Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Philistines in a tube

A philistine is "a person who is guided by materialism and is usually disdainful of intellectual or artistic values".

Such people apparently congregate in Washington D.C., as this journalistic experiment by Gene Weingarten conveys. He places a world-class violinist (Joshua Bell) in a subway with a Stradivarius and has him play for 45 minutes to see if people will notice:

Pearls Before Breakfast

Eastern religious figures chide followers to live in the moment and I suppose this experiment illustrates why we should try to notice the beauty that sometimes surrounds us. Anyone that stopped and listened would have had a fine start to their day, but most of us walk right on by and fail to notice the pearls cast in our paths. We gripe, perhaps, about the pains in our feet that they cause.

This episode seems to illustrate a symptom of a broader problem. Could such people ever recognize a garden of Eden if they passed through the center of it? Without even the sense to notice Beauty, how will our lives become beautiful?

Here is a link to Chaconne, played by Viviane Hagner. That sets a nice mood as you read the article.

ADDENDUM: You can listen to the full Bell performance here , that is, if you've got the time.

Friday, April 25, 2008

New DNC add

I don't see too many political adds that I like, but this is one of them.

It is nice to see content take center stage for once.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hey ho U.F.O.

ABC News mentioned more unexplained bright lights in the South-Western US, this time in Arizona:

Phoenix 4/22/08

This wouldn't be the first time folks in Phoenix have seen strange lights in the sky, and folks in Stephenville Texas have seen them too:

Riders in the sky

The report I saw had zero follow up, but mentioned that pilots saw the lights too.

What 'til Dick Cheney hears about this one. He might put out an edict to blow up all lights.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jon asks...

Jon Stewart asks, "What's wrong with a president that is elite?"

He also puts the recent Obama "bitterness" comments in the context.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Philly cadidate Q&A in 10 parts...

Here is a perspective on the Q&A that I cannot resist quoting:

As heckling erupted at the debate's end, Gibson smiled wanly and said, "The crowd is turning on me." Within three hours of the debate's end, the ABC News website had received over 7,600 comments about the evening's events. The overwhelming majority were negative.

Stephanopoulos and Gibson deserve every bit of opprobrium being thrown their way. They delivered a noxious blend of smear, innuendo and diversion.

But it looks like the same old political junk food no longer satisfies an electorate hungry for real change.

The dumbest debate in America

Here is what Josh Marshall had to say as the Q&A progressed:

Debate blog log

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Watch Zeitgeist (free) and you might find yourself wondering...

Is all the world a prison and are all its' international bankers psychopathic personalities?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

More Clinton than Clinton

One thing I like to say about Barak Obama is that he is more Clinton than Clinton. His message, his style, and his politics remind me a great deal of Bill Clinton.

There is one other thing, too, that reminds me of Bill. When attacked he reflects and then comes back with a strong, direct, well presented case defending himself and attacking his attackers (in this case the two companions in campaigns, Hillary and John).

Here is a short clip of what makes Obama such a formidable candidate:

I always thought Bill was at his best when he was being confronted.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Won't you carry me a-waaaay

With support for the war continually shrinking, the only people general Petraeus, president Bush, and John McCain are fooling with their current Pollyanna talk are themselves, the US Congress, and a dwindling supply of Fox News viewers.

That's it.

I was outside last week and I heard a jet plane overhead. I looked up but there was nothing there. The jet had already flown halfway across the sky but the noise was just reaching me now. I found it and tracked it with my eyes for a while and it occurred to me that the plane was a good metaphor for neocon control of Washington. Most of the country has moved on from their unpopular and ineffective ways, but they persist as so much noise radiating from an empty place, and from the past.

On Thursday there will be more noise and carrion calls but the country has moved on. They will be ineffective because the lies don't work when credibility is gone. If the president Bush wasn't so oblivious to shame he'd realize how pathetic he is.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

On Markets

As I watch "the Fed" scrambling to fix the current credit crisis a thought occurs to me. I wonder if providing credit to the characters that made many bad decisions is chasing good money after bad. I also wonder if such credit will be used to create jobs in China rather than in America.

It used to be that the economy slumped and credit flowed and jobs were created and there was more money to spend.

Are we at the point now, though, that the economy slows and credit flows but the infrastructural investments strengthen our competitors? To put it another way, is our tax money making China even more competitive?

How exactly does "the Fed" justify bailing James E. Cayne out of his Bear Stearns losses to strengthen America's economy?

If "the Fed" allowed me to get the 2.5% interest rate to refinance my house, rather than giving it to J.P. Morgan to gamble with, I could save myself $88,268.40 overall, or $2942.28 per year. This figure is even more generous than the Bush tax-credit, and it is a far longer lasting stimulus to the economy. From an investment point of view, I have never missed a payment and I'd be offering collateral. From what I gather in talking to people, many American homeowners stand to see gains far exceeding my own.

