Saturday, December 30, 2017

I Feel Like Dr. Johnny Fever -------- MOPHEADS!

Who will be the adenoidal adolescent they choose to intone that banal dirge, Imagine, for the ball drop this year, I wonder.  

That's a lie.  I don't wonder.  I don't care.  I just needed to put up the Mopheads post I said I would.  I didn't want to dishonor the Bronzeville writer, producer, director, cast, etc. by responding to Simps on it.  He's going really off, now he's arguing that the sets for The Twilight Zone were like those of MGM extravaganzas because they produced Gone With The Wind a quarter century before Rod Serling did his TV series with their often minimalistic sets and small casts, proving less can be much more, something he said he learned as a writer, producer, director and sometimes actor in radio dramas in the 40s and 50s.    He brought up King Kong, too.   Simps must have gone to one of those schools where they didn't teach children how to tell time, depending on them eventually finding the motivation to teach themselves.  He never had that much curiosity and doesn't understand the difference between the 1930s and movies and the 1960s and TV.  

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Josh Olson - Bronzeville

Starring Laurence Fishburne, Larenz Tate and Tika Sumpter, and written by Academy Award® and BAFTA nominee Josh Olson (“A History of Violence”), BRONZEVILLE chronicles the lives of players in the lottery games while illuminating the self-sustainability of the community’s African American residents.

The series Bronzeville is among the best things I've heard in audio-drama.  You can find out more about this huge project on the podcast website.  

The cast is huge and excellent, here is the list

This shows how good audio drama can be, what it can do for a fraction of the cost of video drama.  I remember once noting how much better the old Twilight Zone program was with such simple sets and productions than the huge budget shows made now, someone who had experience in such things said having to depend on small budgets, focusing on the writing and acting wasn't by chance but a small budget is more probable to lead to better drama.  It's a point Rod Serling made when he talked about his early career in 1940s radio drama, something he was still trying to do well after it was supposed to have died in the United States.  This series is as good as any I've heard from the supposed golden age and it stands with the best I've heard from the BBC or CBC or other major national radio services.  

You Know, Duncan, If About Three of Your Regulars and One Of Your Banned Former Regulars (Though I think it's Simps' Sock) Weren't Trolling Me I Wouldn't Have Seen This

This is what Ducan Black has posted as his afternoon post today.

Saturday Discussion Topic
The Dems didn't have to lose (or lose so badly, at least) in 2010. They fucked up. Discuss.

As pathetic an excuse for a once considered up and coming lefty blogger to be reduced to . rehashing and re-whining about an election seven years and almost two months ago, it's made even more pathetic when I look at the Duncan Black archive for the fall of 2010 [You can see the whole thing at his blog, make sure your ad blocker is on before you do] and see nothing but discouragement and lazy-boy cynical fatalism mixed with whining about the Democrats in the upcoming elections.  Though they aren't up anymore, I remember the tone of the "Brain Trust's"comments back then and the were full of such stuff as slamming Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats.  It was a long time after your little fund raiser back in 2006 that got you that sort of, no-lines walk on by actor nod from The West Wing (I've grown to hate that show, though by then I think I already found it very annoying,)

It might be mildly amusing to hear Duncan tell us just what use his exercise is supposed to be today, on the edge of 2018.

Ducan, you should stop jumping sharks, you're too old to be playing sit-com kewl guys, even on blog.  Your glory days are so past that they're not even retro now.

Kutman Sultanbekov and Kambar Kalendarov - Kyrgyzstani "Jaw Harp" Piece

I couldn't find the amazing piece Carol Coronis played on this morning's hour of The Aegean Connection (damned site is down right now, I'll post a link later) but this is pretty good too.

"I didn't know Gary had retired!"

Gary Burton Knew What He Was Doing From Start To End And After The End 

Gary Burton is such a great example for us all, knowing when to stop and that when you stop even music, life goes on.  In the program at the link he says his mother was still around, at 101 years old.  I hope he has a long, happy retirement after giving us so much.  Learning that he always had perfect pitch until his near death episode is a great relief to me because I have pretty good relative pitch but never perfect pitch.  Well, other than "a" 440, I always know that one.

What he has already done is call into question all the ways we commonly desire and perceive reality

"The Gospel is radical"   Noam Chomsky

In coming to the conclusion that the secular, atheist, materialist left is among the primary, perhaps the primary reason that American liberals have consistently failed to convince a majority of Americans that their political and economic programs, their vision of equal justice is what they want, I've had to look very hard at what secular, atheist, materialistic and scientistic leftism assumes about reality.  Since that ideology in its ancient as well as modern form is based on our experience of the predictability of physical phenomena and that those are predictable on the basis of the action of physical forces, there is something inevitably static and predictable about the sense of reality they produce.  And where there are no reliable predictions about reality, no reliable ability to discern predictable and even definable aspects of a phenomenon, the faith of such scientitic materialist, and, so atheist reality has to create those whether in evolutionary psychological or other Darwinistic Just so stories or through the generally self-serving narratives that are created out of self-selected, self-serving sociological data (in which everything, including, at times, up to 50% of the analyzed data which does not comport with the desired narrative) which are thrown out or ignored.  That's the way that we define segments of the voting population as being the elect or the damned*.  Separating out neither goats nor sheep.

I think one of the worst consequences of that kind of thinking is that it presents everything as an either this OR that, either a or b proposition, forgetting that it's not either a or b, it's often either a or b or c or d,... or other inconveniently complex complexes of reality.  And that's only one likely overly simplistic way of talking yourself into believing you've done something which is sciency and, therefore, bound to be accurate when it's just a narrative created, not to look at what's really there, but to fit some of that into a safe feeling and, generally, self serving conclusion.  The giftedness of those doing science about complex things to come up with that kind of story telling has created all of the social-sciences and much of biological science, especially when there isn't the actual, physical organism or thing to actually study.  Huge swaths of evolutionary science, of course, does not have the thing it claims to study in front of it because the fossil record is a vanishingly tiny fraction of past life and even with the most modern means of scientific psychometry only a little about the actual organisms whose remains are available to study.  Yet biology bases huge and often conflicting scenarios about the lives  on only the often one or half a dozen members of a species but their success at leaving offspring as compared to other members of their species which have not left fossils to be studied and the lives and deaths of their species in environments about which nothing or virtually nothing is actually known.

