wwsp albums on bandcamp!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Blue Skies/Clouds of Doom

Yesterday, blue skies, and thick black clouds of doom swirled around me. Can't explain it. Deep sadness loomed up, an all-consuming feeling of hopelessness, a dark futility flooded through me.

I have no clue why. 

There weren't really any "thoughts" associated with the feeling. I have no real, tangible explanation. Doom? Why? Why not?

Could it be the "news of the day?" Riots, avalanche, Police Brutality, Climate Change, Political Stalemate, etc. Hell, that's just a normal day in the neighborhood. Sickness, death, pain, madness. Sure, but that's just standard operating procedure.

No explanation, no "aha" moment. So I carried the doom around with me. Lugged it up and down the street. It sat with me in my quiet moments, and ran with me in my moments of activity. It finally lifted or ebbed out late in the evening. All that was left was a dull ache in my head.

I wonder, was it all just a self-generated thing, or was it imposed on me from a greater force? That's the kind of question that hovers over all of us.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Let's Not Do What We've Always Done, if It's Stupid, and Discriminatory, and Oppressive

Tradition. All it means is "something that has been done by people for a long time." There's nothing magical there. We have done really smart things, and really stupid things, for a long time. We are human beings. What do you expect?

So those "traditionalists" who tell us we can't just trash 2000 years of the historical understanding of what constitutes "traditional marriage," we can't just redefine it on the spot, are basically saying, "We must do what we always have done, because that's what we've always done."

Kind of like a parent who answers their child's persistent question of "Why?" With, "Because I say so."

Sorry. Not good enough. Tradition is a lousy reason to keep a group of people down. It's a lousy reason to discriminate and oppress. And don't try to bring "God" into it. No one knows the mind of God. And those musty old religious books that everyone likes to bang on were written by men. Not Gods.

So, yes, let's make a new tradition, starting right now. Let's treat all people with Respect and Dignity. Equality and Freedom. For all.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Gay Marriage at the Court!

I am not a constitutional scholar. Most of us aren't. I'm not a legal eagle, most of us aren't, but these arguments against Same Sex Marriage seem to be very weak tea. Simple common sense seems like a useful tool to knock them down.

If society decides that marriage is good for society and individuals, then what rationale can you use to deny any group of individuals the right to marry? We have all agreed as per our constitution that people should be treated equally by the laws of the land.

So every individual should have the right to marry, no matter what persuasion, economic station, etc. Any argument against equal treatment seems to just be discrimination and prejudice, plain and simple.

It has been astonishing and gratifying to watch how quickly Gay Rights and Marriage Equality has been accepted by the majority of the population. It wasn't that long ago when Gay men and woman had to hide "in the closet." They were persecuted, criminalized, treated with electro-shock, ostracized, beaten, discriminated against.

I think of Allen Ginsburg, Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin and can't really understand what prejudice and oppression they must have felt in their lives. Those early Gay Rights Advocates who came out of the closet and declared themselves "loud and proud" really did us all a great service.

I think most of us realized that being Gay was not some kind of choice, or moral failure, some people are different, and that's a beautiful thing. And we should all celebrate and embrace each other. And marriage, sure why not?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Without Effort

Meditation. It has taught me that there is an inside. A calm center. A still point inside my body. I get there through sitting still, and breathing. It's as simple as that. If you do it well, and often, it will change you. It does change you.

And what happens inside, changes how you see things outside. And what happens outside can be transformed by what happens inside. But it is a dance. The inside/outside dichotomy. It's not one thing. Meditation is not the answer, but it is an effective tool. 

You want to be alive, engaged in the world. You want to sit still and find the calm center. Both.

A long life of meditation changes everything. But it's simple, it's a little thing, and it's everything too. Sitting still, breathing deeply, without effort, and the world and everything in it opens up. Alive.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Being a Wing-Nut Can Be a Well-Paid Job!

Being a Right Wing Nut-job, or Wing-Nut, is a job. Paul Krugman reminds us that there is a whole ecosystem of think tanks, economists, pundits, scientists, consultants, lobbyists, cable networks, who make money promoting and clinging to ridiculous, right wing positions. There is a vast network of like-minded kooks pretending not to see what is happening in the world, and getting paid real cash money for spouting bullshit. 

So yes, there are the climate change deniers, the health care pretenders, the free market evangelists basically telling the powerful, rich people and what they want to hear. It's all just noise, muddying the waters of our political discourse. It's a major problem. Evidence doesn't matter. Facts don't matter. Better arguments don't matter. So yes, the crazies have their refuges. And they are fortified with money and ideology.  Sometimes you think, finally the other side will open their eyes and see the truth, but no, they are actually paid to not see what is so easy to see. It's maddening, crippling, and an entrenched problem.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

American Democracy - Locked in a Closet with a Bunch of Crazies!

I was inspired to write a couple blogs posts about Alex Tabarrok's review of Joseph Heath's book. Well now, Joseph Heath has responded to the review and it's pretty interesting.

Tabarrok asked, "Is Capitalism Making Us Stupid?" I think the answer is a resounding "Yes!" But then after I read Joseph Heath's response, I'm thinking the question should actually be "Will Our Irrationality Destroy Democracy?" And I think the answer is a resounding "Yes!"

I should probably get the book and read the whole thing. But this little back and forth has been quite interesting and stimulating. I do think our politics has devolved into a pretty infantile state, and many of us are desperately clinging to a deep irrationality. The GOP is deeply in the grip of denial, a willful stupidity, a robust and unapologetic irrationality. And since we have a pretty divided country this means that our democracy has become a stilted, stuck and ugly thing. 

Our only hope out of this is an enlightened reason. But reason doesn't really help much when you are arguing with a crazy person. We are locked in a closet with a bunch of crazies! Welcome to your America!

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Remnant, The Ghost of Goats Head Soup!


Did you ever wonder what mp3 compression takes out of a musical track? This ubiquitous compression format is used and loved because it makes it easy to copy and carry and trade files. But if you listen to music closely, you may have noticed that something always seems to be missing.

Here is a track made of mp3 remnants.

What's funny, just yesterday I received in the mail, a 1994 CD remaster of the Rolling Stones album "Goats Head Soup." This is the famous Virgin remaster done by Bob Ludwig

I had been listening to an mp3 copy of the album a friend had given me the last few months. I love the album, and lately I'd consider it in the top 5 or 6 albums the Stones ever made, but I was sure the mp3 version was kind of just the gist of the record. I wondered "What's missing?"

I also own an old, scratchy copy of the record on vinyl, but ease of use of CDs, led me to listen to the mp3 on my old Walkman!

Anyway, the Bob Ludwig master is a revelation. Absolutely. Suddenly there are all these little details I never heard before. The music is more dimensional. More dynamic, and I can hear Nicky Hopkins or Billy Preston on piano, you can really feel the fingers on the keyboard, you can hear Mick Jagger catching his breath, Keith's pick on the strings, the backup singers distinct and soulful.

So yes, it's a different album. If you just pay attention and listen. It all just confirms that mp3s are really like a fast food meal. You get full, but you are consuming empty calories. Not the real, soulful, musical meal with which you should nurture your self.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Beautiful, Well-Made Thing!


A beautiful well-made thing. That's how I'd describe The National's "Trouble Will Find Me." It's the followup to their great "High Violet," which I wrote about here (it's still in the top ten of blog posts!).

I purchased this CD on Record Store Day. I bought a pristine copy of the CD for $6.99. I'm guessing someone else bought this new, opened it, burned it, and then sold it back to Reckless Records. It almost feels like stealing! I mean, what a steal! Such a beautiful package - the cover art, the booklet inside with cool photos and lyrics. And the music is just so gorgeous. Sad, and wise, and catchy. Every song just hits the mark. The National seems committed to something extraordinary - attention to quality, beauty and the well-made.

