Posts Tagged ‘religion’

THE SORCERER

May 10, 2014
GARDEN of the GODS

GARDEN of the GODS

The Sorcerer lived like a well-to-do scholar. He said:

“You admit with credulity and abhorrence the reality of the infernal art of magic, which is able to control the eternal order of the planets and the voluntary operations of the human mind. You dread the mysterious power of spells and incantations, of potent herbs, and execrable rites; which can extinguish or recall life, inflame passions of the soul, blast the works of creation, and extort from the demons the secrets of futurity. You believe, with the wildest inconsistency, that this preternatural dominion of the air, of earth, and of hell, is exercised from the vilest motives of malice or gain, by some wrinkled hags and itinerant sorcerers, who pass their obscure lives in penury and contempt. The arts of magic are equally condemned by public opinion and the law; but, as they tend to gratify the most imperious passions of the heart of man, they are continually proscribed and continually practiced.”

“An imaginary cause is capable of producing the most serious and mischievous effects. The dark predictions of the death of an emperor, or the success of a conspiracy, are calculated only to stimulate the hopes of ambition and to dissolve the ties of fidelity; and the intentional guilt of magic is aggravated by the actual crimes of treason and sacrilege.”

“Antiochians claim Chrestos was invented there, and they content themselves with disobeying the moral precepts, but they were scrupulously attached to the speculative doctrines of their religion.”

So said the Sorcerer on that occasion.

 

Ancient Color

Ancient Color

SPECULATIONS ON THE LATE HERETIC PHARAOH

They called you heretic, mad, megalomaniac, monotheist,
And you were probably all of those,
And perhaps a hermaphrodite, or a woman,
And you married your sister, daughter, mother,
And had an affair with your son.

You set up your own city in the friendless desert,
And gathered together friends and families,
Commoners as queens, Hebiru as bureaucrats,
Raised temples and children, palaces and stele,
To mark your City of the Sun.

The old priests said you were evil, cursed by the gods,
When you closed their doors and temples,
Took away their goods and pride,
And canceled their services “forever,”
To be replaced by the one true One.

It took time for the people to feel the old gods’ wrath,
Their old priests had to wait many poisoned years,
While your Aten-god sun-disk grew remote,
And lost the hearts of your bewildered people,
Who looked for one true god and found none.

Would you still stand, if the old priests had let you be?
Probably not, heretic pharaoh Akhenaten,
With your hymns of praise to the Aten,
With your golden god of love, blinding you
With a power too great for your simple human mind.

For gods are renewable, replaceable, and to be forgotten,
Trooping in their legion down the corridors of time,
Leading the way to salvation or perdition,
They’re really all the same in endless ordinary lives,
Amused by the heretic’s deepest, most ordinary crimes.

jl:2-14

 

inventgod

 

PAY FREAKIN’ ATTENTION, G’DAMMIT!

I have always had this desire to reach out and grab a person and shake the living bejazzus out of him or her, and yell, “What the hell’s the matter with ya, fer chris’sakes?  Are you nuts?  Wake up, for gawd’s sake!  Wake up, dammit!”

Just like that, with all the histrionic emphasis and shouting.

When I have their attention, and they’re scared witless, I will say, “Sorry to bother you.  I got a little excited.”  And walk away.

"So how about those Mets? Hear about the Big Meteor? Almost the size of a refrigerator, they say!"

“So how about those Mets? Hear about the Big Meteor? Size of a refrigerator, they say!”

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SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

August 9, 2012
Ant Farm

EXCERPT from Common Lives, a novel

This piece won 98th place in the 80th Writer’s Digest Annual Awards literature and mainstream fiction category – in competition with 11,800 others. 98th! I’m 98th! LOL.

“In the Beginning”

Lost in the formless void of space, an electron came spinning out of nowhere to collide foolishly, randomly and willy-nilly with some microscopic other thing and a large explosion resulted. When the debris settled and the dust cleared, when the incredible multitude of subsequently tossed, collided and bumped other things slowed their rate of reaction, space became again a relatively calm place – although, it was now decidedly more cluttered, larger things having been mashed together from the smaller ones. As one can well imagine, that lone electron must have been in an incredible hurry, and the resulting accident at Lexington and Forty-First was a big one, with traffic backed up in all directions, clear to the edges of the city. It was later inferred by a philosopher-scientist in an ermine robe while speculating before his medieval books of alchemy that the electron may have been drinking.

For Eugene R. Formsby, the amazing thing about the Universe was its consistency; it had a beginning, middle and an end. Some scientist in Cleveland, staring through a telescope in order to bring the macroscopic down to earthly size, suggested that the whole thing was a sort of gigantic bubble of slowly expanding gas, which would eventually collapse, as bubbles always do. Eugene had once seen a bubble-blowing magician on television impregnate a soap shell with cigarette smoke. Eugene thought the end of the Universe would be as fleetingly unspectacular as watching the magician pierce the soap shell to allow the cigarette smoke to escape in a dirty, gray-white rush, to dissipate in the broader air. The soap shell itself collapsed with a wet spurt; all very satisfying as a television show, but lame as a proper end to the Universe.

Eugene felt a little disappointed with the magician. There were just so many things one could do with soap shells: spin them, encase one inside of another – rings of air, worlds of air, nested like wooden, brightly-painted Russian dolls – tie them together like balloon puppets, or whatever, the bubbles always vanished with the same, wet spurt.

Which made Eugene think about beginnings. He, Eugene, was the product of a minute, wet spurt, which – reacting, colliding – forced masses of other inert (or nearly so) materials to react and collide with…an endless series of seemingly chaotic, entirely trivial and absolutely fascinating mini-events, resulting in one Eugene R. (for “Robert”) Formsby. Life, Eugene decided, was funny that way: there was no accounting for it. Multiplied by all of the other minute, wet spurts, amid the howling, moaning, grunting and groaning cacophony of all the copulating creatures since the dawn of auditory, vocalizing creaturedom, Eugene felt quite insignificant and more than occasionally like a supernumerary.

Still, Eugene tried to please everybody, tried to appear like a superstar (which he was not), cleaned his supper plate assiduously – hearing the voice of his long-dead Mother chanting, “Starving children and half-mad dogs. The world’s a savage place, Eugene. Watch your step and don’t lose your way. Be careful crossing streets, Eugene, and always eat your peas.”  Eugene always ate his peas. He ate them first, to get that little chore out of the way.

“Eugene,” his mother would say. “Eu-gene,” she would whine. Eugene was a name made for being whined; a name one could get one’s nose tightly involved with. It was possible to draw the “Ewe” up and the “geene” out, so that the name was at one and the same time, an attention-grabber and an accusation, laden with extreme, resigned disappointment. The way his mother often said it sounded like, “You jean” – as if a jean was a poor thing to be, fit only for covering up assholes and crotches when skinning down trees and mud banks, and ending up dirty (which Eugene often was, being a relatively normal child.

Non-human creation fascinated Eugene early on, being less harmful and generally more peaceful than the World of Men. He identified with Kipling’s hero Mowgli in the Jungle Book, delighted in the savage tales of Tarzan, who defeated evil by breaking its back, or by stabbing it in the chest with his “mighty tooth” – which was really a knife, only being raised by apes, Tarzan didn’t know any better. Years later, Eugene equated the knife with something Sigmund Freud speculated about – but, as a boy, Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Conqueror (“eventually over-muscled by Arnold Schwarzenegger,” he said), and Tarzan of the Apes (“bloatedly defiled by a decaying Johnny Weismuller,” he lamented, “and prematurely denatured by Bo Derek and her cynical, self-styled Svengali of a husband”) stood for all that was wholesome, romantic and achievable. The orphan of the apes grew up to move freely, though begrudgingly, in society’s upper circles; Conan became King of Aquilonia; and Johnny Weismuller apologized for the racial stereotypes populating his naive, little films.

From such stuff, and its subsequent manipulation against real life, Eugene gradually formed the notion that under every rock, there was apt to be a disgustingly formed grub.

Nonetheless, Eugene loved nature and spent hours happily hiking woods, warmed by nature shows aired by public television, or sitting on a rock observing ants busily dismembering butterfly carcasses. He found fascination in small things, from which he extrapolated theories about the governance and overall uniformity of large things. Things became ever more complex as their size increased. Just as corporate machinery had to expand the secretary-typist’s pool to encompass and accommodate modern computerized word processing, so too, extra parts were required to adapt the feeding apparatus of an amoeba into the mouth of a moose. Yet, regardless of scale, the end purpose remained the same: one to reproduce words in frozen lines of print; the other, to feed the living organism, so that it might go on to multiply and/or divide, before ultimately subtracting itself altogether from the Universe as this specific amoeba, or that unique moose.