The extent to which science is about making up stories and selling them on the mere reputability of science to do that under ideal conditions about very simple things isn't often enough considered.   When it comes to very complex phenomena its accuracy tends to fade, fast.

And when our expectations aren't met, we react with the typical range of disappointed humans, denial, anger, frustration, etc.  Often using the persuasive power of calling something "science" to keep selling what has already failed.  That's not much different from some end-of-the-world profit-making prophet who, the world having not ended, finds tweaks and nuances in their numerological calculations to explain why it didn't, though generally not as successfully as they do in psychology and sociology and opinion polling.

Continuing on with the passage from The Bible Makes Sense I last posted from on Christmas Eve.

The words must be read both as concerning individual persons in their various disabilities, as well as concerning the transforming of institutions.  Thus the good news to the poor is the change of those institutions which have denied them.  But it also means a caring gesture   The life-bringing activity of Jesus never let one choose between public transformation and personal compassion  We are called to do both.  And when we do, we bring life  Only in the context of the promises of God are we granted the immense vocation of bringing life into a world where death seems the common venture

And since then the church has known about the future and has known that God's coming actions would be of the same kind as those he has already done.   What he has already done is call into question all the ways we commonly desire and perceive reality.  And what he has yet to do will call into question all our allegiances to keep the world the way it is.  There is more to come, and it will be as radially shattering and radically healing as the "mighty works" of God we remember. 

Based on what I prefaced this short passage with, some of those who most often troll me will base snark about it on the hallelujah peddlers who are in the business of predicting the end of the world or the kinds of predictions of calamities you'll find in consulting the Tarot (it would seem that the people who like doing that enjoy being scared and depressed because that's what it sells) but that's not the kind of predictable future that is dealt with in this passage.  It is a prediction that the kinds of human behavior which is life which is not based on human compassion, the kinds of untransformed public behavior and collective institutions that don't bring life are based in the common venture of death and that's what they'll produce.  The Bible is, largely, a collection of observations about human life and human history in the world and an analysis of the consequences when human life and history follow life denying, life destroying tendencies and how, when we follow the calling to follow life bringing ways - often by denying what's easier or more pleasant for us and our loved ones.  It's not the same kind of prediction about the natural world that science attempts, often going seriously wrong when it bites off more than its methods can process when complexities mount - look at the boneyard of discontinued social science and even biology, much of it coming with all too real human remains in tow- Biblical predictions and observations and recommendations don't have knowledge or advances of consumer technology as their goal, but of better life though moral behavior and the wise pursuit of a collective better future. 

* Thus we get the widespread belief "White Women voted for Trump," when the surveys show that 52% surveyed as voting for Trump (probably well within the margin of error of the surveys) ignoring the only slightly more complex reality that even by that claim, 48% of White Women didn't vote for Trump.  Or that this or that religious group voted for Trump or this or that ethnicity or economic group voted for Trump and that persuading even three percent of those who did to vote for Hillary Clinton would have created a far different result.

The creation of such sets of data and their analysis is highly suspect in so far as a desired outcome can be created by choosing questions to ask or aspects of identity chosen to create the groupings to characterize.  And if those are possible in the creation of such alleged science, it is even easier to characterize what the numbers claim in ways desired.  What group gets blamed for Trump or whatever politician, political party or issue desired.  Even if you believed in the reality of such stuff - and I'm deeply skeptical of that - the use made of it, especially by the allegedly sophisticated left fails to be useful at all.

I think the very credence that people put in such stuff is based on the same kind of phenomenon of expecting that science can discern such definitions of huge numbers of people and to come up with explanations concerning large groups of people and their motivations when scientific methods have proven unable to be reliably consistent at doing that for individual people.

Politically, and this is, after all, a political blog, that record of less than stellar success certainly hasn't talked large numbers of college educated leftys and liberals into concentrating on successful strategies of appealing to a winning margin of voters which includes enough White Women or White Men to throw such elections to Democrats instead of even some of the worst Republicans.   Surely there are White Women and White Men who are persuaded, in large numbers, to vote for Democrats now, it's not a question of persuading ALL  of any real or merely constructed group in a survey, it's a question of persuading ENOUGH OF THEM.   But you can't do that if you insist on either-or, binary definitions about populations of the kind that surveying and other fungal would-be sciences specialize in.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Gary Burton The New Quartet - Tying Up Loose Ends

Gary Burton – vibraphone
Michael Goodrick – guitar
Abraham Laboriel – bass
Harry Blazer – drums

Gordon Beck - composer

I love this piece, hadn't heard it for decades.


Same players, Gary Burton composition

Gary Burton's retirement from playing last March was a watershed moment in the history of Jazz.  No matter what else could be said about it, he went out at the top because that's the only place he'd ever been in his musical career.

Update:  Nonsequence 

Same musicians as above,  Mike Gibb composer

What great musicians, Abraham Laboriel's bass playing is so wonderful but all of them were great, one of my favorite jazz records from my early adulthood. 

Donald Trump Must Not Remain In The Presidency

Charles Pierce is right about one thing, the interview Michael Schmidt did with Donald Trump exposes, beyond any honest and reasonable doubt, that Donald Trump is severely mentally impaired.  He sees unmistakable signs of dementia, which he knows far too well from his own family, I see someone who may be demented but which I've assumed was due to drug use.  I guess you assume that what you see is based on what kinds of mental impairment has struck your family but that's secondary to the fact that Donald Trump is clearly and dangerously unfit to be president, the second mentally impaired, elderly president the Republican Party has foisted off onto the country in the past four decades.

