Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Vississitudes Of Getting Old

I'm kind of disappointed.  I figured that the local Republican politician who caught me coming in my back door starkers posted on here the other day would be the talk of the town by now.  I have yet to have anyone ask me about it. 

Vi Redd and The Count Basie Orchestra - Stormy Monday Blues

Now's The Time 

Vi Redd - Alto Sax and Vocals 
Roy Ayers - vibes 
Carmell Jones - trumpet 
Russ Freeman - piano 
Leroy Vinnegar - bass 
Richie Goldberg - drums

I need to get back to posting more music. 

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Alessana Hall - Leila's Shame

A story about an unlikely friendship across the cultural divide between a risk-taking Somali woman and a cautious undercover cop. They have more in common than they realise. When Kate sets out to gather evidence about a Somali drug-dealing ex-con, she assumes the identity of an academic researching into the hidden Manchester Somali community. Her gateway into the culture is Leila, a flippant, fun-loving young British Somali. Leila takes her to meet Somali families, while making drops for her boyfriend Khalid - Kate's target. In spite of herself, Kate is very drawn to Leila. She's fun, slightly crazy and, it turns out, deeply troubled. They become friends although it's clear neither are revealing their true selves to the other. 

Kate is charmed and intrigued by Leila who invites her to dinner with her mum and brother, takes her clubbing and arranges a memorable evening in a shisha bar. Kate's focus shifts from professional to personal. Khalid is still her mark, but now she also wants to protect Leila - especially when she realises Leila's real troubles stem from her mental ill-health, a subject that is deeply taboo in the Somali community. 

LEILA...Yusra Warsama 
KATE…Jessica Baglow 
MAHAD/KHALID...Youssef Kerkour 
MUM...Sandra Cole 
CAROLE/DC STACEY...Julia Rounthwaite 
Scripted and Directed by Alessana Hall 
Sound Design: Eloise Whitmore 
Produced by Melanie Harris Executive 
Producer: Jo Meek

Putin Tells Us Egalitarian Democracy Is Finished

The interview of the crime boss of Russia, Vladimir Putin by the Financial Times was, from Putin's side, an exercise in propaganda, part of his promotion of fascism and even neo-Nazism in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.  As tempting as it is to see his attack on liberalism in ideological terms, it was all about a gangster promoting gangster government over egalitarian democracy because bad government is good for gangsters, especially those who have already taken over a government.  I have pointed out in the past that gangster governments that hide their criminality behind some anti- or non-democratic ideology have some record of often working with their putative ideological opposites, Hitler-Stalin, various Marxist crime regimes with theocratic regimes in the Middle East, the American Republicans and some of the most brutal regimes - those not aligned with the Soviets or others - overthrowing democracies that risk being of, by and for Their People instead of American corporations and, so, the Geo-politics of American gangsters.  

The actual phrasing of what Putin said isn't that important, it was that opposite of "virtue signaling" which, oddly, isn't nearly as despised, evil signaling. It was a gang sign by a gangster that he's going to do business with thugs, fascist thugs, neo-Nazi thugs whereas he won't do business with the kind of liberalism of which the American liberal tradition is a part.  His targeting of multiculturalism as what he meant by liberalism that is doomed is certainly not the secular, 18th century "enlightenment" free market, free trade smoke screen that he's got no problem with.  The reason he's got no problem with it is because that degradation of the word "liberal" is merely a different brand of gangsterism whereas the liberal tradition based in equality and the inherent possession of rights is its one and only political opposite. 

I haven't looked, has The Nation put up an article about how we can do business with Putin?   I'm expecting it will if it already hasn't.   Secularism always will devolve into that because it has no absolute metaphysical restraints of the kind needed to have egalitarian democracy.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

See Also:

Why Catholic bishops need a year of abstinence on preaching about sexuality.

As the article points out, sexual issues are the ones that the reactionaries I just posted about are hoping to use to gain control.

There is an unmistakable hubris displayed when some in the church are determined to make sexuality the lynchpin of Catholic identity at a time when bishops have failed to convince their flock that they are prepared to police predators in their own parishes.

