Saturday, September 10, 2016

Saturday Night Radio Drama - More Clean Sweep

I listened to two plays this week to try to find one to post tonight and I have to say my heart isn't in it just now.  Still miss my dog.  My oldest friend says I should get another one, I don't think so, certainly not before next year. 

Oh, heck, I'll dip into the CBC's great old series, The Mystery Project, more of Alf Silver's Clean Sweep.


I Hate NPR

As I have been typing the piece below, Scott "Simpering" Simon on NPR's Weekend Edition has on Victor Davis Hanson, who is pretty much a B.S. artist, the kind of pseudo-intellectual of the kind that NPR loves to have on to have quiet serious sounding platitudinous blathering sessions.   Excuse me while I change the radio to the Polka Party on the University of New Hampshire station.   It has more substance. 

You're Not Going To Convince Working Poor White People To Vote With You While Sneering At Them

There is so much that is so tellingly wrong with the recent Theo Anderson article at In These Times that it would be hard to fit them all in.  The article is entitled "The Stories We Live By:  Why The White Working Class Votes Conservative" .  But it was the picture that was chosen to illustrate it that made me pause to read how yet another lefty scribbler was explaining those dratted white working class folks who just won't do what they're supposed to do to other lefties of the kind who read In These Times.


Now, what would a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the front of a boat (I assume with victims of the recent flooding in Louisiana)  have to do with that, I wondered.  Most of the Catholics I've ever known have been staunch Democrats.   As you can guess, religion is fingered as a main culprit.   Singled out in the sidebar to the short piece which informs us that:  

More than one person tells her [Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild] that environmental concerns are pointless, since the second coming of Jesus and subsequent total destruction of the Earth will make it irrelevant.  About 40 percent of Americans believe Jesus will return by 2050

Which also added to my puzzlement at the illustration.  Apparently it escaped the notice of Theo Anderson and his editors and publishers at In These Times but that particular statue is pretty much a symbol of the Catholic Church whose head published an encyclical last year, Laudato Si*, one of the most powerful statements on the moral obligation to save the environment ever issued.   Perhaps they were too busy figuring out how to work slamming religion into this topic to have read about it.

Anderson goes on, cluelessly:  

Hochschild calls this the great paradox of Louisiana. Though the people say they want clean air and water, they vote for more tax cuts for business, less regulation, more pollution, more disinvestment in public resources.

The state’s pervasive religiosity does play a role. Hochschild notes the town of Lake Charles, with a population of 70,000, supports about 100 churches. More than one person tells her that environmental concerns are pointless, since the second coming of Jesus and subsequent total destruction of the Earth will make it irrelevant. About 40 percent of Americans believe Jesus will return by 2050, according to a 2015 Pew poll, which helps explain why environmental issues are a low priority.

I don't think there is any evidence that a belief in an imminent return of Jesus "helps explain" why environmental issues are a low priority.  I would like to see that there is evidence that 40% of the people who might tell pollsters that they believe that would say that their ability to breath and drink clean water is irrelevant.  

But that belief is only one tiny piece of a much more complex picture. Strangers methodically builds the case that there are deep, multi-layered stories at work in the lives of the people whose conservative politics grip the region. Within those stories, religion is less a license to destroy the planet than a grounding force for moral striving and community. As Hochschild writes: “Being Christian and taking Jesus as your savior was … a way of saying, ‘I commit myself to being a moral person. I daily try to be good, to help, to forgive and in fact to work hard at being good.’ ”

I don't know exactly what Hochschild says but, as presented in the article, the charge against religion is refuted by what is being said.

Most remarkable, and most obviously missing the point in the article, the two strongest forces in explaining why so many white working-poor folk vote conservative are almost entirely unmentioned, TV and radio.  People spend a hell of a lot more time watching TV and listening to the radio than they do just about anything except working.  TV and radio in the United States - freed to lie in their own interest by liberals who freed them from paying a price for lying - are the sources of the lies that lead people to vote Republican.  That lapese might explain a lot more about how the lefty media have consistently failed to understand this phenomenon - they're too busy with things like slamming the religion of such people to really do what Hochschild claims needs to happen, to listen to and understand the people you want to vote for Democrats.  There is something more than slightly condescending about a U. of California at Berkeley Sociologist explaining the working poor of Louisiana to everyone but presenting it the way Theo Anderson and In These Times does multiplies the sense of sneering disrespect. 

*  And the beginning of the document shows that Catholic Popes have been sounding the alarm on that a lot longer than In These Times has been around.