If you don't own the CD or the Vinyl you are really missing out. 

I'd have to say that The National is my favorite band of the moment. They seem serious about making extraordinary music. They make sophisticated, layered, powerful songs that really hold together as an exquisite suite of music. Matt Berninger's voice is a unique, insistent thing, he burrows into your consciousness. And his lyrics are always a little off-kilter, surprising, odd, never the standard or cliche.

And the sound of the band is superb. Check out the guitars, the symphonic arrangements, and the powerful extraordinary drumming throughout.  Nothing is missed. Beauty, doom, exhilaration. I don't exactly know how they do it, but  they are a beautiful, life-enriching thing to hear, to let into your being. Highly, highly recommended! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Julian Lennon - Long Distance "Friend"

I'm Facebook "friends" with Julian Lennon. John's son. Which is funny. I mean, I know him only from his first solo record, and as John Lennon's son, the one Paul McCartney wrote about in "Hey Jude." And he doesn't even know I exist. That's a weird, social media friendship indeed. Still, I "friended" him a couple of years ago, and I get updates from him most every day.

Julian comes across to me as an "enlightened being." He is often posting off the beaten track articles, about food, health, politics. He seems to think out of the box. He's funny, engaged. He takes really interesting & beautiful photographs. He's not really my friend, but I identify with him a little bit, I kind of wish he was my friend. He seems like a wise searcher, which seems like a smart way to live in the world.

And he lives in the shadow of his famous father, but you know what? I do too. So we have that in common. John Lennon is still such a strong figure/presence in my life. When I think of music I think of him. 

Anyway, this is a long way around to a recent article that Julian posted, which is typical of the insightful kind of things he likes to post.  This one is from an Ogala Lakota Chief, Luther Standing Bear.

"Everything was possessed of personality, only differing from us in form. Knowledge was inherent in all things. The world was a library and its books were the stones, leaves, grass, brooks, and the birds and animals that shared, alike with us, the storms and blessings of earth. We learned to do what only the student of nature learns, and that was to feel beauty. We never railed at the storms, the furious winds, and the biting frosts and snows. To do so intensified human futility, so whatever came we adjusted ourselves, by more effort and energy if necessary, but without complaint." - Luther Standing Bear

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Free-Floating Spirits!

One of my more "New Age-like" friends tells me that we used to be free-floating spirits, kind of roaming the Universe, and then somewhere along the line we decided to inhabit the beings that we have become here on Earth. So we actually chose our bodies, our beings, our families.

And we are recycled, reconstituted, reincarnated over and over.

It's all some kind of grand bargain. Dealer's choice. Made with very little info. We just sort of zapped ourselves into the stream of life. I guess, on the one hand, it kind of puts the onus back on us, we can't blame anyone else for our condition. We made the choice. Go ahead live with it! And if this happens over and over, well, we get to do it all again, to work on whatever we need to work on again and again.

It's sort of appealing. And really, you can't refute any of it. I mean, you can't prove it's true, and you can't really prove it's hogwash either. Funny, that's how lots of that "New Agey" stuff works. Not sure  if I can buy any of it, but it sort of makes the life and death thing a little less singular and final.

And maybe that's a good thing. I mean, what thoughts do you want to think that will make life a little better, a little more tolerable, a little more fun... maybe those are the thoughts you want to put inside your head?

Monday, April 20, 2015

New is Better? We Don't Believe It!

I got to thinking about myself and my partner as economic entities. We buy lots of used stuff. We are not alone. Our visit on Record Store Day showed us that there is a thriving market of folks who like to buy used vinyl and CDs. I mean, maybe the new stuff gets the attention, but most of the store was stuffed with used vinyl records, CDs and videos.

