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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Returning To The Swamp

We got home from Maryland. We had been there over Easter and beyond. My granddaughter is now walking. This stage is referred to as "toddler", and it resembles my lurching in the morning, except I do not plop down on the floor when exhausted: I use a chair.

I ignored the news, thank heavens, until I got home.

Now I see that we are still baby-sitting the President. I am really getting tired of this. I do admire the President for his use of adverbs, such as when he describes an acquaintance as "really, really amazing", whereas most of the schlubs who voted for him and most of those who did not would say, "real, real amazing".

A new phase is beginning today, his 100th day.
It appears that the arts of the deal derived from his stint with the World Wrestling Federation are weakening.

Trump’s Only Playing the Madman With North Korea
Trump’s tweeted threats may sound unhinged. But the crazy talk is carefully planned, administration officials insist.
Kimberly Dozier

When President Donald Trump predicted Thursday that there could soon be a “major, major conflict” with North Korea, critics were quick to write it off as yet another needlessly provocative and un-presidential outburst from the man occupying the Oval Office.

But aides and close associates of Trump tell a very different story. They say there’s an intentional communications strategy at work, designed by the president himself: Trump knocks opponents off-balance with unexpected tweets or comments that upset the status quo, setting up the shot, then his cabinet secretaries come in as “sweepers,” laying out the new policy in more detail, calming the situation, and landing foreign policy goals.

That’s just what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did Friday, in remarks at the UN intended to serve as a road map out of the confrontation for the Hermit Kingdom, suggesting Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong Un take steps to show good faith, and holding out the tantalizing reward of millions in U.S. aid for steps toward denuclearization...

The problem this morning is that North Korea launched a missile yesterday. This probably means they are not afraid that the President will "cut their hair":

Maybe some strategy from the "octagon cage" will work.

My son-in-law had heard some talking-head-musings about the CIA trying to sabotage North Korea's missiles, and he did not believe it, thinking perhaps that North Korean tech was just not up to snuff.
I reminded him about Stuxnet.
I told him the story about Mussadegh.

The USA is a violent Yenta, always in everyone's business, lest we forget.

And nothing is wrong with the President. He is pretty much representative of at least half the population of this country. He is what we deserve.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Right Now

... I am singing   "I'll Fly Away".

and  Listen to Joe Locke singing "Violetta"....

et j"entends ... tous!



How Old?

How old am I?

Well, I remember Frantic Freddie Cannon, and I do not think people now would think he was "frantic".

I also grew up on Little Richard, and I first saw him in 1956. And his Long Tall Sally puts everything else to shame. I might mention I was "into" Little Richard in 1956 or thereabouts.

We won't even mention Fats Domino............... who is endless....

I do not quite get how these guys came together.


I also remember seeing LaVerne Baker singing Jim Dandy !  And I can't remember the MC, but it was cool in Detroit, 1956, Fox Theater.

Mr. Cohen

Leonard Cohen passed some time ago, and I ignored it because it was too much to deal with.

The first lady with whom I made love in college loved Leonard Cohen. So I think I love him, too. (I seem to remember I recall her singing his songs while we made love... which is bittersweet, eh?  It was in Canada... whatever.. and love is as sweet there as it is anywhere!)


Why Arabic?

Someone just asked me why I would write posts with titles or partial titles in Arabic... since nobody would know what it meant!

I had my standard answer: I read volumes and volumes of the historian Arnold Toynbee years and years ago. They were my sustenance after I was weaned from Edward Gibbon. Mr Toynbee quoted sources in English, French, German, Latin, Greek, and Arabic. No translation.

You were supposed to  be up to speed.


I Support The European Union!

any picture will do !

By the way, I do indeed support the EU, because that is where my ancestors came from.

My granddaughter has half from the great EU and half from wonderful Africa!! So I support the EU and Africa! And everyone else.


My Sword Is My Pen : سيفي قلمي

سيفي قلمي

Within the last week, I heard that expression above.
From whom, we will not go into now.
It translates as "My sword (is) my pen."

The very previous post wherein I wrote that in intelligent beings it is the differences that join us together is a prime example. The differences are proof of Intelligence. Our disagreements are proof of our common humanity.

I attack (my sword!) the old ways of thinking with my writing (my pen!)

I wish I understood all this a bit more... to make me feel at ease.


I don't know... maybe I should mention that the phrase is in Arabic?

