Monday, February 28, 2011

The Teacher

A spiritual teacher, of some religion or other, once gained renown. People came from near and far to receive his blessings, and to beg his advice. Over time, he tired of this, and began to submit his 7 followers as himself, one for each day of the week. They would smile knowingly, speak as teachers do, and deliver homilies of the sort people expect.

One day a man came with his young son, who looked at the teacher watching the proceedings with a good natured grin. He asked him why he was not there, instead of the man posing as the teacher. The teacher replied "the people get what they come for. What I provide, no one wants."

Absurdity

It is absurd to beg for your thirst to be quenched when you are drowning.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The battles ahead

I think Walker can win his battle in Wisconsin, over time, but as I think about this whole mess, and think about how positive the developments have been, I think too of the hornets nest that has been kicked over. They were wanting to breed and breed under the eaves until they finally evicted the rest of us, which is to say freedom loving people of common sense.

Their hand has been forced, though: this battle is happening 5-10 years ahead of schedule, in my opinion, AT LEAST. Obama, as I have said before, was a stupid candidate for them. I don't think they can force a revolution in four years, with all the safeguards built into our system of government, and with a media that is clearly NOT under control, and they can't ever regain a sense of complacency on the part of the public, especially when they are stupid enough to present a budget with a $1.6 trillion annual deficit that even the most optimistic reading will NEVER balance, much less reduce our national debt.

Their creeping is over. Large segments of America that were asleep are awake and hopping mad. So, too, though, are our opponents. They view entitlements as natural rights, and are quite willing to fight for them as hard as the rest of us are for our liberty and national solvency.

This is a hard road ahead. It will feel like walking through knee deep mud. They will attack us at every turn--sometimes, as we have seen repeatedly in recent days, physically. They will scream. They will shout. They will march. They will play hooky from work. Some unprincipled police and other public "servants" will help them.

It is the sound of grinding gears, the feel of sawdust in an engine. When one considers, though, that the car was being directed over a cliff, some form of political spoiling seems not only well warranted, but invaluable.

We need time. We need time for a new culture to emerge. We need time to figure out--as a WORLD--who we want to be 100 years from now. The enemies of the peace have plans for us. Maybe the statement alleged of David Rockefeller that he wants chips on all of us is right. Maybe not. Whatever the details, whatever the concrete conspiracies, plainly there are tendencies towards moral dissolution, and national suicide that will be cropping up everywhere.

In Glenn Beck's phrase, perhaps people of genuine good will are "the Blaze" of truth. It seems we will equally need to be firefighters, putting out tendencies towards anti-democratic atrocities.

This will be a rough ride. But hell, it should be interesting. Never underestimate how much happiness some good misery can add to your life. I'm completely serious. If it teaches you to work without complaint, to fight without hope, and to persevere cheerfully, then it is teaching you how to be an authentic human being.

The Vietnam War and Cultural Sadeism

It is amazing to me how people who worry about polar bears and puppies and little kittens--all carnivores, by the way, whose natural destiny is to eat other, smaller animals--are unwilling to learn basic facts about world history. They know all about our treatment of the American Indians--which in a historical context was actually not that bad, since we didn't massacre many of them--but refuse to learn about basic items like the history of the nightmare of global Communism. To hear some people, it was always a fairy tale.

It was not a fairy tale, and IS not a fairy tale, for those unfortunate souls locked in literal and figurative prisons by people who are INSANE. Communism is a doctrine of LUNACY. It is pure evil, and I mean that in the most clinical way possible, in that I believe it is a doctrine that has as it PRIMARY purpose inflicting pain on people, and whose adherents enjoy hating, as one Wisconin TEACHER recently put it, because it makes her feel good

This is the absolute truth. When you dig down, hard core leftists have as their main purpose the HATRED of whoever the current target is--bourgeoisie, polluters, racists, Republican Governors--and NOT, as they continually allege, the rectification of wrongs, the imposition of justice where it had been lacking.

On the contrary, one sees a trail of blood, pain, and death wherever they go. I first argued that case in the paper to which this title refers, that I republished on my other site:

The Vietnam War and Cultural Sadeism.

In particular, if you want a better understanding of why I use the term Cultural Sadeism, this paper shows the train of thought. This was in many ways a thought experiment, but one which I think was successful, and foundational to much of my later thinking.

Civilian police

This last summer, within a couple of weeks, I heard and saw multiple ads for civilian police officer training, in San Francisco, some small towns in Kentucky, and a third place that escapes my recollection. Here is an article on the San Francisco project.

This feels Stimulus-funded to me. I have been saying since the program began that it was quite literally a checkbook against which checks could be written to anyone for any reason. I have posted about how the supervision was almost by design entirely dependent on the honesty of those reporting receipt of the funds; given dishonorable purposes, it amounts to a slush fund of laundered money for criminals.

Any student of revolution knows you have to have at least a significant portion of the police and military on your side. In the modern world, this may have changed, in that superior technology--or aggressive use of current technology, like EMP's--can have disproportionate effect, but anyone who wanted to ensure a reasonable orderly transition to tyranny would have to have people with guns on their side.

In my view, the TSA clearly amounts to one such group. Obama and our female Big Brother have vastly expanded it in size and aggressive capabilities with respect to touching our bodies and photographing us naked. They are now some 50,000 strong, believe it or not, and have just been granted the right to unionize, meaning that their representatives will be negotiating pay and benefit packages with Obama Administration insiders, subject to funding by Congress. In my view, the TSA should be abolished outright, and the same function done by a quarter as many people. Airlines should be able to opt in or out of varying levels of security, with the lowest what we saw BEFORE 9/11, with the only provision that the doors to the pilot's area be bolted. All full body scanners machines should be junked.

To the point here, could one not imagine the creation of a civilian police corps that parallels the official one, and which could come to the fore in some manufactured crisis? We should assume, I think, that leftist agents have penetrated our military. There is no reason to suppose that under some pretense or other they are not getting into our police departments, and signing up for civilian training programs.

We need to be clear that decent people can be manipulated into helping leftists, since their method is deception. What one sees, in case after case after case of Leninist subversion, is the skillful use of lies to get peoples temporary allegiance, which is then betrayed the moment it becomes tactically expedient. Leninism is nihilism, which is evil, which is the Big Lie. There is no moral order underpinning it. There is no effort to accomplish any good. There is no effort to abolish poverty, address injustices, or foster human potential. It is purely and entirely a project of hatred and violence.

One should not assume, then, that otherwise innocent people could not be used as unwitting agents in larger plans. This is clearly conspiratorial, but modern history is little but the history of conspiracy. The horrors in the Soviet Union, China, Nazi Germany, Vietnam, Korea, Cuba, and other nations were the result of somnolescent spells cast by perfidious magicians, walking in the darkness, and calling the world to join them in their public moral suicides.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Continuity of Identity

I am going to insert 3-4 thought blocs in here.

In some respects, this blog represents an effort to reconcile not just "conservative" and "liberal" approaches to improving the world, which was my original thought, but also an effort to show that respect for science is consistent with spirtuality; that intellect and emotion require one another to operate properly; that compassion untempered by prudent ruthlessness is damaging; that truth can never exist unmixed with error in a time-based system; and that identity is never a final thing.

A couple nights ago I was in a motel room in Indianpolis--a cheap one which needed a printed warning about noise, doing drugs, and sneaking extra people in the room--and I found myself dreaming someone elses life. I was a young black man, getting locked up for the first time. I felt the sadness, the resignation, the almost inevitability of it; the getting through, the moments of small triumph, and final release.

One can certainly psychoanalyze dreams. Some warrant it. In my view, though, imprints can be left on the world that endure, and they can be picked up. This metaphysical question is less interesting, though, than this: who was I, when I was him? Was I him, me, or someone else? I know these questions pop up a fair amount on this blog. They interest me.

William James, who I will refer to again as easily the most underrated mind produced by the American nation, talked of consciousness as continuous. He felt this was the most useful way of thinking of it, even though we have no way of knowing we were not just placed in a two day trance and our memory removed; or kidnapped by space aliens and our memory eradicated by trauma.

When you sleep, who are you when you do not dream? You are dead, are you not, for all intents and purposes? But you don't know it. This would be, I suppose, a consolation for those who think death is final: you've practiced it many times, and only vanity would compel mourning.

What I wanted to propose, though, is thought I had a while back, and decided to insert here. This is a sort of thought experience, a thought movie, with different scenes, changes of milieu [my God, I am a nerd].

As I have said now quite a few times, I think of thoughts as machines. I see them floating in a stream. If consciousness is a river, thoughts are places you can disembark (from your boat, let us say, although you are the water in the river too) and walk around. They are fixed, and their approximate operation rarely changes. Machines don't really repair themselves. Once they exist, they tend to operate within narrow limits until they break. And even then, MOST of the machine is still intact.

The brain, the physical brain--which I do not consider the same as the mind, which I think transmits through the physical brain--is a machine. It is a relatively uncreative machine, which has as its major function sorting. It places things in categories. Edward de Bono's whole career, in some respects, can be seen as prefigured in his book "The Mechanism of Mind".

The point I wanted to make here is that consciousness, per se, exists as a background to thinking. Thoughts are evanescent things, and emotions are a sort of thought too. This is certainly not original to me--it is an essential element in some forms, perhaps all forms, of Hindu philosophy. I am thinking here of the Samkhya philosophy that is paired with Yogic philosophy. They posit that your "self" is composed of an immortal soul whose sole attribute is consciousness, and "attibutes", which are material and perishable, and which contain all the personally distinguishing traits we think of as us.