Uniqueness was a particularly troubling theme to Eugene, for he felt that each entity was unique, never-before-assembled, yet so integrally related to the Whole that, it was difficult to tell where something ceased to be a part of something else, and where it became, separately, all there was to one sort of thing alone. Within his own body, he knew that there were entire colonies of contributing members, which scurried about tending and maintaining him, so that he, the amalgamated Eugene, could continue to function and so maintain them – a fact which made Eugene sometimes wonder if he was really self-motivating when left to his own devices, or simply the end product of a committee decision, which predicated that Entity Twenty-one-billion-and-eight should be entitled Eugene R. Formsby, Consolidated Research Unit, Model X-4-D, and should now, by unanimous consent of the governing board members, sit down and eat.

“What do you think about life so far?” Father Randolph “Teeth and Tongue” Nornocker once asked Eugene as the two sat in the pastor’s study. Eugene was at that time a somewhat precocious eleven and expected by his elders to be able to philosophize to a limited extent. Father Nornocker was, appropriately enough, a big, knock-kneed man with a virtual awning of overbite, a high starched collar and dirty fingernails. Even as a child, Nornocker’s nails gave Eugene pause. As far as Eugene knew, Nornocker did no real work – a gardener tended the parish grounds; a handyman did the repairs; a housekeeper cleaned and cooked – but the pastor consistently had dirty nails. Eugene attributed it to lint in the padre’s pockets.

“About life?” Eugene asked blankly.

“Yes,” Nornocker said, nodding, threatening to bite himself in the neck to Eugene’s fascinated gaze. “Life,” said Nornocker, “the Universe, God.”

“I like God,” Eugene said innocently.

“Very good.” Nornocker smiled, audience ended.

Eugene’s conversations (if they could be called that) with Nornocker always ended anti-climactically. Nornocker gave no direct advice for daily living, except from the pulpit (“Repent or you are damned!”), or in formal counseling sessions held particularly for about-to-be-marrieds (“Are you on birth control, dear? Ah, yes, I see. You do know that’s a mortal sin?  See me for confession, dear.  We can handle it.  Don’t worry.  God is understanding. Do you, Jim, know the real meaning of the words, ‘husband’ and ‘father?’  Ah, good. Rehearsal’s at eight – sharp.  I don’t like latecomers, so don’t be tardy, we lock the doors!“). Eugene thought being locked out of one’s own wedding might possibly be a blessing in disguise.

Marriage appeared to him to be a particularly militant institution, populated by unwilling combatants who had taken an oath of service while under emotional duress – amounting to temporary insanity as fired by engorged genitalia. While Eugene’s own parents rarely fought, rarely spoke, rarely looked at one another, they were nonetheless at war. During momentary fits of lust, however, they apparently copulated – well after dark, when the children were sleeping, the doors were all locked, and neither partner had to directly see the other’s naked, flaccid body. Eugene had a rather bizarre childhood view of sex as a result, believing that the female navel somehow accepted the male organ; hence, he believed, his mother’s dismay over baby sister’s extruded umbilical orifice, referred to as an “outy,” and known to be cause for a tragic lifetime with no release from one-piece bathing suits. Boys might have an outy without undue comment, since no one was ever going to stick anything into it – unless, of course, they were trapped in, or naturally inclined toward the restrooms in Greyhound bus stations.

This set of views, as well as others, gradually led Eugene to believe that certain kinds of information were “wrong,” “prejudiced,” or “totally unreliable.” Unfortunately, he couldn’t easily tell which was which, and so left the whole affair to chance, operating on the best of what was currently available, while guarding his rear against yapping dogs and angry, leathershod feet.

Eugene was again the small boy who stood on the steps of the great cathedral, awed by its spires and turrets, its filigrees and gargoyles, its stained glass windows and golden crosses. Inside was the dark perfumed lair of the Lord God, with its high altar overhung by the bloody plaster body of Jesus Christ, His only begotten son. The outer aisles containing the sea of pews were marked by the boxed dioramas of the Stations of the Cross, which led to the place where the Son died. Old ladies in pillbox hats with veils sat on age-oiled mahogany seats beside straight old men with stiff collars and rose-oiled hair. The air was rich with incense, cologne and perfume. Altar boys ringing bells and flame-tipped candles filled the imagination with flickering images of high holiness, augmented by the mysterious repeated chanting, the rigorous standing, kneeling and sitting – all of which confused his small, earthbound brain and threatened rather than uplifted him. He knew nothing of the acts being performed, wished fervently to leave that enchanted, terrifying palace of extraterrestrial power for some richly-grassed sunlit park, where birds sang sweetly and he could hear the speakers from the ball grounds, buy a hot-dog and a cold drink, watch a butterfly investigate the flowers and close his eyes and dream with the sun’s warmth full on his face.

Eugene often dreamed. In dreaming there was escape and in escape there was peace. For a time, he did not have to do what all of those others wanted – the “big people” who ordered him this way and that, preparing him for “responsibility” and “correctness” and a “grand sense of the indomitable self” unsupported by the frailness of his small body or the muddle of his pliable mind. The world was so confusing, so mixed up with “thisses” and “thats,” propounded by robed men, collared men, high-hatted women, women in scarves, ermines, overalls and nothing at all. There had been a time when nylons had confused him and girls’ underpants had almost consumed him. He could not possibly enter a church when the solitude of confession alone nearly reduced him to paralytic fear and terrible, self-accusatory embarrassment.

But the small boy’s mother stretched out her hand and drew the child up the steps of the cathedral, toward the towering open doors and through the yawning mouth of the massive portal, into the secret, dark sanctuary of the blooded God within.

The Beatniks were fading out, bearing Kerouac’s limp body with them, and the Hippies were coming in, bearing narcotics and flowers, when he first attained political consciousness. One group was too old for him to be a peer; the other was too young to see him as anything except suspicious. He was fascinated and excited by both, but became a member of neither, remaining that impossibility: a non-conforming non-conformist. Left to his own devices, he became one of the first generation of television addicts. He grew up living the lip service on so many lips. As a goal, as a model, the myth reeked of individual power, but the first Superman he ever knew, George Reeves, blew his brains out. How could Superman put a bullet in his head? He wondered. Wouldn’t it just bounce off? The myth, in practiced fact, was a conditioner: a view of the world in carefully molded packaging. Careful, my son, don’t remove the plastic wrap if you don’t want the contents to lose value. Use caution, my son, when stealing peeks into Pandora’s box.

Later, he read the Book of Daniel and the Unquiet Death of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, refreshed himself on the case of Saco and Vanzetti, the lunacies of Attorney General Palmer’s Great Red Scare, Joe McCarthy’s witch hunts, and narrowed the glass to Ronald Reagan, the CIA, both Bushes, an Ashcroft, a Gonzales, and the “Moral” Majority. Rambo bulged out of the silver screen in living blood and the whole, mad, delirious killing frenzy danced on, with kids carrying submachine squirt guns and rubber knives the size of Route 66. The myth versus the reality: it echoed. Properly connected, with the correct measure of rising and falling sounds, clicks and “syllabalings,” words conjured up any sort of world. Once believed, the words structured reality and even reinforced the impulse to self-destruction.

Sadness to relate, Lamentation Number 4-billion-and-something: the scientific humanists have turned us into mechanical appliances. The corporate boardroom bastards have turned us into assembly line spare parts. And, the religionists have turned us into dependent, frightened moral bankrupts.

Why did I have to awaken? He wondered. Why couldn’t I have remained as mindlessly narcotized as my peers, skipping to the top, mesmerized by depilated crotch in designer bathing suits. The clever little ripper on his way to a semi-lifetime in the pen, darts in and out of the Square John crowd, putting time and distance between himself and the scene of his most recent petty crime. Xerox sells obsolete product two weeks before new product release, saying nothing to the client. The fossil-fuel barons, the Koch brothers, are poisoning the planet and opposed to all life-affirming change. Are they all the Devil’s helpers?

Q: What’s the fastest animal in the world?

A: A chicken crossing Darfur.

NEW BOOK: 

The COPPER-HANDLES AFFAIR: The Great San Francisco Earthquake, Fire and Bank Heist by John Patrick Legry (Oct 20, 2010)

NEW NOVEL at Amazon.com, etc.

THE COPPER-HANDLES AFFAIR: The Great San Francisco Earthquake, Fire and Bank Heist, begins with the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and a simple opportunistic bank robbery, plunging John Law Copper, accidental thief, and Frederick W. Handles, the pursuing policeman, into the greater game of big money power politics and civic corruption on the Ragtime U. S. Pacific Coast. The chase takes them through the vanished garden world of northern California to the dangerous shanghai town of Portland, Oregon. 50 b&w line drawings and two maps.

From reviews:

“FARGO meets LES MISERABLES meets LONESOME DOVE”

“John Legry’s novel “The Copper-Handles Affair” will especially delight lovers of history as well as those who enjoy a good cops-and-robbers story. Set at the time of the San Francisco earthquake, the reader follows two men: a thief, John Law Copper who stumbles across $400,000 in bank money during the aftermath of the quake; and Frederick W. Handles, a detective bent upon bringing Copper to justice.
The chase between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon exposes both characters to a variety of angels and villains and so the story’s pace never slackens. One twist follows another until the conclusion which surprises with a laugh.
The settings are authentic, the characters believeable and the writer’s drawings are beautiful renderings of the period. I can think of no more pleasant way to experience a bit of history while having a good read.”

“A great fast paced read. …hard to put down.  …characters are fully developed and believable. …the literary style of switching back and forth from Copper’s escape to Handles pursuit kept the adventure moving… Many of the “switches” ended in a cliffhanger that compelled the reader…on. Besides being a good read, this book takes you on a geographical and historical tour of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.”

Click on images below to sample the flavor of the story:

Thugs in the Parlor
Quarantine

The COPPER-HANDLES AFFAIR: The Great San Francisco Earthquake, Fire and Bank Heist by John Patrick Legry

ODD SHOTS and IDLE PENSEES #5

May 18, 2011
Gene Kelley danced past Joe's in "Singing in the Rain."
Gene Kelley danced past Joe’s in “Singing in the Rain.”

OLD BLACK MAGIC:

“Separateness is a useful illusion.”  – The Big Kahuna.

Separateness is a youthful illusion.  Jl.

“God, the original Tony Soprano.” – church sign, Simpsons.

The ancient Sumerians had no concept of guilt or sin.  Later, the Renaissance considered a life unencumbered by revealed religionReligionists study “The Book” in preference to studying themselves; they put enormous energy into it, which if applied to the exploration of self, might produce a more fulfilling result.

Monotheism is the flip side of intolerance.” – TV Travel Channel on sacred sites, explaining Amarna, Egypt.

Note: In the typical Christian, Moslem, Jewish life, Life is a pain.  One must suffer and hopefully endure until the bitter pill of death is administered.  Within that pain is the typically human drive to pursue happiness.  Happiness is fleeting, of course, but its pursuit keeps us busy, which alleviates the pain, and the fear we have of death.  Pursuing happiness is an attempt to overcome and/or keep the pain at bay as long as humanly possible; but it is just a pastime after all, not a destination.

“[When I die] all these moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.” – Rutger Hauer, Bladerunner.

INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIORS:

“What is it like to feel a stranger?” – – PBS question.  Senator Craig?

I wrote: “Ryan’s wagon was parked by the curb with its tailgate down.”  Spell check gave me: “The curb with its tailgate down parked Ryan’s wagon.”  Typed: “Ryan’s tailgate was parked with its wagon down at the curb.”  Speel check not trubled.  Glow figger.

Monte Markham as the voice of Plutarch.” – credit, Cleopatra, A&E Classroom. Get central casting!  He doesn’t even sound like Plutarch.

She boasted she could shoot and manage a horse as well as a man.  (Duck, guys!).

“There’s never been ANYTHING like it.” – Shaq, for Icy Hot.

We have different views of art.  He draws a stick.  I struggle for “stickness.”  8/97

Creative people routinely demonstrate how to get from here to there.  10/97

Q: “Just when are you coming down to earth, young man?”  A: “When it’s all over, I hope.” – Fred Astaire, The Sky’s the Limit.

“No doesn’t mean no.  It means you gotta cut a corner, work harder, and beat the system.”  – Baloo, Disney’s Tailspin, 1/94.  Walt Disney, always a powerful force for strong evangelistic coporatist morality.

“We want to talk about reducing nuclear weapons, particularly the kind that kill people.” – Casper Weinberger, Nixon’s Secretary of Defense, CBS News.

Mr. Begin has offered to let each member of the PLO to leave Lebanon carrying an arm.”  Dianne Sawyer, 6/30/82.  But leave the other arm and both legs behind.

“On a farm with no watch dog, the fox rules the roost.” – Ancient Sumerian proverb.

“NEVAH GO THIRSTY AGAIN!”

“Don’t drink alone, Scarlet.  People always find out, and it ruins the reputation.” – Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), Gone With the Wind.

DAMN LIBERAL CONSERVATIVES:

Against “tax and spend bleeding heart liberal socialist democrats,” place “rob, rape, and ruin selfish warmongering radical conservative republicans.”

Said of the Congress:  “They have to find a way to institutionalize the existing situation, so they don’t have to fix it.”

“It’s the lie you tell yourself that matters.” – Inspector Morse, ’95.

“No sensible man would allow himself to be sent to war to defend a politician.” – Minister, The Dreyfus Affair.

Q:  Why do we serve the systemA:  Because it’s comforting in its routines and, like any abused child, we’d rather keep the horror we’ve got than deal with fear of the unknown and the uncertainty of change.

Our national debate has become timid.  The Neville Brothers sing, “You can tell the truth, as long as you don’t tell too much.” So what can one do about it?  Here’s a starter list:

  • Stick up for your rights – your own integrity matters more than loyalty to a negative cause.
  • Stimulate sympathy – there are social and political reasons for what we do. The social reasons create the greatest measure of self-identification and response.
  • Speak only from factlisten, especially when you don’t agree.
  • Use a variety of sources of information; try to understand the other view.
  • Act. Do something positive everyday.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves.”

LAST COMMENT:

Pain is an itch we can’t scratch.  All life is pain in the Buddhistic sense.  Its temporal fleeting nature is a constant bitter sweetness, forever a tear on the edge of beauty, a sigh on the cusp of grief.  We only get it for a moment, and sitting in silence, alone, we can feel its presence somewhere, always within, always informing, if we will it so.

Peace and Love,  brothers and sisters.  Keep on keepin’ on, and don’t forget to salute the Man in the Moon!

JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER:

Published on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 by The Guardian/UK

Human Activity Is Driving Earth’s ‘Sixth Great Extinction Event’.  Population growth, pollution, and invasive species are having a disastrous effect on species in the southern hemisphere, a major review by conservationists warns, by Ian Sample.  Earth is experiencing its “sixth great extinction event” with disease and human activity taking a devastating toll on vulnerable species, according to a major review by conservationists.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/28-11

Stonewall

SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

February 1, 2011

Ant Farm

EXCERPT from Common Lives, a novel

This piece recently won 98th place in the 80th Writer’s Digest Annual Awards literature and mainstream fiction category – in competition with 11,800 others. 98th! I’m 98th! LOL.

“In the Beginning”

Lost in the formless void of space, an electron came spinning out of nowhere to collide foolishly, randomly and willy-nilly with some microscopic other thing and a large explosion resulted. When the debris settled and the dust cleared, when the incredible multitude of subsequently tossed, collided and bumped other things slowed their rate of reaction, space became again a relatively calm place – although, it was now decidedly more cluttered, larger things having been mashed together from the smaller ones. As one can well imagine, that lone electron must have been in an incredible hurry, and the resulting accident at Lexington and Forty-First was a big one, with traffic backed up in all directions, clear to the edges of the city. It was later inferred by a philosopher-scientist in an ermine robe while speculating before his medieval books of alchemy that the electron may have been drinking.

For Eugene R. Formsby, the amazing thing about the Universe was its consistency; it had a beginning, middle and an end. Some scientist in Cleveland, staring through a telescope in order to bring the macroscopic down to earthly size, suggested that the whole thing was a sort of gigantic bubble of slowly expanding gas, which would eventually collapse, as bubbles always do. Eugene had once seen a bubble-blowing magician on television impregnate a soap shell with cigarette smoke. Eugene thought the end of the Universe would be as fleetingly unspectacular as watching the magician pierce the soap shell to allow the cigarette smoke to escape in a dirty, gray-white rush, to dissipate in the broader air. The soap shell itself collapsed with a wet spurt; all very satisfying as a television show, but lame as a proper end to the Universe.

Eugene felt a little disappointed with the magician. There were just so many things one could do with soap shells: spin them, encase one inside of another – rings of air, worlds of air, nested like wooden, brightly-painted Russian dolls – tie them together like balloon puppets, or whatever, the bubbles always vanished with the same, wet spurt.

Which made Eugene think about beginnings. He, Eugene, was the product of a minute, wet spurt, which – reacting, colliding – forced masses of other inert (or nearly so) materials to react and collide with…an endless series of seemingly chaotic, entirely trivial and absolutely fascinating mini-events, resulting in one Eugene R. (for “Robert”) Formsby. Life, Eugene decided, was funny that way: there was no accounting for it. Multiplied by all of the other minute, wet spurts, amid the howling, moaning, grunting and groaning cacophony of all the copulating creatures since the dawn of auditory, vocalizing creaturedom, Eugene felt quite insignificant and more than occasionally like a supernumerary.

Still, Eugene tried to please everybody, tried to appear like a superstar (which he was not), cleaned his supper plate assiduously – hearing the voice of his long-dead Mother chanting, “Starving children and half-mad dogs. The world’s a savage place, Eugene. Watch your step and don’t lose your way. Be careful crossing streets, Eugene, and always eat your peas.”  Eugene always ate his peas. He ate them first, to get that little chore out of the way.

“Eugene,” his mother would say. “Eu-gene,” she would whine. Eugene was a name made for being whined; a name one could get one’s nose tightly involved with. It was possible to draw the “Ewe” up and the “geene” out, so that the name was at one and the same time, an attention-grabber and an accusation, laden with extreme, resigned disappointment. The way his mother often said it sounded like, “You jean” – as if a jean was a poor thing to be, fit only for covering up assholes and crotches when skinning down trees and mud banks, and ending up dirty (which Eugene often was, being a relatively normal child.