We shop at thrift stores for clothes. We have the idea that older stuff, is better stuff.  We have a sensibility that says, "New and shiny is dazzling, but crappy, and wasteful." Why buy something new out of the box, when you can find a cool thing that's been around for awhile? I have an amazingly cool leather coat, that I purchased for $25 at a thrift store.  It looks like it's worth lots more, it's well-made, no flaws. Someone discarded it, but their discard turned out to be my treasure.

When it comes to musical instruments, you want to find that old, weathered guitar or amp. Something that has grown into itself. We shop local. We support small businesses. We are kind of on the margin of the economic scene. Looking for old, used stuff. We are told that new is better, but we don't believe it.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Record Store Day - We Scored!

It was Record Store Day yesterday. So we went to a record store. The one we chose to visit was Reckless Records in Wicker Park. It just moved to a new location. Reckless took over the space from a Dollar Store. What a big, beautiful new space. It is truly a record mecca! And it was bustling with record buyers.

We browsed through the used CDs, we still love that format, although we do have and play vinyl. It is a marvelous time to be a fan of music. And if you are into the tangible thing, you can really find some great bargains.

So we loaded up on new and old music - discs from P.J. Harvey, The National, Morrissey, The Smiths, Art Blakey Jazz Messengers, The Dirty Three, Arcade Fire.  Total $ spent, under $40! We really felt like we scored.

And then, accidentally, we were at the store when the Sea and Cake set up and did a short set. Never saw them before. They were cool, professional -  two guitars, a drummer, no bass. Lots of shimmering, ringing music, tight and relaxed. They seemed like a band I should really check out on disc. Maybe next time!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Meditation, Balance, Rocks & Alan Watts!

A friend pointed me to this pretty cool, I mean, really beautiful and amazing website called "Gravity Glue."  Michael Grab is a "stone balancer." Mind-blowingly fantastic.

You must watch this video... I believe the voice speaking in the beginning belongs to the late, great Alan Watts... 



"I am constantly in awe at the stillness, let alone possibility, of such precarious formations, amidst sometimes very turbulent conditions. For me this reflects our own potential to maintain a still-point amidst the variety of challenges we each face throughout our lives. Further, I wish to highlight the idea that WE ARE creators of our own reality, rather than mere recipients. Consciousness affects reality. This practice allows one to freely create, manifesting their own particular vibration into a 3D world." - Michael Grab

Friday, April 17, 2015

Exercise Your Reason

I just re-read Alex Tarabarrok's review of "Is Capitalism Making Us Stupid?" (see previous post). It is filled with interesting ideas. 

Was it reason that gave us representative democracy, the market and human rights? Was it the process of argumentation, debate and experimentation that brought us these things? If we fall away from reason, to intuition, are we falling back to a state of barbarism? Back to tribal blood feuds?

Is it reason that keeps us from killing each other? And is it emotion and intuition that others use for their own ends to bring us to the edge of destroying each other?

Would it be better to make bets on political ideas? Instead of having people vote their beliefs, what if people had to place bets on policy, to put their money on the outcome? Is "A bet is a tax on bullshit."

Food for thought... might make you want to exercise your reason.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Smart & Rational or Stupid and Irrational?

Is Capitalism Making Us Stupid? Joseph Heath says yes! "It isn't stupidity that causes commercialism, but rather commercialism that causes stupidity."

And as Alex Tabarrok puts it:

"Our limited ability to concentrate is being sapped by mind-viruses that under the pressure of profit maximization are rapidly becoming more and more effective."

This sounds right to me. Is that reason at work? Or intuition? Or a combo of both? Am I being smart and rational, or stupid and irrational? Sometimes it's hard to tell. Who to blame?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Only Reality I Can Contemplate!

Idealistic vs Pragmatic.