He is incredibly dangerous in that position and I would not be surprised if he has not already done far more damage than we'll ever be told about.  I would bet you anything he's given away a lot to his puppet master, Putin, I wouldn't be surprised if we find out someday that Bannon or some of the other thugs he had around him didn't walk off with some of the treasures of the intelligence community.  And if they haven't yet, it's sure that that's only one of the huge dangers of having a demented president. 

It is also clear that the institutions of government, of the law, of the press have not protected us from the clear and present danger of having a mentally unstable and clearly demented man as president of the United States.   Those will not do anything until something terrible happens, perhaps not even when it's too late to prevent an enormous catastrophe. 

The next president you hear get up in front of a joint session of Congress, the Supremes who choose to attend, etc. and says "The State Of The Nation Is Sound" or anything like that will be lying, the state of the nation hasn't been sound for a long time but that sound you hear is the rocks we are about to hit.   Charles Pierce is right that the journalistic deficiencies of Michael Schmidt, not pressing Donald Trump in the face of his insane performance isn't what's most important, but, and you can look at the list that Pierce gives of his and other journalists mortal sins in the past, that is certainly what got us here.   Donald Trump is a creation of the free press - extended insanely as that is into electronic mass media, as is the fictional Hillary Clinton that people voted against.  They defeated the most tested, tried, investigated, competent and qualified candidate for the presidency in our history through decades of lies and they created and installed Donald Trump.  The tragic state of the nation is a product of the media, as I will never stop pointing out, none more so than the New York Times.  The least they can do is admit what their own reporter exposed in the interview, that Donald Trump is demented and must not be allowed to remain in office because he is dangerously unfit to be there.  He belongs in a dementia ward, not the White House.

Walter Brueggemann "Evangelical Chutzpah”

This is a sermon which Brueggemann gave the day after the lecture I posted yesterday.   Brueggemann seems to be unable to give a bad or ineffective or irrelevant talk.  I can't claim to have read more than about 4% of his books - none of them are facile or easy reads, though his writing is very good, too, but so far he doesn't seem to be able to write a bad book, either. 

If someone had told me in 2000, as I was beginning to go online to lefty blogs and websites and to read the lefty magazines online that by 2017 the thinkers I'd have the most respect for would turn out to be ministers and lay ministers out of the Reform tradition, Rabbis and theologians I'd have thought it was unlikely.   But that's how this has turned out.  And it has become ever more so since I started on the project of trying to figure out why American liberalism lost its force and has remained on the ropes since c. 1965.  I am more certain than I was half way through that this is the key of what went wrong, that secular, materialist "liberalism" washed out the foundation of egalitarian liberalism in favor of its anti-religious atheism, gulling way too many religious liberals in ways that Brueggemann alludes to in this talk.   I really do think that a lot of this comes from the mistake of putting the university based "left" in the forefront of liberalism, the status granted to scientistic materialism and the distortions of a century and a quarter or half of what gained status in academic culture.   A lot of that is contained in the pseudo-sciences such as sociology and anthropology and in the absurdity of surveys and polling. 

I'm hoping to write more later, I'm dealing with the cold today.  Even with the fire going for hours I'm still wrapped in blankets.  I'm thinking of putting up a tent to crawl into in my kitchen. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Simps, Your Senility Is Speaking, I Answered That Lie Two Month Ago

Stupy's looking for attention so he's lying about me at Duncan's blog.  I was sent this a few minutes ago.

Stëve Sïmels, blog malignancy  Dean Rowan  23 minutes ago
The Vaughan-Williams Fifth symphony is the most sublimely soothing music ever.

Got the entire British Isles through the worst part of WW II. Deservedly.

That Idiot From Maine© hates it, of course.

Not only do I believe have I never expressed a negative opinion about V.W.'s Fifth Symphony, I pointed that out to The Stupidest Liar of Ducan's convocation of prevarication on October 15th when he said the same thing.  The only piece of V.W I ever remember criticizing is his Variations on Greensleeves which I dislike.  I don't have any strong feelings about most of his music. 

Oh, and as for the 5th  getting "the entire British Isles through the worst part of WWII," the piece wasn't finished until 1943 and wasn't given its first public performance until June of that year.  I don't think the last year of it was Britain's worst part of the war, I'd have thought that would be The Battle of Britain in 1940, before they knew the Yanks were going to come to their rescue.  I can imagine that the first two years, before that happened were the most terrifying of it for Britain. Churchill said that the night Roosevelt told him the U.S. was in the war, ""I slept the sleep of the saved and thankful". Though maybe Simps has never seen a movie about it.   He doesn't know anything he hasn't seen in a movie. So most of what he knows is make believe.

I wonder how many people in Britain had even heard the piece before the war ended.   Personally, I prefer the 9th, but, then, I don't have any problem with people liking any of his music.  He can bathe his ears in the syrup of Variations on Greensleeves till his pancreas gives out, for all I care.

Maybe Simps is the bastard love child of Lillian Hellman and some Stalinist propagandist she had a one-night stand with when she got sloshed and Dash was too drunk too, or the inevitable alcoholic peripheral neuropathy had set in by then.  It would have had to be who was as big a liar as she was.  Like her, every word he says is a lie.  Only she was smart enough to not tell the same lie again after it had been discredited.  Clearly the other Stalinist was where Simps got his intelligence deficiency from.   Why not, it's as true as anything he's ever said about me.

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber - Passacaglia

Nigel North, Lute

This is Nigel North's lute arrangement of an astonishing passacaglia by the 17th century composer Biber.  It is the last movement of his Mystery Sontas.  Biber was a religious mystic as well as a virtuoso violinist and composer. 

Here is the tablature of  a different "free arrangement" by Arto Wikler which is somewhat different from Norths but which gives an idea of the originality and grandeur of the piece. This page contains a link to that arrangement and another for six strings. 