Non-human creation fascinated Eugene early on, being less harmful and generally more peaceful than the World of Men. He identified with Kipling’s hero Mowgli in the Jungle Book, delighted in the savage tales of Tarzan, who defeated evil by breaking its back, or by stabbing it in the chest with his “mighty tooth” – which was really a knife, only being raised by apes, Tarzan didn’t know any better. Years later, Eugene equated the knife with something Sigmund Freud speculated about – but, as a boy, Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Conqueror (“eventually over-muscled by Arnold Schwarzenegger,” he said), and Tarzan of the Apes (“bloatedly defiled by a decaying Johnny Weismuller,” he lamented, “and prematurely denatured by Bo Derek and her cynical, self-styled Svengali of a husband”) stood for all that was wholesome, romantic and achievable. The orphan of the apes grew up to move freely, though begrudgingly, in society’s upper circles; Conan became King of Aquilonia; and Johnny Weismuller apologized for the racial stereotypes populating his naive, little films.

From such stuff, and its subsequent manipulation against real life, Eugene gradually formed the notion that under every rock, there was apt to be a disgustingly formed grub.

Nonetheless, Eugene loved nature and spent hours happily hiking woods, warmed by nature shows aired by public television, or sitting on a rock observing ants busily dismembering butterfly carcasses. He found fascination in small things, from which he extrapolated theories about the governance and overall uniformity of large things. Things became ever more complex as their size increased. Just as corporate machinery had to expand the secretary-typist’s pool to encompass and accommodate modern computerized word processing, so too, extra parts were required to adapt the feeding apparatus of an amoeba into the mouth of a moose. Yet, regardless of scale, the end purpose remained the same: one to reproduce words in frozen lines of print; the other, to feed the living organism, so that it might go on to multiply and/or divide, before ultimately subtracting itself altogether from the Universe as this specific amoeba, or that unique moose.

Uniqueness was a particularly troubling theme to Eugene, for he felt that each entity was unique, never-before-assembled, yet so integrally related to the Whole that, it was difficult to tell where something ceased to be a part of something else, and where it became, separately, all there was to one sort of thing alone. Within his own body, he knew that there were entire colonies of contributing members, which scurried about tending and maintaining him, so that he, the amalgamated Eugene, could continue to function and so maintain them – a fact which made Eugene sometimes wonder if he was really self-motivating when left to his own devices, or simply the end product of a committee decision, which predicated that Entity Twenty-one-billion-and-eight should be entitled Eugene R. Formsby, Consolidated Research Unit, Model X-4-D, and should now, by unanimous consent of the governing board members, sit down and eat.

“What do you think about life so far?” Father Randolph “Teeth and Tongue” Nornocker once asked Eugene as the two sat in the pastor’s study. Eugene was at that time a somewhat precocious eleven and expected by his elders to be able to philosophize to a limited extent. Father Nornocker was, appropriately enough, a big, knock-kneed man with a virtual awning of overbite, a high starched collar and dirty fingernails. Even as a child, Nornocker’s nails gave Eugene pause. As far as Eugene knew, Nornocker did no real work – a gardener tended the parish grounds; a handyman did the repairs; a housekeeper cleaned and cooked – but the pastor consistently had dirty nails. Eugene attributed it to lint in the padre’s pockets.

“About life?” Eugene asked blankly.

“Yes,” Nornocker said, nodding, threatening to bite himself in the neck to Eugene’s fascinated gaze. “Life,” said Nornocker, “the Universe, God.”

“I like God,” Eugene said innocently.

“Very good.” Nornocker smiled, audience ended.

Eugene’s conversations (if they could be called that) with Nornocker always ended anti-climactically. Nornocker gave no direct advice for daily living, except from the pulpit (“Repent or you are damned!”), or in formal counseling sessions held particularly for about-to-be-marrieds (“Are you on birth control, dear? Ah, yes, I see. You do know that’s a mortal sin?  See me for confession, dear.  We can handle it.  Don’t worry.  God is understanding. Do you, Jim, know the real meaning of the words, ‘husband’ and ‘father?’  Ah, good. Rehearsal’s at eight – sharp.  I don’t like latecomers, so don’t be tardy, we lock the doors!“). Eugene thought being locked out of one’s own wedding might possibly be a blessing in disguise.

Marriage appeared to him to be a particularly militant institution, populated by unwilling combatants who had taken an oath of service while under emotional duress – amounting to temporary insanity as fired by engorged genitalia. While Eugene’s own parents rarely fought, rarely spoke, rarely looked at one another, they were nonetheless at war. During momentary fits of lust, however, they apparently copulated – well after dark, when the children were sleeping, the doors were all locked, and neither partner had to directly see the other’s naked, flaccid body. Eugene had a rather bizarre childhood view of sex as a result, believing that the female navel somehow accepted the male organ; hence, he believed, his mother’s dismay over baby sister’s extruded umbilical orifice, referred to as an “outy,” and known to be cause for a tragic lifetime with no release from one-piece bathing suits. Boys might have an outy without undue comment, since no one was ever going to stick anything into it – unless, of course, they were trapped in, or naturally inclined toward the restrooms in Greyhound bus stations.

This set of views, as well as others, gradually led Eugene to believe that certain kinds of information were “wrong,” “prejudiced,” or “totally unreliable.” Unfortunately, he couldn’t easily tell which was which, and so left the whole affair to chance, operating on the best of what was currently available, while guarding his rear against yapping dogs and angry, leathershod feet.

Eugene was again the small boy who stood on the steps of the great cathedral, awed by its spires and turrets, its filigrees and gargoyles, its stained glass windows and golden crosses. Inside was the dark perfumed lair of the Lord God, with its high altar overhung by the bloody plaster body of Jesus Christ, His only begotten son. The outer aisles containing the sea of pews were marked by the boxed dioramas of the Stations of the Cross, which led to the place where the Son died. Old ladies in pillbox hats with veils sat on age-oiled mahogany seats beside straight old men with stiff collars and rose-oiled hair. The air was rich with incense, cologne and perfume. Altar boys ringing bells and flame-tipped candles filled the imagination with flickering images of high holiness, augmented by the mysterious repeated chanting, the rigorous standing, kneeling and sitting – all of which confused his small, earthbound brain and threatened rather than uplifted him. He knew nothing of the acts being performed, wished fervently to leave that enchanted, terrifying palace of extraterrestrial power for some richly-grassed sunlit park, where birds sang sweetly and he could hear the speakers from the ball grounds, buy a hot-dog and a cold drink, watch a butterfly investigate the flowers and close his eyes and dream with the sun’s warmth full on his face.

Eugene often dreamed. In dreaming there was escape and in escape there was peace. For a time, he did not have to do what all of those others wanted – the “big people” who ordered him this way and that, preparing him for “responsibility” and “correctness” and a “grand sense of the indomitable self” unsupported by the frailness of his small body or the muddle of his pliable mind. The world was so confusing, so mixed up with “thisses” and “thats,” propounded by robed men, collared men, high-hatted women, women in scarves, ermines, overalls and nothing at all. There had been a time when nylons had confused him and girls’ underpants had almost consumed him. He could not possibly enter a church when the solitude of confession alone nearly reduced him to paralytic fear and terrible, self-accusatory embarrassment.

But the small boy’s mother stretched out her hand and drew the child up the steps of the cathedral, toward the towering open doors and through the yawning mouth of the massive portal, into the secret, dark sanctuary of the blooded God within.

The Beatniks were fading out, bearing Kerouac’s limp body with them, and the Hippies were coming in, bearing narcotics and flowers, when he first attained political consciousness. One group was too old for him to be a peer; the other was too young to see him as anything except suspicious. He was fascinated and excited by both, but became a member of neither, remaining that impossibility: a non-conforming non-conformist. Left to his own devices, he became one of the first generation of television addicts. He grew up living the lip service on so many lips. As a goal, as a model, the myth reeked of individual power, but the first Superman he ever knew, George Reeves, blew his brains out. How could Superman put a bullet in his head? He wondered. Wouldn’t it just bounce off? The myth, in practiced fact, was a conditioner: a view of the world in carefully molded packaging. Careful, my son, don’t remove the plastic wrap if you don’t want the contents to lose value. Use caution, my son, when stealing peeks into Pandora’s box.

Later, he read the Book of Daniel and the Unquiet Death of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, refreshed himself on the case of Saco and Vanzetti, the lunacies of Attorney General Palmer’s Great Red Scare, Joe McCarthy’s witch hunts, and narrowed the glass to Ronald Reagan, the CIA, both Bushes, an Ashcroft, a Gonzales, and the “Moral” Majority. Rambo bulged out of the silver screen in living blood and the whole, mad, delirious killing frenzy danced on, with kids carrying submachine squirt guns and rubber knives the size of Route 66. The myth versus the reality: it echoed. Properly connected, with the correct measure of rising and falling sounds, clicks and “syllabalings,” words conjured up any sort of world. Once believed, the words structured reality and even reinforced the impulse to self-destruction.

