Monthly Archives: November 2008

11/29/2008 – FAKE FACTS

  Day after Thanksgiving – and
  earlier this week Obama introduced his economic team –
   and Wow the Stock Market went up five days in a row.
   A First !

    This is a FAKE FACT. It is probably true.
    But of almost NO clear significance.
(see the famous book – in some circles – How to Lie with Statistics)

  Most television news is like this.
  Only sometimes does it matter.

  In addition to the “interpretive” questions introduced into their   interviews by News Hosts (Anchors ? – Certainly not   “correspondents” – which is the usage at some networks)
  Their understanding of what they are talking about is often so   shallow that they really don’t understand the meaning of what is   going on in any reasonable or even factual way.
  So they fall back on what they think (or are told) is the   management’s view of how to present the news. Even their   questions force a point of view about the world – often at the   expense of any true facts.
  Until they have a better understanding of society and history
  they ought to stick to what they understand..

   Today some newsperson (herafter NP) was talking to a   correspondent in Mumbai about what was going on. And that   person was trying without insulting the host country (India) that   she was reporting from to indicate between the lines what was   really going on.
  But instead of hearing what she was trying to say, the NP started   asking her what troubles these terror attacks might cause the   administration of ‘poor’ President-Elect Obama etc. And we never   heard what was really happening.

  Mumbai is one of the in-between terrible facts
– not of NO significance but whose significance is not as factual as the horrible events themselves.

   Today, the first shopping day of the “Christmas Season”
      (defined by whom)
the crowd at a Walmart was so eager to get in for bargains they actually trampled to death – like a stampeding herd of elephants – a healthy 34 year old man who was opening the door for them.
   And at Toys are Us – Toys – someone shot someone else and they died.
  Real pain, real horror, but its ‘meaning’?
I don’t know if these events are evidence about the nature of humans,
     or of the ‘spiritual condition’ of modern America – as has been suggested.

   Or just terrible poetry.
   By rather nasty poets.
  All these events themselves matter to some people, few or many.
  But what they “mean” may not.
  Any assumptions about the meaning of these events introduced into the discussion are “fake facts”.




11/22/2008 – Finnegans Wake on Politics

76.10 Now gode. Let us leave theories there and return to here’s here.
76.11 Now hear. ‘Tis gode again. The teak coffin, Pughglasspanelfitted,
76.12 feets to the east, was to turn in later, and pitly patly near the
76.13 porpus, materially effecting the cause. And this, liever, is the
76.14 thinghowe. Any number of conservative public bodies, through
76.15 a number of select and other committees having power to add to
76.16 their number, before voting themselves and himself, town, port
76.17 and garrison, by a fit and proper resolution, following a koorts
76.18 order of the groundwet, once for all out of plotty existence, as
76.19 a forescut, so you maateskippey might to you cuttinrunner on a
76.20 neuw pack of klerds,

11/20/2008 – 4 Questions

Why would I rather read Frances Yates on Giordano Bruno,
the Art of Memory, Rennaissance Magic, and John Dee, than
read a novel, even a good novel such as John Crowley’s Aegypt
that talks about these books?


Watching many people with different claims on intelligence
or the refusal of it, it seems to me that the key to a large
dimension of intelligence is the passion to learn and understand
– understand experience, understand reality – itself.
Many people are afraid to have this passion – or do not trust
themselves to pursue what they see to its conclusions.


What is the nature of battle shock?
After the war a U.S. survivor of Iwo Jima said
“the dreams that I had, they were just like reality to me.”


Why did the 60 Minutes interview with the Obamas make
me feel like I was in the rectory of an Episcopal Church or
the Harvard Divinity School?

11/20/2008 – Letter to a Friend’s daughter

1. There are No Judges

Not other people, not your lover, not your parents, not some god in the sky, or some church on earth, not a book
– whether a religious book, or a loved novel, or a book of Yoga.
Even you do not have to spend much time judging
 – just the judgments (important) that you make for survival in daily life, and maybe a stocktaking for planning the future every now and then.

