Friday, October 31, 2014

friday cat blogging

Samilagata's new
favourite place is
the arm of the recliner
when I´m in it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

1968 again?

Charlie Pierce at Esquire  (dot com) did his last piece of the week (9/24) on the possibility that
things are sliding out of control right now like hasn't happened since 1968.
I've noticed that kind of intensity in the air lately, & to cap things off on Friday, a couple of shootings, at a school in Marysville, Washington, and an assassination of cops in Sacramento. 

I consider the NRA one of the world's premier terrorist organzations, on a par with.The bhoys from Islamic State.

That's just an opinion, though; there are no facts linking the NRA to what happened Friday, like there are linking them directly to the Ebola panic. Charlie explains that connection thoroughly, but that's not the topic here.

However, the details of the NRA/ebola/surgeon-general flap do raise the question: how and why can a bunch of yahoos like NRA be messing with processes of gov't like this? Who the fk elected them?  Today's school shooting was #87 since Sandy Hook (12/12). It was also the 3rd in WA state since May. All foreign observers can do is shake their heads and conclude we must be nuts.

And they're right.

My starting point on this issue is that rational firearms legislation is impossible in this political climate, partly due to the NRA, and largely because of the numbers of goobers in our population, NRA members or not, who think and sometimes say Obama is "coming for my guns."

Our only alternative is to attack those cultural aspects that give rise to this insanity, mainly the cult of macho, Dirty-Harryism, & "Shoot first, & ask questions later."

As long as we encourage or even tolerate such destructive attitudes among young men, we're going  to be a society held hostage by heavily-armed pinheads with cowboy mentalities.

Friday, October 24, 2014

the friday cat

                                    Don´t harsh my mellow, dude.

Sunday, October 19, 2014



In a fairly well-off country like the US, the poors (in reality, most of us) will find income inequality is sometimes survivable, sometimes not. People who are older and free of cancer or COPD are OK. but since most of us have (or have had) one or the other, most of us are liable to the pharma racket´s stay-alive ransom demands.

The pharma racket is one of the many rackets, frauds, and shakedowns the powerless masses have suffered the past 30 years (the crash of '08!) as capitalist brigands and land pirates do nothing illegal, since it is they who write the laws.

The problems here as elsewhere are political with a vengeance, informed by economics. Anyone can see that having more money than other people gives you more power than they've got, even in humble lives like yours and mine. Think of a time when you had a lot of money, compared to what you've had most of your life. Having more money gives you more options, is what it comes down to. 
If a person has enough money, he or she might have the option to exert this power in politics, and since the top 1/10th of one percent of income earners in the US has more money and hence more power today than they have in had in 100 yrs, they have seized ALL power. The act was a natural consequence of that much power in those few hands.

I can already hear some of the vampire pundits, for whom truth is like daylight, screaming about George Soros and other billionaires who give to Democrats. Soros is the founder and primary bankroller of the web site Media Matters, and it´s true that he and a number of other filthy rich are behind the Dems. The problem with this analysis is that this isn't about donkeys and elephants, that Soros and Bill Gates are part of the problem, and that in any case, for every dollar they spend trying to get people like Obama and Claire McCaskill in office, hundreds are disbursed by right wingers.
Income inequality is one on a list of things that are wrong that all link back to the same source. Consider:

1) The super rich who run the former republic of the United States of North America don´t want to pay taxes. They do pay some, but magically, not nearly in the amount they used to.

2) Because many of them derive a portion of their income from "defense" activities, they think we should whack anybody who doesn´t like us,  and for some mysterious reason, we always are whacking away.

3) They generally believe public employees make too much money. Is it any wonder then, that during the period of time this class of superrich have been in charge, basically the last 33 years, that public employee unions have been busted up, that teachers have been forced to relinquish wages and benefits, as if being robbed at gunpoint?

The friends of Mittens the Rombot and Phil Gram might screech about George Soros, but the real money and the real power is behind the anti-humanist movement that´s had this country locked up since St Ronald took the oath. 

Conspiracy is not necessary where people's interests intersect. But this class of owners has taken to meeting annually in the desert near Palm Springs, at a get-together put on by the Bros. Koch.