Here is a recording of a very fine violinist Elicia Silverstein playing the original on a baroque violin.

Here is a modern score for it.

Walter Brueggemann - What's In Your Wallet - "The only way out of this circle of debt is by jubilee"

Walter Brueggemann from two months ago, today.   This is more radical than anything I noticed in The Nation or In These Times for the past ten years.

RMJ's Excellent Post On The Martyrdom of The Holy Innocents And Jesus Was An Illegal Alien

RMJ really does to great posts, his post today is so good I'm not going to write one on the same topic. 

Note that, in effect, Tucker Carlson on FOX called The Gospel According to Matthew "stupid".  Or, rather what it said.   

I had planned on posting this 

Zieleński – Vox in Rama

University of Warsaw Choir
director isn't listed. 


Vox in Rama audita est, ploratus et ululatus. Rachel plorans filios suos, noluit consolari quia non sunt.

A voice is heard in Ramah,
    lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
    she refuses to be comforted for her children,
    because they are no more.

Jeremiah 31:15


The Muddled Thinking Of The Self-Declared "Free Thinkers"

The online magazine, Religion Dispatches isn't a place I regularly choose to go.  Far from being a magazine about religion - what I gather is its pretense for being - it's a forum for slamming religion, a gathering place for atheist trolls.  If there's one thing I have come to not find edifying  or terribly important it's going over the same old hoary, threadbare atheist tropes that are seldom based on real history, real science or rational thinking. 

Anyway, I went there the other day and, from there, took another look at the "Freedom From Religion Foundation", essentially a family business founded in Madison Wisconsin that is now run by the founder's daughter and son-in-law.   Looking them up, not wanting to spend that much time on it, on that "encyclopedia" where you can pretty surely bet such figures write their own biographies, Wikipedia, this jumped out at me.

Barker is co-host of Freethought Radio, a radio program based in Madison, Wisconsin radio station WXXM for atheists, agnostics, and other freethinkers that has included interviews with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Steven Pinker, Julia Sweeney, and Michael Newdow.

Calling such a program "Freethought Radio" as a fundraising-group calling materialist-scientistic-atheists "free thinkers" is a consumer fraud because of that list of guests Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker and I'm pretty sure Sam Harris, couldn't be "free thinkers" because, as materialists, they don't believe that free thought exists.   I doubt anyone has ever said anything more dismissive of the possibility of free thought than Richard Dawkins is infamous for having said, reducing human beings and all other animals to "lumbering robots" controlled by our genes,  Pinker, as well. 

Any atheist who is a materialist, I would go so far as to say anyone who believes in and promotes any materialist ideology, whether it goes by such euphemisms as "naturalism" or "physicalism" would have to be entirely untrue to their ideology, in gross violation of reason (atheists love to claim they own reason, man!*)  or a downright liar to claim to have anything to do with "free thought" or "free thinking" or even the possibility of those. 

Atheism is not an ideology of free thought, it is a denial of the possibility of what you have to believe in to believe free thought is possible.  Atheism which is wedded to materialist-scientism can't believe in free thought because in order for minds to be free to think freely, they could not be bound up in material causation, whether genetic - on a molecular level - or even an "emergent" level that would still be determined by the material components their faith must hold is the basis of it because that's all there is and material forces acting in regular order is all that could govern that.

Minds to be free would have to be free of physical causation or they could not be free.  And if they are not free, everything minds do would have to be no more significant than any other physical phenomena, iron rusting, ice forming or melting, gas dispersing.   Reason would have to fade into the same banal insignificance as any of those, I'm pretty sure that if thought out to its logical conclusion, even the concept of significance or information probably even logic, itself, would fall to the overall program of nihilistic denial of the significance of thought which is inevitably necessitated by atheist, materialist ideology.

The founder and prime mover of the Freedom From Religion Foundation was one of those people who went to college and was told that religion was the root of all evil and she believed religion was the primary reason for the oppression of women.  I am pretty well convinced her hatred of religion was far more a product of, at first, irrationality and ignorance of history than anything to do with reason or knowledge.  That she would promote atheist-materialism as a substitute, something that would have no power within it to promote the equality of women, their rights, even as it contained everything that would lead men to feel entirely free, without any moral restraint, to discriminate and use women in any way they wanted to is certainly not a testament to her intellectual rigor, nor that of her daughter or son-in-law.   I wonder what she would have thought of the pronouncements about women of her fellow atheists such as the misogynistic rants of Richard Dawkins (who the FFRF has honored and given an award) and the blog presence ThunderF00t, not to mention so many of  the other "Bright" lights of organized atheism.  Sure, I'm sure most of them would be OK with abortion (though, well, I don't have time to go into Nat Hentoff (lauded at the FFRF website) and other atheist anti-choicers) but I'm sure lots of them would feel they were free to treat women any way they wanted to because along with everything else atheism obliterates, it is the idea that there is a real, morally binding obligation to act justly, treating people as if they are made in the Image of God.  As the passage from Marilynne Robinson I posted the other day pointed out, that's something that is mentioned in the Bible as early as Genesis 9.  I'd think it was indicated even earlier, when God told Cain that he would not be killed for murdering his brother.  But that's no where to be found in materialism because People are just things in materialism, with no more rights or right to justice than any random rock or one of the myriad of springtails you'd have to step on to walk in the snow.

Freedom?  Thought?   No, I suspect they're mostly in it for the money and the guest appearances on TV and radio shows, and podcasts.

*  Here's the Freedom From Religion Foundations' pitch for the holiday season:

1ReasonsGreetings2017 V2

The commentator at Religion Dispatches who compared the FFRF to the worst of TV huckster pseudo-Christians was pretty much spot on.

