Hollow Weenie

I am traveling today because my religion does not allow me to travel on a double holy day tomorrow. Nov. 1 is both All Saints Day and my sainted mother's birthday. And while that is not as significant as April 1st being my wedding day, well you get the idea.

Halloween plans include giving sugar infused trinkets to cold, wet youngsters and imbibing hot, alcohol infused toddies for the adults. But not until I make yet another geographic move. So short and distorted is the blog today. I need to build my Wii holiday avatar before I hit the open road yet again.

Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen,
Voices whisper in the trees,
"Tonight is Halloween!"
---Dexter Kozen

Lisa Scream from Simpsons.com; The Scream by Edvard Munch

Tenebrous Audio

I have to thank my good friend David for this dark musical interlude. This CD compilation is justly called Going Down. I offered them as my penultimate wrap to this dark week (w/ appropriate videos where available).

-when I saw the opening song, I knew this was going to be a great mix
2. Moody Blues Melancholy Man
-the standard rendition with some uplifting but dark winter scenes for mood(y)
3. Three Dog Night Easy To Be Hard
-1970 version with long hair and no smoothed out big band trappings
4. Police King Of Pain
-reunion tour version from Rio 2007
5. Van Morrison Melancholia
-a real hidden gem but hard to find on the net, only a thirty second snippet
6. M*A*S*H Theme Suicide Is Painless
-video is the funeral scene from the movie
7. Steppenwolf Desperation
-from the album Rest In Piece
8. Natalie Merchant Break Your Heart
-I know that it will hurt, I know that it will break your heart
-with apologies, but the video is nearly the point of no return Otis
10. Sting Fragile
-listening to Sting and watching him are different experiences colored by gender
11. Peter Gabriel Don't Give Up
-if he had never left Genesis, you wouldn't know who Phil Collins is
12. The Who Behind Blue Eyes
-for something a little different, the Limp Bizkit cover
13. Van Morrison Underlying Depression
-the best I can do is the lyrics; too bad because the two Morrison songs on this list are brilliant
-a truly great cover by Annie Lennox
15. The Doors The End
-from the iconic opening of Apocalypse Now
photo credit: archives

Main Entry: ten·e·brous
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French tenebreus, from Latin tenebrosus, from tenebrae
Date: 15th century
1 : shut off from the light : dark, murky
2 : hard to understand : obscure
3 : causing gloom

A Late Night Double Feature Picture Show

The darkness must go down the river of nights dreaming
Flow morphia slow, let the sun and light come streaming
Into my life, into my life.

There's a light over at the Frankenstein Place
There's a light burning in the fireplace
There's a light, light in the darkness of everybody's life.

Thirty-three years ago, on a wet winter's eve at the Bijou in Hermosa Beach. She simply said I had to see this film and she was to taking me; nothing more was offered nor needed. I suppose there are people who find Rocky actually dark, not campy dark or artsy dark but dark dark. I have no truck with such humanoids but for the rest. . . It's just a jump to the left.

On a personal, but widely unremembered bit of trivia. This was not Susan Sarandon's first film role. She was by this time a 25 year old veteran actor, having appeared in several movies and some television, including a role on Search for Tomorrow. Her debut, was at nineteen, as the young hippy, drug-addict daughter of the killer in Joe (1970). Joe being the break-through performance for Peter Boyle.

But enough of that, back to the dark...

Eddie's Teddy

From the day he was born, he was trouble.
He was the thorn in his mother's side.

She tried in vain, but he never caused her nothing but shame.
He left home the day she died...

From the day she was gone, all he wanted
Was rock'n'roll, porn and a motorbike
Shooting up junk
He was a low-down, cheap little punk.
Taking everyone for a ride...

Rocky Horror Picture Show Official Fan Site.

photo: Meatloaf as Eddie

Days of Future Passed Revisited

Sometimes the darkness is all in our heads or our fogged memories.

I came across the lyrics to the Moody Blues Days of Future Passed and found the opening spoken verses tinged darkness. When the album first came out (1967-68) I do not remember it being so dark, but then again, darkness and light, indeed darkness and love were a swirling mix in those years; at least where I was hanging my psyche.

Cold hearted orb that rules the night
Removes the colours from out sight
Red is gray and yellow, white
But we decide which is right
And which is an illusion

Pinprick holes in a colourless sky
Let insipid figures of light pass by
The mighty light of ten thousand suns
Challenges infinity and is soon gone
Night time, to some a brief interlude
To others the fear of solitude

I began to wonder if Days of Future Passed was indeed as dark as my memory hinted or was this another case of time and place where lyrics were refocused by the listener. Would this be an appropriate offering for Halloween week or another muddled memory. You decide which is right, but I would offer than this feeling does justice to the dark week.

First, I read the lyrics for the entire album and discovered that I had never done that before. I wondered why such a seminal album that had a huge impact when it was released never got a liner notes read from me. Most albums back then certainly were so inspected and resurrected. It turns out that it may have been the orchestration that had the impact and not the words.

This from CDUniverse.com:

Days of Future Passed is the Moody Blues' true contribution to rock history: the most cohesive integration of rock songs with orchestral music ever produced. Asked by Deram Records to create a rock reworking of Dvorak's "New World" Symphony, the Moodies instead wrote their own symphony, a song cycle that describes the emotions that accompany each part of the day, from dawn ("Dawn Is A Feeling") to night (the classic "Nights In White Satin"). The songs are connected by lush orchestral passages in which the basic musical themes are reworked.

The Moody Blues: Justin Hayward (vocals, guitar); Ray Thomas (flute, harmonica); Mike Pinder (keyboards); John Lodge (bass); Graeme Edge (drums). Additional personnel: London Festival Orchestra. Peter Knight (conductor).

Not so dark, these many years later. It was interesting to me to discover that the album really didn't hit big time until five years after its release (1967-1972). My memories are of a dark, rainy night on Lovell Street. Warm and snug in the attic with the album, several joints and fine friends from days of future past.

Maybe I should have gone with Slippin' Into Darkness as the anthem for this week, but you gotta remember, Timothy Leary's dead. He's outside looking in. All of these thoughts on a Tuesday Afternoon.
Original Album Art

Darkness in Democracy and Other Fictions

My Halloween week of shadows continues with some video presentations from the dark recesses of the interweb. Life is so much better now that we can instantly view the full spectrum of human lamentation. Or not, you be the judge.

This post got started with this little bit of mental floss uncovered by the good Dr. Pauly. Here is Life Inc. or How the World Became a Corporation, a tad oversimplified but great fodder for my whining liberal friends, except for the final dig at Obama.

Fake Democrats, a graphic represenation of the far left's view of how Amerika has moved toward Fascism. Not at all the same as the way the far right view the move to Fascim, as they blame Obama, no in this clip the paranoids blame Bill Clinton.

The Myth of the Liberal Media. A weak ass and I mean weak ass refuting of the accepted view of the media by the formerly assertive Noam Chomsky. Even those who agree with him will find themselves doubting their own mind's when hearing this limp presentation. America is not a democracy, nor was it intended to be is a much more strident and typical Chomsky presentation and worth a listen, if only for knowing either who your enemies are or how far your friends have fallen. Oh and for a fair and balanced view of the Liberal Media Myth, here is a little chew for your political cud from that bastion of fairness Bill O'Reilly.

I stumbled on a whole mosh pit of videos labled: Why Do They Hate America, well why not? Bananas, American Soldiers, and Perfect Paranoia.

Since there is always light, even in the dark of darkness and as these videos illustrate there is also darkness even in places that are full of light or at least full of something; but rather than plummet into the bottomless pit of despair (brought to you by Hasboro) or dash our ships of life against the shores of everlasting anguish (permit needed from California Coastal Commission for all dashings). Rather than go there, there or there; here is some Darkness at the Edge of Town from the Boss.