What makes J.P. Morgan a better investment than your average Moe?

Lobbyists, no doubt.

Monday, April 07, 2008

On ignornace

There is more than one way to be ignorant. One way is to fail to achieve your goals through the application of ignorant actions. Another way is to use wise actions to achieve ignorant goals. This is the type of ignoramus that sits in the white house today.

Conventional wisdom offers some guidance with the addages, "Look before you leap", and, "Be careful what you wish for."

But, one of my favorite quotes is, "Common sense isn't all that common".


Because Man is attracted to much that is harmful. It is a flaw in the design and something we must keep in mind as we act. The architects of the US Constitution knew this and it is why they designed our government to check and to balance Power. The architects of the Abrahamic Religions knew this and it is why the story of Adam and Eve is preserved through the centuries.

A democracy, when it operates in such a way as to reflect the will of the People, is an effective way to weed out the bad actors. Selfish actions by leaders leads to widespread discontent and opposition...in a healthy democracy. We have the widespread discontent in America but not the opposition. Democrats were swept in with a mandate to change the friggin' course only to announce that "Impeachment" is "off the table" and the "Power of the Purse" will not be used to end the war.

That is historically called "loyal opposition" and it is what I suspect troubles Ralph Nader enough to run every 4 years. He takes "a pox on both your houses" approach, and I am tempted but not swayed by him


He doesn't seem to build a movement between election cycles. We don't have instant runoff voting, the only way to break the two-party lockdown. And, once you've peed in the pool nobody is going to swim with you - in other words, he would be a president without supporters, a leader without followers.

It is tempting to believe that the force of your own moral example is enough to change the world. I'm not so sure people are capable of fundamentally changing. They have been yelling, "Crucify him!", rather than giving thanks for millennia. People only pretend to honor the Prophets, because living like them requires more love than exists in the typical human heart.

At least that's the way I see it.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I like to think of good and evil as seeds planted in all men's hearts, as pods inside us that will grow roots and spread if nurtured.

I like to think of the societal rules under which we live as a type of fertilizer for these hidden seeds. In societies in which facts are valued more than opinions good is nurtured and evil withers (meteorology replaces virgin sacrifices). In societies in which Justice is valued more than punishment goodness grows and evil weakens (courts replace witch-hunts).

Conversely, when you have a US president continually promoting torture it is a type of cultural fertilizer which makes evil weeds from evil seeds mature into evil deeds. Justice is then perverted into punishment, Beauty into a prostitute, tolerance into bigotry, knowledge into opinion, intelligence into ideology, and community into angry mobs.

And... soon enough evil weeds begins to spread in our communities, in our bedrooms, and in our schools.

As the weeds gain strength they begin to choke off the plants which bear fruit. Voices of reason fall on deaf ears (global warming gets ignored), Voices of compassion fall on deaf ears (Darfur gets ignored), Voices of humanity fall on deaf ears (Guantanamo gets ignored), Voices of Justice fall on deaf ears (Habeas Corpus gets tossed), and the eyes of men grow dull to Beauty (witness suburban sprawl).

Some version of this mental exercise has been put forth over the ages through Philosophy, through Religion, and through Art. The message is this:

Honor the light or live in darkness
Worship the good or be ruled by evil
Watch the garden or lose the fruit

In the Bush era the bees leave us.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The super-highway of progress

I sez, "Facts which conflict with ideology are not speed-bumps on the super-highway of progress."

I sez, "A raging civil war is not a "sectarian strife" speed-bump."

I sez, "The unjustified death of a US soldier is not a "regrettable sacrifice" speed-bump. It is a foolish waste of life and the result of morally corrupt leadership."

I sez, "Murdered Iraqi civilians are more than ingrates incapable of dining on our abundant harvest of Liberty."

Candidate McCain seems to hold many Utopian ideologies dear, including a free market fundamentalism that is more properly called unregulated bubble-economics (bubbles rise in warm wind and like to go, "Pop!"); and, after 7+ years of America "moving in the wrong direction" he continues to idolize the responsible ideologies.

Ideas might come from Republicans and Democrats but that doesn't mean Ideas are partisan. A capable leader must simply use what works and discard what doesn't. By definition, an ideologue is a follower not a leader. An ideologue will drown in a mud-puddle believing he can fly his way out. Look at Herr Bush flap, flap, flapping away and you can see your future with McCain in charge (all flap no flight).

We are winning the war.
You are going to get more chocolate.
Strife is a measure of success.
Less is more.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Lord Gene

Gay scientists have been working hard to isolate the gene that turns ordinary people into Christians. For more information see this fascinating report:

Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin