Saturday, April 14, 2018

I Don't Know About His Lips Moving But I Do Know When His Fingers Type It's A Good Bet He's Lying

Stupid Steve Simels lies about what I said all the time.  I never said that about Elvis Presley, here's what I said here not even a year ago:

Go look at how Elvis Presley has turned into a neo-Confederate icon when, in life, he not only acknowledged the debt he owed to black musicians, he was, especially for his time and place, not at all what he was turned into.  He was hardly a liberal but he wasn't a white supremacist, either.  I never had much use for his music and even less for his movies and celebrity but I doubt he'd love the number of images you can buy with his face and name emblazoned on the American swastika, that Confederate battle flag.  

Of course, he does most of his lying at Duncan Black's blog where they don't care if something is true or a lie, they just care that it suits their pre-existing prejudices.   Not much different in that than the Trump stalwarts.  

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Afghanada

Created by Greg Nelson, Adam Pettle, Andrew Moodie and Jason Sherman.

Afghanada gives us a grunts-eye perspective of the war in Afghanistan.  3 -1 Bravo is a Canadian Forces light infantry section fighting with NATO forces deep in the heart of the conflict.  Every day, Sgt. Pat Kinsella (Jenny Young), Private Dean Donaldson (Paul Fauteux) and Private Lucas Manson (Billy Maclellan), confront the chaos and violence of life "outside the wire."

Based on actual events on the ground in Kandahar, each week's episode takes the listener on an intense and compelling auditory journey, an unadorned reflection of the very real life and death situations Canadian soldiers face every day in Afghanistan.

This was a 103 episode radio show which was very good.   I've found the first three episodes online, probably bootleg but you can hear the whole thing at I-tunes.   I can't find credits for individual episodes. 

This is the kind of thing that makes me wish CBC radio would reestablish their radio drama wing.  Much as I like some of the others, the CBC's dramas are some of my favorites.  Better than any of the American ones I heard.


The Thought Criminal is making some changes to his life.  Leave a message and if I don't get back to you later, you're one of the changes. 

Ehrenreich's On Book Tour Again I Wonder If People Will Die Young As A Result

Having dropped most of my reading of lefty magazines on a regular basis I'd missed the first promotions of Barbara Ehrenreich's new book, "Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer."  I doubt I'll read it, Ehrenreich is an author I've gone decidedly lukewarm over as I've cast a more critical eye over the practical reality of her style of politics and, especially, her ideology.  I await her books, now, with the same absence of anticipation I had when the aged Leon Uris or Howard Fast or Laura Z. Hobson were still publishing.

When I last noticed her then recent book about her surprise at having what might be described as spiritual experiences, my conclusion was that whatever else you could say about Ehrenreich, she knew how to promote a book. 

I don't think I'd have bothered writing anything about this one except that I think it's pretty disgusting for someone who is a 17-year survivor of breast cancer to be slamming mammograms and medical treatment, I can only imagine if you took that stuff out and paraded it in front of the pseudo-skeptical, really atheist industry you'd get bloggers galore slamming them for encouraging people to die.  But being one of that band, herself, dutifully slamming "mindfulness" and, apparently, other things that her fellow pro-atheists would slam as "woo" she will be given a pass.  If what I read is correct, I can imagine someone like a close relative of mine was influenced by what she's saying, she'd have died when her children were babies instead of living and working with stage-four breast cancer for about the same time that Ehrenreich has survived.   I think she owes it to the many who will follow her book tour but who won't read the book to correct that if it is a misimpression of what she's saying about the diagnosis and treatment, even heroic treatment, of such diseases because I don't really get anything like encouragement in the matter.

Not having read the book my conclusions are based on what she's said in interviews and what positive reviewers of her book have said about it.   Being the sales-savvy Ehrenreich, there will be lots of those.

As so often Ehrenreich pushes her conclusions about the scientific literature on the basis of her long-ago activities as a biologist, something she hasn't practiced in a very long time.  I question whether or not her reading of the literature isn't based on the predetermined theme of her book instead of being anything like objective.   Not all researchers looking at the literature, most of the ones who publish in journals on the subject, have reached the same kinds of conclusions she has.   For example from the abstract of a paper by Raphael M. Bonelli and Harold G. Koenig:

Religion/spirituality has been increasingly examined in medical research during the past two decades. Despite the increasing number of published studies, a systematic evidence-based review of the available data in the field of psychiatry has not been done during the last 20 years. The literature was searched using PubMed (1990–2010). We examined original research on religion, religiosity, spirituality, and related terms published in the top 25 % of psychiatry and neurology journals according to the ISI journals citation index 2010. Most studies focused on religion or religiosity and only   7 % involved interventions. Among the 43 publications that met these criteria, thirty-one (72.1 %) found a relationship between level of religious/spiritual involvement and less mental disorder (positive), eight (18.6 %) found mixed results (positive and negative), and two (4.7 %) reported more mental disorder (negative). All studies on dementia, suicide, and stress-related disorders found a positive association, as well as 79 and    67 % of the papers on depression and substance abuse, respectively. In contrast, findings from the few studies in schizophrenia were mixed, and in bipolar disorder, indicated no association or a negative one. There is good evidence that religious involvement is correlated with better mental health in the areas of depression, substance abuse, and suicide; some evidence in stress-related disorders and dementia; insufficient evidence in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and no data in many other mental disorders.

There are lots of studies that indicate that what the "skeptics," the front of organized atheism would slam as superstition has a decidedly positive effect on people's' mental and many, though not all aspects of physical health as opposed to the absence of it.

To make sense of the morass of data, the NIH commissioned a series of papers, published earlier this year, in which scientists attempted to definitively assess the state of the faith-and-health research. Lynda H. Powell, an epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, reviewed about 150 papers, throwing out dozens that had flaws--those that failed to account for age and ethnicity, for example, which usually affect religiosity. In one respect, her findings were not surprising: while faith provides comfort in times of illness, it does not significantly slow cancer growth or improve recovery from acute illness.

One nugget, however, "blew my socks off," Powell says. People who regularly attend church have a 25 percent reduction in mortality--that is, they live longer--than people who are not churchgoers. This is true even after controlling for variables intrinsically linked to Sundays in the pew, like social support and healthy lifestyle. While the data were culled mainly from Christian churchgoers, Powell says the findings should apply to any organized religion. "This is really powerful," she says.

In an effort to understand the health differences between believers and nonbelievers, scientists are beginning to parse the individual components that compose religious experience. Using brain scans, researchers have discovered that meditation can change brain activity and improve immune response; other studies have shown it can lower heart rate and blood pressure, both of which reduce the body's stress response. (Most religions incorporate meditative practices, like chanting or prayer, into their traditions.) Even intangibles, such as the impact of forgiveness, may boost health as well. In a survey of 1,500 people published earlier this year, Neal Krause, a researcher at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health, found that people who forgive easily tend to enjoy greater psychological well-being and have less depression than those who hold grudges. "There's a physiology of forgiveness," says Dr. Herbert Benson, head of the Mind/Body Medical Institute, and a host of the upcoming Harvard conference. "When you do not forgive, it will chew you up."