Really. Only you can live your life.
In the long run what people remember about you will be of little importance. And their memory is short.
But the life you live while you are living needs to please you. (But even this could be turned into a judgement and it should not be.)
A tree that grows on a rocky windy hillside, all twisted up, is at least as “good” as a tree that grows in a sheltered valley, in a grove – tall and straight.. Maybe better, it has had to work harder to make its life.

2. Don’t give away your power

If you let others judgements judge you – then you are giving them power,
giving away power which is yours.
If you listen too hard to the judgement of your friends or employers or people with good advice – then you give them power.
You should listen to all and everybody to find out things, to find out what is out there to take into account in planning useful actions. But not to find out if you are OK.
You give yourself the OK, give yourself power.

I know that he is too good an example to be much use
But look at Obama. Nobody in the center of public life has been more insulted and really degraded But you hardly notice it, because he does not.
He knows it is there, but he keeps on moving on his own path, towards his inner and public goals. Because he knows that is who he is.

3. Know yourself. ACCEPT yourself.

Nobody is perfect. Far from it. Nobody. Nobody is 100% anything.
They are all trying to fight off being knocked over by the judgement of others, or their own early terrors.
Just as you accept the persona they present, so they accept yours – whatever it may be.
Once you can know and ACCEPT yourself, and they see that you can’t be knocked over
and that you “believe”; in the persona you present to them, and will maintain it in the face of attack, then they will accept it, and you.

Then you will be able to adopt the appropriate attitudes
to the situation without demeaning yourself,
and they will see that and respect you.
Appropriate attitudes include being attentive, respectful and loving of others – and answering mail and other approaches to you. Being in a position where you have to take orders is not demeaning as long as you – and everybody else if it comes to a test – know who you are and why you are there. In fact it is a dignity to be respectful.

Then you can go forward to trying to be whatever you like, making goals for yourself and not fear others, and not have fears.
Timidity is a waste of time
 – that’s all it is when you look back.
If you really know that there are no judges
then there is nothing to be timid about.
Practical limited fears yes, but not major ones.

In the end you will either accomplish what you want this week, or you will not. Enjoy.

4. People mostly take you at the value you give yourself

People mostly take you at the value you give yourself. They are worrying about themselves – and cannot penetrate to your worries, or if they can they still prefer to see the persona you give them, as long as you show by your own demeanor that this is who you are, and are not shaken by superficial insults or setbacks.
If you are a beggar they treat you like a beggar.
If you accept yourself and know who you want to be – and believe in it – they will tend to accept you as what you want to be even if they know things that might contradict that notion.

5. So then you can finally be free

Then you can decide for yourself how you want to live, what you enjoy doing and pursue goals you want in the conditions of the real world.
Then you can see how what you enjoy doing might be of value to others.
And value yourself enough to get paid – in one way or another – what the things you are doing are worth.
This includes having a lover who values you properly,
finding backers for your plans who believe in what you want to do,
getting paid fairly in a good job
(even in times of unemployment some people have good jobs),
raising money from others for projects organizations or causes you believe in
;- and getting paid properly for doing so.
[My father was in the entertainment business,
 and made more money in the depression than at any other time.]
What do people want? – those around you, or in a particular business, or in the economy in general?
Find ways to be doing things you enjoy in a way that these things satisfy some wants of others..
And you do not have to fixate on one thing. You can multitask if you want.
Or if you want to do nothing, think what a valuable wife you could be to someone rich enough and who wants a wife who looks good, is a good happy hostess or who parties up or whatever.

Whatever it is, if you value yourself then people will value you
 – and you then have to turn that value
 into real support in the world.


Posted by email from detropblogg’s posterous

11. Natural Religion-God jumping around redesigning the world every hour

11. Natural religion.
God jumping around redesigning the world every hour

When I see a tree twisted out of shape by the winds on
an exposed rocky hillside, and compare it to a tree in a
sheltered grove rising straight up, I am not moved to
see that comparison in ethical terms.
One tree does not seem to me better that the other, more
good or in a moral sense more successful, than the other.

Similarly when I look at other species, lizards and
ants and wild mamals. or any of the other oddities of
which nature abounds with some design changing every
minute – what a challenge this represents to a deity.
Is the more complex ‘better’ than that which is simple.
Is there one way to measure complexity?
Is a monkey better than a lizard?
Or a canary than a snake?
Not to mention the multitude of Insects in the
rainforests and the extinct species of mastodon or
early horse or whatever.

