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. 

Monday, December 31, 2007

Mother Teresa recognized she had no "Soul"

The letters of Mother Teresa were published in 2007, a decade after her death. In MOTHER TERESA: COME BE MY LIGHT, her confessors published her sometimes desperate, devoted, and canny letters which she specifically requested be destroyed. She writes in detail to her confessors and ecclesiastic superiors of the constant crisis of faith which plagued her mission from beginning to end. Of particular interest is how she turned to the Church Fathers for help, and they gave her NOTHING. She told them from the outset "Where is my Faith--even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness and darkness--my God--how painful is this unknown pain--I have no Faith...". And the Confessor suggested she address himself AS IF talking to Jesus. She responds: "I am told God loves me, and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul."
Mother Teresa's "superiors" then replied, recommending that she view all of this "as a sign" that she was sharing Jesus' suffering on the cross.
Talk about cold. This recommendation hermetically seals the suffering of Mother Teresa, using doubt to confirm a belief. The true color of this recommendation is also revealed by background information -- the Church was embarassed by Mother Teresa: She was doing what the Fathers talked about doing. The Church never supported her work. The Popes and Cardinals and Bishops all despised her for revealing their own hypocrisy and greed.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tardigrades - the oldest and most successful inhabitant of earth

Water bears are the most successful life form on earth. Over 750 distinct species, with their own Phylum, and no other creatures so ubiquitous or continuous. They survive man's exploitation of nature, thriving in cities. Scientists have found bear packs in hot springs, on top of the Himalayas, under 5 meter layers of ice, and in deep ocean high-pressure sediments. They can "resurrect" after a decade of freeze-dried dessication. Many species are found in a mild environments like lakes, ponds and meadows, while others prefer stone walls and roofs. But their most typical grazes are moss cushions.
Curiously, this life form is unknown to almost everybody. Even my Britannica Encyclopaedia has only 2" devoted to the water bears, with a poor gray tone photo of these colorful animals. The scientific name is Tardigrada, i.e. slow-walking animals. Although microscopists have been fascinated by the water bears for several hundred years, their size makes then hard for us to observe --just below unaided vision but too big for slide microscopes.
Finally, there is the aspect of Time. They have been found in ancient amber and are one of the oldest forms of life. Their lives are so small, so atomic, as to have less time at their disposal, and more. Time deconstructs as mass is reduced. Chris Impey writes in THE LIVING COSMOS, "Time's arrow seems to be an emergent property of large collections of atoms". The water bears, in their little moss gardens of Eden, are as invisible to us, but more perpetual, as any god.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Terrorism is a "policing" problem - not a "war-fighting" concern

In seven years of conducting a War on Terror, the Bush administration has yet to locate the top 150 Taliban leaders, not to mention stopping any of the top Al Queda operatives. Bin Laden remains at large. Not a single wealthy financier of the billion-dollar industries funding Al Queda has been arrested -- the blood diamonds, smuggling, opium, and oil. The Bush administration gave billions to the Pakistani military, and to various Iraqi fronts, and has operated a concentration camp at Guantanamo, and none of these efforts have produced results of any consequence.

Domestically, has the Administration located a single "terrorist"? Other than the four people who were already identified prior to the seizure of power by Bush in 2000? The Bush Administration has made much of the "necessity" for resorting to various erosions of civil rights under color of "tools for fighting terrorism". Taxpayers have apparently been billed billions for a few water-boards, and for "Homeland Security". Warrantless wire-taps are apparently needed, although Bush's Attorney General never bothered to hire Arab-speakers to conduct the listening surveillance.

So, the Federal Government cabal spends billions of dollars, violates the Constitution, and erodes civil rights all in the name of a "War on Terror".

Last week, a small suburban police force squelched a sophisticated plot by actual Islamic terrorists who planned on bombing targets in Southern California. The Torrance police did not need to send anyone on a black flight to Egypt for interrogation, and did not need any warrantless wire-taps or even a private concentration camp. They kept us safe with good hard police work, and adherence to intelligent and lawful police procedures.