1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.[1]

2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

Nothing in this world is indifferent to us

3. More than fifty years ago, with the world teetering on the brink of nuclear crisis, Pope Saint John XXIII wrote an Encyclical which not only rejected war but offered a proposal for peace. He addressed his message Pacem in Terris to the entire “Catholic world” and indeed “to all men and women of good will”. Now, faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet. In my Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I wrote to all the members of the Church with the aim of encouraging ongoing missionary renewal. In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home.

4. In 1971, eight years after Pacem in Terris, Blessed Pope Paul VI referred to the ecological concern as “a tragic consequence” of unchecked human activity: “Due to an ill-considered exploitation of nature, humanity runs the risk of destroying it and becoming in turn a victim of this degradation”.[2] He spoke in similar terms to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations about the potential for an “ecological catastrophe under the effective explosion of industrial civilization”, and stressed “the urgent need for a radical change in the conduct of humanity”, inasmuch as “the most extraordinary scientific advances, the most amazing technical abilities, the most astonishing economic growth, unless they are accompanied by authentic social and moral progress, will definitively turn against man”.[3]

5. Saint John Paul II became increasingly concerned about this issue. In his first Encyclical he warned that human beings frequently seem “to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption”.[4] Subsequently, he would call for a global ecological conversion.[5] At the same time, he noted that little effort had been made to “safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic human ecology”.[6] The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement. Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in “lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies”.[7] Authentic human development has a moral character. It presumes full respect for the human person, but it must also be concerned for the world around us and “take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system”.[8] Accordingly, our human ability to transform reality must proceed in line with God’s original gift of all that is.[9]

6. My predecessor Benedict XVI likewise proposed “eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment”.[10] He observed that the world cannot be analyzed by isolating only one of its aspects, since “the book of nature is one and indivisible”, and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family, social relations, and so forth. It follows that “the deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture which shapes human coexistence”.[11] Pope Benedict asked us to recognize that the natural environment has been gravely damaged by our irresponsible behaviour. The social environment has also suffered damage. Both are ultimately due to the same evil: the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives, and hence human freedom is limitless. We have forgotten that “man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature”.[12] With paternal concern, Benedict urged us to realize that creation is harmed “where we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone. The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves”.[13]

For Crying Out Loud Didn't They Teach You Geniuses How To Use A Dictionary In 3rd Grade?

drab noun \ˈdrab\

Definition of drab

  1. : slattern  
  2. :  prostitute 

I was calling the New York Times a bunch of Media Whores, the kind of whores who give prostitutes and slatterns a bad name. Harry Truman called them "presstitutes". This week we learned that one of the biggest ones in the country was paid $20 million plus to be a whore for Republicanfascism. Those at The Times don't get paid quite that much but it's not because they wouldn't be if they could.   All of them would destroy democracy if it was good for their careers.  I've been telling you this for the past ten years and it's happening right before your eyes this election season.

Friday, September 9, 2016

I'm Told That I've Been Talked About

Don't care, Baby Blue is the definition of online has-been and no one typifies that more than Simps.


Update:  Get back to me when Aaron Sorkin writes another walk-on that is rumored to be but unconfirmed to be Duncan Black.  For Pete's sake, that series went off the air more than a decade ago.  It turned into a parody of itself the second season.   Come to think of it, so did Eschaton.

Matt Lauer Is Just The Tip Of The Media Cess Pool

What a country!  What a free press!  It's so hilarious that it's other "journalists" who seem to have woken up to discover that Matt Lauer isn't, as he's billed, a "journalist" he only gets paid $20 million plus to play one on TV.    Apparently a lot of the "journalists" were under the impression that Matt was one of them.  I guess since it wasn't reported that he wasn't, that was news to them. 

Perhaps not nearly as important but my second favorite thing of the week was when it was left to Mike Barnicle,  no make that MIKE BARNICLE!!!  to unmask the libertarian candidate Gary Johnson as an ignoramus who didn't know what "Aleppo" signifies.  Now, I will not claim to have ever had anything like an ounce of respect for Mike Barnicle in the decades I used to read, then ignore his racist, sexist, elitist's idea of Everyman side-panel column on the B section of the Boston Globe but, really, that's left to him to expose.  I mean, Gary Johnson has gotten serious press coverage as THE breakthrough libertarian candidate for president of the United States, you'd think someone of the legitimate media would have discovered that.  Apparently those madcap libertarians who opposed him as " a Republican who smokes pot " were on to something.  

