Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sri Lanka Update

Update 2017 -- a few years after I wrote this, the war was over. The Sri Lankan army marched the Tamil tigers into the sea and killed them all, men, woman and children.  From that day on, nothing more was heard about anything. 

After three years of a cease-fire characterized by only “light” terrorism; After a Tsunami that lowered informal but fixed barriers that separated people; after a generation that for 22 years has known only hostility, Sri Lanka faces war, again.  
With the August 12 assassination of the Sri Lanka foreign minister, Lakshman Kadirgar, Prime Minister Chandrika Kumaratunga declared and indefinite state of emergency and many believe this is the start of a new round of violence. 
Both sides blame the other for the killing, and so it goes. 
Some of the factors in this conflict stem from ethnic and religious differences, but many of the problems stem from the perversion of nationalism, the after effects of colonialism, and the political bent of personalities that have driven the movements in the last 40 years, which has included foreign intervention and support.
Sri Lanka has two major population groups with both ethnic and religious identifications. The Sinhala represent the largest group with over 70% of the population and define themselves as Aryans, and believe that they were the first real settlers, coming from the Bengal region of India and dominating most of the island from the 5th century on.
The Tamil claim to be of Dravidian origin, mostly darker in skin and from the southern area of India originally. Tamils include a large proportion—about a third—of imported workers from Southern India that the colonial powers brought in after the 15th century to work. The Tamils identify as Hindu.
For most of Sri Lanka’s history it was ruled as a loose confederation. The Sinhalese Kingdom dominated in the south, while the Northern area ruled itself as a semi-autonomous part of the Kingdom, known as the Kandiyan Kingdom.
In 1504 the Portuguese arrived as a colonial power, followed by the Dutch in 1658. Both of these powers ruled Sri Lanka as two administrative units—as did the British when they arrived to rule in 1796. Not until 1833 did the North and South get combined into one nation, and that was for the convenience of the ruling Brits. 
Many historians conclude that the problems facing Sri Lanka today come directly from the years of colonialism.
 K.N.O Sharmadasa, in his article about Buddhist resurgence and Christian privilege, notes that the rise of the Buddhists activist groups, the Bhikkhus, that began shortly before independence in 1948, was a backlash against the Christian missionaries and their perceived favoritism towards the Northern Tamils in terms of education and assistance. It was from these Bhikkhus that came the most divisive call to arms—The adoption of Sinhalese as the national, and only, language.
Kumari Jayawardhana, in his summary of the Ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, notes that under the British the Tamils really did get all the good, influential jobs. Under the British more than 75% of the schools were opened in the North, and that by the 1930’s, over 80% of the jobs in government were being done by ethnic Tamils.
Jayawardhana’s conclusion is that this lead to a strong Sinhalese nationalism that was directed at both the West, for their colonialism, and the Christians, for their support of the minority Tamils shortly before independence, resulting in a over reaction by the Sinhalese that is the root of today’s problems.
In 1935 the Sinhalese Buddhists formed the Samasamaja political party, the S.W.R.D., whose fundamental goal was to replace English with Sinhalese as official language of Sri Lanka. Since the Tamils benefited the most from the use of English in the courts and government, they felt it was a direct attack on them, a way of discounting their membership in society.
The British set up a plan for democracy after granting independence in 1948. Since everyone had the vote, the outcome was preordained—the Sinhalese won with a huge majority and then began the “tyranny of the majority” on the minority Tamils.
One of the first acts of the independent government was to pass an act disenfranchising a large group of the Tamils who had been brought over by the British in the last two centuries—thereby making them stateless and serving as a sort of ethnic cleansing by decree.
All this got formalized in 1964 when an agreement was signed with India providing for the reparation of almost a million stateless Tamils back to a home they had never been to before.
It was as if that small minority in the U.S. government after the Civil War had actually gotten their way and sent all the freed slaves back to Africa.