Any rough observation of nature – even that classical
one that we are born, we live, and we die
leads us, when we fully realize that we die,
to realize that our living is part of a process,
not primarily a part of a judgement by some idea, or
some abstract pinciples, or by the God of a book.

So any observation of nature has to involve some notion,
even if only a crude one, of a process of selection and
change – of evolution in the broadest sense of the word
– not evolution as progress, but as change involving
local conditions and selection making the complexity
and occasional weirdness (to us) of the results, that
our lives and species are in a process of constant
(if not continuous) change.

This is not a commitment to any very specific theory
about genes and evolution, or the relation of chance and
adaptation in evolution, but simply an awareness
that the patterns of species that we see are far too
complex to be the product of a personal “God” –
a “God” making individual decisions about individual
creatures, or species, or events.

For this is the popular, if not the theological,
Christian notion of God – and “His” relatives in some
other religions. This notion of an individual making
specific individual decisions about the world has

If we accept the complexity and change in the world
before our eyes then this idea would entail a weird
image of such a God rushing and jumping about
redesigning the world of species repainting the picture
every day and hour, with no time left for anything else.
A “God” co-equal with the existence of the very world of
nature itself. A God of diversity and oddities, and
indeed of evolution itself.


If any of this is relevant, then we clearly have to do a lot more in making clear to people the many different parts to a conception of “god”.

By the way, looking at a number of sites supposedly discussing but
actually advocating a specific set of arguments about “intelligent design” I notice that NONE of them have any possibility of comment
or feedback. Some open “scientific” discussions those are.

Some may wish to look at the website
Thoughts On God, Politics and Man

10. Keith and Lincoln Steffens

Keith and Lincoln Steffens

[The problem Sarah Palin has, someone just said,
is that she doesn’t KNOW what she doesn’t know].

Keith Olbermann has delivered two rants ("Comments")
in the last couple of weeks that are truly works of art.

One was on "real" Americans.

The other – on Monday – was on LOVE, the
Califonia ban on gay marriage, and Christianity [see below].


On this subject I would compare Lincon Steffens on Christian love and the McNamara brothers:
When the McNamara brothers, union leaders,were put on trial for dynamiting a newspaper building in Los Angeles in 1911, with Clarence Darrow as their lawyer, there was at least as much outrage as at 9/11/2003. Seeing that his case was in trouble Darrow was interested in a settlement and Lincoln Steffens offered to try to get community and business leaders to support such a settlement.
He did this successfully – including the notoriously anti-Union Chandlers of the Los Angeles Times. Everything was going forward until the Sunday before the settlement was to be announced. At which point Christian churches all across the country called for the death of the McNamara brothers.
   Steffens argument to the leaders for accepting the
settlement was the effectiveness of the Christian ‘golden rule’.
    He regarded his effort as an “experiment” to see whether the righteous – not just “sinners” – could accept the message of Jesus.
“Mercy” (and forgiveness), he said, “is scientific.”

    “I read the New Testament to discover the vision and plan of Christ. It was astonishing, radical, complete, but when I went to the churches I did not hear it preached, and of course the Christians did not practice it.
I preached Christianity and the effect was a shock to the congregations. I preached in Christ’s spirit, too, quietly, literally, with none of the force with which I had heard Christian ministers proclaim righteousness and denounce sinners. My sermons were as loving as the Sermon on the Mount for, verily, I believed then that the righteous can be and must be saved . . . not only the sinners.
No use.
The regular members of the Christian churches, thinking they have Christianity, can no more get it than the righteous, thinking they are good, can be made good
— for anything. Christianity will not work with Christians.
    But as Jesus learned by hard experience and taught so clearly, Christianity does work with sinners. I proved that for myself.
I preached Christianity. Whenever I wanted to get something done I appealed to sinners for help, and the help came.”
(Lincoln Steffens, ;An Autobiography , page 670.)

I cannot tell the whole story of what happened. But I can urge you to read Steffens wonderful chapters, pages 658-689 of his Autobiography
(your public library? – soon the copyright, hopefully will run out, and we will be able to read it on the internet, as we should have been able long ago. No one is making money on this book. It should be in the public domain.!!!!!)