My Book Part 6

The range I set for myself I thought to be limited; it was vast! It is all humanity and its beliefs! And I did not have a set dogmatic structure, neither philosophical nor religious nor political:  I actually wanted to hear and accept what everyone had to say.

Well, I found out that it is the Complexity of Mankind that swaddles us against the darkness!

The very fact that we are all so different - that all intelligent entities built like human beings - are so incredibly complex, that it is our differences that join us!

I didn't mean to write that until I wrote it.

I am at a bit of a loss for words. How could differences join us? Intelligence is differing, perhaps.


The Expanse Part 2: Thomas Jane

I really did not like The Expanse when I first viewed it. I went back to it and loved it. Everyone deserves at least a second chance, if not more.

I especially like Thomas Jane. I have seen him in many films, and in my experience, he had never been given a chance to display his craft. He is really very good in this, and I am thankful that I have found a good actor after the drek of The Mist... even Dreamcatcher was not designed to show his ability... it only accented Damien Lewis and Jason Lee.  This SyFy series is so designed and he is great.

It is all up to the writers. They have done a great job in fleshing out these stumble-bums of space!

I loved it.


Sunday, April 09, 2017

The Relativity Of The iPhone Part 3

Electronic devices expand the amount of time available. Their very speed of comm (communication) speeds things up, expands "free" time, and "shrinks" the distance in time between places in the world.

If you happen to be an alienated person, not just a teenager trying to avoid adults and their discontents, the time of alienation has magnified, the places of boredom have increased.

What is clearly of paramount importance is what we fill the excess time with.

Let us think about that.

It brings to mind an old e-gadget, the telegraph. In many movies set in the Old West, the telegraph runs alongside the railroad lines that span the country; settlers move in, cattle are herder, cowboys go into town... and the native peoples are subjected to genocide.

I do not mean to connect genocide and the telegraph. The dislocation of native populations started back around Andrew Jackson's time, well before the telegraph, and the Indians were turned into refugees herded into refugee camps called reservations, and these reservations created a vast Gulag system across the face of the Old West.

Connections? Doubtful, although speedy comm may have helped move soldiers around to the right hot spots of native disaffection. Yet there is no connection between electronic tech and genocide... even though there was that history written about Tom Watson and IBM and how IBM sold business machines to the Nazis, who put the punch-card system to good use in organizing their Final Solution.

Mankind is good and evil. If there are e-gadgets, they will be used for good and evil.

Still something like a shadow of ever-biting conscience nags at me, for if the time available to do good and evil is increased, then just how bloody important is it to try to ensure that more good than evil be done in that newly created time?

How do we fill the Time?

Not very long ago, people wrote about the new leisure society, a society where work hours followed a trend to decrease, wealth would be maintained with decreased effort, and great princely suns of leisure time would confront us. Our biggest problem would be, "What do we do with all this free time?"

That was just before it became the norm for wife and husband to both work just to keep afloat, and one of them possibly had to take a night job in order to pay for pre-school for the children.
In this case, we filled in the increases of time with stagnant wages, loss of jobs, etc. and managed to deflect the bane of leisure.

Consider the electronic item Television.
It created fast entertainment, giving us more free time.
In the old days, to entertain ourselves we had to do things like get everyone together, pick up teams, play lengthy games that might go on endlessly through nine innings or four quarters. Endless. Television allowed us an entertainment break that only took an hour or so.
Great free time abounded.

Only we filled up the theoretical time freed from the time needed for Recreation with more TV.
We filled up the TV with what Newton Minow of the FCC called "a vast wasteland".
Television gave birth to cable - which was free back in the beginnings! - and cable was a protean birth that looked around at the immense playpen it found itself in - vast amounts of Time! Cable gave birth to the 24/7 News cycle plague which oppresses the viewer even more than lack of news ever did.

Those kids in the photo - they are good kids. And they are clear proof that good kids come from good e-gadgets, right? Yet there will be many years ahead of those kids and what stories and influences will affect them?
Will they hear stories of heroes and heroines, honor and fidelity, truth and fortitude, or will the stories be of conflict, of despair and end-of-time horror, of violence and hatred? What is the Mix of good and evil? I think the balance is tipped to evil in the present day.


Thursday, April 06, 2017

Continuous Transportation: Товарищ дирижабль!

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

It translates to Comrade Dirigible, but I (facetiously and incorrectly) prefer Comrade Blimp!



I Read... and a Good Story

I read...