How can we remain silent? There really ARE terrorists among us. We hear what Bin Laden is saying, we see the hate-mongers chanting "Death!" in their madrassas and mosques, and we have the Oklahoma City bomber to reflect upon. We foolishly elected a leader, in this time of crisis, who chose to profit himself at our expense during this "War". And the consequences continue to emerge.

The Torrance Police work is redemptive, and it exposes the criminality of the Terrorists -- the six ignorant pawns of the Saudi billionaires who were operating a terrorist cell, and the six ignorant billionaires who took over the US Government. The Bush Cabinet is a terrorist cell.

Coincidence as Proof of God's Hand

Coincidence has always played a wonderful part as proof of god. Our brains are predisposed to seek and find patterns -- we are walking metaphors, we are embodied hyperboles and we live inside mandalas. Every part of our "consciousness", which is the black box inside our incomprehensible existance, is devoted to "explaining", to "seeing connections", to linking our sites, to sorting categories of imperatives.
At the same time, Chance is rolling out its infinite die. Lady Luck accompanies us but her company is the only predictable thing about her. Yet so often, so many of the chance events in our life appear to be "more than coincidence" -- as if our lives were guided by god, even in the most mundane ways. As if a god would care if we were late to a hearing or a party, or as if our suffering is a punishment or an opportunity. Is it "God's Hand" that plays us? This thing that is all over us with serendipity?
Example of coincidence in a mundane matter: In May 1944, a cross-word puzzle was published in the London Daily Telegraph. The answers to the clues included such names as Utah, Omaha, Overlord, Mulberry, and Neptune. A few days later, those words were revealed as highly-secret code names for D-Day operations. After investigation, the extraordinary use of 5 words from classified war operations in a cross-word was ruled to be pure coincidence.
Clearly, the god of coincidence works full-time, and is not shy about war secrets or above cross-word trivia. The patterns we see in our lives may not be "real". It may just be chance, keeping its grip.

LMN Project: Law Marketing News - Journalism and democracy

Read Walter Lippmann's "Liberty and the News" as part of the LMN project. This is a small book published in 1920. It is either remarkably prescient or it just shows that nothing really changes. Lippmann invokes objective "news standards" for journalism, warning about the dangers of reporters with agendas -- in a society easily manipulated and misinformed. Shows how the press undermines democracy when it does anything other than "report" on events. The media corrupt the process if they hold themselves to ideals above clarity and directness in reporting about facts.
Lippmann was an advisor to Woodrow Wilson (and the Wilsonian Society), founder of the New Republic, spent 30 years writing a syndicated Pulitzer-prize-winning column for the New York Herald-Tribune, and later an editor of New York World. So, he was no wild-eyed romantic or naive kid.
He seems to understand the power of the press, although not all of his illustrations capture the Big Lie in the Big Picture. For example, the use of money to bribe 70 of the leading journalists of the world, by King Leopold as he pillaged the Congo. But he does note that the more the journalists lie, the more popular they often are in a mass culture, where public opinion is one of the "facts" journalists can distort.

One quote: "If I lie in a lawsuit involving the fate of my neighbor's cow, I can go to jail. But if I lie to a million readers in a matter involving war and peace, I can lie my head off, and, if I choose the right series of lies, be entirely irresponsible. Nobody will punish me...".

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Joel Osteen in the eye of the Hurricane of Heresy

60 Minutes: Why are so many people flocking to Joel Osteen? The most watched religious broadcast in America, the largest congregation and he says: "I try to leave them better off than they were before". A message of hope -- God has a good plan: The Prosperity Gospel, for rewarding Believers with health, wealth, and blessings. Time and Chance are coming together for you. The key is Do the Right Thing, and you are passing the test. Most people already know the wrong they've done. Is this misleading? In tough times, you have to embrace where you are. Sports arena seats 16,000, has no overt religious symbols. The ceiling changes color. Does not ask for money on TV. $43m, and $30m in mail, with book sales ("Become a Better You"), still on Best Seller List. Not one mention of God or Jesus Christ in there. Theologians -- Rev M Horton (Escondido) calls it Cotton-Candy, telling people there is going to be a windfall in your life. No sin, suffering or redemption. He calls it heresy to say God is a resource for You. What could be dangerous about giving people Hope? Deluding and dumbing down? Or keeping it simple. Help you have the right thoughts take action today. Joel broke down in tears on the 60 Minutes Interview, humbled that he can help "give them hope". He writes and memorizes his sermons. Yes, the Religion is now officially out of Religion. We are talking about Hope, and it is Hope Now. It appears likely that out of green-back envy, the pious Right will declare him apostate. There are no real Believers. But we need Hope.