On a personal note, you know all those great YouTube videos that your friends send you to watch. Makes you think that YouTube is a wonderful repository of witty, funny and pertinent video observations on life and, of course, the live performance of rock anthems. But, in reality, if you spend just a bit of time clicking on those other "suggested links" and then on their links and so on and so on; it takes about four degrees of separation for you to find the real visual whack jobs of the universe. It's not just that they have no opinion but they have little or no video skills either, it's just drivel all the way down. The internet makes everyone a movie director and everyone else a writer. Yes, I know that leaves me wide open to the tiny slings and arrows to be lobbed my way at 140 characters or less.
Art Credit: Jackson Pollack

End of the World

The suggestion has been made that my last blog was a bit dark, perhaps even atypically dark for at least one sentence. Rather than deny, I shall embrace. Leading into All Hallows Eve, I shall endeavour to purge my daemons and delve into darkness. I start today, inspired by a review in the NYTimes suggesting alternate lyrics to R.E.M.'s The End of the World As We Know It. Way down below are the complete lyrics if you want to play along, but the ones twisted by all the news thats fit to print were:

The other night I dreamt of knives, continental drift divide. Mountains sit in a line

Leonard Bernstein. Leonid Brezhnev. Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs.
Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom!
You symbiotic, patriotic, slam book neck, right? Right.

And, of course, the NYTimes lyrics weren't dark at all but we can certainly can get there.

The other night I dreamt of lives, mind melts collide. Tin soliders sit in line
Richard Speck. Rich Ramirez. Raul Castro and Randy Newman.
Halloween party, Betty Page, tic-tac, splat!
Me defected, resurrected, uptight, insight? Wrong.

A live performance that holds a grittier essence of the words.

All are invited to toss out words from your own dark reaches of mind, heart, soul or other.

Full Lyrics (I may take on the whole song before next weekend:

That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes,
an aeroplane - Lenny Bruce is not afraid.
Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn,
world serves its own needs, dummy serve your own needs.
Feed it off an aux speak,, grunt, no, strength,
The ladder starts to clatter with fear fight down height.
Wire in a fire, representing seven games, a government for hire and a combat site.
Left of west and coming in a hurry with the furies breathing down your neck.
Team by team reporters baffled, trumped, tethered cropped.
Look at that low playing!
Fine, then.
Uh oh, overflow, population, common food, but it'll do.
Save yourself, serve yourself. World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed dummy with the rapture and the revered and the right - right.
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light, feeling pretty psyched.

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

Six o'clock - TV hour. Don't get caught in foreign towers.
Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn.
Locking in, uniforming, book burning, blood letting.
Every motive escalate. Automotive incinerate.
Light a candle, light a votive. Step down, step down.
Watch your heel crush, crushed. Uh-oh, this means no fear cavalier.
Renegade steer clear! A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies.
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline.

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it. (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone) and I feel fine.
(I feel fine)

It's the end of the world as we know it. (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it. (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone) and I feel fine.

The other night I dreamt of knives, continental drift divide. Mountains sit in a line
Leonard Bernstein. Leonid Brezhnev. Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs.
Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom!
You symbiotic, patriotic, slam book neck, right? Right.

It's the end of the world as we know it. (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it. (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone) and I feel fine.
photo credit: archives

Autumn Leaves

One of the great pleasures of autumn in a temperate climate is the turning of the leaves. While I am not going to experience the true warmth of an Indian Summer this trip, I did get my one blissful dose of nature's color yesterday. Early frosts, high winds and rain can severely foreshorten the fall color experience, this year falls somewhere in the middle of the color enjoyment experience.

I was out running errands yesterday, when I ducked down a side street and there were five or six blocks of brilliant yellow maple trees. Interspersed every block or so was a burst of red or a still fading green tree. The browns of late fall have yet to appear, so we have peak colors or at least what will have to stand as peak for this autumn in lower Michigan.