Really, though one year isn't enough.  They should realize their scandalous behavior has made anything they say about even unquestionable evil sexual behavior not credible.  They have repudiated their moral authority on this issue and no one finds them credible, even the reactionaries that hope to use the issue to gain power.  The Vatican approved, consecrated Bishops and Cardinals have no credibility on questions of sexual morality.   I will point out that, on the other hand, the officially excommunicated (though they refuse to acknowledge their excommunication) Women Roman Catholic priests have brought no such scandalous incredibility on themselves. 

Catholic Conservative Hate Mail

I have got a lot to do today so I'm just going to crib this from a recent article in the National Catholic Reporter  about the US Catholic Conference of Bishops meeting to address clerical sexual abuse (I'll bet you, as I didn't, even know it was going on).  It shows how clueless the USCCB, most of whom are still those mediocrities appointed by John Paul II and Benedict XVI, are about the inappropriateness of their privilege when they should be doing severe penance on the issue.

On the eve of this week's meeting, as news broke that a bishop in West Virginia had sent large cash gifts to more than 100 other clergymen, writing personal checks that were then reimbursed through sleight-of-hand accounting, all of it funded by multimillion-dollar annual revenues from a century-old gift to his diocese of a Texas oil field.

Not only that, but the news report showed that Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, tasked by the Vatican with investigating the bishop, Michael Bransfield, had edited out his own name and the names of the other senior bishops and cardinals who has been recipients of Bransfield’s largesse. When this concealment came to light, Lori quickly apologized, admitted his mistake and said he would return the $7,500 he had received from Bransfield. Other top churchmen followed suit.

The problem is that if Bransfield is a particularly egregious example of the culture of rewarding friends and cultivating allies with gifts and cash — and living far better than most of one’s flock — he is not a total outlier.

Particularly in the large, historic and relatively wealthy dioceses of the East Coast, such Old World customs are fairly common, and while not necessarily corrupt, they show how fungible and opaque church finances remain. They also demonstrate a pastoral disconnect that leaves so many stunned — as well as creating the kind of environment of entitlement that leads to other abuses.

Consider that this week's meeting in Baltimore was originally scheduled to take place at the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Santa Barbara, Calif., a $600-a-night resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean, owned until recently by Catholic multimillionaire Tim Busch.

It revealed much about how the bishops view themselves to see them book a place more suited to a corporate CEOs' getaway than a “retreat” for pastors living humbly in service to their flock. Only when the 22 bishops of California threatened not to come to the Ritz-Carlton did USCCB leadership change the venue, saving the church from responding to the Bransfield story even as the prelates lounged around a pricey Pacific Coast spa.

Changing this culture has been a priority for Pope Francis. He has compared changing the church’s entrenched culture to “cleaning the Sphinx with a toothbrush.” The pope himself has chosen to live in the Vatican guest residence rather than the grand apostolic palace, and to eat at the Vatican cafeteria with other workers. He views such daily humility as inextricably linked to the kind of pastoral and inclusive “church for the poor” that he envisions.

Francis has said that Catholics will forgive their pastors most weaknesses except for two: “an attachment to money … and the mistreatment of people, which is something the people of God cannot digest.”

There are signs that Francis’ clerical power wash is having some effect. He has begun appointing bishops from outside the usual clerical career track, promoting priests who have worked as pastors and in charity organizations, rather than the traditional network of canon lawyers and chancery officials. 

Before Francis named him to head the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee in Florida in 2017, for example, Bishop Bill Wack, a 51-year-old Holy Cross priest, worked mainly as a parish pastor and for six years running a house for the homeless and poor in Phoenix.

You can contrast that to the far right pillars of clericalism that were the choices of the last two popes.  