Sadness to relate, Lamentation Number 4-billion-and-something: the scientific humanists have turned us into mechanical appliances. The corporate boardroom bastards have turned us into assembly line spare parts. And, the religionists have turned us into dependent, frightened moral bankrupts.

Why did I have to awaken? He wondered. Why couldn’t I have remained as mindlessly narcotized as my peers, skipping to the top, mesmerized by depilated crotch in designer bathing suits. The clever little ripper on his way to a semi-lifetime in the pen, darts in and out of the Square John crowd, putting time and distance between himself and the scene of his most recent petty crime. Xerox sells obsolete product two weeks before new product release, saying nothing to the client. The fossil-fuel barons, the Koch brothers, are poisoning the planet and opposed to all life-affirming change. Are they all the Devil’s helpers?

Q: What’s the fastest animal in the world?

A: A chicken crossing Darfur.

NEW BOOK: 

The COPPER-HANDLES AFFAIR: The Great San Francisco Earthquake, Fire and Bank Heist by John Patrick Legry (Oct 20, 2010)

NEW NOVEL at Amazon.com, etc.

THE COPPER-HANDLES AFFAIR: The Great San Francisco Earthquake, Fire and Bank Heist, begins with the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and a simple opportunistic bank robbery, plunging John Law Copper, accidental thief, and Frederick W. Handles, the pursuing policeman, into the greater game of big money power politics and civic corruption on the Ragtime U. S. Pacific Coast. The chase takes them through the vanished garden world of northern California to the dangerous shanghai town of Portland, Oregon. 50 b&w line drawings and two maps.

From reviews:

“FARGO meets LES MISERABLES meets LONESOME DOVE”

“John Legry’s novel “The Copper-Handles Affair” will especially delight lovers of history as well as those who enjoy a good cops-and-robbers story. Set at the time of the San Francisco earthquake, the reader follows two men: a thief, John Law Copper who stumbles across $400,000 in bank money during the aftermath of the quake; and Frederick W. Handles, a detective bent upon bringing Copper to justice.
The chase between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon exposes both characters to a variety of angels and villains and so the story’s pace never slackens. One twist follows another until the conclusion which surprises with a laugh.
The settings are authentic, the characters believeable and the writer’s drawings are beautiful renderings of the period. I can think of no more pleasant way to experience a bit of history while having a good read.”

“A great fast paced read. …hard to put down.  …characters are fully developed and believable. …the literary style of switching back and forth from Copper’s escape to Handles pursuit kept the adventure moving… Many of the “switches” ended in a cliffhanger that compelled the reader…on. Besides being a good read, this book takes you on a geographical and historical tour of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.”

Click on images below to sample the flavor of the story:

Leaving Red Bluff

Thugs in the Parlor

Quarantine

The COPPER-HANDLES AFFAIR: The Great San Francisco Earthquake, Fire and Bank Heist by John Patrick Legry

MY STORY BEGINS

April 27, 2010

MY STORY BEGINS

My story begins where the Old Testament ends.  It does not pick up with the New Testament – that painful detour for so many who entered its twisting maze to become helplessly lost. We tend to forget that the reader, not the character in the story, is the one being educated about the nature of the divine.  The best that can be said of the rest of the Old Testament is that it kept god god, and did not try to make a man out of him; however, all men became gods when Job did his ju-jitsu. Practically, the Story of Job is liberating revolutionary dynamite.

God shows growth and development throughout the compendium called the Holy Bible.  He starts off as an insane and dysfunctional parent, up to and including infanticide en mass, but “mellows” by the time of Jesus (“You bleed for them, kid, and we’ll call it good this time”). However, in the Story of Job – essentially the end of the original First Five books – God lets the Devil torment Job, mainly for reasons of vanity, and exposes His own “feet of clay.”

“I bet ya ten bucks I can shake this guy,” Satan says.

“You’re on!” God replies.

Job, however, refuses to forsake his faith in the face of overwhelming personal bodily and mental torture, including the loss of his entire family.

Since God created man in his own image, allowing Satan to do violence to Job, without giving Job relief or reason, makes God complicit in evil.

Job has shown God his true self (which is man’s function): man is in God’s image and God is both good and evil. As man sees himself in God, God sees himself in man.

God finally feels guilty enough to declare Job right and almost admits Himself wrong (Big Guy has real responsibility issues). He admits and fixes His mischief (close enough). This is the end of God’s growth into a mature deity.

It is the end of Man’s growth into maturity too; from here on out, for good or evil, he is able to be a free self-directing agent.

Worried learned men wanted to leave Job out of the Bible; their “Jobs” were on the line.
“Down with equality!” They cried. “The Invisible Cloud Being (ICB) rules; we’ll tell you what he wants you to do! You can’t be fully responsible for yourselves!”

Viewed in Job, God and man cancel each other out and merge as one. One can see why the learned men wanted Job out of town as fast as humanly possible. It was a real career-ender for them. But the story got in anyway. Probably because Job “took a licking and kept on ticking,” like a good old American-built Timex watch.

Ever since then, this whole business has been called a “Mystery of the Bible.” And, small wonder.

BUTTERFLY BUD

BUTTERFLY BUD

A Bit More About Adult Responsibility:

When Buddhists recognize the human being, or other in one another, they similarly acknowledge that everyone is under the authority of their own individual adult responsibility for their own thoughts and actions.

Christians, however, seem content as perpetual children, forever dutiful to a paternal authority, oddly manifested in an Invisible Cloud Being (ICB) – as fantastic as Santa Claus, or any other unproven fantasy figure – who, in this mythology, had adulterous sexual relations with an earthly teenaged virgin.  Christian desire for god is not nonsense, but their invention is a surrogate, crutch and dangerous doppelganger for the real deal.  It is the cop-out of every irresponsible dependent Christian soul.  It is also a handy tool that makes it easier for the unscrupulous to take advantage of the gullible and foolish, and even move them to fiendish deeds in the name of the deity.

The world will not improve while great numbers believe in an Invisible Cloud Being; it’s too easy to pass the buck, alibi, excuse, or harm others in the Big Poobah’s name.  Yet, if the act is one’s own, by will or grace, who is finally to fully praise or blame?  Does this argue that man is divine and divorced from the rest of creation?  Such a disconnect is a purely self-destructive insanity.  Like it or not, we are biologically nailed to this earth. Christians, and other religionists, seeking to escape life for imagined perfection in an impossible airborne Disneyland are a survival liability for the rest of us.

“Let us cross ovah the rivah and rest undah the shade of the great oak tree.”

One must be specific and particular, scientific and rational when addressing this volatile subject, because all religions are fundamentally intolerant and flawed.  My own prejudice is obvious in the few paragraphs above. However, Buddhism (for those who do not know) is not a religion, but a methodology for successful living; Buddha recommended shopping around if his tools didn’t fit the job, and asked his followers not to make him a god, which many of them obviously ignored.  Yet, somehow Buddhism admits the mystery without trying to explain it, remains open to new information and the next scientific revelation, and answers questions with more questions.  Other religious systems seem primarily fixed and inflexible, imposing absurd limits on the infinite, and providing definite answers to inherently ambiguous questions about inherently unknowable things.

It is, therefore, advisable IMO to be knowledgeable about all religions, and to select tools from each as they may best fulfill a specific need.  Critics say that this relativistic approach to philosophy and religion defies their true wisdom, which is intrinsic and whole, to be specifically and fully obeyed. One has to spend a lifetime proving only one point, which eliminates making a discovery that may be better, or being able to avoid a false conclusion before having wasted one’s entire life upon it.

Perfectly good lives are wasted with trivia, nonsense, and utterly worthless self-hobbling concepts, such as, sin, guilt, heaven, and hell.

  • The ancient Sumerians had no concept of guilt or sin, yet managed to build the world’s first true high civilization.
  • Ancient Greeks: To sin = “to miss the mark” – can be high or low.  Sin is not living up to, or being who you are.

People allow themselves to be kept in check with threats of eternal fire and damnation after death!  As soon believe on Santa’s list of good and bad boys and girls, and lumps of coal in your Christmas stocking; or rabbits hiding eggs at Easter time – he is risen, have an egg.  What kind of garbled mash is that?

Those sure of eternal life, are usually obsessed with and afraid of death.  One had better have a pretty good alternative at hand to mollify the despairing crowd, bemoaning their fallen faith, if they ever decide their emperor has no clothes, and god vanishes in a single weak puff of doubt.  Without faith, they might invent something truly harmful and ridiculous as a substitute.

Self-deception is apparently a core human behavior – I would now say gene; its use permits all sorts of mindless or mad adventures.  Self-deception enables otherwise perfectly decent people to burn disbelievers at the stake, or to bring guns to a town hall meeting; or to sit on the end of a big bullet and get fired at the Moon!  Self-deception allows us to feel perfectly safe when we are in fact balanced on a knife’s edge above a raging inferno – and no, not hell, something real, like Mona Loa.