Update:  No, I got tired of Nat Hentoff's egomaniacal, self-righteous, asinine song and dance when I had a subscription to The Progressive (also based in Madison).   I don't remember specifically it was that which led me to drop the subscription, there being other things wrong with the rag which, like so many other lefty rags were devoted to talking people into imbibing ballot box poison, but it was part of it.

The lefty magazines of that era and, to some extent today, were full of that crap.   Hentoff was an ass.

Update:  Apparently Freedom From Religion doesn't believe in fair use of content from their website, perhaps especially from critics of their corporate content.  I'll leave the broken link up because it contains the words of their self-contradictory slogan. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


I took some flack I didn't acknowledge a while back for using just the acronym LGBT without adding Q.  And then I heard someone say . . . QI which was followed by . . . QIA.  I didn't even understand what the I and A were supposed to mean and had to look them up.  They are "intersex" and "asexual" and in the process I found out that the Q which I had taken to mean "queer" was sometimes asserted to mean "questioning".  And when I read that the "A" meant "asexual" I wondered if that included those who were asexual involuntarily, a group I definitely belong to, though it's really more just figuring at my age I'd rather not take a chance of being the fool of love, at least not that kind of love.

I don't leave them out to be exclusive I leave the "Q" out because I will not use a term of derision for my people, even those who attempt to co-opt the enemies language, I think that's a stupid idea that will only work inside the group discriminated against, the enemy will still use it to mean what it's always meant to them.  And, despite what paying attention to the media and lefty online stuff will lead you to believe, they still outnumber you by a lot.

I don't know what "intersex" means and, well, I've already pointed out how "asexual" is ambiguous.  Which I have to say is what I originally assumed the "A" meant. 

As far as I'm concerned, when I say LGBT, I don't want to exclude anyone, I want everyone to be treated equally and with respect.  And I think that acronym is as long as one should be.

I will not use the term "cis" because I don't know what it's supposed to mean other than to be mean to someone because they're not up on "cis" or something.   I'm not so stupid that I think that a straight man who identifies as a straight man can't understand why anyone who the kind of people who like to pigeonhole people with a label like to label with them should be treated well  and with respect.   Or that such people don't have their own, individual, relevant ways of thinking that escape the attempt to put them into a classification for whatever purpose, most of those, in my observation, not good ones.  It's a means of saying someone has cooties.  I experienced and witnessed enough of that as a member of the LGBT community, which is mighty diverse.   I have a lot more in common with a lot of straight, white men who identify as straight and white than I ever did with Roy Cohn or the equally putrid Peter Thiel or, for that matter, John Waters or Michael Foucault.

If you want to say LGBTQIAxxx, extending your dicing and dividing a community that will only advance through unity and making alliances with straight people,  feel free to do it.  I'm no bossy boots. But I'd rather concentrate on unifying than dividing and excluding.

Looking To The Future

I haven't had any threatening letters to cease and desist over my series on Walter Brueggemann's excellent how-to book, The Bible Makes Sense that started by chance over reading the reviews of the Bible museum that opened in DC, I thought recommending people read Brueggemann and the verses and chapters he cites and doing the thinking exercises he suggests at the end of each chapter was going to be a lot more useful than going to look at a bunch of things and exhibits - some of which sound more Disney to me than would teach someone about The Law, The Prophets and The Gospel.  Americans, maybe all people would rather get the cheap artificial substitute for things than go through the work of understanding the real thing.  They certainly don't want to apply The Law, The Prophets and The Gospel in their own lives when they can substitute going to a theme park or one given the upper market title "museum" than doing religion.   You can spend 24 bucks and get not much before you go home and bow down to Mammon on the TV altar or you can spend half that (less if you buy it used) and really get something out of it. 

But I've decided to continue with it past Advent, into Christmas and maybe beyond.  If I have inspired five people to get the book and read it and two to do the exercises, it will be worth it.  I'd do this for one other person - other than myself.  I'd read the book and done some thinking about it but I find that the slow-reading and re-reading involved with typing it out has made me look more deeply into all of the above.  I've started writing a diary on the issues for consideration and am finding having to look at what my thinking is far from easy or far from self-confirming.   It can give you a lot more work to do than you might have thought.  

Promoting The Law, The Prophets and The Gospel are probably about the most subversive acts you could take against Trumpian-Republican Mammonism.  Their potential to make change was proven by the Abolitionist and Civil Rights movement, the impotence of Marxism was shown by the Marxist dictatorships which have gone to a combination of Mafia government and ultra-capitalism of steroids.  And what you can say of Marxism holds true for atheist materialist systems in general. 

Maybe I'll make this a regular thing.  Anyone who wants to recommend something is welcomed to. I can't promise to get round to it.   I was thinking of going through St. Gregory of Nyssa's On the Making of Man next, but you've got to go through his brother, St. Basil's book the Hexaemeron first and those Cappadocians were deep thinkers and rich writers.   It makes you regret that their sister, St. Macrina the Younger didn't write anything that survives.  Both of them credited her with being a major force in their intellectual and spiritual formation - St. Gregory refers to her as "The Teacher".  An amazing family, that one.  Millenia ahead of their time in so many ways, timeless in others. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Nothing In The Constitution Has Prevented Trump And The Current Congress That Is Destroying Democracy, It Permitted This

No, it was the Supreme Court, the high priesthood of Constitutionalism as well as the least democratic branch of it, chosen by appointment from among an elite, often chosen for their service to the rich and powerful,  which rotted out the American version of democracy.   While, in its current degeneracy, it's tempting to imagine that came from the Congress, the record is that after the horrors of Watergate, the slush funds, Nixon's crimes involving setting up his own, personal crime syndicate - much of it with millionaire and billionaire money which the Supreme Court would, four years after he had to resign turn into "speech" - the Congress tried to get the corruption of money out of our election campaigns and the Supreme Court in virtually every case, if not every case, threw out the effort to rescue American democracy from that corruption at the encouragement of lawyers in the employ of those who were hell bent on corrupting democracy and, yes, the "civil liberties" lawyers and the groups they formed to sucker liberals into helping fund the demise of egalitarian democracy.