The oligarchic corruption of Catholicism, the actual attempt for them to control the Vatican and dioceses and archdioceses is as real as the historical corruptions of the late renaissance and the medieval eras.  Considering that the fortunes of those involved, their ability to reach across the world to exercise their corruption, I think it's far worse than what set off the Reformation.  As I said yesterday,  much as I like Francis, I think his concentration on protecting the Catholic Church against a right-wing schism is going to create a far more serious schism with those who want the justice and other blessings promised in the documents of Vatican II.   Benedict, the retired and most incompetently radical anti-pastoralist pope of the modern era remains the central focus of the fascistic reactionaries you can find represented on the front page of any google search, Youtube searches if you put anything dealing with Catholicism in a search engine, the media empire of the late "Mother Angelica" or, as I called her, "that Nazi nun".  That effort isn't representative of more than a small faction of Catholics, that effort has big, big money behind it and fascism of the type that Raymond Burke's until recently buddy, Steve Bannon perfectly embodies.  If you want to look for parallels in the book of Revelation (that's "Apocalypse" to us Catholics) you'll find them.

*  You might want to read this article about Tim Busch, one of those far right Catholic funders of reactionary, clericalist corruption I referred to.  I will point out this passage that exposes the grotesque hypocrisy of the Catholic anti-choice establishment. 

Last week, the university announced a $3 million gift to its School of Business that Mr. Busch helped put together. The gift garnered some media attention because fully half of it came from the Charles Koch Foundation. The Kochs gave a $1 million gift to the school last year, and many on the left criticized the university for taking money from such a disreputable source. I was not one of those critics. As I said at the time, and repeat now, with a tip of the biretta to Jerry Falwell when it was disclosed he had taken money from the Moonies, "The Devil has had that money long enough."

I will note, in passing, the irony that groups like the American Life League and the Lepanto Institute get people all riled up when the bishops' anti-poverty program, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, makes a grant to organizations that are affiliated with groups that promote issues like same-sex marriage or abortion rights, but they have been strangely silent on CUA taking money from Mr. Koch, who announced to the world, or at least to Barbara Walters (the effect is the same), that he is both pro-same-sex marriage and pro-choice on abortion. But irony is rarely a thing to be bothered about.

No, what bothered me was a quote from Mr. Busch in the press release announcing the gift. He said, "I am proud to donate to CUA's vision for an educational program that shows how capitalism and Catholicism can work hand in hand." . . .

About "Debate" Night One - NOT a review

I haven't watched any of the "debate"-First Night yet so I don't have any opinion about what was said.  I am reading that my favorite on the policies, Elizabeth Warren is considered to have done damage to her position as the first among that first ten because she stuck to substance and that Julian Castro and Cory Booker did themselves a lot of good through a mix of the media actually covering their substance, them being able to cut through the horse-race "first runner" crap that's so much easier than covering substance.   

But, then I read in the Washington Post that Warren did herself good too.  Which is one of the problems with these ersatz "debates" and TV as a substitute for substance, the biggest reason I don't watch them.  The Post article says that Bill de Blasio did himself a lot of good by cutting in, I don't know if that's true or not but if it is true, it also points to one of the problems of politics as "good TV" which is about entertainment with the purpose of selling product, it is what gave us Donald Trump to start with.  If better than that can come of it?  I'm skeptical that it will.

What this kind of spectacle isn't is a debate, you really can't have a debate with ten participants and the form of a debate is about the worst venue for getting to substance which can't often fit into a set format with time limits and a formal pattern of timed speeches and responses.  

One of the reasons I don't watch debates - other than that at my age getting as angry as I can while watching those is a threat to life - is that I know what actually happened at the debate will not matter nearly as much as what the media promotes as the results of the debate.  And I don't trust the media, though that corporate gang of spinners and liars are what will craft the real results of any debate.  It is clear that they don't like Elizabeth Warren whose policies endanger their wealth and, let's be honest, THEY WILL NOT COVER ANY WOMAN WHO IS A DEMOCRAT FAIRLY WHEN HER OPPONENT IS A MAN. They didn't with Hillary Clinton, one of the most qualified if not the most qualified candidate in our history who was running against the least qualified, and, considering that includes George W. Bush, that's saying a lot.  I can't find out where I read it, but I believe it was Julian Castro's response that his passion and substance were what the media had not been covering over the past several months of his campaign but which was always there.  Which should give the people in the media something to reflect on but they never have reformed and they never will until community and public service are serious requirements for the electronic media.   The permission the courts and Republican administrations have given broadcast and cabloid media to serve their interests and not the public good is why they have delivered public bad in mountain chains of corruption and evil and treason.   Trump after George W. Bush - two illegitimate losers of elections installed in the presidency.