I got into a discussion about Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House. I am very, very liberal. Super-liberal. Pretty much on the left wing of the liberal side of the equation. I am for taxing the wealthy at a high rate. I believe the tax code should be used to re-distribute income to improve the safety net for all. I am for Universal Health Care. I am for preserving Social Security.  I am for strict regulations to prevent climate change. I am against Big Coal and Big Oil. I am against unregulated money in politics. I am pretty much a pacifist when it comes to the international scene. I think we should do all we can to negotiate and compromise so we don't have to take up arms against another nation. I am for Gay Marriage. And Equal Rights for all. I think a woman and her doctor should be the only ones making decisions when it comes to their  bodies. I don't think someone's strong religious beliefs give them  license to discriminate against others. I think we should try our best to be a "color-blind" society, but I think we should acknowledge that racism and prejudice are still with us, and I support efforts to educate people, and to pass laws to encourage a more open and inclusive society. I am for declaring a truce on the War on Drugs. I say make all drugs legal and educate people on the danger of drugs, and treat addiction as an illness. I believe in Amnesty for all illegal immigrants in the U.S. Make them legal, let them apply for citizenship and encourage them to vote. I do think Corporations have too much power. I'd like to see more of that power transferred back to individuals. I am against a large, intrusive surveillance state, and think that the government should be much more transparent.

You get the idea. I'm pretty liberal.

But at the same time, I will be strongly supporting Hillary Clinton for President. Even though she is not as liberal as I am. Not by a long shot. But this is where the pragmatism comes in. I am not running for President. And I know that if I did, or if a candidate who held positions like I do, (maybe someone like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren) were to run, they would not raise enough money to be a serious candidate, they would not get the Democratic nomination, they would not be elected President.

And the Democrats have to win the White House in 2016. It is essential. Absolutely. I cannot imagine a GOP win. Just not acceptable. It would be backward, counter-productive. A terrible, terrible thing. Elections matter. They really, really do. Do a thought experiment. What if Al Gore had gotten enough votes to win Florida in 2000? What would 8 years of Al Gore's Presidency been like?

Who knows?! I do know that it would not have been the absolute debacle, the total horror-show that the Bush/Cheney Torture Regime turned out to be. Yes, elections matter. Individuals matter. Presidents matter. They make critical decisions every day that impact all of us. Even in the middle of this massive, lurching empire, one man, one woman can, and will, make a difference. Hillary 2016! She may not be the perfect candidate, but it doesn't matter. The alternative whoever it may turn out to be - Bush, Cruz, Rubio, whoever is just not acceptable.  President Hillary is really the only reality I want to contemplate!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mosaic of Baumbach!

Noah Baumbach. We've seen three of his movies - "The Squid and the Whale," "Frances Ha," and "Margot at the Wedding." We've enjoyed every one of them. Last night we watched "Margot at the Wedding." It has been described as a tragicomedy. I would think it's pretty impossible to describe any of Baumbach's movies. They are human, oh so human: messy, funny, ridiculous. There is intelligence, and belligerence, and insight and stupidity. All mixed up together. Contradictory. Did I say messy? Yes, gloriously messy. Probably not for everyone. I mean, definitely not for everyone, which is a good thing. Recommended. Highly. You might laugh, you might cry, you might be annoyed. It's all part of the messy, beautifully-realized mosaic.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Political Crystal Ball

I don't often root for the favorite. Usually I love an underdog. So how can I make the favorite appealing? Kind of make her an underdog for whom I can root!

Hillary Clinton declared she is running for President... 

She would be the first woman American President. Pretty historic. I voted against her the first time she ran. I ended up on the Obama bandwagon. And I do think he's been the best President I can remember in my lifetime.

Not that everything is peachy keen, just that he's been intelligent, and resilient, and progressive, and even if he doesn't win all the battles, at least he is battling.

Hillary will be the favorite. No matter who her opponent is. I will vote for her. I have high hopes for her, and for us.  I cannot imagine living under another Republican President. That party is just over-stuffed with backward-looking hacks and malicious clowns.