Did you know, Amen, Amun, or Amon was the chief god of Egypt in the New Kingdom?  The Hebrews (Habiru) took his name into the desert with them in the Exodus.  They literally call on the Great God of the Pharaohs at the end of all their prayers when they intone “Amen.”  And so do Christians and Moslems.  The three great religions unwittingly – for the most part – believe in the same god and pronounce His name every day: Yahweh-Jehovah, Jesus and Allah are tribal manifestations of the one great god: AMUN.

 Pharaoh and the Lion Goddess

Pharaoh and the Lion Goddess

ALL OF A KEY

Alice said:

“There was a lad in there with a great polished shield of tin or brass, reflecting the yellow-white Egyptian sun back into the tomb recesses so that the paintings were clearly visible in all their profound beauty.  There’s a sadness about it, for their discovery and exhibition are destroying them.  They were intended as funerary decoration to be shut from sun and air and water for the rest of eternity, not to be displayed like some Messrs. Barnum & Bailey amusement.  The academics from all over the world are exposing their fragility to the rough outside world and the great legacy of ancient Egypt is crumbling to sand.  I think that those academics are searching as much for themselves as for the remnants of an ancient past.  Who and how and what and why mean nothing really except for context.  These modern grave robbers are trying to discover how they – the searchers – are somehow more profound, more intelligent, more advanced than the ancient people they are studying.  How arrogant it sounds when some fifty-year-old archaeologist marvels over the similarities of modern and ancient man!  It is a burlesque of the young judging the old – the foolish criticizing the wise.  In the end, it isn’t our technology, which defines our humanity; it is our relation to life and death.  In that, the ancient Egyptians were far ahead of the majority of we modern fools.”

ANCIENT WISDOM

Later, the Renaissance considered a life unencumbered by revealed religion.

ohmmmm

I MET JESUS

I met Jesus walking down the road with Buddha the other day.  They were discussing the oddity that, by eschewing things of the world, and accepting and giving unto Caesar that which is his, one re-arrives at a destination that is also a point of departure called acceptance or rejection.  It’s an endless loop, coming from nowhere and going nowhere; and, the leader is the guy who can be seen going by on the merry-go-round at any particular moment.  Nothing is fixed, and nothing ever changes; or, to put it another way, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

   Philosophy will do that to one, and that’s why I was so delighted, because any argument that begins and ends in chaos, with a lot of confusion, bafflement, and befuddlement in between is bound to be as fraught with opportunity as with risk, and holds as much potential good, as it does evil.  Having said so, they looked at me and said loudly and in unison,

“Go away!”

AGE OF REASON

“That which is now called natural philosophy, embracing the whole circle of science, of which astronomy occupies the chief place, is the study of the works of God, and of the power and wisdom of God in his works, and is the true theology.

“As to the theology that is now studied in its place, it is the study of human opinions and of human fancies concerning God.  It is not the study of God himself in the works that he has made, but in the writings that man has made; and it is not among the least of the mischiefs that man has made; and it is not among the least of mischiefs that the Christian system has done to the world, that it has abandoned the original and beautiful system of theology, like a beautiful innocent, to distress and reproach, to make room for the hag of superstition.”  – Tom Paine, Age of Reason, p. 37

Stephen Hawkings

MACHIAVELLI and the BEAST

January 20, 2010
 
Canon Fodder

The Beast Wins.

I must finally admit it.  Religion is necessary.  Machiavelli said it.  Since the majority of the people are ignorant and superstitious, it’s easiest to control and direct them if they share a common value system around which to build action.  Any action taken will look familiar and god will ostensibly attest to its rightness.  It’s a powerful tool for use by the powerful and cynical.

This presupposes that people are ignorant and superstitious and that one cannot do very much about that during the course of a single lifetime.  One can chip away at the edges of the monolithic vacuous ness, possibly erect a structure that others can follow to advance the knowledge project, but finally, one will be defeated by the overwhelming tide of senseless, unreasoning humanity.

The species isn’t really designed to survive; it persists in the complete absorption of its resources to the point of starvation and a fearsome, deadly, entirely avoidable catastrophe.  We are our own worst prophecy; it’s embedded in our bones, wrapped around our DNA and destined to create the wasteland we will all die in.  Have at it cockroaches; it will be your turn soon.

Read Colin Turnbull’s The Mountain People about the Eke tribesman of eastern Africa – of how a whole tribe starved, its members separated into individuals, each clinging shallowly to life, boiling dirt for soup, casting children out at two to fend for themselves when mother’s milk gives out, husbands not helping wives, wives not helping husbands, mothers and fathers and grandparents left to die, each one, separately and alone in the dirt, not even mourned by their own.  Learn how fragile society can be.  Learn how inhuman the majority of humanity actually can be, and often is.

Machiavelli maintains that all human beings are inherently evil.  That’s why we need laws and religion – to keep them in check.  Structure is necessary for peace and prosperity.  Therefore, I must finally admit it: Religion is necessary, but only to control and direct the mob.  It is a tool to control the unreasoning.  Please don’t ask me to believe in it.  – jl.

The Obama Administration seems to concur with me, but apparently translates it into more power, more control.

US Corporations, Private Mercenaries and the IMF Rush in to Profit from Haiti’s Crisis By Benjamin Dangl, Toward Freedom. January 19, 2010.

In the midst of a colossal human disaster, Washington is promoting unpopular economic policies and extending military and economic control over the Haitian people.

US corporations, private mercenaries, Washington and the International Monetary Fund are using the crisis in Haiti to make a profit, promote unpopular neoliberal policies, and extend military and economic control over the Haitian people.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, with much of the infrastructure and government services destroyed, Haitians have relied on each other for the relief efforts, working together to pull their neighbors, friends and loved ones from the rubble. One report from IPS News in Haiti explained, “In the day following the quake, there was no widespread violence. Guns, knives and theft weren’t seen on the streets, lined only with family after family carrying their belongings. They voiced their anger and frustration with sad songs that echoed throughout the night, not their fists.”  READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/world/145279/us_corporations%2C_private_mercenaries_and_the_imf_rush_in_to_profit_from_haiti%27s_crisis 

Obama Confidant’s Spine-Chilling Proposal to ‘Cognitively Infiltrate’ Conspiracy Theorist Groups By Glenn Greenwald, Salon. January 20, 2010.

Recent paper by Obama adviser Cass Sunstein proposes bizarre methods to stamp out “false conspiracy theories,” including taxing the people who engage in them.

Cass Sunstein has long been one of Barack Obama’s closest confidants. Often mentioned as a likely Obama nominee to the Supreme Court, Sunstein is currently Obama’s head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where, among other things, he is responsible for “overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs.” In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-“independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the government.  This would be designed to increase citizens’ faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists. The paper’s abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here. READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/rights/145229/obama_confidant%27s_spine-chilling_proposal_to_%27cognitively_infiltrate%27_conspiracy_theorist_groups

Astonishing Report: We’re Executing Gitmo Prisoners and Calling It Suicide By Andy Worthington, Andy Worthington’s Blog. January 18, 2010.

The three “suicides” in June 2006 were not suicides at all. The men were killed during interrogations in a secret prison block and the murders were disguised to look like suicides.

It’s hard to know where to begin with this profoundly important story by Scott Horton, for next month’s Harper’s Magazine (available on the web here), but let’s try this: The three “suicides” at Guantánamo in June 2006 were not suicides at all. The men in question were killed during interrogations in a secretive block in Guantánamo, conducted by an unknown agency, and the murders were then disguised to look like suicides. Everyone at Guantánamo knew about it. Everyone covered it up. Everyone is still covering it up.  READ MORE: http://www.alternet.org/rights/145257/astonishing_report%3A_we%27re_executing_gitmo_prisoners_and_calling_it_suicide

Patriot's Dream

Jacques Cousteau: “I hope for the best, although I can’t say why.”

THANKSGIVING TURKEYS

October 13, 2009
Patriot's Dream

Patriot's Dream

Bill Moyers: Was the Financial Bailout Just a Slick, Friendly Takeover of the Federal Government? By Bill Moyers, Bill Moyers Journal. Moyers interviews Marcy Kaptur, a hero of Michael Moore’s latest documentary and former IMF head Simon Johnson on Wall Street’s purchase of our democracy.

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/143209/bill_moyers%3A_was_the_financial_bailout_just_a_slick%2C_friendly_takeover_of_the_federal_government

4 Supreme Court Cases That Will Say a Lot About the Direction of Our Country By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Would a Human Sacrifice TV Channel be protected by the First Amendment? Answers to this and other key questions will be answered.

As the Supreme Court kicked off its new season last week with a brand new justice on the bench, the cases on the docket provided a fascinating glimpse into the judicial soul of the country.

In the first days alone, there were cases involving dog fighting, a controversial cross on public land, and a number of prickly criminal justice issues.