Can there be any doubt that this is the "bourgeois" old Karl Marx in his wisdom and naivete warned us about?  His take on it then was that we must do away with this ruling class "because its existence is incompatible with society." That´s truer today than it was when he wrote it, because the continued rummaging about of this class today threatens the life of the earth herself.

What should we do? Unfortunately, Karl Marx can´t help us. His diagnosis was better than his prescription and proposed cure. He had too  positive view of human nature. We who have lived through the 20th century wars and seen what came after won't make the same mistake.
Illustration by Donkey Hotey.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

the temple

The newest LDS temple,in a metro area that now has half a dozen, is an overwhelm- ing frenzy of straight lines and right angles. There is nothing natural about it, which is an observation that applies as well to the Mormon religion, a pastiche of Biblical literalism combined with a highly original but not very successful, from a critical literary standpoint, scriptural imitation,or forgery.

However, it must be successful enough, since LDS is the world's fastest-growing religion.

Having never experienced the dubious grandeur of a modern Mormon temple, I took the rare opportunity today to tour the new building in Phoenix. "Gentiles" are not ordinarily permitted entry to these places, where the most sacred rituals are enacted. We are, however, allowed usually 10 days of access, between the building's completion and its formal dedication, to view the treasures.

The tour itself consisted of walking  slowly in a compact group through narrow passage- ways hung with prints of scenes from the life of Christ. These open onto large rooms such as the baptistery with its huge, full-immersion font resting on the backs of 12 oxen, symbolizing the 12 Tribes of Israel. Unlike conventional Christianity, the central ritual of which is the eucharist, baptism seems the most important Mormon sacrament.

The other important spaces visitors are permitted to see include the "Celestial Room," which hints at the hygienically pristine joys of LDS heaven, and the "Sealing" rooms in which Mormon couples are married "for eternity."

No expense was spared in the embellishment of this place with its gold & cunningly wrought grates, as well as innumerable homogenized symbolic door pushers. But compared to the old Spanish Franciscan missions such as Tucson's ancient San Xavier del Bac, or humble San Miguel, near the central California coast, these grand & very expensive post-modern piles of Italian marble cubes, 21st-century LDS temples, are strictly Jesus comes to Howard Johnson's.

I understand the appeal of this essentially paternalistic and authoritarian religion, whose spiritual understanding is genuine, & centered on daily family life. The timeless and deeply conservative archetypes of the family banish uncertainty, with which the human race is plagued by natural circumstances, replacing it with immutable & changeless certainties. However, when HoJo Jesus comes to town with his gorgeous chestnut mane waving in the gentle breeze of the off-camera fan, his piercing blue eyes framed and set off by the carefully-cropped reddish beard, he comes to set limits, not to liberate.

Yes, your marriage will last forever, and your children will always be with you, and nothing ever really changes. I understand it at the same time I believe it's kind of a con, for two reasons 1)  because in this world, everything that arises passes away, & 2) because in our brief time on God's green earth, flexibility is strength, rigidity kills, and no one can ever be certain he's right.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

another black teen shot ahd killed by st louis police

It's becoming almost a weekly occurrence.

An off-duty St. louis cop working a security job shot and killed 18- yr. old Vonderrit Myers last Tuesday night.

Protests were immediate, & as usual the police version of events was completely different from that Of witnesses, some of whom are relatives Of the deceased.

Charlie Pierce @ saw it this way:

Police say that the officer got suspicious when he saw three young black males running away, and one of them was wearing his pants in such a way as to suggest he might have a gun. Police say the man with the suspicious pants fired first. Police say the officer then returned fire -- 17 times -- and the man in the suspicious pants was killed. Police say that a 9mm handgun was found at the scene and presumed to belong to the man in the suspicious pants. An angry crowd gathered. Harsh words were exchanged. Police cars were kicked and their windows smashed. The circumstances of this latest incident are ambiguous, but ambiguity died in St. Louis at the same time Michael Brown did.

Looking at stuff that's been coming in since that day, I'm fast reaching the conclusion that this kid was shot for wearing the wrong pants in the wrong way.
Maybe his ass was out. I dunno cause I wasn't there.

So I guess that's how it works for black people now. They're not to wear the wrong pants in the wrong way. That's a capital crime for brothers, and if you're a white boy doing that, you will be sternly admonished (for reals).