In the first ten years after independence the Tamils participation in government dropped, employment in public service dropped, and the drive to eliminate “colonial” English was well underway—to the detriment of the Tamils. 
In 1955, Sinhalese was made the official language of Sri Lanka and ethnic violence broke out, primarily against the Tamils, leave over 400 dead by the end of 1956. 
By 1970, when a new, even more nationalistic Sinhalese government took power, not a single Tamil was involved in government at the cabinet level, and less than 10% of any public service jobs were held by Tamils, leading to the consolidation of Tamil groups into one—The Tamil United Liberation Front, with its goal of self-rule for the North of Sri Lanka. 
In 1972 the Tamil Tigers were formed, as an extremist wing of the TUF, and Vellupilli Prabhakaren its charismatic leader—a leader who remains in charge to this day.
The Tigers began a low level terrorist campaign in the early 70’s that the majority government responded to by a major offensive to take back rebel territories in the North. Thousands of civilians were caught in the crossfire as massive anti-Tamils riots broke out throughout the South leading to wide spread destruction and displacement of Tamils to the North and Sinhalese to the South. Over 2,000 Tamils were killed in a pogrom that including the killing of dozens of political prisoners in a maximum-security prison—by criminals released by guards to do just that. 
Over 80,000 Tamils left their homes in the south, some fleeing to India, some to the north. The ethnic cleansing that started in the fifties accelerated, the racial and religious lines became firmer.  
After 1983, the Tamils became more aggressive with their violence. They became known in the west for both the size of their bombs, but also the use of suicide bombers. First used in 1987, according to Robert Pape in his book about suicide terrorists, they have carried out 76 attacks involving 143 people since then, killing over 900 people, including two world leaders, Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, and the President of Sri Lanka in 1993. 
The Tamils Tigers have a very structured organization. Run by Prabhakaren since its founding, all Tigers are required to carry a vial of cyanide in a small glass vial they carry around their neck—when captured they are supposed to kill themselves.  
Their bombings are spectacular, even their first one, a truck bomb driven into a military barracks, ala Lebanon, killed over 70 soldiers. 
A suicide bomber killed Gandhi in 1991, in response to Indian peacekeeping animosity from 1987, when they sent 70,000 troops to Sri Lanka, mostly to contain the Tamils. That conflict ended in a war of attrition that the Indians soon tired of, leaving a iron wall of destruction around the North of Sri Lanka and an almost trench like fixed lines of occupation by each side.  
So, no love lost between the two sides, but still, the pictures of the smiling girl, leaning forward to lay a wreath on the man, strapped with an explosive belt that snaked up her back, bending and exploding is both stunning and unbearable to look at the same time. 
According to Pape, Tamils who explode themselves are highly supported in the North of Sri Lanka. Once a year, July 5th, a day known as Heroes day is celebrated for the bombers. Monuments of the individuals are placed in public places, surrounded by gardens and ponds, all indications of broad public support for this kind of terrorism 
The Tigers, and Prabhakaren, state that their goal is an independent state in the North and that they see it as a “100 year war,” according to Philip Gourevitch, in a recent New Yorker article.  
Prabhakaren compares it to the battles that Israel and Eritrea had in getting their freedom-- it’s just a matter of wearing the opponent down, and that terrorism is just a weapon that they can use against a stronger enemy, saying, “Because, as a revolutionary organization, we have limited resources.” 
Secession is a relatively new concept in Sri Lanka, and the Tamil’s strongly feel that it’s the only answer to the majority government’s discriminatory policies since independence in 1948, and to the communal violence that has been directed against them. Attempts by the more moderate on both sides have lead to frequent cease fires, and limited negotiations, mostly around trying to form a type of federal state that give regional autonomy to the Tamils in the north.  
Few are publicly optimistic, but the talking continues.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Who's Fault is This?

 Whose fucking fault is this?

We are in a great financial crisis and the future is not certain. Cries of lack of individual responsibly echo through the night, as if crucify all the liars who took out loans they couldn’t pay  to telephone poles would protect  us against any further excess.