I particularly have noticed quite a few trees that seem to blush with a reddish-pink as opposed to the usual dark red maples of most fall palettes. Some combination of summer heat and fall rain has produced more of these light red patterns than in my memory of past autumns. It was cloudy yesterday but a weak sun broke through while I was on that side street, so I got the full experience of the color and light. There is a feeling of bliss that hits the spectrally attuned at these times. A light and satisfying experience that all is right with the world. It mimics that first blush of warmth that comes with a new lover. Before the heartless shrew defiles your heart and leaves you alone and barren as the trees shall be in just a few weeks.

I know, I know but sometimes these things have to be said. Besides she still owes me money and she took my parrot. Meanwhile back to our autumnal musings...

Today, the wind and rain have come and the lawns are littered with thousands of yellow leaves. Time to put up wood for the winter, get those last few storm windows snugly in place and in my case, consider heading south.
photo credits: the interwebs

Link Dumpling

Time to divest another glop of internet sites, articles and assorted detritus, flotsam, jetsam and other internet stuff. Use caution when using the links below, they have been proven to eat up gobs of time and will cause you to indiscriminately forward all kinds of info-knowledge of questionable use to the recipient.

First, I promised some friends last weekend that I would supply this first link. They were discussing the "renaissance" that is taking place in Detroit. OK, some were and others were mostly engaged in ridicule of this the 97th revitalization of Detroit in the last 46 years. My only comment was and will remain: "It's Detroit!" Here is the link I mentioned: Job Gain/Job Loss

Next my good friend and co-author Amy Calistri has suddenly revitalized her blog with content that is more and more not poker and more of the actual world everyone else lives in. Sometimes you lead by example, other times you just keep whining the same old refrain.

The good Dr. Pauly has once again shocked the poker community by demonstrating his grasp of things well beyond the world of flushes and straights. The truly insightful post from the good doctor on Paul Cezanne, the world's first tournament reporter.

I was hiking during the entire bubble boy incident last week, so when I eventually heard of it I assumed it was a remake of the John Travolta movie. Then I was gone for the weekend, so I missed the anti-balloon boy daddy "news" and internet furor. When all is said and done, I don't really care but my opinion on the entire non-incident was soundly captured by Otis writing on this blog Rapid Eye Reality. Although I was absent, it still is not my fault, how about you?

If you think you are a nerd, or perhaps you feel your increased computer time is beginning to sap your humanity and replace it with nanotechnology or at least plot lines from old episodes of Star Trek (the original version not the Next Generation or Voyager but maybe Enterprise but... oh shit, I've been infected!)

Sorry. My point up there was that about once I week I go and read Wil Wheaton's blog, if for no other reason than to demonstrate to myself that I am still human and not actually linked to this laptop by cyber-filamention or mind meld. Wil's writing reminds me that there are actually interesting humans who speak about technology and the techno-nerd sub-culture in ways that leave me completely baffled and greatly relieved.

Finally, my culturally subversive video of the week and one that every one should see but particularly young women between the ages of 3 and 83. Watch to the end, it gets even more creepy at the very last.
graphic credit: archive

Wandering the InterWebs

Today's adventure began with the word paraphernalia. I tend to spell it wrong because I pronounce it wrong, it's that pesky third syllable. Well anyways I wondered about the uses of the term that do not have the word "drug" in front of them. This query led to several webpages and before you know it I am on the U. S. Department of Justice website, where I find this culturally interesting information.

Drug paraphernalia is any legitimate equipment, product, or material that is modified for making, using, or concealing illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine. Drug paraphernalia generally falls into two categories:

  • User-specific products
  • Dealer-specific products
User-specific products are marketed to drug users to assist them in taking or concealing illegal drugs. These products include certain pipes, smoking masks, bongs, cocaine freebase kits, marijuana grow kits, roach clips, and items such as hollowed out cosmetic cases or fake pagers used to conceal illegal drugs.
Dealer-specific products are used by drug traffickers for preparing illegal drugs for distribution at the street level. Items such as scales, vials, and baggies fall into this category. Drug paraphernalia does not include any items traditionally used with tobacco, like pipes and rolling papers.
Under the Federal Drug Paraphernalia Statute, which is part of the Controlled Substances Act, it is illegal to possess, sell, transport, import, or export drug paraphernalia as defined. The law gives specific guidance on determining what constitutes drug paraphernalia. Many states have also enacted their own laws prohibiting drug paraphernalia.
With the rise of the drug culture in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, the country began to see the appearance of “head shops,” which were stores that sold a wide range of drug paraphernalia. While some of the paraphernalia was crude and home-made, much was being commercially manufactured to cater to a fast-growing market. Enterprising individuals even sold items openly in the street, until anti-paraphernalia laws in the 1980s eventually ended such blatant sales. Today, law enforcement faces another challenge. With the advent of the Internet, criminals have greatly expanded their illicit sales to a worldwide market for drug paraphernalia. For example, in a recent law enforcement effort, Operation Pipedreams, the 18 companies targeted accounted for more than a quarter of a billion dollars in retail drug paraphernalia sales annually. Typically, such illicit businesses operate retail stores as well as websites posing as retailers of legitimate tobacco accessories when in reality the products are intended for the illegal drug trade.
Drug paraphernalia is often marketed specifically to youth—with colorful logos, celebrity pictures, and designs like smiley faces on the products—the items are meant to look harmless and belie the dangers of taking controlled substances. Other paraphernalia like magic markers can conceal pipes, and small, hand-painted blown glass items look more like pretty trinkets than pipes or stash containers. Parents need to be aware that these kinds of products often conceal drug use.

Another click, still on the DoJ website, I found this:

If you visit our site to read or download information, we collect and store the following information about your visit:
- The name of the Internet domain and the IP address from which you access our site;
- The type of browser and operating system used to access our site;
- The date and time you access our site;
- The Internet address of the Web site from which you linked directly to our site; and
- The pages you visit and the information you request.
This information is primarily collected for statistical analysis and technical improvements to the site. This government computer system uses software programs to create summary statistics, which may be used for such purposes as assessing what information is of most and least interest, determining technical design specifications, and identifying system performance or problem areas. In certain circumstances, however, we may take additional steps to identify you based on this information and we may share this information, including your identity, with other government agencies.
A final click locates this information:
The Department of Justice is pleased to participate on open, un-moderated forums offered by commercial social networks sites in order to increase government transparency, promote public participation and encourage collaboration with the Department.
We currently maintain official Department of Justice accounts on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter.
Today's information is provided by Keeping Your Head in All the Games for your personal edification and is therefore provided without political commentary or paranoia. Those are your responsibility as a citizen of a democracy or other form of government depending on where you are reading this post. KYHiAtG does not collect information on its readers. OK, we do but we are not going to tell you what we get or how we are going to use it.
photo credit: archives

Another Recycling

A few months back I recycled an old post that I thought had some current relevance. Today I am at it again, this time with a rant from early last year on the subject of rational thought and the death penalty. An oxymoron in the making. Here is today's recyclementation:

I was listening to NPR the other day in the car. I am not, like some of my friends, addicted to National Public Radio. I do, however, listen to it in the car rather than the noize on most other stations. So here was this NPR "news" piece covering a hearing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. The case involved whether or not the current methods of lethal injection to administer justice in capital punishment cases was cruel and inhuman. Why? Well because according to some, who have studied this; the current three drug cocktail may not be as painless as the single drug administration of a strong barbiturate.

Now there was some political silliness and political stupidity on both sides of the case but what I was struck by was the questioning by the various Justices of the court. One in particular caught my attention as the very essence of legal system, as practiced today, in the United States. The attorney advocate for changing the lethal injection to a single drug had made the case that this procedure would insure a painless death; he had further made the point, supported by medical testimony, that the current three drug cocktail could leave some patients
paralyzed but able to feel their slow, agonizing death by suffocation.

A Justice asked the attorney where in the Constitution he found the stipulation that the death penalty must be administered in the least painful manner possible. No really, I am not making this up nor extrapolating the question. The justice asked where in the constitution was it written that the death penalty should be administered in the least painful manner. FYI, the constitution does not mention the death penalty, nor any other criminal sentence. In fact, the constitution does not deal with such matters leaving them to the courts and justice system that it established.