I don't think egalitarian democracy can survive the kind of media we have.  I don't think it can survive on the diet of entertainment and lies that the American media sells for the purposes of its owners and the oligarchic class they belong to.   Just Wednesday, one of my oldest friends told me that he'd come to realize something I've said for a while now, he said he had a faith that education would solve all of our problems.  I said that all an education did without an effective moral foundation of the right sort was to produce more efficient gangsters, crooks and liars.  I've mentioned before that one of my first really serious problems with Bill Clinton was when he went to a Hollywood fundraiser - I think during his first run for the presidency- and he asked them to help him form the American culture.   While, no doubt, effective for getting those so flattered to open their wallets, having Hollywood form the American culture is what got us Trump.   My preferred candidate in that primary was Tom Harkin, the Senator from Iowa, who I think would have been a far better president than Clinton was but who was buried by the media.  No doubt they figured Clinton was better TV.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

On The Continuing Crimes Against Children By The Trump Regime And The Republicans Who Enable It



Catholic But Not Under The Hierarchy

In May I noted that Google was obviously being googlebombed by right wingers and fascists in politics and, after doing some research on the allegedly non-tracking Duck-Duckgo search engine into some issues surrounding the unholy alliance between Catholic fascists and Steve Bannon, I'm coming to see that, if anything the small faction of right-wing, fascist, neo-Nazis among Catholics have done even more in that direction.   Outrageously, they are blaming the right-wing bishops and cardinals who have both covered up for sexual abusers and, in some cases, may have participated, themselves on liberals.  That is especially hypocritical in that virtually all of those who have been well investigated and for whose crimes there is ample evidence, were appointed by John Paul II and his chief henchman, the right wing Bendict XVI - who is obviously a center of extremist reactionary liars and gangsters.  

While I have been very much in favor of much of what Pope Francis has written and much of what he has done, it's clear in recent weeks that he is feeling the pressure from that well-financed group of thugs and fascists.  The recent walk back from progress on once-again, after more than a millenium, ordaining of Women to the diaconate, the just issued atrocity on gender, various other issues shows Francis is feeling the force of these thugs.  

The viperous Raymond Burke's obvious caving to the criticism of his joining forces with Steve Bannon and who knows what billionaire backers of his neo-fascist promotion in Europe and the world is, I think, also evidence of this extreme right-wing attempt to take over the Catholic establishment, one which a large number of JPII BXVI era bishops and Cardinals have either played footsie with or have been a part of.  And that's not to mention many right wing Catholic organizations - who put out a lot of the lies and shit that the googlebombing on Catholicism brings up to the front page.  

As it is, I'm seeing, with Francis' reluctance to a. open the priesthood and other venues of authority in the Church to married People, Women as well as Men,  is rapidly leading to large segments of The Church, which, by official Catholic teaching is The People, leaving the official church behind and reestablishing the parishes closed down to pay off the cost of male celibate sexual scandal.  Only they're doing it by unofficially having Roman Catholic Womenpriests, laicized priests - many having been laicized so they could marry - to conduct masses for eucharistic communities.  And in many cases, where ordained clergy may or may not be available, foregoing a ordained celebrant and communally consecrating bread and wine in a way which very likely is more like the original Eucharistic celebration from the earliest days of Christianity.  

That "A" is big enough that I don't think I need to give a "B". just now. 

I think Catholics in large number were willing to give Pope Francis a time to make substantial changes and he has changed much, but it's clear he's either unwilling to go far enough or, if he's willing, he is being thwarted by the right-wingers in the hierarchy and in the billionaire funded Catholic network of fraternal organizations, their auxiliaries, the vile sort of fascist organization that are like Opus Dei,  The Legionaires of Christ, started by one of JPII's favorites, the criminal Marcial Marciel, who was so bad that Benedict XVI couldn't stomach him.  There are many, many other such gangs of right-wing thugs in Catholicism, obviously some of them backing Steve Bannon's neo-fascist putsch. 