Keith makes clear that the stand of the churches on the Gay Marriage ban was also a failure to understand Jesus’ and other people’s message of Love. Christianity as HATE has got to stop. Keith’s “comment” on this should somehow be sent to EVERY church and Christian organization, and to such Christians as are known in the U.S..

Here are his remarks

By Keith Olbermann
Anchor, ‘Countdown’
updated 9:13 p.m. ET, Mon., Nov. 10, 2008

Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the
passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California,
which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry,
and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to

Some parameters, as preface. This isn’t about yelling,
and this isn’t about politics, and this isn’t really
just about Prop-8. And I don’t have a personal
investment in this: I’m not gay, I had to strain to
think of one member of even my very extended family who
is, I have no personal stories of close friends or
colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades
their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because
this isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics.
This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny,
so be it.
If you voted for this Proposition or support those who
did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some
questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why
does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of
impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these
people over here want the same chance at permanence
and happiness that is your option. They don’t want to
deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away
from you.
They want what you want—a chance to be a little less
alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them—no. You can’t have it
on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave.
If they don’t cause too much trouble. You’ll even give
them all the same legal rights—even as you’re taking
away the legal right, which they already had.
A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage,
and you are saying, no, you can’t marry. What if
somebody passed a law that said you couldn’t marry?

I keep hearing this term “re-defining” marriage. If this
country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still
couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws
on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States
couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states
of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse
than that. If this country had not “re-defined” marriage,
some black people still couldn’t marry black people.
It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts
of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not
legally recognized, if the people were slaves.
Since slaves were property, they could not legally
be husband and wife, or mother and child.
Their marriage vows were different: not
“Until Death, Do You Part,” but
“Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.”
Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are
not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men
and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite
sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or
just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and
women who have lived their lives in shame and
unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves
or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and
children, all because we said a man couldn’t marry
another man, or a woman couldn’t marry another woman.
The sanctity of marriage.
How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the “sanctity” of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace
their expression of love. But don’t you, as human
beings, have to embrace… that love? The world is
barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and
against those very few and precious emotions that
enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-
50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and
how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just
that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having
that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so
much meaningless division, and people pitted against
people for no good reason, this is what your religion
tells you to do? With your experience of life and this
world and all its sadnesses, this is what your
conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor,
seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in
favor of unhappiness and hate… this is what your heart
tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want
to honor your God and the universal love you believe he
Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only
     “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love.
All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.

You don’t have to help it, you don’t have to applaud
it, you don’t have to fight for it. Just don’t put it out.
Just don’t extinguish it. Because while it may at
first look like that love is between two people you
don’t know and you don’t understand and maybe
you don’t even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember
of your love, for your fellow person just because
this is the only world we have. And the other guy
counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself
concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing
plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.
But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of

“I was reading last night of the aspiration of
the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam,” he told the judge.
It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision.
I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the
hearts of all:
    So I be written in the Book of Love;
I do not care about that Book above.
Erase my name, or write it as you will,
So I be written in the Book of Love.”

9. Obama Tonight

Victory Speech

What a sense of history he has. A master historian
and analyst of the Presidency. What the Office can and cannot do, and how to act in it.
To dare to remake the Gettysburg address and succeed!

And a rhetorical poet.
At first, “Yes, We Can” was a chant game, Join in, encourage the speaker,
get excited.
But then it turned out on victory night that he had planned from
the beginning that it was the original Yankee ‘Can do’
the quality that differentiated the new world from Europe.
“Yes We Can.”

I just heard that Obama himself cancelled the Tuesday night fireworks.

Last Monday

One thinks one has seen everything this man can give. Every skill he has as a speaker. Every quality as a person. Every goal he can lead us to.
And then he takes you further. He rises to another level.
He did this last night – Sunday night – dead tired – bringing his call for unity to an emotianal pitch that trasnformed the moral quality of his listeners. That must have been the height. But then tonight in Virginia he raised the level yet again.

Surely it has been one of the priveleges of my fairly long life to have lived through this campaign..

And tonight they photographed the audence – people crying, their emotions carrying them beyond themselves.