The months to come will test laws on some of the most controversial issues of our time, including guns, sex offenders and the uniquely American question of whether teenagers can be sentenced to life without parole. The outcomes will tell us a lot about the future direction of the Roberts court, and what it might mean to have Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the bench.

http://www.alternet.org/rights/143197/4_supreme_court_cases_that_will_say_a_lot_about_the_direction_of_our_country

Possible Major Speed Bump on the Way to Legal Marijuana By Stephen Webster, Raw Story. In spite of a law on California books for over a decade allowing sales of pot, L.A. DA Steve Cooley suddenly announces, “The time is right to deal with this problem.”

In spite of a law on California books for over a decade which allows the sale of medical cannabis to properly licensed patients, the district attorney in Los Angeles County is preparing an all-out legal assault against the “vast majority” of dispensaries.

“Hundreds of dispensaries operate under a 1996 voter initiative that allowed medical marijuana use, and a state law that allows for collective growing of marijuana,” NBC Los Angeles reported. “But based on a state Supreme Court decision last year, [LA County District Attorney Steve] Cooley has concluded that over-the-counter sales are illegal. Most if not all of the dispensaries in the state operate on that basis.”

http://www.alternet.org/rights/143208/possible_major_speed_bump_on_the_way_to_legal_marijuana

Republican Senate Sex Scandals Point Back to Secretive Conservative Christian “Family” By Bill Berkowitz, Religion Dispatches. It was a hot summer full of sex scandals for GOP members of “The Family,” the exclusive conservative Christian group with designs on DC power.

Before the Tea Party Express brought tens of thousands to protest in the nation’s capital, and before town hall meetings about health care devolved into shout downs, there was the story of the boys of C Street.

What at first seemed like a series of public sex scandals turned out to have a connective thread. The main protagonists (Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Senator John Ensign of Nevada, and former Arkansas Congressman Chip Pickering) were all one-time residents of C Street and members of the Family, otherwise known as the Fellowship. As the summer unfurled, the “three amigos” gave mainstream media outlets plenty to talk about, and this highly secretive and powerful right-wing group got a lot of exposure. And then, as is the wont of the media, the story of C Street disappeared from the headlines.

http://www.alternet.org/politics/143151/republican_senate_sex_scandals_point_back_to_secretive_conservative_christian_%22family%22

Insurers Mount Attack Against Health Reform by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar.  WASHINGTON — The health insurance industry is warning that a comprehensive Senate bill would increase the cost of a typical policy by hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars a year after lawmakers eased up on the requirement that all Americans get coverage.

The stinging attack came on the eve of a pivotal Senate vote and was a clear message to President Barack Obama and congressional Democratic leaders who have been making headway on overhauling the nation’s health care system. The industry fears that a weakening of the penalties for failing to get insurance would let Americans postpone getting coverage until they get sick.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/10/12-4

Second Thoughts by Michael Moore.  Friends,

Last night my wife asked me if I thought I was a little too hard on Obama in my letter yesterday congratulating him on his Nobel Prize. “No, I don’t think so,” I replied. I thought it was important to remind him he’s now conducting the two wars he’s inherited. “Yeah,” she said, “but to tell him, ‘Now earn it!’? Give the guy a break — this is a great day for him and for all of us.”

I went back and re-read what I had written. And I listened for far too long yesterday to the right wing hate machine who did what they could to crap all over Barack’s big day. Did I — and others on the left — do the same?

We are weary, weary of war. The trillions that will have gone to these two wars have helped to bankrupt us as a nation — financially and morally. To think of all the good we could have done with all that money! Two months of the War in Iraq would pay for all the wells that need to be dug in the Third World for drinking water! Obama is moving too slow for most of us — but he needs to know we are with him and we stand beside him as he attempts to turn eight years of sheer madness around. Who could do that in nine months? Superman? Thor? Mitch McConnell?

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/10/11

War and Peace Prizes by Howard Zinn.

I was dismayed when I heard Barack Obama was given the Nobel peace prize. A shock, really, to think that a president carrying on two wars would be given a peace prize. Until I recalled that Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Henry Kissinger had all received Nobel peace prizes. The Nobel committee is famous for its superficial estimates, won over by rhetoric and by empty gestures, and ignoring blatant violations of world peace.

Yes, Wilson gets credit for the League of Nations – that ineffectual body which did nothing to prevent war. But he had bombarded the Mexican coast, sent troops to occupy Haiti and the Dominican Republic and brought the US into the slaughterhouse of Europe in the first World War, surely among stupid and deadly wars at the top of the list.

Sure, Theodore Roosevelt brokered a peace between Japan and Russia. But he was a lover of war, who participated in the US conquest of Cuba, pretending to liberate it from Spain while fastening US chains on that tiny island. And as president he presided over the bloody war to subjugate the Filipinos, even congratulating a US general who had just massacred 600 helpless villagers in the Phillipines. The Committee did not give the Nobel prize to Mark Twain, who denounced Roosevelt and criticised the war, nor to William James, leader of the anti-imperialist league.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/10/10-3

Wamm2

POLLUTER BORN EVERY MINUTE

September 14, 2009

Coming to America -Triptych

[See also POLLUTER BORN EVERY MINUTE reprise for full post]

TOO DAMNED MANY PEOPLE

WAYS TO REDUCE CARBON FOOTPRINTS:

ACTION: (Measure: Lifetime carbon dioxide saved in Metric Tons. Data from U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s personal emissions calculator and calculations by OSU statistics professor Paul Murtaugh.  Annual totals based on lifespan of 80 – female expectancy U.S.  Source: Paul Murtaugh).

Recycle newspaper, magazines, glass, plastic, and aluminum cans – 17 tons

Replace old refrigerator with energy-efficient model – 19 tons

Replace 10 incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient ones – 36 tons

Replace single-glazed windows with energy-efficient windows – 21 tons

Reduce miles driven from 231 to 155 per week – 147 tons

Increase car’s fuel economy from 20 miles per gallon to 30 – 148 tons

REDUCE NUMBER OF CHILDREN BY ONE  – 9,441 tons

Under current conditions, each child in the U.S. adds about 9,4441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the parents’ carbon legacy during his lifetime.  That’s 5.7 times more than the average childless person.

A child born in China has a fifth of the impact of a child born in the U.S.

The carbon legacy and greenhouse gas impact of having a child is almost 20 times more important than other ecologically minded lifestyle choices like driving a fuel-efficient car, recycling or being energy-efficient.

The same conclusions also roughly apply to fresh water consumption. Fresh water has been and will continue to be cause for international conflict. The amount of fresh water on planet earth is finite and we’re running out.

Many children are born to people who are not ready or willing to raise them.

Many parents are less ecologically responsible out of convenience, e.g. using disposable instead of cloth diapers; buying an SUV instead of a compact (“The family is so much safer.”  Not in the long run, Mom; bad choice for the grand children too, if any).

Abstracted: “Not So Carbon Friendly” Jennifer Anderson, Portland Tribune.  Sound Off – Comment: www.portlandtribune.com

TIME IS SHORT

According to the best science, we’ve got ten years left to take this issue on seriously and save our butts.  It may well be less, no one can accurately predict the rate of decay.  It will take most of us to accomplish any earthly salvation, but if we don’t confront and dispose of our garbage, which includes, but is not limited to: religion; overpopulation; short-term economic self-interest; and our ostrich-like tendency to duck and cover in order to avoid seeing our approaching doom, we’re screwed.

We must stop over consumption, kick capitalism into a servant’s status in our democratic life, and curb the excesses of individual and tribal (read also national) self-interest.  Impossible, you say?  That’s my point: good luck and the spin of prayer is about all we seem willing to invest in our own survival.

Homo sapiens, Man the “wise,” we called ourselves; Homo sapiens sapiens, man the “doubly wise” some scientists call us now.  Yeah, right.  First step: pick up the shovel and find a place to pitch in; there’s a lot of work to do quickly, and it must be done well.  No me-first crap, one for all and all for one.  Meet you in the trenches.

A GOOD Place to Start: Center for Biological Diversity

Slaughtered Dolphins - Japan

Japanese fishermen riding a boat loaded with slaughtered dolphins at a blood-covered water cove in Taiji harbor, Japan’s Wakayama prefecture. US environmentalist Ric O’Barry has filmed dolphin hunting at the town of Taiji as an eco-documentary called “The Cove” which has started screening in the US.(AFP/HO/File)

Published on Friday, September 11, 2009 by Agence France Presse

Japanese Town Starts Dolphin Hunt Under global Spotlight by Kyoko Hasegawa.