As I said, people were willing to give it one last chance with Pope Francis but I am hearing more and more people who are fed up waiting.   A few years back I remember hearing Sr. Simone Campbell saying that people shouldn't be surprised that Pope Francis, for all of the great improvement over his past two predecessors would only go so far in making reforms, being unwilling to risk a split in the Church.  I am coming to the conclusion that in trying to prevent a schism with the right-wing among the Cardinals and Bishops and clergy and the billionaire backed establishment, he's unwittingly leading to a far bigger split with a far larger number of Catholics who have waited for the changes promised by Vatican II for more than half a century.   The Catholic Church, with its long history, is infamous for its glacial rate of change.  But I think that artifact of the past is one of the things that is giving way in reality.  I think the time is coming when a large number, perhaps most people who identify with the Catholic Church will not be identified with official parishes, official bishops or even the Pope. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

About Comments

I moderate all comments because I sometimes have been deluged with hate mail.  I don't so much mind the ones that slam me but will not post those that libel or slander or possibly libel or slander third parties.  And there are other reasons that I choose not to post many of the comments I get.  Sometimes I'm busy and don't have time to review them.  Sometimes, if the content confuses me I won't post it because I don't know what to make of it.  Sometimes I just choose not to.   I don't think I've ever edited a comment that gets through moderation, though I might be forgetting something.  There is no automatic exclusion of comments. 

The comments from Simps got old and I was feeling cheap when I answered them.  I was brought up not to exploit the feeble minded.  

True Confession - Perhaps My Most Perfect Moment - It Just Happened!

I had been in my garden all morning and was covered with sweat and garden dirt and, as I just got rained on, mud.  I had just returned home and, as I do, I stripped off all my dirt encrusted clothes behind my house where no one can see unless they're spying on me.  And, let me be totally honest, who would?  As I went in the back door, who was looking in my front door window but the stinking awful Republican representative for my district (he's from the next town over and didn't know who I am). 

Seeing the shocked look on his face at seeing me stark naked, I said,  "Oh, I imagine you've seen worse, I know I am."

I imagine the story will be all over town by the weekend so I figure why not tell on myself.   I never did find out what he wanted.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Vintage Hate Mail - Turing's Idea Of A Test Was Too Easy - "AI" All The Way Down?

The infamously often cited "Turing Test" claims that when a computer can fool a person into thinking they are interacting with a person instead of a computer, then the materialist-sceinticistic ideologues can claim victory in having proved that human consciousness is a material artifact.   I don't think that's really what Turing said - though his opacity in expression would be his fault - but it's what many a geek piously believes he said.

But that's not much of a test, reportedly one that Turing based on a game of gay male culture of his time in which, or so I read, you had to guess if someone was a woman or a particularly convincing female impersonator by getting them to answer questions. 

Why wouldn't it make more sense to say that when a computer CAN FOOL ANOTHER COMPUTER, OR A PERSON CAN FOOL A COMPUTER then THAT "insight" would be more convincing proof of "artificial intelligence".  Though, since they always follow whatever instructions People put into them, whether or not the results are what the human programmer anticipated, they might be considered to have failed that test.  Even the testing program would be the result of that kind of human creation, ingenuity - only as good as the programmer who wrote the program, is a product of human minds which have to be able to transcend material causation to judge if the results were the right ones or the wrong ones.  

Turing was very, very smart.  But he could be victimized by his own ideological orientation just like every other person can, but which machines can't have unless people put them there.

God Damn Republicans

Through my rage and furious sadness over the revelations of the continued Trump incarceration of babies, toddlers, young children, young adolescents, teenagers - not to mention adults - in early Andersonville like conditions that seem to be getting worse, as led to that Civil War era crime against humanity, I am finding it impossible to write about it.

Luckily, my friend RMJ is writing about it, as are the various others he references and quotes.  This piece, one of many he has posted, is worth entirely more than anything I'm going to write today. 

I am finding it impossible not to hate Republicans who sustain this crime against children and babies and humanity.   They are all responsible for it.  Including Robert Muller, the Sphinx of Republican establishment complicity. 

