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PONDEROUS PONDERINGS AND MEANDERING EPHEMERA:

tleilax-flicker
Like most people I guess, I have lived more than one life — in my case at least three. We all live our own timelines of course, from birth to death and whatever might happen in between. I seemed to have lived my life in about five year or so increments usually ending in some life altering collapse, often self-inflicted. After that, there would be about three years or so in between each phase of wandering  as I tried to put my life back together.

My second life was the almost 15,000 books I have read in the past 75 years or so, most of them fiction — and most of the fiction fantasy — the farther from the mundane the better. I do not read words. Only images run past my eyes.

My third life is my dreams. Often they impinge on my waking memory and I believe things occurred in my life that never happened. For example, for years I believed there was a seacoast town I would periodically visit. I knew the people, the shops, streets and so on. One morning, I thought it would be pleasant to visit the place for a day or two. I searched for how to get to it and discovered it did not exist. It made me wonder not whether I was crazy or not but what else it was that I remember that also may be fantasy. On the other hand, I could be stuck in an ontological cul de sac or is it an epistemological dead end. There is no question, however, that I live in a metaphysical planned unit development with Descartes my neighbor on one side, Schrodinger on the other and Timothy Leary showing up once a week with a philosophical leaf blower strapped to his back.

 

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The Christian Torah.

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The Sermon on the Mount: The Christian Torah.

I have always wondered why evangelical and fundamentalist Christians or the Religious Right seem so fixated on the Old Testament, causing them to do annoying things like insisting the Ten Commandments be displayed in public buildings or choosing some provision in Leviticus to justify support or opposition to someone’s behavior that they do not agree with. After all, they claim to be Christians, and as Christians the Sermon on the Mount sets out the Law and rules of behavior for Christians much like the Torah does for our Jewish Brethren. Christ himself states he had come to perfect the Law not to abolish it and that the perfected law was contained primarily in the Sermon on the Mount. Therefore shouldn’t a good Christian insist the Beatitudes and not the Ten Commandments be posted at the base of the courthouse steps?

2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:2-12

Of course, it would be unconstitutional. But, wouldn’t it be a good thing to see Christians start behaving like their savior asked them to?

And, shouldn’t those Christian ministers and priests, Rather than telling their parishioners what they must do, ask them instead to discuss among themselves something like:

If, a family, escaping war, famine or poverty washes up on your country’s shores without sustenance, what would Jesus do and why would you not do the same?

Alas, I have sadly come to believe that all too many American Christians are hypocrites. Dante, as I recall places hypocrites in one of the lowest circles of Hell.

The longest single episode of the Inferno, launched when Virgil confidently believes the promise of the devils guarding the fifth ditch, concludes when the travelers make a narrow escape into the sixth ditch and Virgil learns from a hypocrite that he has been duped (Inf. 23.133-48). Dante adorns the hypocrites in religious garb–hooded cloaks similar to the elegant ones worn by the Benedictine monks at Cluny (in France)–in accordance with the biblical condemnation of false piety: just as Jesus compares hypocritical scribes and Pharisees to tombs that appear clean and beautiful on the outside while containing bones of the dead (Matthew 23:27), so the bright golden cloaks of Dante’s hypocrites conceal heavy lead on the inside (Inf. 23.64-6).

I like that image of the Religious Right — all “heavy lead” on the inside.

Wake Up America: Democratic Nations vs the Autocracies of Corruption.

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Today, the news was all about He who is not my President’s trip to North Korea where he once again demonstrated that there is no dictator, no matter heinous, that he cannot love and no ally, no matter how staunch their support, that he would not stab in the back if it suited him. That he has turned the United States into a country without honor seems to not faze him one bit.

The way I see it, without the US leadership, the democratic nations of the West are ill-equipped to confront the Autocracies of Corruption now arrayed against them. Without America, these democracies do not have the military might or the unified covert political infrastructure to compete with what is becoming clear are, if not the co-ordinated then the concurrent, political attacks by the major autocracies like Russia and China.

The actions of He Who Is Not My President might not be treasonous per se in that he is not strictly conspiring to surrender political control to a foreign entity but it is a chaotic revolution of sorts by which our operating democracy slowly is becoming replaced by a tyranny while still retaining the trappings of a republic. Sort of like what happened in Rome. Augustus Cesar did not change the structure of the Roman Republic. He merely appointed himself and his family members to all the government jobs that really mattered. It took about 70 years for the family to be ousted by the military and by then even the trappings of the Republic had been all but abandoned.