And how unique are any of us, really? Is our identity not largely a function of the people around us? Is this not in part the reason solitude is painful, that it is harder to know who we are, and what to do?

Life is change, and no path can be straight which is not crooked (this is borrowed from Chuang Tze) and if the self is conflated with a mechanical structure--a fixed pattern of thought--then you can't bend when the road does.

This is the point made in the first line of the "Tao Te Ching": the path which can be named is not the eternal path. Nothing with fixed attributes can be hewn to.

Few thoughts for a Saturn-day morning.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lord's Prayer

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from all evil."

This is a funny phrase, is it not? Yes, we can justify evil on the basis that without the possibility of error we could have no free will, and no moral autonomy, but why would a just God LEAD people into temptation? Can we not find it well enough on our own?

One of the things it seems to me is often missing from Christian ceremony is an understanding that Christ himself likely had a very abundant and often expressed, mischievous sense of humor.

What MIGHT have been going on here was a sort of inside joke, in which he is asking of God not to serenade him down the pathways he likes to go down anyway.

Again, why would a just God do that?

Let's talk about karma, by means of getting to that. There is this seemingly common-sensical view of the South Asian (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism I think and Nestorian Christianity) notion of the wheel of reincarnation that bad karma is when bad things happen to you, and good karma when good things happen to you. You are born a male Brahmin if you did good things in that past, and a "foot" (Shudra) or lower if you did bad things. For us Americans, we have bad luck if we were bad people, and good luck if we were good. John Lennon had a song "Instant Karma", and one reads about "burning off karma" in places smelling of patchouli.

But need this be the case? If the task is learning, then is there any better teacher than difficulty? For those who want to learn about life, can you get any "luckier" than to be forced to endure hard times? The stronger the will, the more learning is possible. Thus, the very strong willed ought, logically, to want the most trouble.

But you can't go seek trouble and derive the benefits from it. It has to come to you.

What I think Christ was talking about here was something like this: "look, God, I know there's a truck getting ready to smash into me. I accept that, it is what it is. But can you take that smile off your face? Seriously."

What is the primal temptation, as I have framed it, and as He might have? Self pity. Is it not reasonable for him--psychologically healthy for him, as a non-masochist--to at least try and petition his way out of the trouble he knew was coming? And failing that, to at least ask that he not be tested as much as he knew was possible.

It could be reframed: please lead me not to my trial, but deliver me from its necessity.

He knew that was impossible. But I can't help but wonder if he thought encouraging others to pray the same might not at some point help. And I can't help but think he had a little silent grin when he did it. He wasn't afraid. He loved life. Troubles only exist when they are there. For those who live well, they are distant both when they are in the future, and when they are in the past. "Take no thought of the morrow; sufficient unto the day are the evils therein."

This may well be lousy psychology, and is almost certainly unorthodox--and certainly certainly lousy on some accounts--theology, but there you go. That's what I do. I may slap myself in the forehead in the morning and delete it. I may add to it. Who knows?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Krugman

Latest Krugman piece, I think. The New York Times gets no money from me. I'm not sure they get much from anyone else. We have a local leftist rag that I have literally had access to for free for some six weeks, but reading it invariably makes me feel stupider. In general the NYT has the same effect. It temporarily deducts IQ points since they so consistently post such patent nonsense that I have to suspend my normal rational orientation to get into their world.

Anyway, here Krugman points out that Republicans have not been very good historically at cutting budgets. He's right, of course. His seeming implication is that Democrats are basically like Republicans in this regard. To the extent this is true, this is precisely what is BAD about them. He does not support the point that spending cuts are bad through such idiotic equivalency. We are going bankrupt quickly. This is the point that matters.

Then he makes this for him routine point that "Slashing spending while the economy is still deeply depressed is a recipe for slower economic growth". This, to put it bluntly, is stupid. The reason we are not growing is because the people who create jobs, for people who pay taxes--and whose growth expands the corporate tax base (hint, hint, not the government)--are AFRAID. They are afraid of Socialism, and the tax increases that everyone knows MUST come at some point, coupled with the massive governmental fecundity that has attended the reign of our Rabbit Lord. He's sort of like Bill Clinton, but in his case he's never seen a bureaucracy he didn't want to dip his stick in to, so that all sorts of agencies get spun off. They are, after all, so cute.

The question is not that the government has to increase income--taxes--at some point. It is that every time we have done that in the past, government spending has risen to keep pace. More than keep pace. WE HAVE TO STOP SPENDING MONEY WE DON'T HAVE, THEN REDUCE THE SIZE OF OUR GOVERNMENT TO A HEALTHY LEVEL. This will facilitate economic growth, the alleviation of poverty, and help us avoid bankruptcy (although in my view we are too far along for less than drastic measures; that is another discussion).

Then he gets into healthcare. Unclever person that he is--and I have no patience for people in positions of influence who peddle snake oil that DOES affect in damaging ways the lives of the poor, the sick and the hungry--he seems utterly unable to assign a cause to healthcare cost increases. It is not greed. It is increased use. I deal with this in a piece simple enough even he would grasp it, if he chose to: Healthcare in ten paragraphs.

As far as the temporary entitlement increase Obama funded disingenuously through the Stimulus, and which is not being renewed by the Republicans: Krugman, why do you have to be so dishonest? Yes, I know that hungry children is a great theme, but really: have you and your ilk created anything but a permanently dysfunctional segment of our society? Can anyone of even the most robustly optimistic disposition see anything positive developing in the near, middle, or long term of the communities where these handouts are apparently important, absent economic growth?

The actual reality here, is that the spike in spending on "Single mothers nursing children destined to fail" was always supposed to be temporary. They said it was temporary then; now it is being treated as some sort of latent principle of the universe. This is what leftists do. They claim they only want a little, then they take a lot.

"Single mothers nursing children destined to fail" is a harsh phrase. As I ponder it, it is quite accurate. Krugman doesn't care about the lives of the poor. You know he has a nice brownstone somewhere, or Park Ave. suite, or country home.

He doesn't care about the messes leftists like him leave behind in cities like Detroit, Washington D.C., Chicago, or Phillie. He doesn't care about the aggregate of suffering. As long as the money keeps flowing, the votes will keep flowing back. It's an ebb and flow that enriches Democrat politicians, while ruining the lives in advance of the not-yet-born.

Edit: some of the ill humor removed.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wisconsin

I propose we christen the demonstrators in Wisconsin--many of them no doubt bussed in from out of State on the more or less direct orders of Obama--the "pro-bureaucracy movement". It sounds a lot like democracy, but of course you can't call what they are doing "pro-democracy". They are, after all, a movement specifically working to thwart the will of a legislature (and governor, if I'm not mistaken) just sworn in a month ago after a fair election.

They are pro-government protesters--they just represent the parts that are never ratified by the electorate, and who in most years get everything they demand.

Sufi Teaching Stories

Several points to make here. First, I would like to mention that one of my favorite books is "The Wisdom of the Idiots", by Idries Shah. I may post a few of his stories. One short one is this:

A voice whispered to me in the dark last night, saying "there is no such thing as voices whispering in the dark".


I think the analogy of a joke would be a propo here: if I have to explain it, the effect is lost in any event.

A second point I wanted to make, though, is that although I have been very much influenced by what I understand to be a Sufi approach to life, Sufi tradition itself says that all of their orders are prone to constant decay, forgetfulness, and getting lost.

I audited, briefly, a class on the Sufis in college. Perhaps two lecture in, the Professor--Hamid Algar--started talking about how Sufis were leading anti-colonialists. This clashed quite a bit with the understanding I had had. Then later, perhaps the same lecture, perhaps another, he commented that Islam had spread peacefully. I had to raise my hand at that point and ask: "what are scimitars for then?" Actually, I wasn't that clever. I just pointed out that, as one example, Iran was not colonized by the Islamic ideology peacefully, at least according to my understanding. Another student, who is probably at this very moment working or trying to work for some arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States, somewhat angrily told me to take a class in Islamic history. I then realized that I had interrupted what I would now call a session in what we could call Islamic "community organizing", and stopped going.

The Mahdi of Sudan was a bloodthirsty, sybaritic pig. There was nothing kind or enlightened about him. In fact, his death was due to the diseases that swept his camp following his armies failure to bury or take care of in the slightest the thousands of corpses they had left lying around after their conquest of Khartoum.

He was called a Sufi. Suffice it to say that on my reading Sufis are not bloodthirty pigs.

Thus when we see this word in Iran, or Egypt, or Sudan or elsewhere, we need infer nothing. Inner reality is inner reality. The tradition is so full of this basic teaching that in many respects it could be said to constitute Sufism outright.

Many of you will have experienced Christians invoking love in a spirit of hate. The Islamic equivalent is invoking God in the name of injustice and evil, as did the Mahdi, and as do the Iranian mullahs at this very moment. You cannot hide evil. They seem not to realize this.

Evil

It seems to me that if one is to use this word, it should be defined. All too often in human history it has been used to designate anyone who did things differently that you did. The way I use it, it means taking pleasure in the pain of others.