Who to blame, and how much of this is caused by personal irresponsibility?

I used to listen to talk radio back in the day before I could afford a tape player. I was always amazed by people who called up with an argument and got eviscerated by the host. I thought to myself, ‘how hard is it to have a single point, express it quickly, and then get off?’

What I didn’t see at the time is – talk show hosts are predators. They have trained and been educated in talking. They hone their skill with words over time. They have practiced in front of millions of listeners until the fear has left them. They also have self selected themselves to be where they are – good tones, confident postures and faces that on Radio would love, (think: ugly fat guys getting even with words for all the bruises popular guys gave them in high school.)

It’s not a fair fight – callers are thrown to the gladiators in the ring of a telephone for blood sport and the amusement of others.

People want to believe, they want Christmas, and they want to win the lottery. Many have grown up all their lives thinking that owning their own home is to have arrived. They fall into the ‘home or purpose’ reason for existence group.

And it’s not as if people from Nigeria were telling them they could afford a home.
Given a choice of something now, or something latter – and given a credit culture paid for by advertising and flash – individual responsibility for actions becomes a weakness that gets exploited, in the same way a teenager gets taken advantage of by a sophisticated predator.

The people showing the houses, offering the loans, processing the paperwork, repackaging the loans so no longer identifiable, selling the packages and leveraging them 30:1, regulating the farce, taking the bribes, and pocketing the billions – all of them had more understanding of their actions, and more blood on their hands, than any person who thought with dreams in their eyes that Christmas had come for them, and come early, at last.

Heimliching my Mother

"When you look back on your life, it looks as though it were a plot, but when you are into it, it's a mess: just one surprise after another. Then, later, you see it was perfect."

Visiting Mom
I once heimliched my mom around a living room. My kids hid behind the couch, afraid to come out. A big chunk of burrito flew across the room. I still remember the arc it took. As a family we don’t talk about it much, though she did seem grateful about.

Things just are in my family. Things just are the way they are, no cause, no effect. Things are presented to us and we choose to react or hide, depending on the circumstances. Our choices in life come after the fact- it’s what we do with stuff after it shows up that defines us. Thinking about stuff is what we do all day while waiting for life to show up and give us something to react to. It’s just all one big line we stand in, waiting for the show.

My mom came down to visit and brought Mexican food for us. We sat in the living room, around the big screen TV, and talked. The kids told tales of how their lives were working out. I smiled and nodded my head a lot. We were waiting for the show.

Bug eyed and reaching with both hands to get IT out, my mom looked surprised, and a bit embarrassed. She looked both ways- left and right, and tried to speak. 'Gack, gack,' she said. Showtime, at last, I no longer thought.

She stood, I stood. I wrapped my arms around her waist and jerked her up. One time, two time, -- ack and blow time. The burrito flew; the show was over.

Well, that was sure something, we both thought. The kids peered over the couch they were hiding behind wondering if the show had ended. I think it was like watching Texas chainsaw massacre; they had to close their eyes at the really scary part. We all giggled about how we weren’t hungry anymore, cleaned up and mom went on her way down the road. Just another slice of near death, and back in line for the real work of waiting for the next show time.

Reflections and ruminations of reflections are what we do as a family. Like a second brain, we grind up thoughts and polish reflections until we can eat off them. It’s our great gift, and what we do while standing in line.

Monday, November 24, 2008

HMO"S don't Like You

"Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Insurers’ government-backed health plans for the elderly have increased taxpayer costs with no evidence of improved care, according to research backing President-elect Barack Obama’s call to lower U.S. subsidies.
Many of the Medicare Advantage plans, as they are called, don’t coordinate care to avoid duplication and ensure the best results, authors said in articles posted today on the Web site of Health Affairs. The plans were devised to offer more benefits than conventional Medicare paid directly by the U.S. government."