The habit of our journalism and scribbling class is to present the Supreme Court as if it some kind of high priesthood  of law and the protector of our liberties through the magic of the Constitution.  That's about as real as a reality show.  The fact that that's a load of crap is best seen through their part in permitting the levels of corruption on total and full display in the Trumpian Neronic implosion of democracy we are witnessing right now.  Even if, and it's looking ever more that it's not going to happen, Trump is deposed by law, that will get us a Pence (who is certainly up to his beady little eyes in Trump's treason) or the psycho-Randianism of Paul Ryan or someone like him.   The alternatives we've managed to elect since Buckley vs. Valeo made the status quo of post-Sullivan American politics,  Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, hardly racked up a stellar record of fighting back the corruption of money.   Granted their Supreme Court appointments have done a bit to complain about it and nothing real to stop it, but that's not going to last long.

No, it was under the American Constitutional system, the Bill of Rights, that American democracy was rotted out and killed.   I think using the Jackson Magnolia is apt because his reign of terror was also fully permitted under the same Constitution with the same Bill of Rights.   Those as the source of American democracy are a myth, the only democracy we've managed to get had nothing to do with those, in fact, that struggle has often been against the very Constitution and the regime it set up.   I think the Warren Court, despite several authentic accomplishments, helped set things up for where they are now.   The history of the Supreme Court is probably more of a scandal than that of the Congress and the Presidency.   Most of the Presidents have been pretty terrible, too.  Even the great ones have their flaws and those considered good were often really terrible.  Probably the most moral and ethical president we've ever had, Jimmy Carter, was mowed down by the system and its media.

Scrying The Fate Of The Nation From The Fate Of A Tree

If you believe in symbols and omens, this is ominous.

The historic Jackson magnolia has been on the south facade of the White House since the 1800s—making it the oldest on the grounds. But Tuesday, Melania Trump reportedly made the decision to have it removed after tree specialists determined “the overall architecture and structure of the tree is greatly compromised,” the report stated, according to CNN.

CNN obtained documents from specialists at the United States National Arboretum, which determined the magnolia tree must be removed. The tree is “completely dependent on artificial support,” the document read.

The document said, “Without the extensive cabling system, the tree would have fallen years ago. Presently, and very concerning, the cabling system is failing on the east trunk, as a cable has pulled through the very thin layer of wood that remains. It is difficult to predict when and how many more will fail.”

Sounds like the state of egalitarian democracy and self-government through representation in the United States. 

A White House official told CNN that the first lady made the decision after reviewing and assessing professional information and historical documents. “Mrs. Trump personally reviewed the reports from the United States National Arboretum and spoke at length with her staff about exploring every option before making the decision to remove a portion of the magnolia tree,” Trump’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN. “After reviewing the reports, she trusted that every effort had been made to preserve the historic tree and was concerned about the safety of visitors and members of the press, who are often standing right in front of the tree during Marine One lifts.”

Why don't they just keep them from that area?  It's not as if there's anything important about Trump sucking up more public money to go golfing.   Most of the White House press corps is dead wood, themselves.

And, to complete the air of doom about it:

Documentation reviewed by CNN revealed the Jackson magnolia has had apparent damage as far as five decades back. Three trunks of the tree grew from the base—tangling together in a mess of shared bark. One of those trunks was removed, leaving an exposed cavity that was filled with cement. Back in the 1970s, this was the standard procedure in this circumstance. The concrete, however, permanently damaged the tree. By 1981, a large pole and cable system were installed and still hold up the tree today.

I'd say that sounds like about right for the American system of democracy, rot in one of the three branches (I'd let it stand for the Court) leading to the whole thing dying violently, including the roots (The People).   And that by the decision of a Trump.

Phil Cobb performs O Holy Night with the International Staff Band

I might have theological difficulties with the Salvation Army - not to mention its founders - Booth was not someone I admire, and they're really bad on LGBT issues.  And then there's the military organization of it.

But some of their brass players are very, very good and I've got no sense that they don't actually feel a strong devotion to the meaning of what they play.   And then there's their work, which is more Christian than even some congregations whose politics I agree with a lot more.

Finally, Someone Gives A Way of REALLY Discouraging Gropers

I was going to post this last week when I came across it but it wasn't exactly festive.   Advice that a parent should give to a daughter - or a son - on what to do when someone starts pawing them.  And what to do if they won't cut it out.

I'd add that this might work in a public context, if the creep has gotten you isolated, where it's just you and him or, probably worse, him and one or two of his buddies, you've already allowed yourself to be in a dangerous situation that you should get out of as fast as possible without worrying about what they're going to call you when you're out of there.

If there's one thing I can't stand about SOME PARTS OF the #me-too phenomenon, it is those who discount a person's responsibility for not being stupid either involuntarily by getting played into a dangerous situation or voluntarily by being drunk.   THE ASSERTION OF PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY ISN'T "BLAMING THE VICTIM" SOMEONE WHO ASSAULTS OR ATTACKS OR RAPES SOMEONE HAS 100% OF THE BLAME FOR THEIR CRIMES AND SHOULD BE PUNISHED FOR THAT.  The responsibility of people for their own safety isn't a matter of criminal liability or providing an excuse for the criminal, it's more important than that, it's about preventing someone from hurting you.  There is no right to be stupid, there is no right to make yourself stupid by getting drunk.  That's not a right, it's being stupid which isn't a right, rights come with responsibility not with being stupid.  Bob and Brad were, maybe, too polite to point it out but being as smart as you can be is part of not sending out a message that you're an easy mark for the kind of scum who grope and rape.  There's a reason that the ultra-scum who visit pick-up artist sites advocate getting women drunk, it's to get them to be easy marks, the same reason scum like that slip rohypnol into the drink of someone they want to rape.  Alcohol works too well on its own, for that.  So does putting yourself alone with someone you don't know which is asking for trouble that even a successful prosecution of the scum, after the fact won't entirely fix.