I can't remember who it was but someone said that with the kind of studies indicating the health benefits of religion or "spirituality" if someone found a drug that did the same thing they'd get a Nobel prize and go down as one of the greatest heroes in modern history.   I've been extremely critical of the attempts to study "prayer" for reasons similar to what is pointed out in that article but counting people who attend church and their health status and finding those results it doesn't seem responsible to me to quibble about the rigor of them.  I certainly wouldn't discourage people from doing anything which is otherwise innocuous that possibly held those benefits.

As someone who is rapidly reaching the same age as the book touring Ehrenreich, 76,  I can say that her advice to drop any attempt to extend your life might make a lot more sense for geezers than it does for young people with a life to live into a future we will not see.  If there is not a stated lower age limit for what she's pushing, it is repulsively irresponsible.

I will say that I could probably find some common ground with her on the recent fad of "mindfulness" but that's more a question of marketing than a comment on its effectiveness.  I think the product as sold in the past decades is mostly a distortion of Buddhist meditation technology that demeans the intent of it as well as oversells what it will produce.  I used to practice a form of Buddhist meditation that has been sold, recently, not when I practiced it, under the brand name "mindfulness" though it wasn't back then.   I have adapted it to have religious content, meditating on passages of Jewish-Christian Scripture instead of my transient thoughts.   I respect what Buddhists have discovered about meditation but I found, after a number of years, it wasn't enough.   But I doubt Barbara Ehrenreich would have anything nicer to say about what I do, if it came to her notice.  I have no plans on peddling it with the same kind of hype that "mindfulness" has been in the past decade, so it's probably safe.   And I'd never make claims about it on the basis of health surveys and statistical analysis, though I would on the basis of personal experience.

And It Took Jeffersonian Ideals To Put Them In Charge Of Anything

In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.

Mark Twain 

It's Not A Sin To Criticize A Pope You Like Or Even One You Don't Like

The old anti-Catholic stereotype that Catholicism is an absolute dictatorship in which Catholics are under the control of the Pope is one of the things I was surprised to find is, if not ubiquitous, very wide spread among online lefties.   Of course anyone who bothers to find out what the truth is would know that couldn't be farther from the truth.  Dissent and criticism of Popes and what they claim, even what Councils of Bishops and Cardinals declare about papal infallibility, is as Catholic as the Papacy.   Catholics even criticize Popes and what they say when the love the particular Pope who says something they disagree with.   Those who pretend that every word of a pope they idolize is the word of God will do everything up to and including declaring a pope they disagree with is legitimate.  You can read the neo-integralist idolizers of John Paul II and Benedict XVI* who claimed infallibility for their most wrong-headed and even cruel declarations never lose an opportunity to try to discredit and condemn Francis.

I have been recommending people read Pope Francis' Gaudete et Exultate, which I think is one of the best papal documents of the past century.  It is certainly one of the most user friendly, mixing theological and pastoral content, written in a style which only the very least literate would have a problem with.  And the content is wonderfully practical instead of theoretical-theological. 

That said, I can't disagree with this harsh criticism of some of it by Jamie Mason in The National Catholic Reporter.  The criticism is in line with the criticism of Pope Francis's general view of women, something others have criticized and it rejects the defense of him on the basis of his age and the milieu he has lived in.

Those who have heard Francis' countless glorifications of motherhood and homemaking will not be surprised that the woman is a young mother who is out shopping. Her first moment of spiritual struggle comes in the urge to gossip. She declines. Then her child wants to talk with her. She is tired, but decides to listen with patience and love. When anxiety befalls her in the evening, she recalls "the love of the Virgin Mary" and picks up "her rosary and prays with faith."

These examples may seem rather innocuous to the occasional reader of Francis, but those who listen to him regularly will recognize that he is reasserting, for the umpteenth time, his belief that women's most essential vocation, and her true path to holiness, comes in motherhood and nurturing her family.

Another of Francis' recurring themes also emerges here: a woman's temptation to gossip. For the pope, gossip is no venial sin. In fact, he considers it to be "an act of terrorism," as he told a group of cloistered nuns during his recent visit in Peru in January.

"You know what a gossiping nun is? A terrorist!" Francis told the women, according to a Reuters report.

"Because gossip is like a bomb," the pope added. "One throws it, it causes destruction and you walk away tranquilly. No terrorist nuns!"

Sure, Francis was making an attempt at humor here, but it was another example of one of his "jokes" straying uncomfortably into misogynist territory. (Remember the wisecracks about Adam's rib and the priests being controlled by female housekeepers?)

These clichés give the sense that one of women's greatest spiritual temptation is to dish the dirt. Francis, of all people, should know that gossip is a far graver problem among the men in the Curia than it could ever be among women in the supermarket.

Even when Francis speaks well of women in this document, he cannot help but see the path to holiness through a gendered lens. For example, he speaks highly of women saints whose great faith has produced reforms in the church through their "feminine styles of holiness" and "attractiveness."

There is a lot more in the criticism of the document which should be considered by anyone who reads it.  It is, though, not discrediting of the general goals and aims and arguments of the document or  even of Francis.

One of the best things about Pope Francis, especially as contrasted with John Paul II and, to an extent, Benedict XVI,  he listens to his critics and, as recently on his actions in regard to the Church in Chile, he is quite capable of learning from criticism and changing even important decisions he's taken.   If he read Jamie Mason's article or something making the same points, I'm sure he'll consider them and learn from what they said.  That's a total contrast to how John Paul II took the public exhortation of Theresa Kane President of the US Leadership of the Women Religious on the role of Women in the Catholic Church.  I remember watching it on TV and thinking he  looked like he just hated having to listen to a woman speaking up and pretty much the rest of his pontificate included trying to put uppity nuns in their place.  I can't imagine Francis doing that, afterall one of the early things he did was to end the John Paul II - Benedict XVI inquisition against Women Religious.

I will still recommend Gaudete et Exultate but I'll also recommend reading Mason's criticism of it too.   As I said the other day the Scriptures are human documents, even those of the most obvious inspiration, they are attempts to understand, like even the most reliable of human attempts to do that,  they aren't infallible.

*  I think that Benedict XVI's decision to retire was probably the most responsible thing he did as Pope, he faced the fact that his papacy was pretty much a self-created wreck.  John Paul II was incapable of that level of self-reflection.  I think the decision to canonize  JPII was unfortunate and unconvincing.  I don't buy it.

On The Strike In Syria

I doubt that Donald Trump decided to send missiles and bombs into Syria for any good reason, I doubt he does anything for any good reason or that it was thought out on the basis of anything but political and criminal expediency.   I don't think it would be possible to persuade any thinking person that it was unrelated to the raid on his fixer, Michael Cohen's office and the reports that there is an enormous amount of compromising information, probably exposing crimes and certainly corruption that is contained in what was taken away from Cohen's office.  And if it isn't going to be used by federal prosecutors it might well be used by those in New York State, that's all certainly a part of this.