Yet, it exists on a continuum. Indifference to the pain of others is also a type of evil. Empathy is a fundamental element of goodness. Anything short of being able to experience deep happiness in the success and well-being of others is a sort of evil, it is a sort of shadow, a falling-short.

The desire to rule the world is a sort of evil because it implies an indifference to the fact that one's own ideas about how life should be lived may differ considerably from those one wants to rule.

The emotion of wanting-well for others cannot be compelled. True empathy cannot be forced. It is a type of perception, an awareness that can blossom in the right circumstances. It is intrinsically an individual and individuating process, since it always looks from a specific point in the universe.

A metaphor that came to me this morning is a meadow covered in flowers. Each of them is slightly different than the others. Each came from a seed that had to sprout on its own--albeit not without the help of sun, water, and a nurturing soil. Each of them is in a place, yet each contributes to the whole, while able to live on its own, to stake its own claim on a spot of Earth.

Now, the use of power is inevitable in human life. Some sort of power must be exerted over us. The question is whether we exert it over ourselves in the form of a chosen moral order, or someone extrinsic to us compels it on us.

A religion, or any social order based on traditional values, is a power, isn't it? It is the sort of restraint rejected by the hippies and radicals of the modern era. (I hate to say 60's, since that was just a widespread public manifestation of something that had been going on for some time even when Keynes Bloomsbury Group had their heyday many decades before).

In my view, it is not necessary to hew to tradition, simply because it is tradition. But you have to choose a master. That master may be Yoga. It may be getting up early every day, doing an hour of exercises and another hour of meditation; it may be adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, and learning Sanskrit.

That master may be a religion. That master, to the point here, may be a political philosophy that organizes thought and behavior.

You cannot be loving all the time. We are all Yin and Yang, particle and wave. You have to have a starting point, a home, a more or less stable source of identity--which can be specific habits, like praying five times a day, and fasting during the day for a lunar month.

It can be habits of mind. That is what I have tried to articulate with my conception of Goodness, which I discuss on my other website, linked on the side.

Never feel sorry for yourself.

Never quit, if the task is worthwhile.

Always try to understand what is happening around you, and orient your behavior and thought around empathy, love and happiness.

My thought process is that you cannot walk standing on one foot, and that life is walking.

A few thoughts for a Sun-day morning.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Muslim Revolution

No, nothing like that. I was at the Humane Society today, and walked 5-6 dogs with my youngest. If memory serves it was two Lab's, a Beagle, one Australian Sheepdog (my favorite), and several others.

Muslims hold dogs to be dirty creatures. They feel no sense of connection or compassion for them. A "revolution" would be feeling these sentiments. Unfortunately, I am insufficiently scholarly to say if this would be rejecting their Koranic injunctions-which is simply not possible for someone who wants to remain a Muslim, and I would not ask someone to renounce their sense of purpose and personal organization--but it is my hope this is the case. An inability to sympathize with affectionate animals like dogs is symptomatic of a larger empathetic problem.

There is so much potential love floating around this world. All that has to be done is grasp some of the threads floating around, and claim them as your own. There are more where those came from--an unlimited supply.

The Blues

I was listening to Howling Wolf this morning while cooking. I really enjoy him. Then I got to searching YouTube for videos of him, and found this. Call it what else you will, this is direct and honest.

He says the blues is when you don't have the money to pay for your house. It's when you are thinking evil.

Few points: this song was first recorded in 1951; this session is from 1966. I wonder if he would have said that in 1951. I don't think so. Evil was still bad then. Nowadays we more or less look to serial killers as heros. I can't help but think many people watch movies like Hostel or American Psycho (to be made into a musical soon in New York) and wonder what it would be like to let the world know what they really think.

But all that was in its germination phase back in 1966. He could say things like that without fear of rejection, since especially in the early stages of the War on Poverty--and the late stages of the Civil Rights Movement--he could have counted on sympathy.

I wonder, though, if he would have FELT that way in 1951. The ethos he is articulating here is that of helplessness that leads to a sense of paralysis, then violent retribution against the world that put you there, "by whatever means necessary". This, in my view, is a political ethos, that is external to the spirit upon which the old blues were based.

The old blues were tragic, but were meant to share pain, such that everyone could relate to you, to one another, and take strength from a sense of shared trouble and difficulty. The blues is not different, in principle, from Hamlet. It describes the world not how it ought to be, but how it is.

Useful art is local. I was going to make this a separate post, but will make the short statement here that I feel as if there is a certain isomorphism between the professionalisation of art, and modern Statism. We only want to look at those "heros" who made it to the gallery. We don't want to create it ourselves. We let someone else lead us, dictate our taste.

You want to know the bald truth? I don't have a freaking clue why Picasso is so famous. He was a shit to most everyone around him. I have an article I printed some time ago showing him and his friend Apollinaire to be knee shaking cowards, who damn near peed themselves whenever confronted with anything hinting of danger. They were the sort of people who would shove their girlfriends in front of them to not get hit by bullets.

Why can't I just ignore him? Why can't I just ignore most of modern literature, and all the slack-wristed and morally obtuse modernists that we are told to respect, but most of whom operated on a much, much lower level of moral integrity than the average man or woman in the street.

In my view, local poetry, local art, local drama and all that--with wide participation--will be a part of our cultural renaissance. And we need to ride out on a pole most of what has been foisted on us as "modern" in the last 100-150 years.

The question is this: does it helps us grow as individuals and as a society? If not, throw it away.

Had more to say, but things to do. This is close enough.

Look at this video though. By and large it is only white people who listen to the blues nowadays. As far as I can tell, black music gave way first to sex, and now violence. The "blues" was transformered into gangsterism, which is more less open and proud evil.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Survival of death

Since I have mentioned it, I will discuss a little bit of the evidence for the survival of death. It is voluminous, and at this very moment there is a medium named David Thompson who, on hundreds of accounts, can actually materialize spirits of dead people IN THEIR BODIES.

The following quote is taken from Victor Zammit's website. Lord knows he has his share of critics. Lucky man. You have to have balls to get everybody shooting at you. The site is in my view filled with too much stuff. It is too busy. He talks about being a lawyer too much. But for someone really trying to see what evidence is out there, he is a great resource. Look at his book, and use that as a sort of Bibliography. As you get into it, you find some very evidentiary stories indeed. The story of David Thompson is the most remarkable. It may sound far-fetched. The question I would ask is this: what skeptic who wants to deride these claims has attended one of his seances? None that I can see. If you want to claim a phenomenon cannot be replicated, surely the first step is to attempt to replicate it in the manner decribed by the researcher? This is the most basic element possible of the scientific method.

Anyway, to the story:

We investigated materialization medium David Thompson weekly for 15 months. But the most spectacular evidence for the afterlife was when my wife Wendy's father materialized announcing his name. He was in the 'flesh'. He was speaking as when a loved one talks to you. It was his voice. It was his mannerism. No one in the experiment knew of Wendy's (pictured) maiden name. No one knew about the intimate circumstances raised by Wendy's father about their early life; no one knew about very special relationship she had with her brother. There was physical contact when her father kissed Wendy on the forehead. Further, Wendy's father materialised a piece of paper with his signature on it - which perfectly matched his signature on existing documents. Absolutely, that kind of evidence would have sent an accused to the gallows in a courtroom situation. Of course, the spiritually blind, deaf and dumb - and other dummies, would not understand the hugely great value of this magnificent materialization evidence.


A conventionally trained--can I say drained?--mind will of course find that farcical in the extreme. Of course death is the end. What serious person would suggest otherwise? We know what parts of the brain control what. We know, for example, that if your Broca's area is damaged, that your linguistic capacity is affected. We can track genetic mutation over millions of years. We know what parts of the DNA select for what traits, and our knowledge grows larger daily.

The body is nothing but a complex system of chemical events, and human consciousness nothing but an epiphenomenon of a material evolutionary artifact whose primary purpose is survival. We have no "will". We have no purpose. And our deaths are no more significant than leaves falling from a tree. We wilt in time. We melt, then are no more. Whether you like it or not, that is the truth: deal with it.

As with most matters that matter in philosophy and psychology, though, William James offered the most common sensical, logically rigorous treatment of the matter I have seen. If you adore athletic Victorian prose, as I do, read this.

The man is brilliant; in my view, he is the best thinker we have produced, after the first generation of Founding Fathers. No one should read Freud. Everyone should read James "Principles of Psychology".

For the short of attention: the net of it is that James was a trained physician. He was quite up to date on the physiological knowledge of his time, which in important respects has not really evolved that much in the last 100 years. They knew far more than you might suppose.

As he put it, the brain need not be a SOURCE of consciousness, but a TRANSMITTER, where the mind, per se, is separate. This explains why drugs can affect our consciousness, why strokes can permanently damage our capacity to speak, and why genetic traits--including personality traits--can be inherited.

How can this be, you ask? How can a mind exist which consists of us, but is not available to our conscious awareness? Let me ask this: how much of your own desires are you aware of? How much of what your brain processes on an average day are you conscious of? How much of who you are is accessible to you, even in a purely material sense? Have you ever had a dream that you were sleeping, then woken up, then woken up again? Who is to say you are awake now? That is the key point, and of course a standard point expressed by mystics over the ages.

I have argued often on this blog that consciousness is split. In the hypnotic experiments of Janet, he found that psychologically normal people, under hypnosis, could be made to manifest multiple, independent selves, each autonomous. We must accept that in some respects this is the nature of our reality. It is continuous to some part of ourselves, but we have no way of knowing what disparate elements there may be.