So Hillary, yes! Run. You must! And win. You must! Will it all be peaches and cream? Probably not. It's always a battle, a fight, a contest. And messy. But that's just the way it goes...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Holiness and Fascination

Dwight Garner's review of "One of Us," makes me want to read the book, but then, the subject is so horrendous, a killing rampage in Norway, that I kind of doubt I will.

But the last line of the review really resonated in my head...

"If it is true, as Stephen Jay Gould contended, that 'nothing matches the holiness and fascination of accurate and intricate detail,' then Ms. Seirestad has delivered a holy volume indeed."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

It's a Long List

Yes, this info from Vox seems essential and important:

"Filming the police takes bravery. Releasing the video takes even more."

Bystander videos have played a big part in our culture. I was thinking about Rodney King being beaten and Tasered by a circle of Cops in the 90's. Funny how all of those Cops walked. And remember that's why all those folks rioted! Just like the Cop in Long Island who choke-holded Eric Garner.

So having the video doesn't mean justice, but it can show us the truth. And the truth of it seems to be that lots of folks are being man-handled and murdered, often, maybe lots more often than we realized. And sometimes other folks pick up their cell phones and capture the event.

Yes, Cops have a very difficult job. You can sympathize with them. Up to a point. But at the same time, you realize lots of these Cops act as if they are above the law. It's the Dirty Harry mind-set. So yes, people have to figure how to take these videos and post them on-line, or get them to the media.  It's really, really important.

Unfortunately you can add the Police to the list of institutions you cannot trust. It's a long list.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Protection from the Protectors

Some of us need to be protected from the protectors. Cops have a tough job. No doubt. But there seems to be a pattern. White Cops shooting down Black Suspects. How often does this happen? We don't really know. Turns out Police Departments don't have to track how many times Cops shoot civilians. It's not counted! You'd think that might be a good thing to know.

The latest shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina was pretty disturbing. A man running away from a Cop gets shot 8 times in the back, and falls down dead.  The Cop lied on his police report - said he was threatened and in fear. And you wonder how often that happens. Without the video those who tend to believe the Cop would have probably believed the Cop, and those who tend to believe the victim was probably victimized, would probably have believed the victim was victimized.

Usually we all fall back on our own prejudices.

So glad the Kid took the video on his cell phone, and then turned it over to the victim's family. He almost didn't. He feared for his life, he thought of erasing the video. He did not want to be harassed by the Cops. He is a hero!

Turns out there are new apps for your cell phone to make filming police events even easier. So yes, I guess this is a growing market. And certainly a good use for your cell phone.  Protection from the Protectors.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Hot Air Empire!

Josh Marshall... talks Rand & Cruz, Republican contenders for President. He calls them "media creations." Part of the Tinfoil Hat Brigade. I think he's right. These are not serious people, even if they have serious jobs. They are kooks. And they generate lots of attention via the media. There is a whole industry of the hall of mirrors media making personalities and events that really only reflect the heat of an overheated media reflecting back on itself. Cable TV is a small "box of Babel," example, the worst of the worst of this phenomena, but it leaks all over our culture. And of course, it's not just politics, this media hype phenomena cuts across everything... politics, music, news, social platforms. The more ridiculous, and unserious, and kooky, the more attention. There are whole industries, and empires created by this total hype approach. We all swim in it. It's part of the air we breathe... cluttered, over-heated-air, nebulous, ridiculous, time-wasting... we pretend to be amused, but it slimes us, and diminishes us...

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

We Can All Be Put in Boxes!

Yes, it's true, the true-blue Libertarians among us are few and far between. I've met a few. And they seem wild-eyed, and unserious in their seriousness.  Sort of like a Scientologist. Bring up the Environment, or Social Security, or Universal Healthcare and they are pretty much tongue-tied. Or somehow magically our joint "liberty" will solve all issues.

Maybe the rich people will take care of everything for us? Doesn't seem like much of a plan.