Coming To You From A Minty Fresh 7 Year Old Computer

For anyone who might be interested - don't laugh, it is within the realm of possibility that someone might be - I have been using Linux Mint for the past few days and am coming to finding it as entirely satisfactory as I have any other operating system I've used.  No, that's not true, I'm finding it more so than either the object of cult devotion that is the Mac OS or any of the various DOS (ugh!) or Windows versions I've used.  It is entirely superior to either Windows 10 or the odious Windows 8, which might be the OS's I've hated the most of any I've used.  

I got a clean and very inexpensive disc of it from in the end, after finding the free download system with its incredibly frustrating regime of checking md5 checksums and the like more frustrating than helpful.  With that clean disc, once I found out how to disable the "safe-boot" monstrosity of Windows 8 and deciding to just install it, wiping Windows off of my computer [AFTER COPYING ALL OF MY WANTED FILES TO FLASH DRIVES] it was easy as anything.  Mint is designed to be an easy step from Windows to Linux and I found it to be that, though it has a few differences I'm still learning about.

I'm using the same Libreoffice word processor so that wasn't much of a change, the same for Audacity audio-editing (though I'm hoping to be able to use my dear old Audiolabs editor with it through the Wine application) and most of the other software is either exactly the same or identical.

I've also tried Puppy Linux and like it, having installed it on a flash drive so I can carry it around to other computers I might have to use.   I also tried Tiny Core which is, indeed, fast due to its tiny size but which has a limited repertoire of applications.   I'm still working on learning what uses it reportedly has in running old computers. 

Mint got some bad raps from the geeks, I suspect because it was designed for non-geek comfort and peace of mind.  I use my computer to do things in the real world, not as an exercise in geek vanity. 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Woodstock, bah!

As I'm typing this the radio is telling me that the Woodstock thing was something that changed the world.  To which I answer, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I, Bush II,  Trump, I'd go on to list the wars the United States started and waged, the U.S. supported coup in Chile, the dirty war in Argentina, the terrorist campaign in Central America, other support of some of the most vicious mass murderers in the post-war period in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Indonesia, etc., the invasion of Iraq, the resurgence of racism and hate speech as "free speech", the successful blocking of the Equal Rights Amendment, the weak Democratic presidencies, THE STEADILY WORSENING WAR ON THE BIOSPHERE, resurgent sexism . . .  For crying out loud, if it had "changed things" we would never have had Reagan the Bushes or Trump.

Woodstock as it is presented in the imaginations of myriads of people born after the debacle in the mud, many geezers who never were there, the promoters of its myth, never did anything but produce Joni Mitchell's piece of crap anthem (she wasn't there and is pretty much a right-winger now) an album and movie and who knows how much other commercial crap.  

I didn't go, I hated rock music for the most part and couldn't abide the pretensions of the baby-boomer generation which didn't change the world for the better except in so far as it had some effect on the lifestyle of the affluent, the white, the male (for the most part) and for affluent White Women, somewhat.   That is if they're of a certain level of affluence.  Not much has changed for the better for the lower income and destitute except that they were a lot better off, economically, in 1969 and there were fewer people on the edge and over the edge. 

So, you see, I'm unenthusiastic for that bull shit. 

Update:  Did you think I made that up?  It was this show this morning
The Woodstock music festival was one of the most pivotal events of the last century — even though very little about it went according to plan.

I'm surprised such a man of the world in his own mind never heard anyone peddle that line of horseshit, or are you just getting forgetful in your dotage?   I'm not.  

Update 2:   I've never been so hard up for "peer acceptance" that I was willing to look for it any old place, among drunken, violent high school jerks or those in jr. high, among the jocks or the kewel kids.  Which is why I didn't care about hanging around Eschaton after I'd learned everything about  play-lefty self-indulgence and progress hampering futility that you guys had to teach me.  As as it  was ran that experiment way longer than it needed.    It's hilarious that a geezer in his 70s reduces everything to whether you're in wit the groovy in-crowd, the kewel kids who sit on the school steps. 

Update 3:  And now, now that I've said I had graduated from jr. high, the idiot is going for full 2nd grade "I know you are but what am I?"