In terms of physical reality, the best theorists cannot say in what it may consist. We seem to have an interactive relationship with the physical universe, which we cannot be sure would or could exist if there were no consciousness to be aware of it. This is a primary conclusion of most philosophical extrapolations from Quantum Theory. As I have said before, the experimentally observed fact of non-locality--the potential connectedness of all physical matter in a way beyond space/time--falsified Einstein's General Relativity as a POSSIBLE explanation for the nature of all reality.

Thus, explanations can be offered for observable facts which are consistent with the hypothesis that mind is separable from brain; and nothing in our current understanding of the nature of reality compels us to reject such ideas. In my observation, almost all scientistic dogmatists are literally stuck in a 19th century view of the universe.

Then you get to evidence. I need to go to bed, but will post a few example of things I found interesting. One sees this idea that the "multiple of anecdote is not evidence", but of course it is. If 100 people walk up a hill, and claim to see a red bear, then if they are credible people, most people will accept that.

None of us go to the trouble of verifying what we read in scientific journals. I would not know how to verify if neutrinos exist, or how DNA is sequenced, or what happens when I mix chemical A with chemical B. I take people's word for it. And sometimes, I am wrong. The whole Global Warming thing seems to be a massive hoax. The Earth may be warming, but the efforts to gather evidence for it have been half-hearted, and filled with more or less overt and intentional fraud. We have no temperature monitors in the Arctic regions where we are supposedly experiencing warming. One would think this would have been one of the first things done. What do they do? They estimate temperature using models which in turn assume that warming is going on. That's another topic, though.

I'll confine myself to just a couple examples which are readily accessible since I posted them on my Facebook. This is not a thorough or even especially diligent treatment of the topic: this is meant to be illustrative of some of the types of evidence out there. For those with an interest, further research can be done. Start with Zammit's book, then look up his resources.

Here is one on a woman who claims to be the reincarnation of Anne Frank. I found the part about her cousin quite evidential. This is not compelling, but will be interesting for some.

Here is an effort to separate cold reading-based mediumship from actual communication. Cold reading has its limits, and it can be experimentally defined and eliminated as a plausible causative mechanism for clearly visible patterns.

This is the most evidential Near Death Experience of which I'm aware. There are no plausible explanations within a standard brain=mind paradigm.

This is stating the obvious, but when you are clinically and measurably brain dead you cannot form new memories.

Finally, a well put together intro on Near Death Experiences:

Oxygen deprivation does not work as an explanation because the effects, for example, of drowning are universal. Everyone feels them the same way. Why? Because they are based in physiology. It is precisely the seldomness of NDE's--perhaps a quarter of the people brought back from clinical death--that speaks for their authenticity.

I will add that creating an explanation for something is not the same as doing science. If you can write a compelling and best selling book about the evolution of human kind from primitive RNA molecules, but offer up not lab or other experiments by which your ideas could be tested, then you are a fiction writer, not a scientist. It really is that simple.

None of the critics of NDE's seem to have done their due diligence. They look at a few non-representative cases, then come up with an explanation of what MUST BE happening, provided we reject the survivalist hypothesis in advance.

Here are a couple books you might read: http://www.amazon.com/Science-Near-Death-Experience-Consciousness-Survives/dp/1594773564/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1298085863&sr=8-2
http://www.amazon.com/Consciousness-Beyond-Life-Near-Death-Experience/dp/0061777250/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1298085863&sr=8-1

In this one, cardiologist Pim Van Lommel "provides scientific evidence that the near-death phenomenon is an authentic experience that cannot be attributed to imagination, psychosis, or oxygen deprivation."

And so it goes. Why believe the worst when we have an abundance of evidence to the contrary?

The Deal

The deal Obama thought he had, was that "the group" was going to make sure he never got any critical scrutiny, that everything he did succeeded, and that a Democratic majority was a done deal through at least 2020 or so. Two terms seemed a certainty when the Democrats got the Presidency and had clear control of both chambers of Congress. They were talking about Democratic control for a generation or more. The Republicans were lost in the wilderness.

This control and comfortable status was supposed to be handed to him. He wanted a sinecure, not a Presidency. His role in the whole was to stand there and smile, look and sound Presidential from time to time--with his actual words fed to him by professionals--and all he otherwise had to do was mostly nothing. Golf, trips, meeting foreign heads of state, nice meals, and of course guaranteed speaking gigs, and lucrative book deals once he got out. "Just show up", he was told, "and we will take care of the rest. You have a great smile. Use it a lot, and don't go off-script unless it can't be avoided. And then say as little as possible. You got an E ticket to a great ride. We're going to remake the future, and you will be an integral part of it."

What is happening now, though? The Democrats are literally fighting a street battle for their political survival. Not only are they now not advancing their agenda, they are getting ROLLED BACK from where they started in 2008. Nobody was questioning public sector unions back in 2008. Most of us would have found it hard to conceive that people making a third more than the rest of us, with cushy retirement plans--all funded with taxpayer money, or money borrowed from our children--would NEED a union. Andy Stern and the rest of the cronies in the White House have made sure that we get it now. Ordinary Americans get it. We are being screwed over by a power elite that uses taxpayer money to fund their own campaigns, in a feast of corruption that would not have been out of place in Tammany Hall.

These street battles are defensive, not offensive. They are desperate, and likely to turn both Wisconsin and national voters strongly and lastingly against the people waging them. Look at these cowardly Democratic congressmen from Wisconsin. Be men, I think most Americans want to say. Take your lumps, then try to make good in the next election. Don't run.

What they are doing is simply betraying the spirit of America, which rests on the self restraint of knowing that as the will of the people changes, they must be respected, and that regardless of personal feelings. Do you think George Bush wanted to hand the Office of the President over to Barack Obama? Of course not. But he did, because THAT IS THE WAY IT WORKS.

For his part, Obama is utterly in over his head. What is needed now, to protect the leftist agenda he thought was going to be furthered mainly FOR him, not BY him, is skill and leadership. He possesses neither. He was not selected for talent. He was selected because he was photogenic, polled well, and his mixed race enabled his propagandists to tap into the white guilt that has been inculcated carefully in our schoolchildren for at least 20 years.

As I see it, the leftist agenda is increasingly a rudderless ship lost on a stormy ocean. Within their ranks, plainly they have skill, but the skill is in the shadows. Their figurehead--their public face--is not equal to the task of getting them out of the shoals they have been driven in to.

Self evidently, this is far from the death knell of leftism, though. No competent stragegist confuses momentary advantages with victory. You know in what victory will consist? It will not be a political event. It will not be driving our opponents into the sea. As long as this creed, this cult, serves a needed purpose, it will rise again and again.

Leftism will end when as a group they are able find an actually optimistic understanding of human life and their place in it. In its current form, their outward utopianism is a mask for their collective failure to find better reasons to live. Behind it, one readily perceives actual despair, and a driving need to relinquish the hope of personal responsibility, the possibility of individual moral growth, and ultimately autonomy outright.

In my considered view a serious, mainstream investigation into the nature of death and life will be of great virtue in that pursuit. If we live forever, if our sins and selfless acts follow us, then that changes things, doesn't it? To accept this creed it is not necessary to accept ANY historical religion. This is science, not theology. It falsifies as a credible creed the absurdism and pessimism of modern thinkers like Samual Beckett, Foucault and Sartre. The most important part of the doctrine of atheism recedes into irrelevance.

Speaking gibberish is only necessary when you are unable to face truths you cannot accept. For this reason, finding a more palatable truth ought to work simultaneously to reenergize the effective and sincere use of reason.

Our problems can be solved. I cannot say this too often. I myself propose solutions constantly, and nothing delights me more than to see my ideas improved upon, or even discarded outright in favor of things I haven't even thought of. That's the beauty of the self organizing system that is a free people.

The Way

My way seems to be thinking, although I spend many hours in silence, at times.

The point I wanted to make here was that no fixed, final way of intereacting with the world is desirable. I have at times in my life sought out difficulty and challenge, with perhaps the most obvious example being that of the fitness system called CrossFit (www.crossfit.com) . At other times, now being one of them, I have felt a need to cultivate satisfaction. I wonder just how deep my pleasure could be sitting in a nice garden, on a fresh spring day, drinking jasmine tea with friends out of antique cups.

This is the Yin and the Yang. It is a cliche, of course, but one worth pondering a bit more. Edward de Bono spoke of what he called "catchment areas", which is the tendency of our minds--as expressed through the physical, mechanical apparatus of our brains--to sort even things that are quite similar into either/or categories. The metaphor is that of rain, which will wind up in a very different river system, depending on which side of a mountain it lands. In theory, two drops can land 2' from one another, and wind up hundreds of miles apart.

No final religious system is possible, because no lasting perception is possible in a world subject to evolutionary and constant change. We cling to religion, to use a memorable phrase in a new way, because we cannot stand the truth that living is like walking. Our walking, our movement, figurative and literal, can never cease until we leave the Earth. Yet, you can take pleasure in walking. You can even take pleasure in hard, sustained, uphill--oh let us use the word TRAGIC--walking.

The solution to pain is in the pain, and in no small measure includes the pleasure of humoric irony, companionship with others, and the simple joy of breathing.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Art and Poetry

I posted a couple of my older poems, and some general thoughts, on my other website. I can't get the link button to show up on the live site, so for now I'm just going to mention it here. Here is the link.