If you think your university or some other institution has a responsibility for being smart for you, you don't belong at a university.  That's demanding that you get to be a child when it suits you while demanding to be considered an adult when it suits you.  That might get you a "reality" TV show or a Republican-fascist nomination for president but it's not going to protect you if you're a woman because other than the little princes of the American-fascist aristocracy and their like around the world, it's not going to be sustainable or work.  Especially as the media-constructed back-lash against #me-too sets in.

Most of us have to be adults because those are the people we have to protect ourselves and our loved ones from, especially nieces, daughters, granddaughters, but also the boys.

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Truth About Santa

Have to admit, Red Green grew on me.

If you never saw it, Harold is his dorky, nerdy, socially inept teenage nephew and on air technician  on his show, as played excellently and often  hilariously by Patrick McKenna.  Steve Smith is Red Green.

St. Francis On Feeding The Birds And Animals At Christmas

. . . and the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

Isaiah 40:5

Have to confess that there was one thing in that passage from Marilynne Robinson that I didn't see exactly eye-to-eye with her on.  I agree with her, entirely, about the Darwinian demotion of human beings being more an ideological than scientific statement but the remark about scientistic materialism in the form of Darwinism giving us no reason to prefer a child above a dog.  My view of evolution tends to elevate animals to a higher status, not to demote people to a lower status.  It depends on what you mean by "prefer," I would agree entirely with Ms. Robinson on many, though not on all things.   I'd felt like going into how the Darwinist orthodoxy about people being "just" animals was rather at odds with, almost to a person if not to a person, Darwinists also being ardent vivisectionists, opening the floodgates to the most horrific and barbarous and, in so many cases, the totally pointless torture, mutilation and killing of millions and millions of animals - the "scientific" application of the results to human beings being more a matter of orthodox doctrine than anything supported with hard science and, as they've discovered recently, producing entirely wrong assertions about the safety and efficacy for human beings of what was claimed from animal testing.  It seem that as with the crisis of replication that huge swaths of biological orthodoxy are either defective or totally wrong when you look at them with more rigor than is convenient for those who study such complex things.

I hadn't expected to go quite so far along that line as an introduction to this passage about how the great saint,  Here is a description of how Saint Francis regarded animals as a way of refuting what Marilynne Robinson commented on from Daniel Dennett, repeating the old anti-religious chestnut about Genesis licensing the depraved destruction of other life, other species, the environment.

Bonaventure’s story of Francis preaching to birds was a minor shock to me and perhaps to you also. Had Francis not just learned from his special advisors Brother Sylvester and Lady Clare that God wanted him to continue his preaching ministry? And should we not assume that the primary audience of his preaching should be other human beings—and not bunches of birds? I believe that Bonaventure is trying to shock us into widening our horizons, and into learning with Saint Francis that the whole family of creation deserves more respect and ought to be invited to praise God along with us human beings. Maybe just as Francis accused himself of negligence for not inviting the birds—and other animals, reptiles, and so forth—to praise God with him, so we need to admit the same kind of negligence, too.

"The more Saint Francis grew in wisdom and in his understanding that God’s love goes out to all creatures, the more he began to see that all creatures make up one family. The most important key to Francis’ understanding that all creatures form one family is the Incarnation. Francis had a great fascination for the feast of Christmas. He was deeply aware of that one moment in history in which God entered creation and the Word became flesh. In his mind, this awesome event sent shockwaves through the whole fabric of creation. The Divine Word not only became human. The Word of God became flesh, entering not only the family of humanity but the whole family of creation, becoming one in a sense with the very dust out of which all things were made."

Francis had a keen sense that all creatures—not just humans—must be included in the celebration of Christmas. Francis’ biographers tell us that he wanted the emperor to ask all citizens to scatter grain along the roads on Christmas Day so that the birds and other animals would have plenty to eat. Walls, too, should be rubbed with food, Francis said, and the beasts in the stable should receive a bounteous meal on Christmas Day. He believed that all creatures had a right to participate in the celebration of Christmas.

More and more, Francis harbored within himself a profound instinct that the saving plan of God, as revealed by the child-Savior born in Bethlehem, was to touch every part of the created world. Given this vision, it was natural for Francis to take literally Jesus’ command in Mark’s Gospel to “proclaim the gospel to every creature”—to birds and fish, rabbits and wolves, as well as to humans. Saint Francis refused to be a human chauvinist—presuming that he was to be saved apart from the rest of creation.

Back when I was studying Latin with a Bertrand Russell era classics scholar, he liked to try to taunt me over religion, though it was during my official agnostic period.  It was more that his old Brit style canards and arguments were so often based on stuff I knew was bull shit that had its origin in the previous Brit style anti-Catholic propaganda - Britatheists pretty much just took most of those lies and applied them to Christianity, and Judaism back before Hitler made it verboten to express petty anti-semitism.   He was surprised I could hold my own against his arguments - I'd read them all before, even back then they were pretty worn out war horses.  Or, rather, hobby horses.  I think he enjoyed arguing with me about it.  He was retired.

Anyway, I remember the day he really lost me, the lesson that day contained the word "beata" which in the context of the quote for translation meant "happy".   The old man made some sarcastic comments about how inappropriate it was for Catholics to apply the word to saints because the saints were all a bunch of miserable, neurotic, mean and unhappy people.   I said that I thought St. Francis was anything but any of those.  He smiled condescendingly and said that he thought St. Francis was a simpleton and a fool and that ignorance was bliss. 

I still have a lot of affection for my dear old Latin teacher and hope he's out of purgatory - he might have been wicked enough for a very short stay, I don't know.  But he didn't have a clue about St. Francis.  He also didn't have a clue in that you don't diss St. Francis to a self-respecting Irish Catholic.  Especially one who's a vegetarian.  Take it from a recovering agnostic.