 

See also:

Slapstick Fascism, (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2018/05/17/slapstick-fascism/)

Within 150 Days Donald Trump Successfully Ends the World Order in Place for 80 Years. (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2017/06/30/within-150-days-donald-trump-successfully-ends-the-world-order-in-place-for-80-years/)

 

Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week: Alan Lomax Recordings.

lomaxdomenica

The Association for Cultural Equity (http://www.culturalequity.org/index.php) is an organization set up by the renowned musicologist Alan Lomax to preserve the world’s musical traditions. During one of those many episodes of American history when anything “foreign” even music was considered a threat, the FBI file compiled about him describes him as:

“Neighborhood investigation shows him to be a very peculiar individual in that he is only interested in folklore music, being very temperamental and ornery. …. He has no sense of money values, handling his own and Government property in a neglectful manner, and paying practically no attention to his personal appearance. … He has a tendency to neglect his work over a period of time and then just before a deadline he produces excellent results.” (from the FBI file on Alan Lomax, 1940–1980)

The website contains a number of recordings of musical performances and interviews with musicians captured by Lomax over the years. Although the entire collection is now available from the Library of Congress, this site contained some of the most interesting of his recordings especially those of little-known blues musicians from America’s south.

Not a Book Report because I am Going to Take a Ship Instead.

Tower of Babel

As I have mentioned in the past, one lives several lives. Among them are:

— the day to day slog through your personal timeline;

–the life one tells oneself in the running comments in one’s mind while passing through that slog;

— one’s dreams;

— and for those who read a lot of fiction, the life of those tales as, over time, they meld into their own narrative.

I read a lot of fantasy fiction so my narrative is often more like a steampunk fairyland than mundane life as we know it. I do not need to play VR games to experience that life. It has become part of me. For example:

          October 15th— It has been ninety-three days since I last saw Marya vanish into the underwear bazaar and forty days since I shook hands with Goll. The burn on my hand has healed, though it looks like a splot of candle wax dried upon my palm. It is strange to look at, strange to think that I will always have this mark with me now. When I consider the scars my friends have accrued, Edith’s malicious branding, Tarrou’s carved scalp, and Adam’s undone eye, I feel fortunate. Now, the port and weigh station tick along like two clocks. The station house is tidy as a library, and the autowagons run as regularly as the tides. I have Goll fairly convinced that I am Port Master Tom Senlin, a reliable man who is satisfied with his salary and his lot. He believes that I have forgotten my old crusade.

 
           A ship arrived today with a miraculous cargo. The captain himself escorted to the station the four waterlogged crates. He opened one, and showed me layers of straw packed about a crust of ice—ice!—which he had harvested himself, from the horn of a mountain, before flying to a port, not a sky port, but an honest oceanic port, where he took on his precious cargo: five hundred oysters. He pulled one of the horned shells from the ice pack to prove the oysters were still tightly closed and redolent of the sea. He deftly cracked it open with a pick and offered me the shimmering morsel to sample. What had always seemed peasant’s food to me before now was a capsule of a lost home and an old life … I have never tasted anything so wonderful.

 
           That captain walked away from the port with a king’s purse, which the port coffers quickly recouped and doubled after selling the treasures to a private cantina. But more importantly, that unpolished, unremarkable captain left me with the clear revelation that a man with a ship is capable of all sorts of miracles. If five hundred oysters, those most perishable of creatures, can be plucked from the sea and carried to the heart of a continent, unspoiled, is anything impossible with the advantage of a ship? What good is money? It can be skimmed and extorted, taxed and burgled! Tickets will strand you. Customs will rob you. I do not need money to buy passage upon a ship. I need a ship entire and my own. Let Goll think I have lost my resolve! I am determined. I will find her.

 
            I am going to take a ship.
                       Bancroft, Josiah.Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel) (pp. 242-244). Orbit.

 

I have taken other ships, in my waking life, in my dreams, and in other books. This one seems interesting, don’t you think?

Why Do They Do It And What Can Be Done About It ?

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I do not know whether or not the spate of Terrorism, sectarian violence and ethnic and racial bloodshed of the last decade is greater then it was in the past. I suspect modern communications make it appear more immediate and wide-spread than it actually is. Nevertheless, two questions arise in my mind. One is how much support and these individual terrorists getting from organizations who claim or endorse their actions? And the second is why do these individuals seem to buy into the particular ideology they appear to espouse?