Love

What a word. Getting up this morning (sober--my liver still works well) I was pondering love. Can I not posit as an absolute truth that we are ALL stupid and ridiculous, at least at times? On some level, could we not see the Marine Corps uniform--any military uniform--as ridiculous? Aren't they polyester?

Look at any woman or man in love: are they not slack-jawed and silly, especially if the other person does not love them? Look at anyone grieving. Look at the ridiculous facial expressions, the moans, the cries, the weeping.

Watch us, all of us, scheming during the day. Watch us looking at a woman or man that we secretly desire, who is committed to another. Watch us wondering how it would be to be rich and lacking for nothing. Or watch the rich man, pondering the meaning of life, lacking nothing but a reason to live. Or watch him dedicating his life to earning more wealth, more wealth, more wealth, where money is an abstraction, and need something he or she never thinks about.

Watch the loving mother, nurturing her child, utterly lost in devotion. Watch the loving spouse, pulling the blankets up over his loved one, so she can sleep longer in peace.

Watch the sky, ever-changing, filled with light and shade, a million varieties of cloud, and a million points of light.

Listen to the birds, singing. Do you know them? They have voices. Who are they? Can you identify them?

I myself am of course a stupid and ridiculous man. This post is ridiculous. It is stupid.

I watch Christ being nailed up on the cross. After he is done screaming in pain, he turns to his neighbor and says "Some day, huh?" This makes me laugh; I don't know why.

I told one of my children the other day that love is seeing people as they are, but accepting them as who they want to be, feeding their better angels. I think this is close to the truth.

I, I, I ,I: I don't know entirely what I wanted to say here, but have decided to hit "post" anyway, in the hope that perhaps this may be a seed that sprouts under someone elses sky.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thought

Dang me, I've been drinking. Whiskey helps me in so many ways.

I would like to mention, though, the movie I watched, the "Language of the Enemy", about the Israeli/refugee conflict.

Is it necessary to think bad thoughts about the descendants of Hagar? Not really: except to the extent they want to blow up the descendants of Sarah.

One looks at the Holy Land, and sees some degree of purity. Those who live there see death. Why, I don't know.

We all move upwards
Why fight as if Heaven waits?
It's already there.

May God bless any readers I may have. My own blessings amuse me, but I don't know how far they go.

Krugman's Hell

You might be thinking he sends a thrill up my leg, like Glenn Beck does for Chris Matthews, but no, you will note it's been a while since I posted on him. He is important since he is one of the most seemingly intelligent posters for the premier leftist apologist in our nation.

As I look at him in my mind, and imagine him reading what I wrote (exceptionally unlikely, I know, but it's an interesting thought exercise), I see making mental notes, pulling out a couple of well-worn tomes--the General Theory being the first--thumbing through them, raising his nose a bit as he checks off the details: no, no, and NO. Closing the last one, he realizes that once again he is right. He has a vaguely preppy and certainly arrogant vibe to him.

Anyway, I readily grant to the universe considerable imagination. I visualized what Krugman's hell would look like. As I see it, he enters a room lit everywhere in red--not hot or cold or unpleasant--and there is a fire in the hearth, putting out no heat. There is a very ugly old lady sitting there, knitting, who says to him: tell me about economics. And he spends the next 1,000 years talking, while she knits. She is secretly, of course, a demon.

And as the years go by, he never tires. He never flags. He has that much of what he thinks is knowledge to pass along.

Yet, is this LIFE? This is a world insulated from beauty, love and laughter.

Further rantings. I have decided to sin tonight and get a pizza.

PAUL KRUGMAN NEEDS A BRAIN TRANSPLANT!!!!

Please spraypaint this on your nearest concrete surface. If you substitute Jimmy S, no one will notice. Put it right next to Johnny M. loves Jenny N., and the other one you can't read.

As insults go, this is clearly inferior to "big poopy head" and "conserveretard toon", but I have Soapdish on my Netflix queue, and remember that as being one of the funnier scenes. If you haven't watched that movie, you should. Along with Birdcage, Anchorman, Team America, and parts of "What about Bob?", it ranks as one of my favorite comedies. That and "Most Extreme Challenge", part whatever. Please note I am carefully separating my moral critiques of American culture from what I find funny.

Anyway, the problem obviously is not that Krugman is actually stupid, in the sense of his knowledge base or cognitive capacity. He has a Ph.D. from what is normally considered a prestigious school. He is a professor (or was: I have no idea if his NYT gig is full-time) at a prestigious school. If you sat him down and gave him an IQ test, or entered him on Jeopardy, or asked him to solve some Mensa problem, he would do better than most.

His problem is imaginative. He lacks imagination. Specifically, he is unable to imagine human suffering in the detail I can, and unwilling to see that the policies he advocates so strenuously, and with such seeming sincerity, act to the detriment of the human race. When I think of Vietnam era radicals, I think of nothing so much as sad, frightened Vietnamese, placed in little bamboo cages in the stifling jungle heat, unable to bathe, forced to urinate and defectate on themselves, and fed rice with sand in it, hurting their teeth.

This is the sort of imagination one needs. As an alternative, let us think of a frightened African-American child of say 7, third born to a single mother, who leaves him in the care of his 11 year old sister, who beats him. There is a hole in the roof, and none of the kids in his 1st grade class will sit still long enough for the teacher to teach him anything. Is the hope for this child, surrounded by violence and indifference from his earliest memories really in failed programs like Head Start? Head Start makes a mild difference for perhaps a year--and not one clearly positive in all cases--then the effect disappears: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/hs/impact_study/reports/impact_study/executive_summary_final.pdf

Why would this be? Well, the 11 year old is self supervised, and choosing to bully the 7 year old and his 9 year old sister. What school program is going to counterbalance a daily reality of cruelty and indifference? It won't. This child should not have been born. This is the reality.

Since I hate discussing problems without offering ANY solutions, I will allow myself one, although I have thought of a number: use taxpayer money to pay $10,000 to any low income person who voluntarily undergoes sterilization. Once 2 or more children have been born to a single mother, make sterilization a condition of future welfare checks. Harsh? Hell is for children, not mothers. The mother has the right to not fuck every man she sees. The child--not born in my example--has the right to a home and family that loves him or her, and having 5 kids you can't afford is anything but love. I was reading about a real world example in Indianapolis the other day, of a mother who had kids 8,7,6,5, and 3. Five kids in 6 years, none of which she could afford. She left them home alone to go work, and was caught by CPS. They had been taken before because some man she had in the house abused them, and this time they were taken by CPS for good, no doubt mentally scarred for life. None of those kids is likely to reach whatever their natural capacity may have been; if they do, it will be a miracle, and public policy that depends on miracles is incompetent.

But I digress. The general point I wanted to make is that Krugman has clearly followed Keynes in setting as his task the implementation of Socialism in America. Towards that end, he employs creative misdirection, crappy thinking, and caustic ad hominem. Par for the course.

Pointing out his errors is not hard. It is of more interest to me showing his pattern of error, the types of thought errors that he commits over and over and over.

He makes these errors, to repeat, not out of a lack of critical capacity, but out of a deep seated emotional desire for certain things to be true about human life that are not true. It is not the case that if you punish supposed wrong-doers, that good results. You have to create good. You have to work for it. You have to define it, and articulate it as a principle-based behavioral system. It is never enough simply to eradicate what you define arbitrarily as evil. This is laziness. It is childishness. It is throwing a tantrum, kicking the flower pot over, and calling it philosophy.

Life contains pain. It will always contain pain. This in my view is the most practical view, and one which recognizes that pain accepted is pain diminished. It will always contain the pains of resentment and envy, confusion, anxiety, at least potentially. This is my view.

And if we are to have any chance of ridding ourselves of these pests, it can only be done on an individual level, and through spiritual growth. But this is not what the Socialists propose. They propose we solve them through the actions of SOMEONE ELSE. That we can outsource them. That with a properly planned society, they will simply fall away, and flowers burst from the earth, and the sun emerge from behind the gloomy clouds of greed. Killing the bourgeoisie (figuratively, then literally) is not just cathartic for those with pent-up anger spanning decades, but it is a sort of spirtual pesticide, that eliminates all the negative emotions to which human minds and spirits are prone. This is patent nonsense.

But consider the close relationship of Keynes with George Bernard Shaw. They corresponded constantly. Shaw was one of the first people Keynes told when he finished "The General Theory". And consider who he was. He openly advocated involuntary euthanasia--murder--of social undesireables, and even mused publicly about the development of Zyklon B roughly a decade before Hitler ensured it would not only become a reality, but used in approximately the way Shaw intended. You MUST watch this video, if you are to truly grasp that Fascism is nothing more or less than a type of Socialism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rw7DtjO4V6c

To the specific piece: Eat the future. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/14/opinion/14krugman.html?ex=1313470800&en=56519977c80612d4&ei=5087&WT.mc_id= NYT-E-I-NYT-E-AT-0216-L18

The argument: Public research says that the basic mindset of pork barrel politics is still alive. People want other people's stuff cut. From this, Krugman infers that the Republicans do not have a mandate to cut the budget. This is patent nonsense, of course. In almost all opinion polls the national debt is the top concern, and that people differ in how it should be cut is a far cry from being able to claim it isn't important.