What this article talks about is medicare HMO's -- something that was started years ago to manage costs by adding another layer of administration on top of the medical cake -- sort of like a thick frosting of goo. They were supposed to eliminate waste, bring market forces to the irrational and unavoidable, and to use economies of scale to lower costs.

What they have done -- and what anyone who has ever had a HMO knows, is act as a  jelly to keep sperm away from the money egg.

And is is very clear who the nasty sperm have always been.

HMO's have departments to limit coverage, deny care through peer reveiw with Uncle Tom physicians, increase co-pays, turn pharmacies into money making operations, and whole departments to review and cherry pick through govenrment regulations to milk every single dollar they can before it goes to actual patient care.

Through lobby efforts, bribes, intelectual dishonesty, they have arranged a cash cow to pad their pockets through the symbolic sacrifice of the holy grail of human life. They are parasites that bring nothing to the system but extra costs and declining medical standards.

Another free market success.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Grandfather's Grave

My father’s fathers grave is easy to find now. I go in the back way and look for the white arch , then head towards the two story mausoleum. He’s on the right, next to the second tree.

I don’t think he’s there though; I’ve had the talks, but they seem one sided. I don’t leave his grave feeling any connection or insight, so not sure what the net is for me, but do seem to think a bit when I leave.

I’m getting to the age of being a grandfather myself and am aware of what my grandfathers’ could have added at an early age. I think about what I will leave to the children of my children, and what they would miss if I were not around to mess with their gentle, unformed minds.

My father writes poetry, and has books and writings of his word in scattered places that can survive the fall. When I read his work, I know that I am different from him in fundamental ways, and that I make choices that he never would. I also know that I am from him, and a part of him, and no place I go will ever be without him. I know him.

My father says that his father wrote poetry, but none of it remains. What would I see of myself if I had the words to read into what he said and felt? What could I tell my children’s children about us as a clan if I had the writings to touch and make sense of?

Without words or contact it’s tough to know the tics and strangeness I might have held in common with my father’s father... Without his words, or an adequate description from another, it’s hard to see what his passions might have been, what moved him in ways I could recognize or marvel at for their strangeness not of me. I’m sure my father was much like him, but different in fundamental ways and in choices made.

My mother’s father is more distant yet. An older man with glasses who came home neatly dressed, turned on the old TV and tried to keep us from annoying. Him they took young with a thing in his brain that kept us away from what might have been a horror.

He, who I am most like, I never knew, only stories and pictures and comments and myths. No one claims he wrote anything down to leave and what I know of him is what others saw, never me.

If we had been together, my grandfathers and I, I know, as I know my children’s children will know, that all of him to know would have been given and known to me by their presence and love.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Scattered on the high plains of Mongolia, peasants live with their way of life on a daily basis -- actually live with it, because it’s made of meat. They don’t keep the warm blooded meat with them in their yurts, because some separation is necessary to maintain their pride.

 Barren, treeless, with only poop to stoke their nightly fires on fringed nights, these peasants depend on the humble horse to provide them all their needs for surviving and thriving in a land many outsiders consider stupid.

They nick the horses veins to make tea from the blood; they milk the horse (mostly the female) for cheese and, well, milk. From the nappy hair that grows lush and oily, they make very pretty pull-over sweaters that are prized by collectors around the known world and East Texas.

Their horses don’t run fast because they are anemic and have lots of pain in their legs – but they are slowed down anyway by the female horse’s heavy udders. Some compromise was found necessary to keep the hoards from crushing flat parts of the earth again.

When their horses die, they crush the bones for calcium and use the big chunks for making needles and buttons, and with special, endowed horses, larger kitchen utilities.

Skin from the dead horse is made into heavy skin overcoats for their cold winters, as well as coverings for their yurts. Excess material is carved into small pieces and used by Japanese baseball players for the webbings of their gloves – providing a modest hard currency income for the struggling peasants.

This brings me to OPEC, and the concept of greed.