I know some people who were saying earlier this week when Trump played tough-guy by warning the Putin regime that air strikes would be coming that he's sure that this is something Putin is directing to protect what must be one of his major assets in the world, his masterpiece of subversion of democracy,  Trump in the Oval Office.  That must be more valuable to Putin than than the Assad regime in Syria, I don't have any doubt that both he and Trump have any morals or principles or even scruples that would make them rise above that level of cynical, evil manipulation of American PR, no more than I did Bush II and Cheney in taking advantage of the TV induced post 9-11 patriotic lunacy that ended up with the invasion of Iraq.   Lacking that "trifecta" opportunity, this could well be Trump doing something on a smaller scale. 

It's still early hours into this, I doubt we will have any really accurate information about what the meaning of the strikes on Syria will accomplish.   But there is no need to wait to try to figure out what the Trump propaganda machine will make of it. 

If within the next few days Trump moves to shut down the Mueller investigation it will certainly be a part of a scheme in which the Syrian strikes are just a small part.   From what I read,  I conclude FOX and other fascist media are already spinning in that direction.  It is certainly how it's being spun by Trump's political operation, the largest part of his regime. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Emergency Of The Ignorance Of Recent History

For anyone who believes that movies and TV shows are educational, read this shocking and dangerous information 

Most American millennials don't know what Auschwitz was, a survey finds.

Despite the slaughter of nearly a million Jews — as well as hundreds of thousands of Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and others — at the World War II Nazi death camp, a survey commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany found that 66 percent of Americans ages 18 to 34 "cannot identify what Auschwitz was." The figure for all adults was 41 percent.

The survey also found that 31 percent of all Americans and more than 4-in-10 millennials believe that 2 million Jews or fewer were killed during the Holocaust, substantially less than the historically accepted figure, which is closer to 6 million.

"I was astounded by those figures. This just goes to show the world forgets easily, and we pay a dear price for not remembering," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which works to promote awareness of European genocide.

As you consider that, consider the number of movies made about the Holocaust, especially since the 1980s till today, many of them seen by many millions, that isn't to mention TV shows, popular and more scholarly books, many of them best sellers, many of them assigned to college level readers, probably to high school students.

If this survey is accurate, this isn't only shocking and deplorable, it's extremely dangerous.   It can't not be relevant to the rise of neo-Nazism and fascism and more petty anti-Semitism.  I think it's also a consequence of the use to which the crimes of the Nazis have been put,  the insistence of too many people that only the murders of Jews was worthy of mention, those murders more important than the murders of other groups, nationalities, religious identities, often in the same massacres and mass gassings that killed six million Jews. 

But I think more than anything it is a result of the near exclusive concentration of STEM subjects in education.   I had a discussion with my sister when the radio informed us that the great writer of children's books, Beverly Cleary had her 102nd birthday.   She told me that reading and writing had been so demoted under Bush II's "No Child" and Obama's "Race To The Top" programs that teachers didn't assign books to be read, she said probably few of any of the students in the school she teaches in had ever read anything by Beverly Cleary. 

You can't teach about the Holocaust, about the murders of the Nazis in math, science, engineering classes, especially when you're not really teaching anything except how to take commercial standardized tests.  Considering that it is exactly that group who had that pushed as their education, so as to make them more profitable units to business and industry.   But it is rather shocking that all of those movies, all of those TV shows failed to let them appreciate what they were about in those numbers. 

The 20th century was a century of mass murder by governments using the resources of science, technology, engineering and math.   Not the subject, THE PEOPLE WHOSE EDUCATIONAL TRAINING, IDEOLOGICAL INDOCTRINATION AND VIEW OF REALITY WERE FORMED BY THOSE, NOT BY THE HUMANITIES.   That an emphasis on those in exclusion to history, especially recent history, reading, writing, reasoning, and, the morality which is necessary to even believe that the murders of millions of people is a matter of import and consequence, is certainly worth thinking about.   And by thinking, I don't mean the activity of producing entertainment, show-biz, movies.   Those clearly haven't gotten the job done.

Dumping the teach-to-the test miseducational regime which has been tried and found to fail has to happen, too.  Retraining teachers indoctrinated in that crap has to be done too, older teachers will tell you that, the ones who used to teach reading, history, writing, and other topics necessary to egalitarian democracy instead of the production of people as productive units.  People as productive units was the whole idea behind the Nazi murders of those deemed unproductive in some made up biology narrative.

Dušan Bogdanović - Canticles for 2 Guitars

Marc Teicholz and Michael Goldberg, guitars

Gorgeous playing of spectacularly fine music.

Hate Mail - Behind That Pose Was Not Only More Pose, The Basis Of That Pose Was A Pose Too

I can't deny some satisfaction with having confirmation of the conclusion I came to recently that almost all analysis of political entities in terms of the ideologies that they claim to be governed by gets the reality of it totally wrong, the more accurate framing is that when powerful people do the kinds of things that now dominate politics in the United States, Russia, China, etc. is to ask how closely those match the known behavior of mafia.  The confirmation comes from James Comey's comparison to the meeting he sat in with the then president-elect Donald Trump, Reince Priebus, etc. to the actions of La Cosa Nostra that he learned of when he was a prosecutor.

That it comes at the same time in my study of the Scriptures and concentration on what scholars of them point to as the core narratives of those, the Exodus account and, even more so, the development of the alternative which constitutes the Hebrew-Jewish identity is striking, to me at least.

I don't think I could possibly have come to a clear understanding of how many things that without that framing seem screwy, things like The Nation, the Green Party, alleged former-liberals like Alan Dershowitz enabling the ratfucking of our election through lies enabled by the ACLU, Joel Gora and the Warren Court on behalf of the current Post-Czar, Vladimir Putin, with the help of the so recently adored Wikileaks and Julian Assange, etc.   The same framing helps me to understand how those dear old commies of our lefty youths, pretty much the entire cast of heroes in the book Naming Names, the heroes of the movie Reds and, yes, the more recent treatment of the movie Trumbo, were fans and supporters and even agents of Stalin as he was doing exactly the same things that Hitler is rightly condemned as the most evil man in history for AND IT WAS KNOWN AS THOSE CINEMATIC - LEFT FORUM HEROES KNEW EXACTLY WHAT WAS GOING ON IN PLACES LIKE UKRAINE AND MOSCOW. 

The fact is that all of that, the fascists, the Nazis, the dear old commies were not polar opposites, but believers in closely allied ideologies that disdained morality and such things as THE TRUTH.  If you want the best example of that, it's how the American and other lefts in the democratic and quasi-democratic left did an about face as soon as Stalin made nice with Hitler and they all started sounding like Republicans from areas of the country where Hitler was popular. or who had business interests in Germany and Austria.  And even more so their 180 degree turn back as Hitler attacked Stalin held territory.

The use of ideology to explain how that old left and the old new left was different from fascists is largely fraudulent, as can be seen in how they held up such Stalinists and later Maoists as heroes of any kind of democratic left even as Mao's own campaign of slaughter in the Cultural Revolution was being accurately reported as it happened.  And it is significant that that was still going on even as Nixon and Henry Kissinger made their opening with Mao's government.

