innocence. Once the fruit has been eaten there is no going back."

Justice Delayed, Exxon Valdez, Oil Spill March 1989

Eighteen years ago, in March 1989, the Exxon Valdez tanker went aground off Alaska's Prince William Sound, and spilled 200,000 gallons of oil a minute. The trial, the inevitable replaying of disaster, the trial, took place five years later. The plaintiffs were the fishermen and natives whose livelihoods were destroyed by the spill. After months of trial and deliberation, the jury awarded 286 million, and in a separate proceeding, $5 billion in punitive damages. In 1994, Exxon quickly appealed the punitive award. Now, for 13 years the case has been on appeal. Now, the Supreme Court granted CERTIORARI (permission by a higher court to hear appeal). More delay.

Was it Gladstone who said that "justice delayed is justice denied"?