I do think Paul Krugman's little post is brilliant. Rand Paul is the empty box! Can our politics and the great divide between us be explained by this simple chart? I say yes. And put me in the "Socially Liberal," x "Social Insurance" boxes... that would = "Liberal!"




Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Health is a Battle!

Yes, the canine influenza is rampant in Chicago. I have seen this thing in action, first hand. A happy little doggie, running, jumping, full of energy and life, brought totally low by the bug. I watched it all happen over the weekend. And it seemed to overtake the dog in a matter of a few hours. By the end of the day Sunday this dog was wheezing, retching, struggling to breathe. He could just barely drag his sorry ass around from place to place. My friend and I were convinced the dog had been poisoned, but the Vet diagnosed influenza. You must marvel at the power of biology. And sickness. And disease. A body is invaded and the whole character of a being is completely re-engineered. Poor little guy. They gave him antibiotics and re-hydrated him. Everyone is rooting for his immune system to do it's work. Health is a battle!

Monday, April 06, 2015

The Philosophy of Me

Dark thoughts & thrashings.  That's also sometimes called a good sleep. Yeah, not really. It's hard when even your sleep is filled with disappointments, odd doings, strange phenomena. You have a big speech to give to a very large, expectant crowd. You are just to step up to the microphone, and you realize, you have no idea what you are going to say. You decide you will improvise. You turn to a friend to ask her for some last minute advice, and she says: "I believe in the Philosophy of Me." You get to the microphone, smile at the crowd, open your mouth to speak, and the alarm clock rings. You shoot out of bed like you were shot out of a cannon. Not sure if you are happy or disappointed. You wonder what you were going to say.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

A New Door!

Witnessing that little dog fight a couple days ago was a real clearing for me. I was so close to the violence, to the raw fear. In one flash, I was gripped in a panic. And I was helpless. This was just a little episode, not so serious, but it briefly cut me to the core.  I think I got a small glimpse of what some folks experience when something really, really traumatic occurs. I mean those disturbing events that happen all the time. 

It's almost like I got a glimpse of another reality that exists beneath everything that we know and experience. And then oddly this opened me up. I ended up strangely refreshed. There is a certain place where we are definitively and completely helpless. I guess we have to take that in too.  One moment everything seems fine, beautiful, and then something shifts, and it all falls away.

I realized it's not often that an irrational fear descends upon me, not often when have I been gripped by total panic.  It enveloped me, and then, it all evaporated. It was gone, and I could think about it and file it away, but it certainly opened a new door I didn't know was there.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Thanks to the Peacemakers

I am one of those who think John Kerry and Barack Obama should be praised for conducting negotiations with Iran. You know the deal to slow Iran's development of nukes. Dread enemies sitting in hotel room, writing terms on a whiteboard, working to make a deal. Or as the NYTimes puts it: "A deal built on Coffee, All-Nighters and Compromise." It's not pretty, it's not sexy or exciting. And it's easy to pick apart. And it seems as soon as a tentative framework was announced, all the critics came out to take shots at it. It's so easy to sit back and criticize.

It is so rare to see great powers try to work it out in a room. Diplomats. They kind of get a bum rap. If you negotiate, you also compromise.  And well, in most political circles, compromising is considered weak. But of course, it's not. To talk, to engage in the give and take, is the smart, intelligent way to navigate a very dangerous, crazy world. So often the answer is to take up arms. Madness...

As they say, it's just a framework for an agreement, not a complete deal yet, but a pretty extraordinary development.  Thanks to the peacemakers - Kerry & Obama!

Oh yeah, then there are the malicious idiots on the conservative right, who always, always talk war!

Friday, April 03, 2015

The Dope in the Middle

Thursday morning. A mild day. 

The killing floor. A kitchen. A simple, sort of shabby kitchen. The killer - a young, male, 150 pound Tibetan Mastiff. The victim - an older, female, 150 pound, relatively quiet and gentle Tibetan Mastiff.