Further, the problem is ENORMOUS. We will be paying more in interest expenses within the decade than we spend currently on the ENTIRE Defense Dept. budget. This is because we are running $1.5 trillion ANNUAL deficits. This is simply unsustainable. NO AMOUNT OF ECONOMIC GROWTH CAN PAY OFF THIS DEBT AT THE RATE WE ARE ACCUMULATING IT, IF WE DO NOT RADICALLY REDUCE EXPENDITURES.

Clearly, taxes may need to be raised, but the historic pattern is taxes are raised to meet shortfalls, then EXPENDITURES ARE INCREASED AGAIN. It's a revolving pattern. This year, this Congress, we HAVE to make a stand. We are plainly going bankrupt, and arguing that we CAN pay our bills is no different than the arguments of people I've known that their ability to afford their $200,000 annual lifestyles means spending every cent they make is OK. Just because you have money, does not mean you should spend it. And since we DON'T have the money, that makes it apply doubly.

To the requisite attack on Republicans as dumb meany-heads. Republicans have cut food stamps. http://washingtonindependent.com/98886/the-real-impact-of-food-stamp-cuts

You need to understand that Krugman exaggerates to the point where he may as well be lying. The so-called "Stimulus" was actually a massive, but in theory temporary, expansion of the welfare state. Roughly one third of it--$250 billion--did nothing but fund pet Democratic social spending programs that Congress was otherwise unwilling to fund. It shored up bankrupt State Medicaid accounts. It shored up bankrupt food stamp programs. What the Republicans have done is roll back spending on this program to 2008 levels. The spending all along was supposed to be temporary.

What Krugman and his fellow socialists want, of course, is for temporary money, appropriated through underhanded, deceptive means, to become permanent. That will bankrupt us that much more quickly, and enable the "rationality" of--can I call it this?--Uebergovernment, a central State of Chineseian power and control, and ruthlessness.

Republicans cut money for nuclear non-proliferation. Horrible, right? You know how this program works? We give money to Russians and others to find lost nukes. They keep it. This is really a pretty simple process. This has been going on for a long time. This does not make lost Russian nukes less dangerous, but there is categorically no direct relationship between money appropriated and actual outcomes. Most of it, in fact, is wasted. As things stand, we still have $2 billion allocated for it.

http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/business/hancock/blog/2011/02/congress_moves_to_help_terrori.html

Here is what this money has accomplished recently:

At the close of 2010, NNSA announced that 111 pounds of bomb-making highly enriched uranium were removed from three sites in Ukraine. Since April 2009, six countries have given up all their highly enriched uranium and a total of 120 bombs’ worth of nuclear material was secured.


Useful? Of course. $2.6 billion worth of useful when we have many more billions allocated to overseas intelligence and Homeland Security? Probably not so much. Most of even this $2 billion will likely be wasted on fancy lunches, good cigars, and exorbitant salaries for people who accomplish one thing every decade they "serve". I could be wrong, but Krugman's case is far from airtight.

As far as the IRS agents go, I would be curious if he can back up that claim. The IRS asked for an INCREASE of $338 million. This article is from Feb. 15th: http://www.accountingweb.com/topic/tax/irs-releases-2012-budget-proposal-summary

The point is inescapable, too, that greater collections means more tax revenue, which means more cash out of the system and into government coffers. For all intents and purposes, all increases in the IRS Collections activity amount to tax increases. As I said, we will at some point likely have to raise taxes. What we MUST do, first, is demonstrate the capacity to stop using our goddamned charge card for every little thing that catches our eye.

As far as his "death panels" quote, obviously we cannot pay end-of-life care indefinitely. But who should decide? The patients, with their family and chosen insurer, or an omnipotent government panel trying to keep costs down? The latter alternative ALREADY EXISTS IN EUROPE, and is inevitable here. To claim otherwise is, frankly, to be an asshole.

I'm tired and irritable. I will leave it there for now.

No: one more thing. If Krugman had a shred of human decency, he would take the time to grasp that the policies he advocates, on balance, cause human suffering. Rich people hire poor people, making them not poor. Poor people suffer. They don't hire anyone. Socialism creates the latter, in the process of destroying the former. Cubans, 40 years after the full implementation of Communism, live on $20/month, and are uniformly surrounded by secret police, and under the constant threat of political arrest if they have the temerity to call bullshit on the whole nasty, sordid, roach-infested hell that leftists have been looking to as an example all these years.

Shame on you, Paul Krugman. You are a nasty piece of shit. Hell has a place for you. I don't wish it on you, but in my view things have a way of working their course. Your task, all your life, has been to understand what is good, and work for it. You have failed, and you continue to fail. You don't get points for what you say you are trying to do. You don't get points for willful self delusion. You know what the reality is, and if you choose not to acknowledge it, if you continue a parade of lies calculated to expand human evil on Earth, you bear the full brunt of the responsibility for your actions.

I avoid ad hominem in general as intellectually vacuous. Occasionally, I do seem to feel the need to vent, though. It may not be useful rhetorically, but it feels good to be completely frank sometimes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Social Justice and Climate Change

I just want to discuss the phrases, and their antecedants "War on Poverty" and "Global Warming".

In the first case, a "War on Poverty" was launched in the 1960's, and guided by a man with the ironically appropriate first name of Sargent. It failed. If it was a war, they were thrown back at the beaches into the sea.

So what did the Left do? They changed the name. Look at Detroit today. Three decades later, if someone said they needed money to end poverty, they would be laughed out of the room. Just kidding: only conservatives would laugh, since for leftists every day is a new day, since their "reset" button never wears out.

The thesis of global warming is that the Earth--all of it--is warming. Warmth is measured with temperature. If the temperature goes up, warming is happening.

However, the people running this project launched all sorts of dire predictions back in the late 90's about what would be happening NOW, if we didn't act THEN. How embarassing for them that they were WRONG. That is the most correct word here.

So what did they do? Did they abandon or greatly modify their falsified hypothesis? No: they renamed it to make it less empirical. The phrase global warming implies warming. If the warming doesn't happen, then the prediction was wrong. But how beautiful from a policy--if not scientific or moral--standpoint to be able to make "predictions" ex post facto? All you have to do is wait and see what happens, then predict it RETROACTIVELY. OF COURSE the glaciers are expanding in one place and contracting in another. OF COURSE we are having a terrible winter. OF COURSE we are at a 50 year low for global hurricane activity.

In my view, the tendency to rename things, in and of itself, normally betrays lack of clarity of thought and evidence.

In the case of the old word "social justice", of course, many meanings CAN be implied, but this particular one seemed most egregiously wrong. As a general rule of thumb, it is the antonym of "legal justice", as embodied in protected individual civil liberties.

The damage Obama can do

A book arguing the case that Obama's books were ghost-written by Bill Ayers comes out today. Whether his thesis is correct or not, and Obama's manifest stupidity argues powerfully that SOMEONE other than himself wrote his books, what is clear is that we know ALMOST NOTHING about this guy. Many years of his life are documented only by what he himself says--directly or through a proxy like Bill Ayers--in his books.

Virtually none of the people surrounding him in his youth are known to us. At least one has come forward, though, and stated that Obama was a Leninist in college, and saw himself as working for a global Communist revolution: http://www.newsmax.com/RonaldKessler/obama-college-marxism-occidental/2010/02/08/id/349329

He was arguing a straightforward Marxist-Leninist class-struggle point of view, which anticipated that there would be a revolution of the working class, led by revolutionaries, who would overthrow the capitalist system and institute a new socialist government that would redistribute the wealth


Note that his roommate was a Pakistani, wealthy enough to own a BMW, and comfortable with Obama's politics. When Obama went to Pakistan, this guy likely paid for it.

But place yourself in this mental context: Obama is friends with people like Bill Ayers and others who want to end our Constitution, and implement something like what they have in Cuba, or China.

Many of us have been saying for years that he is a radical, he is a Communist, he is anti-American. But what are the possible implications of this? What can he do?

People look at his most obvious proposals, those intended to take over healthcare and energy, and to create more legal biases in favor of unions. But what else is possible? Let me offer up a few possibilities.

He can insert moles in the CIA, FBI, DHS, DIA, and various military services.

He can insert people into positions with access to our secrets, who will leak them. For some stuff, he can leak it on his own, in closed door meetings--for example with the Chinese.

Edit: agents can slow down or misdirect the flow of intelligence. They can either not do their jobs, or supply disinformation. Counter-intelligence agents can collude with foreign agents. They can abet foreign industrial espionage.

Obviously, they can gather information on political opponents, as FDR did.

Money can be siphoned off from the Stimulus and put into accounts for bribes, here and abroad; for funding leftist organizing; for election campaigns; and to pay full time Leninist revolutionary cadres.

He can weaken us through intentional overspending, which he is doing right now.

He can damage our alliances, and fail to pursue our legitimate interests, which he is doing.

As I think I posted on here, I was reading the other day about Harry Hopkins, who was almost certainly Agent 19, described as "the most important of all Soviet wartime agents in the United States", by former Cheka (read Gestapo) handler Iskhak Akhmerov. Among other things, Hopkins engineered the hand-over of Poland to the Nazis, excuse me, the Soviets. Effect was about the same, although the Katyn massacre had already happened.