What did the greedy bastards think when the price of oil went to $150 a barrel? And now that it is under $50 do they see any correlation?

I guess the message is: When sucking blood from  horses, stop before they faint. Once they tip over, it’s hard to get them back up.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jesus and the Argonauts

Jesus and the Argonauts

Been thinking about Jesus today – all good, not to worry, just thinking about him as a man and all that baggage the Council of Nicaea tacked on to him a long time ago.

Did  Jesus get paid when he was a carpenter – and with what? Where did he put his money -- in long term CD’s or just cash? I’m thinking cash, but maybe that thing with the money changers had a little too much feeling behind it. It has the stink of payday cash advance all over it.

Did Jesus have sex? I mean before he was part god and part goat. If a girl asked him to give her a dirty Sanchez, would he do it? I mean, when you are having sex, where do you draw the line between good clean fun, and something just a bit off the perversion edge?

I bet they had a Dirty Sanchez back in the day – but they called it something else – maybe a smearing marry or something similar in a that punchy Aramaic, tick-tock way they liked to talk back then..
Would it take away from Jesus’ message if he liked the woman to be on top? What sort of noises do you think he made? I guess it depended on how heavy the woman was.

What did Jesus do for a hobby on his down time? It’d be cool if he wrote dark and lugubrious poetry – sort of working out on paper a way to happy joyous and free. I think he probably collected stamps – something to get away from the office, and he did travel a lot.

Did Jesus play sports? I can’t see him kicking the head of a lamb around while riding a horse. I think he was more of a donkey guy, and besides, he was vegetarian. I can see him playing marbles – closest to the hole,

that sort of thing. He probably lost on purpose to blind people and lepers.

Jesus was a funny guy – hard to get a picture of him as a man, but if he wasn’t at least a bunch of a guy – his dying for our sins has no meaning. You can’t torture a god unless he wants to be tortured – it’s a physical law.Without the pain of loss and remembering, the cross becomes just another waiting room on a long slide through forever.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Prince's Panties, by Mason William

The Prince's Panties by Mason Williams
There was once a prince who acted strangely in that
He thought life was stupid and it was for him so
He made up a world in which he liked the things we liked
But he had different reasons why he liked them

He liked butter for its color
He would order toast and color
Waitresses, confused would utter
Sir, I've never heard of toast and color

He'd get angry and begin to choke them
The law would come, and they'd arrest and book him
So his life was a mess of trouble
Still he kept it up

He had dogs, a hundred cocker spaniels and he
Called them panties, 'cause they did that mostly, and he
Did not care at all if they would bark and fetch sticks
Run and jump, roll over, and play dead tricks

No, he liked them only for their panting
So he would run them ragged, but one day they got fed up
And chased the prince right up against the fence
And the prince was eaten by his panties

(I used to sing this to my kids at night when they were sleepy. I could not memorize any of the great poets for some reason, but this song I nailed quite quickly. William's is know for Classical Gas and the Smother's Brother's, but I have a fondness for the Prince, and the world he could only change by looking at it differently.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mr. Hitchens and Fascism

"In the waning days of the campaign, John McCain took to accusing Obama of being a socialist. The epithet lacked traction. There were, I think, two main reasons for that. One was the fact that McCain was a poor messenger for his own ideas: he never really articulated his position in a compelling way. The second reason is that many people who have not had the misfortune of actually living under under a socialist regime regard it as a jolly good thing. Socialism, as Joshua Muravchik noted in his book Heaven on Earth: the Rise and Fall of Socialism, was “the most popular political idea ever invented.”
It was also undoubtedly the bloodiest. Of course, many who profess socialism are decent and humane people. And it is worth noting that socialism comes in mild as well as tyrannical versions. Muravchik, who was once a socialist himself, pays frequent homage to the generous impulses that lie behind some allotropes of the socialist enterprise. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that “regimes calling themselves socialist have murdered more than one hundred million people since 1917.” Why?
A large part of the answer lies in the intellectual dynamics of utopianism. “Utopia” is Greek for “nowhere”: a made-up word for a make-believe place. The search for nowhere inevitably deprecates any and every “somewhere.” Socialism, which is based on incorrigible optimism about human nature, is a species of utopianism. It experiences the friction of reality as an intolerable brake on its expectations. “Utopians,” the philosopher Leszek Kolakowski observed in “The Death of Utopia Reconsidered,” “once they attempt to convert their visions into practical proposals, come up with the most malignant project ever devised: they want to institutionalize fraternity, which is the surest way to totalitarian despotism.”