Laetentur Coeli - Orlando di Lasso

Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge
Andrew Nethsingha, director

Let the heavens be glad, and the earth exult.
Exclaim praise, o mountains,
For our Lord will come,
And will have mercy on His impoverished ones.
Justice will arise during your days,
And an abundance of peace.
And He will have mercy on His impoverished ones.

I Never Really Feel Like It's Christmas Until I Hear It From Odetta

Odetta, voice and guitar,
Bill Lee, Bass

Bless her, in heaven.

Videte Miraculum - Thomas Tallis

Behold the miracle of the mother of God: a virgin has conceived
without experiencing male intercourse, Mary, standing heavy with
a noble burden; and she recognises herself to be a joyful mother,
yet knows herself to be not a wife.

She has conceived in her unsullied entrails one beautiful beyond
the children of men: and, blessed for ever, has proffered us (one
who is both) God and man.

Glory to Father and Son and Holy Ghost.

Vocal Ensemble Vlechtwerk

Sunday, December 24, 2017

William Mathias - A babe is born - Improvisation Olivier Latry

Noel à Notre-Dame de Paris
Maîtrise Notre-Dame de Paris
Henri Chalet, director of the choir
Yves Castagnet, organist of the choir
Olivier Latry Improvisation on the Great Organ

This is the definition of a joyous noise.  I'd never listened to Olivier Latry's improvisations before, he is an incredibly good improviser.  The chorus is superb as is their organist, Yves Castagnet.

Marc-Antoine Charpentier - Messe de Minuit

German-French Choir Dresden
Musicians on original instruments from Dresden and Leipzig
Reinhart Gröschel, director


Daquin: Noél Étranger

Olivier Latry, organ

Quand Jesu Naquit à Noel 

Organist isn't named


Also For The Feast Day of Adam And Eve - That is what Israel means to confess in its stories of creation

Continuing on with Chapter 5 of Walter Brueggemann's book, The Bible Makes Sense

God Is The Live-Bringer

That is what Israel means to confess in its stories of creation,  that God has the power and the will to turn chaos to creation and empty darkness to vibrant light,  to deal with the forces of death, and to bring life.  And he does this, not by magic or by mystification, but by his powerful lordly word which calls into being creatures designed to listen and answer and to live in faithful covenant with him.  He is precisely the one who has the authority to “call into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17).

It is especially in Jesus that God the life-bringer is evident.  Peculiarly in the stories of Easter is life granted to a world of death.  The Events of Good Friday were the last desperate efforts of death to have its way with Jesus.  Embodied in civil structures,  the power of death caused its moment of darkness and its time of earthquake (Mark 15:33-38).  But it could not finally have its way because the life-bringer raised the dead Jesus and in him created an alternative for his entire creation.   In the risen Jesus the church came to know that the power of death is not the only possible conqueror.  There is one who is stronger (Mark 3:21-27).

But Jesus as the presence of the life-bringer in a world of death is known not only in the resurrection.  Each of his actions is shaped as the triumph of life over death.  So he dealt with Zacchaeus, as good as dead, and restored him to joyous life (Luke 19:1-10

I'll break in to remind you that Zacchaeus was a tax collector for Rome, a traitor to his own people, or at least the poor of his people.    Tax collectors made their money not primarily from shaking down peasants and people of the artisan class for Rome - who, as in Republican-fascist America paid the most in taxes - but, like the financial institutions of Republican-fascist America, cheat and swindle and rob and con the lower economic class on behalf of the same billionaires Republican tax policy serves.  And not just a tax collector but a CHIEF tax collector - you know, the guys who didn't get fired from Wells Fargo when the CEO and other fat cats ordered them to rob their customers.  When the Supreme Court hands billionaires the power to con the country into voting for their servants, there's no difference between Wells Fargo and Congress - if you don't think that's true, look up how much the Republican-fascists gave Wells Fargo even in comparison to the other crooked mega-banks - , the big fat-cats' law firms and the Supreme Court.  That's where we are now.   Just in case you don't think any of that is relevant to our times and conditions.   In the story, Jesus inspired Zacchaeus to change his life, which he told him he would, including paying back those he cheated 4 times more.  It's a story that's telling those in our analogous class of rich crooks to cut it out.  You can do that with religion, even atheists who say that have to borrow the ideas and words to say it from somewhere alien to atheism because there is nothing in atheism to identify what they do at Wells Fargo is wrong.

He told the story of the son restored to   father, the one “who was dead and is alive” (Luke 15:24).  He had compassion on the hungry crowds and by feeding them brought life where hunger had held sway (Mark 8:1-10).   Indeed,  he not only gives life but he redefines it in terms of joyous obedience to the gather and joyous caring for the brother and sister.   He manages to invert definitions so that what the world had thought was the way of death is the celebrative gift of life and what the world calls life he showed to be deathly existence.  So he calls into question all the coercive arrangements which squeeze the life out of God's creation (Matthew 23:1-36).

In response to a question by John, he summarizes all his actions as life-giving:

. . . The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed,  and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good new preached to them (Luke 7:22).  

Note:  I'd intended to post the passage from Marilynne Robinson's essay, "Darwinism" today but posted it last night in case we lost our electricity today.   We didn't but you might want to read the post, below if you haven't already.

Claude Daquin - Noel VI - Sur Les Jeux D'Anches et en duo

Orgue St Pierre des Chartreux
Michel Bouvard

I don't know the noel this is based on, the title means Playing on The Reeds.  It obviously refers to the reed pipes of the organ, I don't know how it relates to Christmas.  Daquin's Noels are some of my favorite Christmas music.   I don't specifically remember hearing them played in churches here when I was young but it wouldn't surprise me if some of the organists might have played them as a prelude or postlude, most of them were Quebecois, in French parishes.