Tikun Olam  תיקון עולם

That's what I read...

and there's a   ידיעה.... that I read this morning:

Tikun Olam
Palestinian-American Heroine Faces Down JDL Thugs; JDL Canada Infiltrates U.S. Diplomatic Mission
April 5, 2017 By Richard Silverstein
Danya Nayfeh, the daughter of the most seriously injured protester in the DC riot, Kamal Nayfeh, spoke extensively to me about events that day. Her parents had traveled to DC for a family day with their daughter, who is studying at Georgetown law school. As they walked downtown Nayfeh, who is studying international human rights law, wanted to find out more about the anti-Aipac protest at the Convention Center. So they walked over to the If Not Now demonstrators.

. ..they heard a violent commotion and her mom said: “I think that’s your dad.” Danya immediately began running toward the gaggle of JSL  (sic: read JDL)  attackers who surrounded Kamal. She began screaming repeatedly: “That’s my dad.”...
After she reached her dad, whose eye and back was badly injured, the police tried to shoo the family off to one side. Dana couldn’t make sense of this. She looked over at the attackers who were still milling brazenly near the site of the attack. The police were doing nothing to question them. When she was convinced the police were taking no action, she decided to confront the perpetrators herself. The police warned her not to as it might be dangerous. But she was not to be deterred.

She walked over to the JDL and began demanding to know who had attacked her father. No one replied. So she confronted Steynovitz directly and asked: “Did you attack my dad?” She repeated the question several times and he finally admitted: “We did it. That should teach him a lesson.” She looked at the policemen standing nearby to see if they would act. When they didn’t, she challenged them saying: “You heard what he just said. He admitted he did it. What are you going to do?” Their refusal to act made her frustrated and she began screaming at them demanding that they arrest the culprits...

You may have already read this story in the media, it may have been extensively covered by FOX and MSNBC. One News Organization that did cover it was RT, the Russian so-called propaganda news organization covered this with a large article on March 30, 2017.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The Relativity Of The iPhone Part 2

I got into this whole iPhone and electronic gizmo business when She-who-must-be-obeyed turned a gimlet eye to me while driving to Toronto and said that my nephew was acting like a pain again, and was not much fun anymore, was sarcastic, and was withdrawn into the world of playing iPhone games, looking at Facebook on the iPhone, and general iPhonery.

And when the phone was down, the iPad was up.

She said my sister-in-law said the boy used to be so lovely, and now there was a rough patch that had gone on a while and the road signs indicated more patches ahead; all he does is stare at those e-gadgets

So, I thought, why blame the iPhone?
Why blame electronic gizmos for adolescents?

That makes no sense. So maybe people are blaming iPhones for somehow making teenagers avoid the society of their parents and adults even more than hitherto. Teens have always been "withdrawn" to some degree.
I started to think about it. Definitely we cannot blame the new e-gadgets for pre-existing conditions. So what is going on?

One fact seems to stand out: the e-gadgets are fast. E-gadgets always have been. Think broadly now: e-gadgets include the telegraph, the telephone, radio, old-timey TV, etc. They were all fast; they all "shrunk" the world...  relative to the speed of light of electro-magnetism, the length and breadth of the world underwent a radical Fitzgerald-Lorentz contraction, using a metaphor from Physics.

Whatever a person wants to do in a hour, they can do in 1/2 an hour using an e-gadget.
The e-gadget "saves time".
Looking at this from the viewpoint of the total fund of time the person has available to do things in, that fund of time has just "expanded" by 1/2 an hour.

If a teenager is oppressed by the amount of time that his parents spend badgering them to this, that, and the other thing, the overhang of threatening time has just gotten much, much bigger!
And the only way the teen can deal with it are the electronic gadgets all around. However, by using more e-gadgets, the young people increase the amount of time within which they feel adrift, oppressed, discontented...


Comparing Hitler To Trump

Some people have compared Hitler to Trump.

Some have seen the rise of Neo-Fascism in the present day.

Well, Fascism absolutely required scads of ex-soldiers turned out of the armies after World War I. Without these men, there would have been geezers in the Black Shirts and grannies in the Sturmabteilung instead of young, strong ruffians.

Ditto for the Spanish Flu and Economic upheavals.

Big difference between Hitler and Trump; their times and world very different.

(We still have time for a pandemic - we gave a good try with that Ebola thing - and another economic disaster is not beyond our capabilities... look at the stock market responding to an administration that cannot formulate an intelligible policy on anything! I mean, Jared Kushner can only do so much, and even he may need an economic czar or two to help straighten things out!)