The "Dope in the Middle." That would be me. "The Caretaker." I was to walk the young male, a powerful, sort of scary being. I have always been a little leery of this one. He is so big, so strong, I realized early on, when I first met him, I couldn't really handle him. I was always so careful to keep him away from other dogs, other people.

The female, his "companion," happened to be in the kitchen as I led the male out the door. And then something "snapped." The male pounced on the female. The male went after the female hard. There were horrible screams of malevolence and terror. From me and the dogs. Two large thrashing dogs sprawled out on the kitchen floor. There were sounds of violence and terror. Fur flying. One dog had it's jaws and large teeth sunk deeply into the neck of the other. It looked like he was trying to snap her neck.

There was blood, some of it spattered on my jeans. I panicked. I was helpless. I tried to pull one dog off the other. And even while I was doing it, I was thinking, "This is stupid. I could get mauled." It seemed like a killing; that one dog would not relent until the other was dead. Maybe I was seeing clearly, maybe I wasn't. My body was full of adrenaline, I was shaking, I was full of fear, and a deep dread, and total powerlessness.

I was convinced I was witnessing a killing. I actually tried to get between these two dogs. Between the bared teeth, the massive, thrashing bodies. After about 5 minutes of this mayhem, I somehow I pulled the aggressor off the other one, and pushed the female into a small adjoining bedroom. I hustled the male back into his crate. The female was breathing heavy, looking at me with intensely sad eyes. At least that was my read.

She seemed ok. Maybe her thick fur saved her from damage. I called the owner, left a shaky voice message. And then left. I must admit I was shaken down to the core of my being. Deeply shaken. I had a feeling of deep doom all day. It was a disturbing, existential kind of dread. It was simply a dog fight. No one died, a bit of blood was spilled. I had no nicks or bruises. But I had been totally helpless, and scared, and powerless in the face of what looked to be a vicious, unbridled attack.

Fear. Raw fear, my body was awash in it, and there was nothing to do but shake in it's grip...

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Getting Weirder... Do the Opposite!

I don't know this guy, Steve Coast, from Adam. But I like his blog post, "The World Will Only Get Weirder."  I think he's right. Now I'm not sure if he's one of those radical libertarians who is against all regulation, which seems ridiculous to me, but I do think that regulations only go so far, and sometimes they can become a problem too, and solving one problem can lead to other, unforeseen problems. You know, unintended consequences. And yes, weirder, things will get weirder.  It's a good bet. 

I also like his "Contrarian" post... if everyone is watching TV. Trash your TV. If everyone is drinking beer and eating pizza, don't drink beer and eat pizza! Do the opposite! Yes, that sounds like a great way to live an interesting life. Contrarian! But Contrarians please don't bother to unite.  As a Contrarian you would then have to be Contrarian to the other Contrarians!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

One Man's Freedom to Discriminate...

Yes, I agree with Josh Marshall. This Religious Freedom vs. Discrimination against the LGBT community is a big deal. The ground has shifted. Conservatives have painted themselves into a corner, and the business community and broad social community has lit a social media fire that can't be easily put out.

Something just didn't smell right to me. Mike Pence, the Governor of Indiana just looked and sounded like a guy who was trying to lie his way out of a bad situation. Everything he said in his little press conference seemed like a pile of untruths.

When conservatives say "religious freedom," they really mean, the right to discriminate any way they see fit, using religion as the excuse. It was sort of funny and painful to watch the Hoosier Governor try to weasel his way out of that one.

Now he's saying the law doesn't discriminate against any one, or that they will fix it to make that clear.  Looks like a major win for the LGBT community and all of us who are for equal rights and non-discrimination! Bingo!

UPDATE: Contrary to what he says now, Vox documents how Indiana Governor Mike Pence has always been in favor of discriminating against the LGBT community!

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