The real way towards understanding all anti-democratic and most non-democratic governments is to look at them as kleptocracies, mafia states, that is especially true now as the combined force of billionaires who have stolen and hoarded so much of the wealth of the entire world becomes the predominant force opposing democracy based on informed, honestly electioned governments of, by and for The People.

Groups such as the Green Party of the United States of America,m led by Putin asset Jill Stein,  magazines of the left which regularly publish the kind of stuff Stephen Cohen,  Patrick Lawrence, and others, the ones who have for the past century been encouraging the left to adopt policies favoring some of the worst, most blood drenched dictators in the world AND A SERIES OF UNIMPORTANT BALLOT BOX POISON POSITIONS, largely on behalf of the materialist, atheist world view that those dictators subscribed to, have discredited themselves out of any possible future use to a real, democratic left, the political-science analysis that is consistent with such an analysis of politics as if the truth and The People don't matter - depending on the assertions made about economics in place of the most salient things as tens of millions of murdered people and plundered environments -  has to be entirely junked.  Their record of producing failure for the real left, half a century of it, is a definitive discrediting of their ideas, their programs and their basic framing.

I would recommend the analyses of Walter Brueggemann, of Marilynne Robinson, of Pope Francis (his recent letter Gaudete et Exultate is just the most reader friendly of those) and others as the source of a real alternative which is in every way more consistent with an egalitarian, democratic, alternative based in justice, especially economic justice.  All of the old organs of the secular left have discredited themselves, they don't work, they never were an alternative.  They gave us 50 years and counting of fascist ascendency. 

Scumbag Lawyer From Harvard

If someone writes an honest biography of Alan Dershowitz the title of it should be "Scumbag Lawyer From Harvard".

How is he any different from the other scumbag lawyers who appear on FOX, who the Republican-fascists, the billionaire oligarchs who run both the Republican party and so much of the media put forward as credible commentators?   I wonder if it's possible for the common consensus to withdraw the kind of cred that Dershowitz has been given, mostly on the basis of his PR operation and his celebrity lawyering and the kind of cred that people are given from association with the Ivy League universities.   He is certainly discreditable.   I'd have thought it would have happened when he endorsed torture - something related to his overriding career as water carrier for Israeli fascists.  But it didn't.    I'm beginning to think that long-lasting foreign interference in our politics is of a piece with Putin's, it hasn't been good for the United States* it hasn't been good for democracy in Israel, it certainly hasn't been good for the Palestinian People.

We've got to make a lot of changes, dumping any illusions about Alan Dershowitz and celebrity Ivy League TV lawyers is a small detail but a necessary one. 

* The worst thing about Dershowitz in the Trump regime is that Trump believes him as Dershowitz articulates on FOX an essentially fascist view of the American presidency.  I don't think that is at all unrelated to Dershowitz's propaganda for Israel as it devolves into fascism.   We don't owe that to Israel anymore than we do any other country.  How he can be considered any less sleazy than any of Trumps official lawyers, present and former, is entirely dependent on how he's treated in the media.  How anyone thinks he's different from the overt fascists who want to keep Trump in power with fascistic power is testimony to the power of PR.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Cecil Taylor - Steps

Cecil Taylor (Piano, Bells)
Eddie Gale Stevens Jr. (Trumpet)
Jimmy Lyons (Alto Saxophone)
Ken McIntyre (Alto Saxophone, Oboe, Bass clarinet)
Henry Grimes (Bass)
Alan Silva (Bass)
Andrew Cyrille (Drums)

The album Unit Steps is a great example of Cecil Taylor's art, the development of motives through group improvisation.  It's hard to give a good idea of the range of his music by giving short recorded examples of it but he didn't conceive of it for the blog format. 

It's good to be reminded of what a good musician and composer he was for so many decades, continuing well into his last decade.

Here's what I've read some critics believe is his breakout piece,


Cecil Taylor: piano
Jimmy Lyons: alto saxophone
Archie Shepp: tenor saxophone
Henry Grimes: bass

Sunny Murray: drums

Show Me What Kind Of God Yours Is And I'll Predict If You Devolve Into Fascism

Continuing on where I left off in The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann, there is this important point which explains so much of what's happening today.

We will not understand the meaning of prophetic imagination unless we see the connection between the religion of static triumphalism and the politics of oppression and exploitation.  Karl Marx had discerned the connection when he observed that the criticism of religion is the ultimate criticism and must lead us to the criticism of law, economics, and politics. [*] The gods of Egypt are the immovable lords of order.  They call for, sanction, and legitimate a society of order, which is precisely what Egypt had.  In Egypt, as Frankfort has shown, there were no revolutions, no breaks for freedom.  There was only the necessary political and economic arrangements to provide order, “naturally,” the order of Pharaoh.  Thus the religion of the static gods is not and never could be disinterested, but inevitably it served the interests of the people in charge,  presiding over the order and benefiting from the order.  And the functioning of that society testified to the rightness of the religion because kings did prosper and bricks did get made. 

You might contrast that with the scientistic model of reality in which everything is caught up in an unalterable chain of material causation, determined by unchanging physical laws, which Marx, himself held with.  How anyone could imagine that such an ideological framing wouldn't come to set up laws, economics and politics that fixed social positions in the order they'd already attained or, as in the case of the manifestation of Marxism as it was applied under various experimental conditions - the new brooms, regime, nomenklatura, even as they understood that point is beyond me.

It is also no surprise how many of the stalwarts of conventional "skepticism" for which you could more honestly say materialist-atheists are,  in fact, politically and economically conservative, right wing, also how many Marxists take the tiny baby step from Marxism into rampant capitalist despotism and overt fascism. Putin could stand as the quintessential example if there weren't so many others from the 20th century, Max Eastman one of the earliest ones.   Their alternative was not in any way a radical break with what they opposed, it was just another interpretation of it.  Which is why they found that move so easy to make.

You can make the same point about so many ideological faiths, Constitutional originalism, the form of fascism that calls itself "federalism" which rule the Supreme Court, these days, in which we're supposed to live by the fixed conception of things made by a bunch of rather shifty aristocrats and slave holders in the 18th century.  The motives they have in promoting an unequal caste system, de-facto slavery and oppression couldn't be clearer as they couch their intentions in the language of secular religiosity. 

More recently there is the entirely unsurprising  recent spat between Sam Harris and Ezra Klein over biological racism and "IQ".   Materialism is just the current model of the Pharaonic static reality, which, unsurprisingly, ends up supporting the already wealthy, powerful and privileged.  It is absolutely no surprise that the great Civil Rights movement constantly referred back to Moses and not any of the "scientific" models of thinking.  Show me who your God is and I'll predict if you devolve into fascism.** 

It is the marvel of the prophetic faith that both imperial religion and imperial politics could be broken.  Religiously, the gods were declared no-gods.  Politically, the oppressiveness of the brickyard was shown to be ineffective and not necessary to human community.  Moses introduced not just the new free God and not just a message of social liberation.  Rather, his work came precisely at the engagement of the religion of God's freedom with the politics of human justice.  Derivative finally from Marx, we can learn from these traditions that finally we will not have a politics of justice and compassion unless we have a religion of God's freedom.  We are indeed made in the image of some God.  And perhaps we have no more important theological investigation than to discern in whose image we have been made.  Our sociology is predictably derived from, legitimated by, and reflective of our theology.  And if we gather around a static god of order who not only guards the interests of the “haves,” oppression cannot be far behind.  Conversely,  if a God is disclosed who is free to come and go, free from and even against the regime, free to hear and even answer slave cries, free from all proper godness as defined by the empire, then it will bear decisively upon sociology because the freedom of God will surface in the brickyards and manifest itself as justice and compassion.  