TAIJI, Japan – To animal rights activists it’s a cruel and bloody slaughter; for Japanese it’s a long tradition: this week fishermen in a picturesque coastal town embarked on their annual dolphin hunt.  Every year, crews in motorboats here have rounded up about 2,000 of the sea mammals, banged metal poles to herd them into a small, rocky cove and killed them with harpoons, sparing a few dozen for sale to marine aquariums.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/09/11-4

AMERICAN DUMMIES

September 5, 2009

doodoocaacaapoopoo

 RECENT NEWS FROM THE FRONT:

Published on Thursday, September 3, 2009 by the Associated PressWe Are Heading Towards an Abyss’ U.N. chief tells 150 governments that time running out on climate change.  GENEVA – U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon told a meeting of some 150 governments on Thursday that time is running out for a new climate deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/09/03

Published on Friday, September 4, 2009 by The Guardian/UK Global Warming Has Made Arctic Summers Hottest for 2,000 Years. The Arctic has warmed as a result of climate change, despite the Earth being farther from the sun during summer months by Ian Sample.  Warming as a result of increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has overwhelmed a millennia-long cycle of natural cooling in the Arctic, raising temperatures in the region to their highest for at least 2,000 years, according to a report.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/09/04-3

Published on Friday, September 4, 2009 by The Guardian/UK Current Economic Growth Model Is ‘Immoral’, Says Prescott. With the world’s population growing to nine million by 2050, Britain’s former deputy PM predicts far more crucial and complex talks in Copenhagen than in Kyoto by Jonathan Watts.  John Prescott, the former UK climate negotiator, called on developed nations today to accept a new model of economic growth that would create a more equitable spread of carbon emissions in the world. Speaking to the Guardian in Beijing, Prescott said talks at Copenhagen would probably not be decided until an 11th-hour crisis, but that no global consensus could be reached without a fairer spread of emissions.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/09/04-8

Verizon Wireless Faces Ire Over Mountaintop Removal Rally

Currently, Verizon Wireless is cosponsoring a pro-mountaintop-removal, anti-climate, anti-union Labor Day rally — and the Center for Biological Diversity is leading a pressure campaign to compel a quick about-face. Massey Energy’s “Friends of America” rally, to be held atop a former surface mine in West Virginia next Monday, will cheer for the devastating practice of mountaintop-removal coal mining, which blows up mountains and chokes waterways with debris in Appalachian habitat. The rally, organized by coal giant Massey Energy, will guest-star global warming denier Lord Christopher Monckton, and boasts an on-site anti-climate legislation petition to sign. Further, the rally’s Web site homepage shockingly features the company’s CEO on video accusing “environmental extremists” of destroying jobs by opposing mountaintop removal. (Meanwhile, the rally is competing with the nearby 71st annual United Coal Workers of America Labor Day celebration for attendees.)

But thanks to the Center’s immediate leap into action and bold national grassroots campaign, Verizon Wireless may be losing more than a few of its 87 million customers: Thousands of them are asking, Can you hear us now? and pledging to spend their money with their conscience. On August 30, the Center notified Verizon Wireless’ CEO in no uncertain terms that Verizon must withdraw support for the rally and mountaintop removal or we’d have to tell our 225,000 supporters why we left their pro-coal, anti-environmentalist, anti-union company. Now we’ve joined forces with CREDO Action, and in just three days our concerned citizens submitted 69,000 letters and made hundreds of phone calls to Verizon telling it to drop the rally.

Join us in commanding Verizon Wireless to withdraw its sponsorship and read more about our opposition in Advertizing Age. Help submit more than 100,000 letters by Labor Day — join the cause on Facebook, tweet about Verizon, and learn why Grist magazine calls Massey’s CEO “the scariest polluter in America” in this New York Times piece.

CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/

Tip o' the hat to ALL HAT NO CATTLE: Watching the Cons in Conservatism.

Tip o' the hat to ALL HAT NO CATTLE: Watching the Cons in Conservatism.

Odd Shots and Idle Pensees #1

June 30, 2009
Magic Mountains - Resurrection Machines

Magic Mountains – Resurrection Machines

The FIRST OCCASIONAL INSTALLMENT of THISSES and THATS collected over the years:

548 Primrose Lane – Robocop’s home address before all the bad stuff went down.

“The more you drive, the less intelligent you are.” – Mechanic, Repo Man.

“We should not be ashamed to acknowledge truth from whatever source it come to us.  Even if it is brought to us by former generations and foreign peoples.  For him who seeks the truth there is nothing of higher value than the truth itself.” – al-Kindi, c.801-66

“Take Memoprove and forget memory problems!” – real T.V. ad. Blanks your mind?

Interesting (real) Historical Horse Manure:

Twenty-six handpicked men were selected from the 16th U.S. Cavalry to find John Wilkes Booth (Abraham Lincoln’s assassin), among whom was Boston Corbett, a religious zealot and military fanatic who had castrated himself for visiting prostitutes!  Edwin Stanton had ordered Booth be taken alive.  Corbett, of course, killed him. What’s wrong with this picture?

“Even I, Lucas, have heard the legend of a man fish!” – Lucas, Creature from the Black Lagoon.

“Ninety percent of things without backbones come alive in the darkness.” – no, not neoconservative republicans, starfish echinoids.  Ocean dwellers.

Ancient Greeks: To sin = “to miss the mark” – can be high or low.  Sin is not living up to, or being who you are.

Dead, uncorrupted saints make good listeners.

In ancient China they didn’t think of history as the past, but now, and in the future too, so it all blurred or blended in one unending flow, beginning, middle, and end.  In the West history is neatly compartmented with dividing lines between epochs and eras.  The Chinese View had us live in the stream as part of the stream; the Western Way allows us to cut off the past from relevance in our present, and as an influence on our future.  We can forget time in a sense and float in a bubble, separate from time and space, in it, but not of it.  The Western view, in this, as in religion and everything else in life, divorces us from connection to the rest of Creation and instead makes us little gods, capable of managing and directing our own fate, of manipulating the universe to our exclusive human ends – even if it kills us.  Conclusion: the Western Way is a confusion of our actual stature in the universe, and hazardous to our health. Modern China is definitely finding that out.

Note: Feeling loss of identity?  Eager to believe in something, anything?  You’re prime fodder for cults.

Edward Gibbon writes that it’s less difficult to invent a fictitious story than to support a practical fraud.  It is the character of falsehood to be loose and inconsistent.  The most incredible parts of the legend are smoothed and softened by minions or apologists.  Religion depends upon credulity and craftiness, which insensibly corrode the vital principles of virtue and veracity.  The useful prejudice, which has obtained the sanction of time and opinion produces the effect of truth.  People in the heat of religious faction are apt to despise the profane virtues of sincerity and moderation.

I oppose all –isms.  Isms polarize people and imperil the world.  I prefer democracy, which cannot be made into an –ism.  How could it be when one universal idea admits all ideas?  I realize that that makes democracy inherently messy, but I prefer its disorder over the violence, persecution, and oppression of any of its alternatives – all of which, are –isms.

“It’s hotter than a Fox News weather skank.” – Ned Flanders (!), Simpsons.

“God, the original Tony Soprano.” – church sign, Simpsons.

Parzival by Wolfram Von Eisenbach, 13th century C.E.  Much ado about fabrics, flags, one’s place at the table, head-busting by foolish men for foolish ladies, and the romantic search for the fabulous grail – the holiest snipe hunt for the silliest prize: the Americas-Stanley-Wimbledon cup of immortality available only for unblemished boobery.

He’d paid his debt to joy, his life was but a dying.” – Wolfram Eisenbach, Parzival.

Dey vas dese two crummy kids – rotten dey vas – runnin’ aboud nekkid, und fornicatin’.  Dey vent und eat all der fruit offen der tree, und dere vas gonna be no pie!  Der girl – hoo-vay – she vas a stinker dat tink she know ever thang, und snippet der papa.  Sonny vas joost a big putz, und it vas too much vor der ault papa.  Hoo-vay, dey godda go, vat’s da big loss?  Nuttin’!   Und der papa Yah-vey said, “Ged da fugg out mine garden!” Und, dat vas just da vay it vas.  Dey is outen de platz.  Phooie!

“Ve ver in der bunker, und der fuehrer vas goin’ nutsy, und ve used to call him der Nutsy Nazi.” – imagined dialog for End the Third Reich Already History Channel Show.

“They have to find a way to institutionalize the existing situation so they don’t have to fix it.” – insight on too many political debates.

People, books, and things come into our lives for a reason.  It’s up to us to figure out why.

And it came to pass that someone passed gas, and all were offended.

“There’s never been anything like it.” – Shaq, speaking for Icy Hot.

Pain is an itch we can’t scratch.  All life is pain in the Buddhistic sense.  Its temporal fleeting nature is a constant bitter sweetness, forever a tear on the edge of beauty, a sigh on the cusp of grief.  We only get it for a moment, and sitting in silence, alone, we can feel its presence somewhere, always within, always informing, if we will it so.

The prissy spellcheck: I typed “bullcrap,” it wanted me to use: “bull rap,” “bullyrag,” or “fulcra.”  I don’t see how “fulcra” can even remotely echo or apply, unless used to fling the bullcrap.

Nietzsche:

“The philosopher can attain to truth by his reason and can live by it, but not all human beings are philosophers and able to grasp the truth directly.  Most can attain to it only through symbols.”

the Galleries:Fine Art: JLegry Gallery

http://www.zazzle.com/jlegry

Humor, Sci-Fi, Fantasy: FatLemon Gallery

http://www.zazzle.com/FatLemon

VINTAGE and COLLECTIBLES, including POLITICAL MEMORABILIA: TheAttic Gallery

http://www.zazzle.com/TheAttic