And concerning Hitler's abilities, I remember some British historian or other talking about Hitler's Tischegeschprache  - which is the way I remember "table talk" and sort off off-the-cuff chatter and my German may be way off!  - and saying that Hitler had a mediocre mind and jejune ideas.
Be that as it may, even though Herr Hitler was the devil's henchman, I don't recall anyone saying Hitler was a blithering idiot.

Here again, there is a vast difference between the two gentlemen.

That historian may be Trevor-Roper.

I Support The European Union

Founding Fathers of the EU

Joseph Bech

As Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Bech was actively involved in the establishment of the Benelux Customs Union and later the European Coal and Steel Community. Played an important role in preparing the 1955 Messina Conference which paved the way for the establishment of the European Economic Community in 1958.


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

No Country For Old Men

"It's a mess, ain't it, Sheriff?"

"If it ain't, it'll do 'til the real mess gets here."


The Washington Post
The entire coal industry employs fewer people than Arby’s

Flanked by cabinet members and coal miners, President Trump introduced and signed an executive order on March 28, that revokes Obama-era climate regulations and puts "an end to the war on coal,” he said. (The White House)

“My action today is the latest in a series of steps to create American jobs and to grow American wealth,” President Trump said earlier this week before a group of coal miners.

Trump was announcing the rollback of several Obama-era environmental regulations that would have affected industries such as coal mining. Trump has repeatedly claimed that over-regulation has led to a decline in coal-industry jobs.

“I made them this promise,” Trump said at the signing. “We will put our miners back to work.”

Experts in the industry have already pointed out, repeatedly, that the coal jobs are extremely unlikely to come back. The plight of the coal industry is more a function of changing energy markets and increased demand for natural gas than anything else.

Another largely overlooked point about coal jobs is that there just aren't that many of them relative to other industries. There are various estimates of coal-sector employment, but according to the Census Bureau's County Business Patterns program, which allows for detailed comparisons with many other industries, the coal industry employed 76,572 people in 2014, the latest year for which data is available.

That number includes not just miners but also office workers, sales staff and all of the other individuals who work at coal-mining companies...

...Looking at the level of individual businesses, the coal industry in 2014 (76,572) employed about as many as Whole Foods (72,650), and fewer workers than Arby's (close to 80,000), Dollar General (105,000) or J.C. Penney (114,000). The country's largest private employer, Walmart (2.2 million employees) provides roughly 28 times as many jobs as coal...

Pretty cool fine-tuning for a guy who can't take the time to develop a policy.


I Read...

That's what I read


I Support The European Union

Founding Fathers of the EU

Alcide de Gasperi

Italian Prime Minister and a skilled mediator, involved in the creation of the Council of Europe and in creating rapprochement between other European states.


The Relativity Of The iPhone Part 1

Not just the iPhone, but all electronic communication devices expand time.

If you were to be an observer sitting in a metro express car going past a station and you people standing on the train platform engaged in iPhonery,  you would be in normal time while they would be in expanded time.

The expansion is due to the light speed of electronic communications.

Not just the iPhone; TV and Radio were and are involved. It is the same phenomenon we used to refer to as the shrinking of the world due to improved communications, where what happened in far away places became known to us more and more rapidly as the 19th and 20th centuries wore on:  the gaps on world maps denoted unknown lands were filled in and the events taking place in distant mountainous redoubts in Afghanistan became the evening news; while the Battle of New Orleans took place after the peace treaty had been signed in Europe and the news had not yet arrived at North America, the bombings in Yemen provide the relish of our evening meals.

The World has shrunk, but Time has expanded.


Sunday, April 02, 2017

I Read...

That's what I read...


I Support The European Union!

Robert Schuman

As French Foreign Minister between 1948 and 1952, Schuman was responsible for the 1950 Schuman Declaration (together with Jean Monnet) which agreed to place France and Germany's production of coal and steel under a single international authority, a key milestone towards the European Coal and Steel Community.


Saturday, April 01, 2017

I Support The European Union!

Paul-Henri Spaak

A Belgian Prime Minister involved in the negotiation of the Benelux Customs Union in 1944 and later appointed to leading roles in the United Nations, NATO, Council of Europe and European Coal and Steel Community in the 1950s and 1960s. He played an important role in creating the 1957 Treaty of Rome which led to the foundation of the European Economic Community.


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!