Just sit with that a moment.

There in the allegedly hallowed halls of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, a member of that Court actually wanted to know, if the revered Founding Fathers, gathered to write the Constitution of the newly freed country of the United States of America; whether these delegates had considered that 220+ years in the future that perhaps their descendants would need written guidance in order to be civilized enough to kill a shackled person in the most humane manner available.

But, of course, that is not what the esteemed Justice meant. What he meant was that he only is able to make judicial rulings based on what is actually written in the Constitution. Since the delegates never addressed the actually manner of murder by which their descendants would put people to death than, in fact, beheading them as is done in many countries around the world would be perfectly constitutional according to this Justice. Stoning is condoned in the bible, but do you bring your own stones? BYOS.

Now once again--who are the Barbarians? and why do they wear those black robes?

And why does judicial rationality taken to an absurd extreme tend to sound so much like simple stupidity?

Forty Year Observations

The memory should be specially taxed in youth, since it is then that it is strongest and most tenacious. But in choosing the things that should be committed to memory the utmost care and forethought must be exercised; as lessons well learnt in youth are never forgotten. Arthur Schopenhauer

I do believe in my last post I promised not to write more about my college reunion, it appears I was mistaken. Offered for your consideration several random observations and bits of a oft told story or two.

First, I would like to say to all those many hundreds of thousands of music lovers out there who tend to say: "I like all kinds of music except rap" or "I love any type of music but none of the twangy country." Well I want to offer for your consideration that when you share a hotel for an entire weekend with a barbershop quartet convention; you will definitely change your mind about your musical exception. Sweet Adeline can put you into a diabetic coma from several rooms away.

One of my friends observed this weekend that graduating students from the sixties seemed to fall into three groups: those who did not have a master plan for their lives; those who did and actually followed that plan and by far the largest group: those who had a plan followed the plan and are now on plan #2, #3 or #19. I, myself, am the poster boy of the first group, having no idea who I was or what I was going to do. I believe I now also qualify as a card carrying member of the third group as well, being that I am now on my twenty-somethingth career. These may be more universal traits of all youthful graduates but methinks the late 60s and early 70s produced a lot more young people who kept looking for their path long after commencement.

I've got several more interesting "career twist" stories from the weekend but I think they belong in a short story not here. What I am fascinated by are the people who every five years really enjoy a cocktail party, a box lunch, a class photo and a bad hotel rubber chicken dinner with old friends versus those classmates who never come back to campus and who actually have told me via phone and facebook that the entire idea of talking with a friend not seen in 40 years is downright frightening.

What is nostalgia and how much of it remains logged in fantasy and the midsts of memory, not to be ripped into the light of reality by seeing friends now wrinkled and worn with the living of the intervening forty years. Our gang had a great time and anticipate our 45th reunion just around the corner. We expect the Boston and Washington contingents to show up in '14.


photo credit: archives

Kalamazoo, Kazoo, Kazoo

Although it shocks my avid followers when I say it.... I am heading to my 40th college reunion this weekend. It appears it will be a damp and chilly weekend so I think the interior activities will draw us more than the football game. A small if incomplete complement of old friends will be showing up. We have mostly managed to make the rendezvous every five years but will miss the few who have other commitments this weekend (the Band took one and Obama got the other).

I am sure reading about someone else's reunion is almost as tedious as attending one with a spouse or partner. You know no one, you miss all the inside jokes and you realize your favorite bed buddy was young and immature sometime in the distant past. So this will be the first and last mention of the happenings from this weekend.

For those who are alums but won't be making the trek to Kalamazoo, here is a musical reminder of those long ago days. Turn up the volume.