"We will not have a politics of justice and compassion unless we have a religion of God's freedom."   WE WILL NOT.   I have to say that that is one of the most shocking things I've found in looking at the Bible and the scholarship about what it actually says as opposed to what most people believe it says.   Including many who thump on it loudest. 

I have also found out that all secular systems of thought will inevitably take on the character of whatever they put in the place of God and I don't know of a single one of those which won't produce a fixed and rigidly deterministic view of reality and which will, as a result, produce the kind of oppression that that was symbolized in the Pharaonic system which Moses sought to smash.  The radicalism of the Hebrew tradition is the farthest thing from a static system, though fundamentalists will read The Law that way.   The Law, like all of the scriptures, inspired or not, is not a pure inspiration in which the thinking of the People who produced those documents can be ignored.  We might be made in the image of the God of Moses, but we aren't God and our documents, even the most inspired won't escape our limitations, our own limited freedom.  That can't be fixed for all time in all detail, though I doubt there will ever be a time when much of it won't be true and an expression of freedom and aspirations of freedom.   The scriptures didn't end with Deuteronomy, after all.  No more than history and human experience did.  They still had to work on their understanding. 

The security promised by the Modern Industrial Scientific model of reality is an illusion, any security it produces will, in the end, depend on the same kind of oppressive inequality and, especially, the extent to which those so oppressed can be conned into believing the order they live under is inevitable because that's just the natural order of things, the way things are and in the worst cases because science says so.  Look at what the Charles Murrays, Sam Harrises, and so many in the biologically-deterministic camp say.  Look at the pudding headed prophet Jordan Peterson says about lobsters and why women shouldn't be paid as much as men.

*  Brueggemann's note on this says.  Marx's programmatic statement from "Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right,"  is:  "Thus the criticism of heaven is transformed into the criticism of earth,  the criticism of law, and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics."  (The Marx-Engel Reader,  ed.  R. C. Tucker

I would make some points from my recent reading on Jewish anti-zionism from the late 19th and early 20th century but I've got to read a lot more before I have a right to say something.  I have to say, it is a fascinating topic with some really stunning predictions that have come to pass.  Much of that anti-zionism was based on the rejection of the Jewish religion by Zionism and skepticism of the results of it.   Many of the early Zionists were anything but liberal democrats. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

How I Find Out What So Many Of My Fellow Geezers Are Thinking - In The Trump Regime It's Called "Current Events"

Thank you, kid.   You watched Tucker so I don't have to. 

Things I Wish I Could Wash Out Of My Memory

Trump's adulterous in his heart statements about his daughter. 

The sexy black lingerie photo of his daughter that Michael Cohen sexted around the web.  Thankfully, I missed that story last year

Michael Cohen answering a critic of him doing so "Jealous,"  

What the hell is wrong with these people?   Are they that amoral that they don't understand what's wrong with what they're doing?   I can't believe it is unrelated to their criminality and treason and attempts to destroy democracy. 

What about their daughters?  What the hell do they think about their creepster dads?   Apparently both of them got into Ivy League schools so stupidity is no excuse.   Did she give her dad the picture?   Jeeesh! 

I'd love to scrub that from my memory. 

Having To Depend On Broken Vessels To Carry The Truth, The Limits Of A Hollywood Western View Of Life

Since we are reportedly about to start hearing a lot from James Comey, former Director of the FBI in regard to his forthcoming book, I have to agree and disagree with this piece by the writer Steve Almond listing why Comey is a "national disgrace". 

As director of the FBI, he had one basic moral duty: to remain impartial in the midst of a rancorous election. He failed miserably.

The facts on this could not be more clear:

Comey knew that both of the candidates running for president were under investigation.

At the behest of Republicans in Congress, his FBI spent months looking into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Comey also opened an investigation, in July 2016, into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

It should be noted that he opened this investigation only after intelligence officials from five other countries flagged suspicious contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians. One Trump advisor, Carter Page, was a suspected Russian spy.

Given these disturbing facts, there’s a strong argument to be made that Comey should have broken with Justice Department policy and informed the American public that the Trump campaign was under investigation for potentially treasonous activity.

But again, his underlying duty was to remain silent and thereby impartial.

Instead, Comey chose to speak about the Clinton probe on three occasions. He did so because he was afraid conservatives would criticize him if he followed department policy. In other words, he got bullied.

I can't disagree with any of that and there are several things I could add.   I think that Comey and many of the people in the FBI not only were bullied into holding Hillary Clinton to a standard over literally nothing as compared to Trump's suspected collusion with a foreign mafia state crime boss due to their partisan, Republican preferences and very likely due to their not liking the idea of having a woman being president.   I was furious with Barack Obama when he appointed Comey because there were a lot of reasons why he wouldn't be a good Director, I think Obama, as he always did, was eager to please Republicans in what he chose to do, both in the FBI and outside of it.   I'll go so far to wonder who Andrew McCabe supported in both his vote and in his professional life in the FBI and I find McCabe a far less problematic figure than Comey.

But, all of that said, I don't agree with Almond's conclusion that Comey should shut up now that his irresponsibility landed us with Trumpian fascism.   I'm sure I will grit my teeth as Comey presents himself as some great figure of integrity and virtue, he's nothing like that, but he has a duty to expose the criminality of a man he did so much to put into the presidency.

I don't know if the general public has the ability to appreciate these matters on a basis more subtle than they learned to think of them from Hollywood westerns where you're either good or bad, sometimes that being based on no substantial moral difference but just because you're manipulated into rooting for the guy in the white hat.   I don't know if Steve Almond is demanding a level of sophistication that Americans have been stupefied out of being able to navigate by entertainment media.  I look at our history and wonder if Americans have been able to regularly think more subtly than in those terms.   If that's a human limitation, it is a dangerous one for self-government and any means of avoiding the dangers of it have to be taken. 

When I looked into James Comey and read the really weird fact that he once wrote a paper for school linking Jerry Falwell to Reinhold Niebuhr and read more about his own view of his life and the world,  I think he might be especially prone to thinking in those terms.  I mean, Jerry Falwell?  Reinhold Niebuhr?   One of these is not at all like the other.  I wouldn't say that Comey is too stupid to appreciate the differences, which are obvious, you really have to do a lot of talking yourself out of seeing that to associate the one with the other.