 

 

As for the first, terrorists surprisingly are mostly self-funded or have limited access to significant funds. Other than for travel, equipment, and rudimentary training, ISIL rarely funds those that shoot up a group of people in the name of Islam in some country remote from their main military bases. Certainly, they have far less access to significant funding than do the intelligence services of the Great Powers that are tasked to search them out.  Similarly, the right wing and nativist killers here in the US and other countries who blow up government buildings, assassinate children in camps, schools, or churches, or gun down people at prayer usually have armed themselves even if pledged to some group or ideology.

 

So why do they do it? In fact, ideology is not particularly important in dissent even when it escalates to mayhem. People pledge themselves to radical groups when they become, often for good reason, emotionally alienated from the society in which they live. People join radical groups because they wish to demonstrate their alienation. Sort of like teenagers who choose dress styles to mark their difference from the fashions and mores of their parents’ society.

 

So what do we do about it? Since World WarII American policy to confront our enemies has been sharply divided along two seemingly conflicting ideological lines. One proposed to build up military type strength both here and abroad to allow us to threaten our enemies into submission or confront them should they not get the message.

 

The other approach is to build up the economic and social base of the societies (or sections thereof) that appear to generate the alienation (think Marshall Plan).

 

Neither approach has worked too well in practice.  Aa a result, a sort of shifting balance between the two approaches has marked American policy since the Dulles brothers replaced General Marshall as the architect of our foreign policy. Little has changed in over 50 years with the Democrats favoring the economic approach and the Republicans the military deterrent.

 

I suspect the current state of terrorism both Foreign and domestic are simply the artifacts of the struggle among the Great Powers for supremacy and the internal political struggle for power between the two political parties in our country. Since foreign terrorists ( and some domestic) are to a great extent just proxies for the ongoing conflicts among the great powers resolving the conflicts and dangers requires the US to resign from its role of the preeminent superpower whether it withdraws in favor of a competing power as appears to be the effect of the current Trump administration policy or the creation of a consortium of power blocks of which the US is an important but not exclusive participant as the Obama Administration seemed to favor.

 

As for domestic terrorism mostly perhaps overwhelmingly but not exclusively from the right, the nature of it is skewed by the dominant political role of the NRA and the gun manufacturers. Only once that dominant political role is removed, probably only by a sweeping  Democratic Party national political victory, will the nation be able to return to a policy of adjusting policing and social initiatives to address to causes and effects of domestic terrorist-type violence.

 

 

Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week: “THE “LET’S BE AGNOSTIC ABOUT RACE SCIENCE” CLOWNS ARE IN MY TWITTER TIMELINE AGAIN…

th

This was snagged from Brad Delong’s blog referring to an article about race and genetics that ever-popular hobby horse of the committed racist :

http://www.bradford-delong.com/2018/03/the-lets-be-agnostic-about-race-science-clowns-are-in-my-twitter-timeline-again.html

The debate in the comments to the article is worth the read.

“THE “LET’S BE AGNOSTIC ABOUT RACE SCIENCE” CLOWNS ARE IN MY TWITTER TIMELINE AGAIN…
Clowns (ICP)’

“Over on Twitter: 1500 GENERATIONS SINCE RADIATION FROM THE HORN OF AFRICA is not very many, n’est-ce pas? A genetic difference that gives you a—huge—extra 0.1% chance of surviving to reproduce will take a gene’s frequency from 1% to 5% of the population in that time.”

“Melanin and vitamin D, lactose tolerance and herding, sickle cell and malaria—all things with an order-of-magnitude bigger than 0.1% differential? Certainly yes. Other things like “general intelligence”? Almost certainly no. I don’t see how you can do the math and still claim otherwise.”

“And so I don’t see how those who claim otherwise—or even claim ‘agnosticism’ about whether it is likely that there are “important” differences between “races”—have done the arithmetic.”

“Can’t do the arithmetic?”

“Haven’t done the arithmetic?”

“Reject the arithmetic because they want to justify some form of racial privilege?”

“I don’t really care.”

“As @ezraklein just wrote: ‘[such] race science… is not ‘forbidden knowledge’… [but rather] America’s most ancient justification for bigotry and racial inequality…” As Charles Manski wrote back in 2011: “Decompos[ing] cross-sectional variation in observed outcomes into unobservable genetic and environmental components,” no. “Measur[ing] specific genes and us[ing] them as observed covariates when predicting outcomes,” quite possibly.”

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