It's the old "divide and conquer" tactic, whether intended or accidental. Black people are on the front lines for sure, and whites have got 2 B there 2. I was encouraged by the number of white faces in the crowd that hit the streets immediately after last nigh's shooting.

If the cops can just walk up & shoot you down for wearing the wrong pants at the wrong time, and in the wrong way, we don't have a situation any more, we got a war. It's a war in which our only effective weapon is nonviolence, and people are already dying.

They're angels and martyrs as far as I'm concerned. Angels wearing raggedy-ass looking pants that hang out all over the place, and flash their buttocks

What else besides the pants accounts for the fact that young black men are 21 times more likely than white guys 2 get gunned down by the cops.

It's not establiished yet what happened.

"Police say" or "police allege" the kid shot three times in every version of the story I read.

His mom still claims he was unarmed.

The medical examiners report was issued yesterday, and it shows of the "7 or 8" rounds that struck

Myers, all of them hit him in the "lower extremities" except the one that killed him, a head shot.

That in itself sounds suspicious. There's been no ballistics report, the cops haven't introduced into evidence a pistol with Myers's prints on it that's been recently fired.

Our old friend Van Jones says nobody can trust the police. I wouldn't trust the cops in St Lou to tell the truth any farther than I could throw a grand piano.

However, the facts are still coming in. 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

on the border

It´s only a 2-hours drive, roughly, from Mesa to Tucson, which lies a little over 100 miles south of the Phoenix metropolis. Culturally, however, Tucson is a world away, & most of the city looks and feels like a Mexican town. Except for the gleaming downtown and gringo enclaves with names like  SageView Park, Parkview Sage, and Sage Parkview,

Mostly, the city consisists of  Mexican-type neighboroods, where people´s homes are small (some are tiny) & mostly built of unreinforced masonry with shingle roofs, and small, well-kept yards. Even a casual visitor like me can feel a difference between such places, and US suburbs which give the definite impression of being nowheres, although such feelings are indescribable.

After driving around somewhat aimlessly for a while, we found lunch downtown, then headed for the old Spanish mission of San Xavier del Bac, 10 miles south and a little west of town. This is an impressive historical and artistic site, with its gorgeous, assymetrical façade.

AS we approached the front of the old iglesia,  I wondered what occult or Biblical symbolism is expressed in the unmatched towers, but as it turned the 18th-century Jesuits who built the place uncharacteristically ran out of cash & credit.

The interior is as beautiful as the outside, There's been a
Catholic church here since before 1700, and ths place was sacred to the Indian inhabitants of this desert  back into the fog of  near-prehistory.

Moving inside, we found a hive of activity inside the church, uncharacteristic for a late Sunday afternoon. The feast of the Saint for whom the site is named was two days ago, and St. Xavier's wooden effigy is still laid out like a corpse just in front of the entrance to the east transept, in front of the altar.

Pilgrims have driven, walked, & literally crawled to this place for hundreds of years for the feast of  San Xavier del Bac (of the waters), & to touch the effigy's feet and face before pausing to lift his head and shoulders from the pallet he lies on. The legend behind the ritual is that only the pure of heart are able to lift Xavier's head from its resting place.

The present building was begun in the 1760's and never finished, although construction stopped in 1783. No one knows the names of the architect, interior designer, or individual artisans who created this church or its gorgeous interior .

Some might find the enthusiastic idolatry practiced here silly, or superstitious, or worse. Rituals like the one we saw today have been going on in this place before there was a USA, & the present building went up before there was a nation of Mexico. It's not up to the Gringos to judge the beliefs and behaviors of Old Mexico, and personally, I feel there's a timeless tranquility implicit in such  rituals

Supersitious? Maybe. But rationalists, as Dr. Jung reminds us, ignore the "psychological effect." 

Click on any of the photos to see them bigger.

Friday, October 03, 2014

friday cat blgging

Unhappy cat.

Sami's been hiding under furniture & refusing 2 B photographed. Apparently unhappy with the grooming for a desert climate she got yesterday, she refuses to show off her skinny bod w/ its big bunny feet.

She turns out to be a much smaller animal than I thought; she  appeared fat & fluffy, but turns out 2 have been merely...fluffy.

Good old Sam is glad to B home, tho, as we all R.