I don't trust James Comey, I don't trust a lot of the people who are what stand between us and Trump as the American Federalist-fascist dream of a "unitary executive,"  such as I read Alan Dershowitz is encouraging Trump into being, but that's what we're stuck with depending on.   I'll wait to find out what Comey's book says.   Maybe he comes clean about his own culpability in producing Trump, stranger things have happened.  In a lot of ways I feel the same way about him that I did while watching John Dean's testimony before the Impeachment Committee.  He earned my respect over the coming decades through honesty about those things - I respect him more for serving time in prison for his crimes, something I doubt Comey will ever face.   We'll see.  I don't expect Dershowitz will ever regain the respect I mistakenly held for him about thirty years ago.   After I looked past the PR fraud, the articles in leftish magazines and his position at Harvard.   I don't trust any of those, now.

Update:  It doesn't surprise me that Alan Dershowitz is, in effect, arguing for a position that would rapidly pitch us into fascism.   Not with his other activities over the past two decades or so.  I think the guy is a fraud when he presents himself as a Constitutional scholar and not really a great supporter of egalitarian democracy.  I don't think he cares about much outside of American support for Israel, his real overriding interest.   Which I think accounts for why he's such a big fat Trump supporter, though he claims to not have voted for him.   The only other reason I can think of has to do with the unsubstantiated rumors about Dershowitz which I won't go into as the place for that is in a court trial.  I have no idea if those are true or not.  There is no rational reason for him to be making the outlandish claims he is on the basis of Constitutional law about which, in most of the informed analysis I've seen, he seems to know not much, peddling his Harvard association on FOX and other fascist venues to gull the gullible.  The most dangerously gullible of those being their #1 viewer,  Trump, who can act on what Dershowitz tells him on the screen.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Cole Porter - It's All Right With Me - Peggy Lee and the Lou Levy Quartet

Lou Levy (piano)
Max Bennett or Buddy Clark (bass)
Nick Fatool (drums)
Larry Bunker (percussion)
Sy Oliver (arranger)

Frank Sinatra, Jack Wolf, and Joel Herron -I'm A Fool To Want You 

Trumpet: Jack Sheldon
Percussion: Chano Pozo
Drums: Mel Lewis
Piano: Lou Levy
Guitar: Al Hendrickson
Tenor  Saxophone, Flute: Justin Gordon
Guitar: Herb Ellis
Double  Bass: Max Bennett
Benny Carter:  Arranger

I didn't know Frank Sinatra wrote lyrics.  This is a pretty good song, too bad he didn't do more of that and less of phoning in performances as he got older.   Talent wasted. 

Hate Mail - Oh, I'm Busy, Have A Controversial Video - Science Vs God - Is There A Life Force That Transcends Matter? | Under The Skin with Russell Brand

I wasn't familiar with Russell Brand before listening to this, looking forward to more of his interviews, etc.  Rupert Sheldrake, ever the voice of reason, goes over some points he's made before but also some new things.   You can contrast his tone and how he calls for experiment and investigation, you know, science, instead of ideological assertion of confident ignorance.   I certainly don't agree with everything said but it's so nice to hear a reasonable discussion of these things. 

Was Moses Real? Bar Theology

If it didn't come from one person named Moses doesn't matter for me.   If it came from a bunch of people it makes me believe the likelihood that it was a result of divine inspiration is even higher.  If it is unlikely to have arisen once through Moses, it happening multiple times in one place among closely linked people seems to be more improbable to an exponent higher with every hand in it.

OK, Ok, I'll Admit It

I've listened to Rachel Maddow's piece about the FBI raid on Michael Cohen three times and my face hurts from smiling about it.   

Of course, being Irish, when I'm this happy about something I'm sure it will be followed up by terrible news.  

Still, it couldn't have happened to a more deserving legal thug.   I wonder if he'll follow Trump's ideal of a lawyer, Roy Cohn in being disbarred.   Maybe lawyers will get the idea that being Trump's lawyer is a jinx.  

Dismantling The Politics of Oppression and Exploitation by Countering It With A Politics of Justice And Compassion

Instead of going over the fallout from the raid on Michael Cohen's office and residence,  on my worst day of the week, in terms of being busy, I decided to go on with that passage from Walter Brueggemann's The Prophetic Imagination commented on last week

Before I continue with that, though, I want to comment on the use of imagination by atheists to discredit ideas they don't like.  As I pointed out the other day, atheist, materialists of the scientistic kind aren't particularly good at following the logical consequences of their ideological assertions to their ends, at least not when it's things they like and, indeed, the very things they use to make their claims and assert that theirs are the only rational conclusions and all other ideas are deserving of only disdain and discrediting, along with the large majority of humanity which don't share their ideology. 

The idea that because something is imagined that that fact defines it as an illusion or a delusion or a superstition or an unconsidered bit of "folk psychology" is asserted by people who ignore that all of their ideological holdings, materialism, atheism, scientism, etc. are no less products of imagination than the beliefs of religion.   In fact, every idea we have of anything external to ourselves is inevitably a product of imagination, the production of images and their manipulation and extension into scenarios that comprise understanding and, in fact, what we articulate to other people to convince them of ideas we want them to adopt.  That is certainly how science works, as, for example, in what happens when a scientist reads a paper by a colleague and from the descriptions of events and observations, the measurements of them, the mathematical representation of them, the very conclusions that are asserted by the paper are all acts of imagination.   Often, any model or diagram included is a product of imagination not a representation of even one event but, often, a fictitious "typical" event of the type asserted in the conclusion.   The idea that you can specify or typify a number of events into one set description of what such an event should be is an act of imagination, itself.  And that's especially true of objects which cannot be seen.   It tickles me that the "atom" which some atheists take as their sacred symbol is entirely a produce of imagination and is in no way "what an atom would look like."  "The atom" as imagined by materialists going back to the Greeks and ancient Indians was and is entirely a matter of imagination, not all of those "things" so imagined being either real or as science has come to characterize atoms now.    Atheists who claim to be all about objective observation, measurement and analysis to come up with an "objective" view of reality are imagining what they claim no less than any religious believer does. 

I will go back to the practice of giving links to scriptural passages and other things as needed, the Revised Standard Version because it's so widely used.  I have not provided citations for the authors mentioned by Brueggemann, though in his chapter notes in the book he provides most of those.   So, check the book out.   The book was meant for, as he put it "professional religionists" but even without those his substance is useful for us amateurs.   They're easy to look up online.


As a beginning point in these considerations, I propose that our understanding of prophecy comes out of the covenantal tradition of Moses.  I do not minimize the important scholarly contributions concerning non-Israelite antecedents to prophecy in Israel.  These include (a) studies in the Canaanite phenomenon of ecstasy, surely echoed in 1 Samuel 10 and 19;  and, more recently, (b) the evidence from Mari concerning institutional offices of prophecy both in the cult and in the court.  Both these kinds of evidence illuminate practices and conventions to which Israel undoubtedly appealed in its much borrowing.  But the tradition itself is not ambiguous when it comes to the dominating figure of Moses who provides our primary understandings.  That is to say, the shaping of Israel took place from inside its own experience and confession of faith and not through external appropriation from somewhere else.  That urging is fundamental for this discussion,  for I am urging in parallel fashion that if the church is to be faithful it must be formed and ordered from the inside of its experience and not by borrowing from sources external to its own life.  This judgment, I am aware, is against the current tendency of scholarship.  Thus, for example. Ronald Clements in his more recent Prophecy and Tradition has drawn back somewhat from his earlier position in Covenant and Prophecy.  There is currently the reassertion of a kind of neo-Wellhausian perspective, and that may be an important corrective to the synthesis of Gerhard von Rad.  Nonetheless,  I would urge that we are on sound ground if we take as our beginning point Moses as the paradigmatic prophet who sought to evoke in Israel an alternative consciousness. 