I can't remember where I read it but apparently The Dowdy Drab, the New York Times got Aleppo wrong too, someone there thinking it was the capital of Syria and no one noticing the gaff.  

The American media is the problem and something really will have to be done about it if we're ever to have the vestiges of a democracy survive.  And I do mean forcing them to stop lying and distracting The People from important business.  For a start I'd make the corporations, broadcast, cable, direct television, devote a serious amount of their resources and schedule in factual reporting as a requirement for doing business in the United States.  Democracy, it turns out, can't be left to just happen, it has to be cultivated.  The schools can't be depended on to do that, media is the real school and continuing mis-education of the American people.  The "founders" didn't know anything like that, they couldn't anticipate the problems with their assumptions, we don't have the luxury of that excuse.  We've seen that a corrupt media can corrupt a country and turn democracy into fascism.  

Thursday, September 8, 2016

It's Clear That The Sulzberger Family Hates The Clinton Family Enough To Destroy The Country To Screw Them

The part that The New York Times has played in the replacement of the Kennedy family as the focus of a quarter of a century of hate and, at least in the case of the Clintons, trumped up pseudo-scandals, is pretty much central.  From White Water right down to today the NYT has been central to peddling phony scandals about the Clintons, one after another.  They might not be alone but the absurdly inflated view that that paper puts a skim coat of journalistic credibility over the crappiest of lies.

I believe that in the decades, now, that The Times has been doing this they've had major and massive turnover, editors have come and gone, yet, today the paper of broken record is stuck on that groove of Clinton scandal.   No one has wacked the stereo and gotten past it in that whole time.  That doesn't happen unless people who work there know that the owners want this to happen.   It is as clear as could be that the Sulzbergers are behind this "Clinton derangement syndrome".  If they didn't like what their paper was doing, they'd do something about it, like instructing the editors to fact check, do some major and massive correction,  you know, what "journalism" is supposed to be about when it's done as if the truth mattered.  At the very least they'd have fired Maureen Dowd's asinine ass.

If there is one thing that we know about American journalists, almost every one of them, today, is a careerist who knows which side their bread is buttered on.   They can be counted on to know what their bosses and owners want.

My brother's theory is that the Sulzbergers resented it that the Clintons came to prominence from Arkansas, just as so many resented Jimmy Carter for coming from Georgia or Lyndon Johnson for coming from Texas.   I wouldn't be surprised if that didn't have something to do with it.  But I think this is personal and wonder just what it was the the Clintons did that the owners of the most prominent newspaper in the country figure its worth risking putting a Donald Trump in the White House over.  I certainly wouldn't be surprised if the wealth of the Sulzbergers and their friends didn't enter into it.   Hillary Clinton probably wouldn't be able to make a major dent in the oligarchy favoring tax laws but she would probably be less likely to go along with handing more money over to their class.

I really think if someone wanted to do some actual reporting, and it probably wouldn't be someone working for a U.S. media corporation, they could try to find out why Sulzy hates Hillary so much. 

Little Milton - Feel so Bad

OK, now I feel better.  James Cone had it right.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Listed Antonyms for "Loyalty"

disgrace  dishonesty  dishonor  disloyalty  lying  treachery faithlessness  inconstancy  indifference undependability unfaithfulness

I can think of a few others but this is enough to make my point.   Especially "dishonesty" "lying" and "indifference".

A 2004 Recital By Dušan Bogdanović

Part 1

Part 2

Levantine Suite
Mysterious Habitats
4 Polymetric Studies
Ex Ovo Improvisation
3 Clouds for 2 guitars (As far as I can tell with online translation that's what it translates to.)

The two improvisations are a good demonstration of how thoroughly Bogdanovic has studied jazz.   I got a chance to look at some of his didactic material and one of the things that surprised me is his recommendations of some of William Leavitt's approach to understanding the guitar from his famous series of Jazz instruction books A Modern Method for Guitar.   His music is a fusion of so many different things that some superficial people will figure it's the equivalent of the wall-paper "world music" stuff that is essentially western pop music with a few "exotic" features thrown in.  But his music is far more than that ever could be.  After listening to a lot of his music these past several weeks, I have no problem saying I think he's a real musical genius who has brought textures and procedures to the guitar that no one else has.   I think you have to go back to the 16th century to find someone like him composing for fretted, plucked instruments.

Oh, yeah, I should mention the second part cuts off before the end.  Too bad, it was great playing.