What socialism is he talking about? France? Italy? They were much bloodier in the Republic phase of their development, and, really, doesn't six weeks of vacation sound good right about now?

If you are talking about Marxist countries (Russia, China, Cuba) then I would agree -- Yes, they are bad, and a good example of failed states (although China does seem to have more money than us, and Cuba has better health care, for their blacks anyway.)

You really fall into the nut job category if you think Obama is heading towards us becoming a Marxist or Utopian nation. A more reasonable thing to say might be, “Obama may make us much more like Germany if he gets his way.” or, "Obama makes me feel better about the future now that he has become President."

'Utopia,' or is it just a feeling of Camelot again?

Socialism is a very loaded word -- it might be nice if he explained what he meant by it.
And remember – Hitchen's tried to get us calling Al QaedaIslamo-fascism” when Fascism was probably the furthest stretch imaginable for what Islamic extremists are all about.

Hitchen’s did it for the WORD Fascism – concentration camps, that sort of thing – not because it was real, but because he could inflame people with the connection, just as you are using the word socialism.

Sort of Goebbelish if you think about it, (I'm using the illustration that right wing republicans are closer to Hitler than Reagan these days.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hart Crane, reduced

Hart Crane, Reduced

He rejected lifesavers
As a blow against his father
And his mothers colored vagina.

He liked Melville
But not for the words;
He liked the bigness of the whale.

His bridge erected
His tomb of frosted coils
His cold leap into forgetfulness

All a written cry for unknown help.

Mike Brady 2005

Easter Poem

Easter Poem

I know the bottom, she says. I know it with my great taproot; It is what you fear. I do not fear it: I have been there
(S. Plath)

The first Easter, I put jellied beans on the tips of the barbwire fence
For contrast and reflection on the newness of it all.
By summer,
The beans had fallen, and now razor wire bound me,
All this new to me and never before.

My neck was degloved behind closed doors
In an elders ceremony of shame,
But they let me keep the collar
On a small shelf,
With my other personal items.

(Grateful without words
At the tight enthusiasm
Of a youth expressed,
Without guile to confuse me
Or humanness to prevent me,
I dream of their unformed lust.)

The second Easter, I cleaned the altar with paint thinner
To make the silver have luster and gold gleam
By summer,
Old brass became the new color,
And I was living with the others.

We sat in groups, still aroused by the telling
Of our over remembered sins in specifics.
All glad to feel again
In that physical of the impassioned way --
In our eager soft restraint.

And we cried with our correction
Sentenced harshly, so now allowed remorse,
We pretended to stand before our victims
In a prayer for both mercy and forgiveness-
Those things new to us and never before.

The fifth Easter, I buried my cross in the yard
But it didn’t matter,
I saw it everywhere, and more,
The children I had marked with my X,
All deformed and crippled,
Broken open as if owned by me.

Oh I saw
In the clear light of reasoned days,
And I saw,
In the darker nights without words.
(But those urges
Made by me,
Crawling back to me.)

How long, oh lord, how long I cried
Sitting hopeless without redemption.

(But still my thoughts slide down the feeling,
Without, but in, control again,
And I am hard at the thought of another Easter.)

Mike Brady
October 2004/2008 rev.

*persona poem

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Honest, a Poem


I imagine you alone in my house
for a day, without binding you to a promise
not to search through angles and nooks, or
through concrete memories filed in haphazard places.