Consider the case, though, of Col. Phillip Faymonville. Everyone who knew him called him "The Red Colonel", for his Communist sympathies. Hopkins got him assigned to Moscow to run our Lend-Lease program, and eventually got him promoted to Major General. While in Moscow, he was seduced by a male NKVD agent, which enabled the Soviets to put considerable pressure to bear on someone already largely sympathetic to them.

Imagine this basic dynamic amplified a hundred times. Imagine that Obama WANTS the Muslim Brotherhood to take over the Middle East. Imagine that he is covertly sending them money. Imagine that he is assigning US intelligence assets to help them, under some pretext or other. Once he gets his people in the right places, no pretext will be necessary.

All the people he puts in place remain behind once he is gone, much like the Communist agents who stayed in place in the South when North Vietnam went red (figuratively, and with the literal blood that the red symbolizes). Perhaps I should say "when the lights went out", in reference to North Korea.

We need to cover many more miles in our understanding if we are to right this wrong, and get our nation back onto a track into a sustainable future. The future of humankind depends on the United States.

China has shown itself to be utterly ruthless, and completely dedicated to one party, totalitarian rule. Yes, the Chinese people can open businesses now, but only ones approved by the Party, and nothing happens that they do not approve of, tacitly or explicitly.

Europe is a sick old lady, done in by a greed for comfort and sleep.

It's on us, and we are being poisoned, in my view.

In my view, it is time for a frontal attack on Obama's credibility. I want the Republicans to demand at least his birth certificate, and preferably all his college records, travel documents, Social Security number (what is it? Is it legitimate?), and college publications. Given that he is the most poweful man in the most powerful country on the planet, these are not unreasonable demands.

As I have said before, the question is simple: is he above the law, or isn't he?

Edit: as I think about it, the most valuable place to insert your people would not even be in the intelligence handling part of things. It would be in the group that does background investigations and security clearances. If you can corrupt that group, you open a funnel into the core of the intelligence apparatus.

I will add, too, that there are those who simply cannot grasp that Communists can still be around and active in today's world. My response is: why not? They knew their doctrine didn't work in the 1950's, at the very LATEST, yet they continued expanding and recruiting throughout the 1960's and 70's. Their facilitation of the invasion of South Vietnam by North Vietnam led to rivers of blood, but they didn't and don't care.

This is the core question: in the last 30 years have they come up with a good reason to live? Self evidently, most of these people are atheists, who view death as final. I don't see it. I see them talking increasing gibberish, like stroke victims who have learned to speak to one another in noises that sound like speech, and which are treated like speech, but which rationally amount to the cognitive content of jackhammer noise or a cement mixer. It is a dysphony of despair, expressed in a deep-seated emotional need to see the world burn to the ground, and humankind reduced to skeletons in a primordial dust--morally, if not always literally.

Rosebud

It is interesting to think about the intersection of small things with large things. I think many lives we call great are much like the pearls sparked by grains of sand in oysters, from small discontents resulting from what I guess we could call primary events in childhood or youth.

Would the oyster not have been happier without the sand? The pearl is of no use to it, and in fact often leads to its death.

Ponder.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman

I was listening to some of my Mozart this morning. I had forgotten that a CD I don't listen to very often had Mozart's variations on this theme, "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", which I found very enjoyable. Like many of you (if anyone is reading this), I had heard somewhere or other that he wrote the theme at an early age, but that appears not to be the case. It is a traditional French melody of unknown provenance, on the theme of which he wrote what sound like jazz-ish improvisations, Koechel 265.

Being me, this led naturally to thinking about Anne Frank's father in a concentration camp in WW2. I own a documentary on her and her family, and unless my memory is seriously flawed, he spoke of how he and his fellow inmates used to try and recollect melodies by Beethoven, and Brahms and other "classical" composers. I thought about what adult Americans, in similar circumstances, would think about. What beauty could they muster to counter such ugliness? What hymns do we truly own within us? What myths that will sustain us? Only the religious would have a chance at accessing such comforts, in my view. Our culture is so shady, and so fallen. Certainly, obviously, there are positives, but are they the ambient "temperature"?

It seems not.

Edit: I got interrupted before I thought this through. As with all my posts, I may not agree with it tomorrow, and may well be disputing myself an hour from now. This is my "thinking out loud blog", and that's the way it works. Some stupidity is inevitable.

I don't want to leave the impression I think Classical music--the music of the European courts in the time of its composition, and in general of well-to-do elites (who goes to the Orchestra?) today--is somehow the acme of human culture. I don't believe that. In point of fact, I mainly listen to country music.

What I am trying to express here, poorly, it seems, is a sense that what ties us together is not as sturdy as it once was. The common references seem qualitatively less rich.

This may not be true, but I keep getting in my mind swapping quotes with people from Animal House or Airplane.

Again, things to do. I will likely be back on this post after a while.

Edit two: the concept of a "harmonic" appeared to me. What I think I may decide to use this word for is a sense that feeling tones which connect us can respond, like a tuning fork, to certain notes, certain qualitative gestalts.

In America, we talk about movie dialogue with one another, and what was on TV, and sports. If you find, say, a fellow Alabama or Auburn fan, you have an instant connection, a harmonic.

What I am looking at is a chaotic system, like a galaxy spread across the horizon, which responds with visible order the moment the right note has struck. Any system which does not have harmonics is disordered, and the closer the harmonics get to the fundamentals of the human experience--birth, death, pain, love, tragedy, comedy, absurdity, meaning--the better they are.

When I listen to great classical music, it evokes deep feelings in me sometimes; at other times, I am pleased in a somewhat cerebral way by the order which has been created. It massages some part of me that needs massaging.

Country music is meant to evoke recognition: you have been in that situation, you know what he or she is talking about.

Music which does not do that, which talks about getting laid, or the feeling of power over other human beings, or superficial sybaritic pleasures, would tend to evoke, it seems to me, very superficial connections. You sound the note, and the response is dim, blurry, foggy, indistinct when it comes to deep human realities.

I don't do this in a morbid way, but I think about death every day. I live my life in response to my understanding of the meaning of death. As I see it, that is the most sound general orientation possible. Of course I fear death, but I think of it analytically. I don't think death is the end. I think I will see, there, what I have done here. Some of it will disgust and dishearten me, but I like to think some of it will look I did the right thing after all.

What happens to people whose only thoughts of death come to them in horror movies, who have no ability to contextualize and transcend it? It seems to me that the images of death multiply precisely to the extent the capacity to process them, to abreact them into life energy, declines.

You get more and more death, and less and less life. It is like trying to end hunger by eating cardboard. All of us are in the same boat, floating to the same destination; but we are increasingly alone in that boat. This is the outcome of unintelligent, superficial cultural strategies, most notably those of the intelligensia. They have been destroying without creating for well over a hundred years. Utopia is always in the future, and always coming to us, not us going to it. This is lunacy.

I think that will do for this post.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Prayers

I pray in several senses, consistent with my beliefs.

I will at times send whatever positive energy I can muster out to anyone and everyone that needs it. I feel the energy, and the task is directing it without polluting it with what I guess I could call my "fatigue" energy (somewhat ironic, I guess, but even the universe slows down but never stops). I choose to believe this is beneficial, without having any firm evidence in favor of that conjecture (or against it, as far as that goes, since no natural laws are violated, in my understanding of how things work, according to our best models of reality). I choose to believe, not entirely without evidence, that applied consciousness has an organizing effect on the universe.

What I do not believe is that there is a God out there looking out for me.One does not have to celebrate many birthdays to observe that terrible things--cancer in children, car accidents, financial ruin--happen to genuinely decent people; not the ones who are secretly sinful, but actually decent people.

As I have often argued, pain is how we learn. Pain is temporary, in an eternal universe. It is impossible to say if some negative event will be good or bad. Even is someone dies, I believe in heaven, so I believe that they may well be the lucky ones, since their day of work is done for the time being.

When I pray, I pray to spirits of light. I believe that we are surrounded by positive beings, who exercise some small influence on events when they can. But we have to have already set up the sort of environment where their influence will work. God helps those who help themselves.

For myself, I normally only pray for two things: for courage, and for wisdom. I pray that whatever trouble comes down the pike that I can take it, that I can learn from it, and hopefully be clever enough to get out of it.

It occurred to me just this morning, that this is the prayer of a functional member of a self governing system. I have my own goals, and pray to be able to help myself. The opposite of this is "God, please take care of me and mine". That is a dependent mindset.

I have known numerous people deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, and one once told me that "The Will of Allah", and work seemed to be inversely related. The more they said "it is the Will of Allah", the less they worked. If you look at any Islamic society, you will see that the "Will of Allah" builds palaces and mosques, and precious little else. This is not the mindset of a self governing people, and certainly not of a prosperous one.

Religious belief, clearly, can be done in different ways. And large outcomes always depend on repeated small beginnings.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Egypt, some further thoughts

This will be a post in two parts. First, the "Stimulus".

It has long annoyed me that so little attention has been paid publicly to the patent farce of the dispersal of Stimulus funds. BILLIONS of dollars have been sent to non-existent Congressional Districts, and non-existent Zip Codes. For reasons known only to them, New Mexico Watchdog has taken down the description of the process they got from Ed Pound, El Jefe of the Stimulus accounting program. What he said was this:

Recipients file their reports on a password-protected site. That information is then relayed to officials who oversee the recovery.gov website to post, Pound said. Unless an egregious error is noted, Pound said they post the information exactly as it is received.