Today is Labor day in the United States, so I'm taking the day off.  I might take a few more days off or I might not, depending on how I feel.

Update:  Don't bother, it's my new policy to delete, unread all comments that are by Simps or anyone I suspect is Simps using a sock puppet.  I don't want to be bothered with dealing with that idiocy anymore.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Thoughts As My Dog Is Dying

Things my old, dying dog has taught me.

Dying isn't easy, even when it starts out painless.  It isn't like in the friggin' movies, it is searing and heart wrenching and cruel, no matter how minimally painful. But I already knew something like that.

Dying doesn't have anything to do with original sin, dogs never listened to the snake and ate the fruit.  And their deaths are just as tragic as any human's.  And it will always happen on a long holiday weekend when the vet takes Saturdays off.  It's the fourth time that's happened in my family. 

Dogs are in just about every way our moral superiors, loyal, nonjudgmental, non-discriminating, even, perhaps, to a fault.  I always said that if they bothered to be nice to him first someone could break in and steal everything with him here.  He'd probably want to help with what looked like an interesting project.   Well, until they touched his food dish, maybe.  I suspect there is no person so repulsive, so abject, such a miserable specimen of humanity that some dog wouldn't love them as faithfully as if they were St. Francis.   Which is a lesson to us all.  If such a morally superior creature can love someone we primates would reject and loathe, if a dog can love us, then there must be something to love in us as well as those we find it impossible to love. 

I won't, though comment on how dogs treat cats because I'm not qualified.  I can say that my younger cat who grew up with my dog when they were my mother's pets definitely prefers him to me.  She has been sleeping on his bed with him the last couple of days, something she also did with my mother just before she died.  Something she never had done before that.  The other cat has even shown signs of being concerned with his dying and she didn't grow up with him.

I can't believe, for a second that dogs don't have an afterlife and, due to their moral superiority to us, that it isn't at least the best we can imagine for ourselves.   The often stated accusation that Christians didn't believe animals have souls is wrong, from my slight reading on it.  Early medieval thinkers believed animals did have a soul.  It's certain that there are passages in The Bible that indicate animals do and are more than mere automatons.  As I've pointed to before, God even said he made covenants with animals, just as he did with people.

The idea that animals don't have souls isn't endemic to Christianity, it is the product of early science when people like Descartes declared animals were just machines made of meat without souls.  Considering his incredibly cruel and barbarous treatment of dogs as research subjects, my guess is that he told himself that to keep any of his better side in check in the interest of science.  I have to say that I've really come to rather despise Descartes.  The asshole nailed his wife's living dog down so he could cut it open as it was till fully alive and conscious.  He did it in an attempt to gain fame as a philosopher.  And that poor dog wasn't the only one he did it to.  Can you imagine that level of cruelty as natural philosophy?   Well, you should because it is a model that is even more widespread, today.  If that scumball could go to heaven, I'm sure any dog so cruelly crucified could.  If the poor creature survived its torture I would bet he'd have been nicer to Descartes than Descartes was to anyone else, animal or human.

Update:  My little dog died this afternoon.  I buried him on the side of his favorite trail, putting lots of rocks over his grave to prevent his cousins robbing it.   I'm amazed how much harder that is now than the last time I did it twenty three years ago. 

It's so strange how empty a house immediately feels when there's no dog living in it.   Even the two cats don't make up for that.  

A Valediction

Oh, I do thank Duncan Black for one thing.  It was on his blog I figured out a lot about how liberals were misled, duped, suckered and seduced into powerlessness.  His libertarianism and, among his rump community,  the utterly brainless repetition of those self-contradicting, losing ideological slogans, bromides and tropes which, when you research them, dissolve into the lines of ideological and dishonest secondary and tertiary sources killed those off for me.   Finding that out did it.

Once those were out of the way, once I'd read Marilynne Robinson's distinction between the 18th century "enlightenment" distortion of the word and original liberalism of the Mosaic tradition, especially as relayed through Christianity. once I'd read her essays and a series of other religious thinkers,the liberation theologians,  James Cone, Walter Brueggemann, etc. a way forward was a lot clearer.   I'd never have gotten there if I hadn't finally, finally felt compelled to fact check those assumptions I'd learned from the atheist, pseudo-liberal, left of my youth and adulthood, when I read them articulated on his blog.  As it turned out, virtually all of them were either blatantly false or unsupported or riddled with the most basic of self-contradictions.   And, yes, when you peel back the layers, they were lies told to promote atheism and materialism. 

I'm left far more radical than I ever was before, once I left that "left".