I imagine coming home to you,
a pile of my past on the kitchen table
as you hold up each item without words
asking for a more explained honesty.

You ask of letters, old and grey,
bound with a soft cord and gentle knot.
You ask of pictures of me with her
and others implied by time and space.

You ask of official documents of a younger man,
those things held for required years and more,
in powered fear and presence--
those years that ground the wild from me.

You stop and hold me tight in thanks,
comforted that all I am is open to you.
We read in quiet and look up at times
to bind with sight that closeness we now feel.

And as I fall asleep at night,
With your head on my chest, and an arm around you,
I think of that kitchen table and recall the other
unremembered things found only in dim shadows.

In the darkness of a corner behind the basement stairs,
Sits a  pale and toothless unlit face
seen only in the indirect gaze on the shine of windows
It's  just a bastard of a lonely thing.

You have asked of me my honesty
I can't give it for the worst in me.

Mike Brady
December 2004/2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Dark Energy

"Who needs truth if truth is dull" Mason Williams

"However, to this day no one actually knows what dark energy is, or where it comes from. Professor Jose Senovilla, and his colleagues at the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain, have proposed a mind-bending alternative. They propose that there is no such thing as dark energy at all, and we’re looking at things backwards. Senovilla proposes that we have been fooled into thinking the expansion of the universe is accelerating, when in reality, time itself is slowing down. At an everyday level, the change would not be perceptible. However, it would be obvious from cosmic scale measurements tracking the course of the universe over billions of years. The change would be infinitesimally slow from a human perspective, but in terms of the vast perspective of cosmology, the study of ancient light from suns that shone billions of years ago, it could easily be measured"

Hum, that explains a lot.

My friend Ricky gets a lot of jobs that I just don’t have the perseverance or attention span to do. When confronted by impossible tasks, I tell Ricky to do them, and then sleep like a fish knowing that he will treat it like a dog with a bone – he will gnaw and chew until the marrow pops out – then eat it. If I were his age, I’d just be playing video games and watching porn.
I’ve had him hacking and doing complicated flow sheets lately, but last week I decided to dedicate his talents to the world. I asked him to tell me how quantum entanglement worked – and gave him a short deadline. He came back to me saying that, he had an idea, but no one could ever really know.

That’s the point my friend, that’s what makes us human. If there is any evidence of actual free will, it’s to be found in our ability to think of anything even if we have no way of proving it real. Actually – that’s the best part – we get to twist our thinking and come up with completely new things.

Einstein came up with something new – he conceptualized mass being nothing but energy bound up tight. Wow – simple, and never thought of before, and it changed the way others have thought for a century. It may turn out not to be true with the next really good thought – but that’s the point – it’s cool, sounds good, and makes for interesting conversation.

It may turn out that we are nothing but meat storage devices that future creatures are running real time on their Saturday night after getting stoned. We might just be the 2nd part of a dinner and a movie for gods – something they use to soften other gods up to try to get in their pants. Imagine – Tom Cruise looking up from a two dimensional Vanilla Sky at just the moment the film is getting changed – he’s very expressive, so that would be a treat.

Gravity might turn out to not be a force at all – just an absence of a force.

Dark energy may turn out to be bound up in dark matter in really tight balls of leaden glue that provides structure to the web of the Universe we hang on to.

Maybe string theory is right, but the strings are much longer and closer together and movement of bound energy through them is like walking though an endless harp? What if we are judged by the music we make as we travel through the harp in time?

Maybe it does end with me, that after I'm gone all you will see is creatures strolling casually around turning out the lights and pulling up the rugs.

Glory in it, relish the fact that we can think. It might be true that we have no free will in the ultimate, and that as a herd, it’s all predetermined – but always remember, you can do whatever the fuck you want to at any time, any place.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Bush 3

What you don't understand you can make mean anything.