This is an important consideration these days when the Bible is regularly attacked on a weirdly programmatic application of the genetic fallacy to it,  the extent to which the ideas of the Old Testament, the Mosaic books was a break with earlier thinking and the radical content of that, so radical that if the United States were to adopt the economic Law of Moses it would be the most radical egalitarian reform that has been known in the modern world, in every way more radical than any Marxist or socialist program I've ever come across.   Certainly more radical than any Marxist regime which has ever been known and without the violence of any modern revolution from the American and French ones up till today.   That is something which no one can find antecedents for in what's known of earlier Mediterranean and middle-eastern contexts.  The closest to it I can think of are the tales told about King Ashoka after his conversion to Buddhism. 

The ministry of Moses, as George Mendenhall and Norman Gottwald have most recently urged, represents a radical break with the social reality of Pharaoh's Egypt.  The newness and radical inattentiveness of Moses and Israel in that period can hardly be overstated.  Most of us are probably so used to these narratives that we have become insensitive to the radical and revolutionary social reality that emerged because of Moses.  It is clear that the emergence of Israel by the hand of Moses cannot be extrapolated from any earlier reality.  Obviously nothing like the Kenite hypothesis or the monotheism of the eighteenth dynasty of Egypt will help us at all.  While there are some hints that the God of Israel is known to be the God of the fathers (cf. Exodus 15:2), that evidence is at best obscure.  In any case, the overriding experience of Exodus is decisive and not some memory now only hinted at in the tradition.  However those antecedents are finally understood, the appearance of a new social reality is unprecedented.  Israel in the thirteenth is indeed ex nihilo.  And that new social reality drives us to the category of revelation.  Israel can only be understood in terms of the new all of God and his assertion of an alternative social reality.  Prophecy is born precisely in that moment when the emergence of social political reality is so radical and inexplicable that it has nothing less than a theological cause.  Theological cause without social political reality is only of interest to professional religionists, and social political reality without theological cause need not concern us here.  But it is being driven by the one to the other that requires us to speak of and wonder about the call to the prophetic.  

(1)  The radical break of Moses and Israel from imperial reality is a two-dimensional break from both the religion of static triumphalism and the politics of oppression and exploitation.  Moses dismantled the religion of static triumphalism by exposing the gods and showing that in fact they had no power and were not gods.  Thus, the mythical legitimacy of Pharaoh's social world is destroyed, for it is shown that such a regime appeals to sanctions that in fact do not exist.  The mythic claims of the empire are ended by the disclosure of the alternative religion of the freedom of God.   In place of the gods of Egypt, creatures of the imperial consciousness,  Moses discloses YHWH, the sovereign one who acts in his lordly freedom, is extrapolated from no social reality, and is captive to no social perception but acts form hi own person towards his own purposes.  

At the same time,  Moses dismantles the politics of oppression and exploitation by countering it with a politics of justice and compassion.   The reality emerging out of the Exodus is not just a new religion or a new social community in history, a community that has historical body, that had to devise laws, patterns of governance and order, norms of right and wrong, and sanctions of accountability.  The participants in the Exodus found themselves, undoubtedly surprisingly to them, involved in the intentional formation of a new social community to match the vision of God's freedom.  That new social reality, which is utterly discontinuous with Egypt, lasted in its alternative way for 250 years.   

For those who might forget, the United States hasn't lasted that long and it's ever more doubtful that our Constitution is going to make it to the 250 year point.  And if it does, we might not.  There is nothing easy or finally settled in human life or society. 

About ten years ago I was introduced to the Yigdal of Maimonides by reading a translation of the text while listening to Stefan Wolpe's fine cantata* on it.   The text of the cantata is a 13 point declaration of the Jewish faith by Maimonides, the seventh verse was one I didn't really appreciate at the time, it declared that there was never another prophet like Moses who saw clearly.   Having been fed the secular, atheist view of Moses by my education and reading, I didn't care for that idea.   But having read, especially from Protestant authors and post-Vatican II Catholics,  I've definitely warmed up to Moses and The Law, for all its being a human interpretation and understanding of things, a few, such as in the Holiness Rules of Leviticus as commonly interpreted, excepted.   Only when considered in light of the understanding of those trying to leave the oppression of the pagan world for one of justice and equality, always in danger from the old, ingrained habits (as we always are the habits of slavery and in, for example, serfdom in Russia) they didn't want the worst of that, such as temple prostitution of children, to take root in Israel.  I could go more into detail about that point more and probably will before this is over.  It will have to get pretty explicit.  It won't be in accord with the real-right-way to be lefty, these days.  The Law dealt with real human reality as lived, not some abstract model of simple objects.


Christfried Biebrach, bass
Wolfgang Zerer, organ
NDR Choir

Monday, April 9, 2018

Cecil Taylor Piano at Ornette Coleman Memorial June 27, 2015

He still had his incredible technique and musical substance at such an advanced age.   That piece could be transcribed and stand as a masterwork of music.   A heartfelt tribute from a genius to a friend of genius. 

It's Always Such Fun To Find Out That The Sci-Rangers Don't Know The Difference Between Science and Scientism - Hate Mail

Having your sockpuppet "Zod" try to pull the science card on me is rather stupid as I doubt "either of you" could calculate your way through a basic formula more complex than finding the area of a simple geometric object, if that.   Though there are big-name atheist-scientists who only do the same thing on the level of logical coherence.

Scientism isn't science, it's your faith that all knowledge is a product of science.   It's a belief that isn't only not scientific, it can't even withstand the first level of logical testing, that it be internally consistent.   The statement of scientism is not a scientific statement so it not only can be known to be false, on the basis of what it claims it MUST be false.  It can only be true if it is false.  I've found that in everything from that statement, to statements from celebrity scientist atheists, from Lawrence Krauss and Stephen Hawking that the universe created itself out of "nothing" or that because there is a law of gravity that the universe must have created itself out of nothing, which would require that there be a law of gravity before there was any matter which is a basic requirement for there to be gravity. 

Atheism isn't any great help to science, being an ideology, when it rules the behavior and claims of scientists, it inevitably leads to them saying the most incredibly stupid things.   Their fanboys have the excuse of ignorance and, in your case, TV based stupidity, but that's not really much of an exoneration.   I do think it's related to the point I made yesterday about the amorality which is a consequence of scientistic, materialist, atheism, if you don't believe the truth matters you're unlikely to have much use for logical coherence for which, in a very basic way, you have to believe that some truth actually matters and is of some consequence and necessary to have any coherent grasp of reality.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sunday Night Radio Drama - Michael Z. Lewin - The Enemies Within

Albert Samson is a laconic, rather seedy, non-violent private detective from Indianapolis who in the month before Christmas - not a good time for private eyes - ' people try not to think about the things they hire detectives for. so they don't hire detectives' finds himself offered an apparently straightforward job. 