Night light, pollution of the night sky

I remember looking up and seeing Sputnik. In 1957, I was in Tumichucua, and there were no lights, no adjacent sky glow or light pollution. One night we set up a camp-lamp (with kerozene under pressure fueling a glowing silk mantle that quite rapidly tore) behind a white sheet of tucuyo to catch insects. Bugs would come to the light, get disoriented and slide down the tucuyo into the catch basin or our nets.

It occurs to me that bugs must do the same to every "night light" in the world -- circle, get disoriented, and then weaken and die. Every city, every street light, must decimate the insect population.

I have hunted birds by shining a bright flash light at them. They wake up and stare and the light, unable to move, fixated by the light. I have heard that birds migrate at night. I wonder if the illuminations pointed into the sky from the increasingly urban planet disturb their migrations.

Full sunlight on a clear day has an intensity of about 10,000 foot-candles. City streets at night are typically lit to about 1.5 foot-candles, or 750 times brighter than moonlight. Everything that sees at night, or is hatched or flying by, must be disturbed by the UN-dark, the light pollution of our night.

As the sun sets, I still look for a place to lay my head and sleep. None of the things done at night, the melatonin-challenged activities, make much sense if we are not engaged in actual war or bank robbery. And even then.

Christmas Music - "secular" commercial

My favorite part of Christmas used to be the rich musical experience. The unique celebration of a child, a mass in honor of the virgin-birth, something mysterious, and infested with arch-angel hosts, wise-men, and awe-struck shepherds, who, as we all used to understand, happened to be on the unprecedented night-shift.

Lately, I have not heard the great 17 and 18th century religious music. The radio is "going secular" -- a Santa without the saint, a "white Christmas" without the Christ, a parade of Rudolphs and Frosty's and other horribles. I am beginning to really miss the insomniac shepherds.

How can a broadcasting industry famous for permitting "pimp" lyrics and gangster posturing by millionaire pretenders think that a few of us Non-Believers are going to be offended by wonderful music that happens to have a sweet religious message?!! I do not want to Rap or Hip-Hop to anyone's "bitch" subordination of women, but I would love to Rap or Hip-Hop or Holiday to almost any Religion's music other than crass materialism.

Disappointing Frauds - the year's top scams

The schemes of Con-artists are flowering here in Orange County. Newport Beach remains the leading "home" outside of Nigeria, for scamming the world. The impunity of the perpetrators continues to parallel the scale of their ill-gotten gains, although the election of our new Attorney General (former Governor Brown) is a huge gasp of fresh air on the prosecution front.

Various "scams": (1) Phone call claims to be from the Red Cross to spouses on behalf of soldiers serving in Iraq, claiming to need information, which is then used for identification theft. (2) "Natural Viagra" with unknown or the same ingredient as real Viagra. (3) Phone call to family members of elderly, seeking identity information, for "emergecy" care. (4) The IRS refund email. (5) Fake foreclosure redeemers, collecting fees to do nothing or falsely collect "rent". (6) Certified checks, which are deposited as "available funds", but not yet cleared. (7) In wildfire areas, fake contractors promising reconstruction or utility restoration. (8) And of course, high returns promised for investments in which there is no real "business" -- actual trade for value-added services or produced goods. Millions of dollars are lost by citizens, and the money invariably going "off-shore", a hidden hemorrage of financial strength facilitated by government agencies run by Bush appointees -- in other words, government agencies that see/ hear/ do nothing.

"Business" has been redefined. Stealing is "business" if you can get away with it, and of course, any idiot can get away with it in todays' environment.