“To be sure, Mr. Bush is not completely alone. His low approval ratings put him in the good company of former Democratic President Harry S. Truman, whose own approval rating sank to 22% shortly before he left office. Despite Mr. Truman's low numbers, a 2005 Wall Street Journal poll found that he was ranked the seventh most popular president in history.

Just as Americans have gained perspective on how challenging Truman's presidency was in the wake of World War II, our country will recognize the hardship President Bush faced these past eight years -- and how extraordinary it was that he accomplished what he did in the wake of the September 11 attacks.”
part of an article from some idiot at the WSJ

Truman is remembered for containment – a pragmatic, but unpopular approach to a new and expanding danger – the Commies. Truman went to Korea as a response to an overwhelming invasion. Truman fought a limited war with limited objectives, to popular dis-appeal at home. Truman told the truth about the war and fought with a real coalition.

Bush had containment, he went for war. Bush went to war with a country using the oldest excuse of bullies – ‘they were begging for it’. Bush set objectives for war that can never be met – we are involved in an open-ended war ala 1984. (Ask – when will we be in condition green again?) Bush lied to get us into the war, and lied to keep us there. Bush fought with a coalition of the willing – paid mercenaries and England.

Truman provided adult guidance and measured responses to critical events. He is well remembered for this. A lesser President would have allowed MacArthur to nuke the Chinese on the Yalu, using bombs provided by Lemay – that’s what the public was clamoring for.
And that’s the President they would have gotten with Bush.

Truman said no when a big chunk of the population wanted to have an all night, bat-shit crazy orgy of violence to, 'end this once and for all' with the Red's.

It’s a delusional sop to take the lessons of Truman and apply them to Bush. I don't really want him or his watchers to sleep easier with the thought that it is.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Dog Food for All

“It was a new day yesterday, but it’s an old day now.” J. Tull

We have taken the marketplace of ideas to the extreme – Every public thing we do is done as an adversarial relationship – our courts, politics, even the commercials on TV. There are only two sides; each side takes its best shot, no matter how extreme or wrong; and the educated voter or juror is left to decide.

This is why the founders wanted an informed people. If it is a government of the people and by the people – the people need to make informed decisions that are not based on magic, religion, prejudice or a personal history of family abuse.

What we have now is not about truth, right and wrong, or respect – it’s a sport called ‘competitive argument winning’ where the winner decides absolute outcome – very Darwinian – very American, and clinically brutal.

Other countries sometimes just try to decide the next best thing to do, understanding we live in an imperfect world with very individual people. They don’t find professional champions to joust and stab until a decision has been killed, left bruised and naked on the plains of mars, like a violently shaken magic eight ball.

This might be one of our strengths as a country, but it sure makes a lot of racket in the crunching.

Old People and Dog Food

Old people will eat dog food and like it

I tend to think that the older, less educated people that voted for John McCain are just stupid and unable to see rational things and opportunities when presented to them in simple, 2nd grade English. I think that they react to fear by pulling the covers over their heads and acting like simplistic, concrete thinking grade schoolers.

The truth is more complex, as it always is.

Older baby boomers with limited education know in their guts that the money they have set aside for old age has been put in a Ponzi scheme. They know that they will need to depend of the kindness of their children and grandchildren to actually get the money they have promised themselves.
And their kids tend to think the boomers are mean selfish people who have always only be in it only for themselves. They have no intention of paying for ‘those’ old fools to have less than a minimal existence, and even if they did, they will also be paying for the mess we have left them after our scorched earth lifestyles have been toned down. With Obama, it's like they are taking the car keys away from grandpa and making him stay at home. Us old folks will be lucky if they don't just put us all in camps in far away ugly places.

And with Obama – their time is coming and it’s only a matter of time.
Acceptance is the answer old people -- just let go and allow the gentle tide that's coming wash over you, and your guilt.

Satoshi Nakamoto claim

I met a man claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto outside a building I work at near the SF train station. He asked to talk to me. He was white, 50...