It's only when he becomes more interested in investigating his client that things become at first strange and then definitely bizarre. 

Albert Samson: Ed Bishop
Martin Willson: Blain Fairman
Melanie Kee: Liza Ross
Bartholomew: Paul Maxwell
Robert Goger: Peter Dyneley
Edmund Kee: Peter Marinker
Lt Miller: Peter Whitman
Insp Dowdell: Ramsay Williams
Rose Trull: Patricia Gallimore
Cop: Terry Molloy
Mrs Seale: Joyce Latham
Maureen: Denise Cartier
Jack: Roger Gartland

Directed By: Roger Pine.

I didn't know anything about Michael Z. Lewin or his detective Albert Samson before listening to this but I'll be looking him up at the library on Monday.  I'm not big on crime novels, especially the often silly super-hero, often formulaic hardboiled detective genre but I think I'm going to like Lewin's books.   I believe this is his own adaptation of his third Albert Samson novel for radio, he's apparently written a lot of radio dramas.  Interestingly, there are more of those available in German than in English right now.  I hope that changes.   There is a slight amount of aging of the social-political aspect of this play to 2018 ears but I can testify from experience that this is totally true to the time it was written, the 1970s.   It's quite good.

Hate Mail - I Don't Believe That Atheism Is Innocuous Anymore

Simps is a. lying about trying to post a comment here to that effect,  b. is lying that I don't support the rights of women to make their own choice about having legal abortion.   As many Catholics I know have concluded, making abortion illegal doesn't stop abortions, it only makes them dangerous and deadly.  The only effective means of preventing abortion is to provide people with scientifically based information about how to avoid unwanted pregnancy, to encourage them to use medically effective contraception and to make sure it is as readily available to people as possible.

I could have just repeated the obvious point that Simps pretty much lies about everything.  Simps like the residuum remnant of the Eschaton commenting community swims in a post-truth milieu.   Some of them are familiar enough with what I've written to know that he lies about what I've said but they apparently don't care enough to correct his misrepresentations.   That has certainly contributed to my conclusion that when you don't believe in sin you don't believe it's a sin to tell a lie.  As Chris Hedges put it in his book "I Don't Believe In Atheists"

We have nothing to fear from those who do or do not believe in God;  we have much to fear from those who do not believe in sin.  The concept of sin is a stark acknowledgement that we can never be omnipotent, that we are bound and limited by human flaws and self-interest.  The concept of sin is a check on the utopian dreams of a perfect world.  It prevents us from believing in our own perfectibility or the illusion that the material advances of science and technology equal an intrinsic moral improvement in our species.  To turn away from God is harmless.  Saints have been trying to do it for centuries.  To turn away from sin is catastrophic. 

Only I have come to conclude, from observing atheists, online, in the media, in books and in history  in the years since Hedges wrote that book, that atheism leads, inevitably, to large numbers of them not believing in sin and the consequences of that are not nearly as lofty and abstract as Hedges concluded then.   I think that accounts for everything up to and including the murders of scores of millions of people under "scientific" regimes during the past century.   The extent to which atheism doesn't lead to amorality is the extent to which atheists retain a belief in morality that is inconsistent with materialist, scientistic atheism.  The extent to which they still worship "the shadow of the Buddha" as Nietzsche put it.   I wouldn't count on that happening longer than a couple or three generations.  Not in large enough numbers to prevent total depravity.  

Update:  Literacy among the online manifestation of atheism is greatly overestimated.   

Update 2:  Simps has been telling that lie for six years, it's as much a lie now as it was in 2012. Duncan Black has let him post it the entire time.   He doesn't much care if something is true as long as he gets ad revenue and other income from it.   It's not as if he writes much content for his blog. 

The Warning That Was Unheeded, The Remedy That Wasn't Tried But Still Can Be

As the people were forced
to fight over jobs,
self-defense became a way of life,
- in wars,
- in sports,
- in movies,
- even sometimes at home.

Our country meanwhile
grew strong and powerful
because of
- exploding war-stimulated technology,
- cheap raw materials from abroad,
- lots of oil,
- and a large work force.

But many people stayed poor,
and suffered attacks on their dignity,
- Native Americans,
- Blacks,
- Mexican Americans,
- immigrants,
- Puerto Ricans,
- and poor whites, like Appalachians.

Brothers and sisters in suffering,
these people were often forced
to turn against one another,
for some meager piece of a pie,
which, however big
(the biggest the world had ever known),
refused to feed all its children

As industrial production grew,
it brought blessings to the human family,
but the more it grew
the more some felt
it became like a cancer
eating away its own foundation.

This is a passage from what I think is one of the best pastoral letters,  This Land Is Home To Me, issued by the Bishops of Appalachia in 1975.   What they warned about forty-three years ago has now become the facts of life for Americans everywhere, including many from the middle-class, white-collar families who the system still worked for back then.  That was predicted in the document, noting that Appalachia was not only a reality for its people and land but was also symbolic of what would become a more general result of what it warned of.  That is one of the great accomplishments of the regime of lies I talked about yesterday.

I will point out that at the time it was written, the oligarchs were just beginning to take advantage of the Chinese near-slave labor market opened up by Nixon and Kissinger, when they still had to contend with workers who had at least some rights here.   The great accomplishment of globalization in allowing the ownership class to export jobs to slave labor markets hadn't taken hold.  And if you think that's not a serious consideration look at those areas of the rust-belt that gave Trump his Electoral College win.  Even as he was part of the ownership class who exported jobs out of the United States.

Worship Of An Idol

The way of life
which these corporate giants create
is called by some
"technological rationalization".

Its forces contain the promise
of a world where
- poverty is eliminated,
- health is cared for,
- education is available for all,
- dignity is guaranteed,
- and old age is secure.

Too often, however,
its forces become perverted,
hostile to the dignity of the earth
and of its people.
Its destructive growth patterns
- pollute the air,
- foul the water,
- rape the land.

The driving force
behind this perversion is
"Maximization of Profit",
a principle which too often converts itself
into an idolatrous power.

I just thought I'd post some of it so it could be read, I doubt that many people have read or do read this very important document.   It's far from the only document of the kind from that period but, written in the poetic language of prophesy, as so much of William Blake was, it is some of the most potent.  It also has proposed solutions to overturn the beast it opposes, the same best that Blake sensed and opposed, though with the better part of two-centuries witness that wasn't available to Blake.  As maybe they didn't appreciate in 1975, the nature of those solutions wouldn't be any more acceptable to materialists of the left than they were to the corporate materialists who run the system.   That "left" was as invested in the ideological, political and material motivations behind the oppressive system as the oppressors, why they found it so easy to support the same thing when it was branded as Marxist or Leninist, or Maoist.   We know a lot more, now, where Marxism leads, fascistic mafia-states. 

Yes, instead of reprinting the whole thing - it's not long, only 19 pages of poetic text, not too many words to a page - you should read it at the link.   I've decided to read it every day for a week or two.  Like the Prophets, Hebrew or William Blake, it's the kind of text you have to read a number and really think about to really get what it means.