“Our job is data integrity, not data quality,” he said.


On my reading, this would seem to indicate a check—actual or virtual—is created by someone, deposited by someone, then self-reported. You get the money, then type in whatever information you want. That information is then duly relayed by the [bureaucrats]to the taxpayers, as if they had done their job.

This system, quite obviously, is open to fraud. If you are plugged in, you get money wired to you, your buddy Twitters you a password, you log in, then you type in anything that sounds plausible. Can we not suppose that legitimate recipients are cognisant of their district and zip code, meaning that errors of this quantity cannot be random? We are talking about amounts equal to the annual revenues of large multi-national corporations.

And according to their chief spokesperson, the very agency tasked with monitoring the money is in essence saying that if people cheat, they will not be caught. Once the money is gone, it’s gone.

Let us take this fact, and add it to the current Middle East situation generally. How would you get money from here to secret agents in, say, Egypt? Simple: you set up a front company supposedly doing "Stimulus" work, with one of your guys. They get a check which they claim was for the 22nd District of New Mexico. It's "only" for $10 million, so nobody really cares anyway.

Your recipient is plugged into the Hawala system, and the money goes to agents in 6 countries. This is categorically not impossible. I have been arguing for some time that that money might just as easily have gone to radical groups in the U.S.

Are these uprisings random? If so, why so many, and all at once? The status quo in the Middle East has been much the same for the last thousand years. One greedy SOB has taken the place of another. Some have been more cruel than others, but democracy has never been seriously considered. Democracy has, however, long been a code word used by Leftists for tyranny. It plays well in the all-too-compliant Western media, and as long as you keep using the right words, you can kill innocent people in the name of freedom, jail innocent people people in the name of justice, and usurp power for an unelected elite in the name of "democracy".

Taken as a whole, does this situation not feel a lot more like a Socialist Summer of Rage? Like activists have been going around, putting up posters, inflaming sentiment in public speeches and COMMUNITY ORGANIZING?

We read the Muslim Brotherhood initially did not back the protests. They weren't sure what they were about. Is it not equally plausible that their agents set the whole thing in motion, and stayed publicly on the side-lines so as to not make their role obvious to all?

I am of course talking about treason here, on the part of Obama and his cohort, but why not? The man is plainly a radical, and ALL of these nations would on his accounting be the victims of Western Imperialism. We have kept many of these petty tyrants in power, largely to keep even worse tyrants from seizing power. Case in point: Iran. No rational human being can even BEGIN to argue that ordinary Iranians are better off under the Mullahs than the Shah. He only persecuted radicals who wanted to overthrow him. As it happens, his fear of a coup was quite justified. The Mullahs persecute, torture, and kill anyone who differs from them ideologically AT ALL.

Whenever you see these sorts of coups, you can run the numbers. Without looking it up, I can tell you--and someone feel free to prove me wrong--that the Shah killed or tortured say 200 people in the decade before losing his throne. The Revolutionary Guards, guaranteed, did that in their first six months in power. That is how these things always work. Does anyone seriously think the Shah's torture chambers were closed, or that some amorphous decency of "the people" restrained them from using it to support THEIR AUTOCRACY? To be clear: the SAME FORM OF GOVERNMENT THEY CLAIMED TO ABHOR.

These protests in Egypt are not at all about democracy. When you look at leftist rabble-rousers, they will say ANYTHING they have to to get themselves installed in power. They then bide their time, let the dust settle, get the army and police under control, then take back EVERYTHING they offered, and more.

It is my considered feeling that at some point in the future, assuming our democracy survives, which I think likely, we will have just cause to look at large segments of our intelligence community--both civilian and military--with unrestrained contempt. All too often, they don't do their jobs, in my opinion. They are shackled by political correctness, and sometimes just politics. Things are going on that they should know about. No excuses. It doesn't matter who the Commander in Chief is. Get it done.

To Congress: a starting point is a THOROUGH, top down audit of the Stimulus. No more checks go out until the past checks are accounted for. And if they can't account for the money, and if it is in the billions, we could impeach and remove Obama for GROSS negligence and dereliction of duty. You cannot lose BILLIONS without consequence. In the end, he is where buck stops. This is his responsibility.

Selves

Quoth Forrest (one wonders why he was named after the Fort Pillow villain, and founder of the KKK; another time): "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get". Any readers I may have are no doubt familiar with that. What is this really, though? A box of chocolates is not fully random: it is a system defined by the theme of chocolate.

In my own lurching way, that is my warning that this blog, too, wanders hither and fro, although not in a fully random way. Obviously, there are recurring themes and words.

Among them, good and evil. Since I use this blog in part as a sort of therapy--wandering is therapeutic for me--I will offer a shade of personal information. I have been sick for two weeks. Not enough to keep me from working, but enough to sap my enthusiasm. This never happens to me. My health is normally excellent. The last time was 15 years or so ago, when I was working a job that I think was literally killing me, and I got the flu, and no choice but to lay in bed for 3-4 days, which I never did even in childhood, at least that I can recall.

I think sometimes illness is thrown at you (let's not worry about agency here) as a last obstacle when you are on the verge of a qualitative breakthrough. I had mine this morning, and expect my sickness to fade fairly quickly. (let's hope!!!!)

I don't want to discuss the details of that particular breakthrough, but will offer some other insights that came to me.

The most important was this: I don't think we can ever fully purge ourselves of evil. I think we carry it with us everywhere. No one is immune from evil thoughts and evil impulses. No one is perfect. Yet, in important ways we are separate from both our good and our evil impulses.

The image I have is that of a room of statues and objects--to use a Harry Potter theme, let us imagine what I recall was called the Room of Requirement (whatever the storeroom was called where Malfoy was tinkering with the Vanishing Cabinet). Think of all your thoughts, and all of the actions they led to, in the course of a lifetime. Imagine them still, flickering with life, but frozen. Every bad thought you ever had is there. You can see them. The fumes of black smoke that emerge from the top of your head when--in your opinion--someone just did something stupid in traffic. A good example for me was how angry I was--the violent thoughts I had--at the refereeing of one of my kids ball games the other day. This sort of thing can never be eliminated fully, without eliminating life itself.

It is possible to cram oneself into a box--or more accurately to BE crammed into a box, but that is not living. If you have no room to move, you vanish, you cease to exist as a vital human being. This is the case in societies which mete out draconian punishments for moral infractions. Many Islamic societies would be perfect examples. You can't be GOOD in such societies, because the same spontaneity that leads to genuine generosity of spirit can also lead to negative emotions of greed, anger, spitefulness, and all the others.

What I think our task is is not to deny our negative emotions--they are there whether we want them or not, and whether we acknowledge them or not--but rather to integrate them into our awareness, to watch them develop, bleed (they are always a sort of wound), and then fade. As we grow as human beings, we see them more quickly, and can "defund" them, stop feeding them, more quickly. They will always be there, but we can just let them float like momentary clouds over the sun on a wind-swept day.

Last night I dreamed I was speaking--interacting may be the better word--with Rumi. He had a line I made note of many years ago: "Good and bad are mixed. If you don't have both, you don't belong with us." I asked him if he had evil in him, too, and he showed me some dark images (frankly, of the sort that pepper your local Redbox), frozen in shadow. These were impulses he had had while living.

Then I went up a level, and light was everywhere, and he was playing with his wives and children in Heaven. It was happy.

Then I went up one more level, and was in the light of God. The only way I can describe that feeling is that it scratches an itch you didn't even know you had. There is this ineffably wonderful smell, and a sense of belonging and contentedness none of us will ever know in this lifetime. Actually, the line before the one quoted above is: "the cure for pain is in the pain". That is relevant. If the reason why is not immediately obvious, think it over.

The point here, and the reason for the title of this post is that ALL OF THOSE WERE HIM. He was all of that. He could (can, in my view) see all of that, know all of that, be all of that, consciously.

It seems to me we all need to recognize that we are all fractured in some ways, and perhaps always will be. I can't claim to know how the universe works, but plainly, as I discussed in dealing with the experimental work of Janet (I think I did that post; I had been reading William James brilliant "The Principles of Psychology"--just skip Freud entirely, and devote yourself to his work), we all have multiple "minds" even on Earth. Freud called it the Unconscious, but I think James is right to point out that it appears more congruent with the evidence to say that the less integrated among us have multiple conscious selves. Under hypnosis, they exhibit autonomy of consciousness.

All of this is a bit disorienting, no doubt. I think what ties it all together is a tendency towards love. Things are splitting and rejoining in this world all the time. What I am describing is one direction, one possibility of movement. The other of course is unity.

Few thoughts. Hope they make sense and are helpful to someone. Feel free to email me if I messed with your mind. This is a bit deepish.

Harry Potter

I have written a lot--I think mainly in my notes--about the mythical world Joanne Rowling created in Harry Potter. I own all the movies and have watched all but the most recent one numerous times. I read the last two. I like them on many levels, and am always amazed at how creative she was.

The short point I wanted to make this morning (and I had logged on to post something else) is that she has created a model of English virtue. In a post-virtuous world, this is something of a miracle, that she has smuggled something old into the modern (can I say post-cynical? Doesn't cynicism imply you once cared?) world.

There is courage, loyalty, keeping a stiff upper lip, and yes, eccentricity.

I think this should be added to her list of accomplishments.