Still, I am so disappointed in the quality of the Frauds this year. Even the smartest MBA's from the best business schools are coming up with the lamest crimes. The frauds are little more than thuggish takings. The smartest guys in the boiler-room turn out to be dumb-nut thugs. QUOTE OF THE WEEK -- "We had a scheme where the rich got richer. I did it, and I feel good about it. But I'm not planning to run for office". Marc B. Wolpow, former Bain Capital director, referencing his former Bain colleague, Mitt Romney. Bain Capital was a "business" which had no legitimate business and engaged in white collar theft. Call it what it is.

Third Pary theory of Liability - as "Enablers" of Crime

It "ought" to be difficult for criminals to carry out their predation. Unfortunately, as so many directors of corporations and even government institutions seem to think that "business" or "regulation" should be blind to frauds. This is a self-defeating attitude, since it erodes the Marketplace upon which our prosperity depends.

Criminals ought to have a more difficult time victimizing the weaker, poorer, and less informed or gullible members of our society. The large institutions -- banks, insurance companies, government agencies -- at this stage of our civilization are actually part of the victimizing culture; they do not prevent fraud on consumers, they enable it.

The only obstacle to wholesale consumer deception is the existance of a few law firms which still handle business frauds, taking cases one at a time. For example, in another suit similar to one I handled 20 years ago, an Orange County jury concluded that U.S. Bancorp "should have known" about fraudulent accounts it opened for fraud operators under the name DFJ Italia Ltd. and awarded $17.6 million. The Bancorp attorneys argued that it should not be held responsible for the actions of criminals. That defense makes great sense EXCEPT WHERE THEIR BANK ENABLED THE CRIMINALS TO DEFRAUD INVESTORS USING BOGUS "ACCOUNTS". This theory of "enabling" is a very strong cause of action.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Adult films books shops

I learned at an early age, I was at least 30, that Adults are not very adult. At the drop of the least provocation, Adults will resort to the nittiest sandbox behavior with very little gritty. Adults are often sad deeply-rutted creatures ruing the lost hopes of their youth and battling low-grade depression with stern hypocrisy and bottles of booze. A few, of course, have seized the various reins of power and cling to them with a single-mindedness that gainsays any possibility that they know or much remember what they are actually doing as they pull on those antique lineaments.

Some adults are sitting upon laurels won by others and bronzed by institutions devoted to arthritic decay and entropy. The "adult" part of their behavior is negative -- they are NOT young, growing, learning, seeking, or even doing very much.

I am astonished to see the word "adult" used as a caution, as if "adult" was to be warned against. Perhaps there is some truth to that. There are so many optimal characteristics of children, and for so many, maturation is a sad disaster. All the same difference, it just seems unseemly: "Beware! This Film contains scenes of grown-up and mature behavior!" "This book is of no help for infants or larva below the age of 21." Or the shop offering "Adult Toys" -- as if monished by a forbidding heaven that adults might be playing nearby.

Even more surprising, the "Adult" admonition usually flags pornography. This is even nuttier. Pornography is usually not mature. At its best it depicts the naked fantasies of juveniles. More often it simply displays preposterous postures and unlikely ordeals of endurance engaged in by childless people for money. The level of intercourse ranges from play to torture, and almost none of it is "Adult" behavior.

Admittedly, the audience for pornography is huge. And it crosses all borders and penetrates all age groups. Little children are curious about naked. Little elders are curious about naked. Everyone flies into reflection and longing at the sight of sex.

"Adult" is often coupled with the word "themes". When you have "adult themes", then the material is usually not pornographic enough to attract the huge audience for infantile fantasies. And that is also counter-intuitive. Fantasies around youthful or even (chillingly) "first time" sexual display are almost universally interesting. Do mature people REALLY want to be "young" again? Do they remember that when they were young, the one thing they most wanted was to be "adult"?

Does anyone, other than a few adherents of unnaturally pious apostles of a cult, WANT to be a Virgin? Is it actually a "turn on" to be fumbling with a person who is filled with uncertainties, concerns, or even fears? How "adult" is that?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

zeitgeist - the movie

"An organism at war with itself is doomed."