Turtles All The Way Down

"Turtles all the way down" refers to an infinite regression belief about cosmology, the nature of the universe. An infinite regression not so simply implies that each proposition depends on a prior proposition and since each relies on the previous there is no end to the propositioning and therefore no real, baseline knowing. This can lead to circular arguments when one of the propositions is repeated and therefore ultimately depends on itself for its veracity. Most such rhetoric comes from the cosmological argument, which is in itself the search for the First Cause or the answer to the questions: Why are we here? or What is the meaning of life? or simply WTF! First Cause is also the argument for (or against) the existence of God or god or even gods.

But back to the turtles. Rumor has it or at least Stephen Hawking tells it this way:

A well-known scientist (some say Bertrand Russell) gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever", said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!"

This fable more than likely arises from a Hindu cosmology that has the earth resting on an elephant's back and the elephant standing on a turtle. When a wise Hindu scholar was asked what the turtle rested upon, he replied: "Why don't we change the subject."

There are as many explanations of the cosmos as there are or were cultures. Creation myths are as plentiful as the stars in the sky. What I find most interesting is that when you find a true believer in any one explanation and you ask them about any other view, they will tell you it is a myth. But of course, those who adhere to anyone of those other "myths" would label their true belief just the same.

Perhaps rather than turtles, it is really myths all the way down.

As for me, I always carry cat treats and a container of turtle food.
link to artwork

Bi-Polar Politics

It was another auto trip today and more talk radio but this time with a liberal twist. I had enough of my current book on tape saga and was rapidly approaching my next stop - Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ann Arbor has always been my home away from home. I was raised in a village just 8 miles from here. A2 was the big city when I was young, the University of Michigan is here and the theatres, movies, museums, even one of the very early McDonalds. I also lived in A2 for several years in the early 70s and again from '00 to '06. Approaching this bastion of liberalism, a university town don't you know, I felt it only appropriate to tune in the local NPR station.

What I encountered filling the airwaves was an interview with activist Mike Farrell (B.J. Hunnicut, we were told repeatedly). Mr. Farrell is nearly the perfect liberal. He dedicates his life to issues of social justice. He is soft spoken, open to debate, agreeable to a fault but avidly critical of Obama for not doing enough on health care, immigrant rights and the remainder of the liberal agenda.

Now most of my readers know that I myself have been called a liberal once or twice in my life and therefore the agenda Mr. Farrell epouses is not unfamiliar to me, nor do I oppose it. However, the tone and tenor of his positions reminds me of why liberals so often lose to conservatives. Liberals lack fire. He advocates action over talk, while he talks on NPR; not entirely his fault and he is known for his political participation. But his audience is usually a large group of nodding listeners. The conservatives are angry now but they were also angry while Bush was in office. The venom from the right wing radio is just as nasty today as it was a four years ago. Those folks get worked up and they take action. Liberals really don't want to go down that road, they want a kinder, gentler fight.... Oh, not a fight? Perhaps a spirited debate because that is what democracy is all about.

I am reminded of another political conversation I was involved in back in the early 90s. One often quoted panacea was by the poet Rumi, he wrote:

Beyond right-doing and wrong-doing is a field;
I will meet you there.

Whenever someone made that suggestion, I told them that while they were out in the field, dancing to the orchestrations of the universe, the other side was stealing their chickens.

I had reached my limit of liberal bemoaning, so I hit the fast forward button to lo and behold land on the king of right-wing vileness, the great Limbaugh. It took about three sentences for good olde Rush to remind me that no matter how touchy-feely the left-wing gets, terms like rancid and bilious will always be owned by the conservative militia of the mouth.

For those who would like to explore more of the liberal suffering and conservative confusion. I went shopping at the new monster Whole Foods and found that there is a nacent boycott of chain, set off by a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed piece by the WF CEO.

A quote from the boycott literature: "Whole Foods has built its brand with the dollars of deceived progressives. Let them know your money will no longer go to support Whole Foods anti-union, anti-health insurance reform, right-wing activities."

For a reply to the WSJ piece from the Austin News, see this article. And be sure to have a nice, quiet, middle-of-the-road day.
photo credit: cellcultureclash.com