“An ignoranus, is someone who’s both stupid and an arsehole.”
Hearne, Kevin. Shattered: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book Seven (p. 225). Random House Publishing Group.
Happy Birthday: Brendan Dreaper, Katie Dreaper and Bruce Kittrell
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. RED FACADE WITH GREEN SHUTTERS
B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
For the past few weeks I spent my weekday mornings driving Hayden to his swim team practice and then to the archery range so that he could shoot at the various targets while I sit in the shade.
One morning as we returned from swimming practice, the car crested a hill exposing before us a vista of the great valley and the clear cerulean sky. He stared at it a moment and then asked, “How did everything begin? Did God do it?”
I knew this was going to be one of those seminal child – adult conversations of at least equal weight with, “Where do babies come from?” It made me a bit nervous. I did not want to screw it up.
Given my background and predilections, I labored to explain the “Big Bang Theory.” HRM broke in to my struggles by asking, “Yeah, but who caused the Big Bang?” Suddenly I realized that I was presented with the problem of refuting the “uncaused cause” arguments of medieval philosophy that even its major proponent Fat Tom Aquinas believed was a weak proof of God. Nevertheless, I felt inadequate to disprove scholastic theology at this time in my life despite having virtually bathed in it in college 50 years ago. “Well,” I said, “some people believe that, but scientists on the whole agree that most things in the world can be explained without bringing God into it.”
HRM with a dreamy look in his eyes ignored me and said, “I’d like to meet God some day. I think that would be fun.” Unable to come up with a satisfactory response, I changed the subject to Archery.
HRM at Archery Range.
On Saturday I attended the regional swimming championships with HRM. Youth swimming teams are a Sacramento cult with the championships the high mass. I do not think I’ll do it again. Oh, H won his heats.
The drought continues in California and the high temperatures in the lower foothills have exceeded 100 degrees for most of the week. Nothing else has occurred in El Dorado Hills for the past few weeks of note… in fact, nothing much ever occurs of note here except tea party meetings, NRA banquets and now and then the appearance in the otherwise solid blue sky of the odd cloud or two that flutter about a while and quietly disappear. The study of scholastic philosophy is more exciting. I sleep a lot.
C. EL TOPO AND JEANNE
In my never-ending quest for something to do in suburban El Dorado Hills, one afternoon I watched Alejandro Jodorowsky’s early film, El Topo. El Topo is said to have had a major influence on David Lynch, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Bob Dylan, Marilyn Mason, George Harrison, John Lennon, Peter Gabriel and thousands of other stoners.
Jodorowsky like many artists from Mexico and South America is addicted to symbolism in his art. To many Americans and Northern Europeans all that symbolism appears a bit loopy. Unlike the Spanish artists who also favor strong colors and symbolism, the Central and South Americans seem to have a great affection for including the many meanings implied in blood and death. One of the main differences between Italian and Spanish and South American visual arts besides how they use symbolism to tell their story is that to the italians shadow is very much a part of the color palette.
Interestingly, when I ran my district of the New York Mental Health Information Service, I noticed Spanish, South American and recent Italian immigrants at the time of their breakdowns often spoke of seeing the suffering Christ. The Northern and Eastern Europeans tended to hallucinate Hell. Not a religious Hell, but a place of darkness, shadow and threat.
I first saw El Topo in 1970 shortly after arriving in San Francisco. I went with a woman I had just met on the bus. The theater was located near the Civic Center. It does not exist anymore.
The woman and I stayed together for three years. Her name was Jeanne. I was in love with her. She wanted to go to medical school and had to take extra courses in science to do so since she had graduated from college a few years before with a liberal arts degree. She worked hard. Eventually she succeeded in getting accepted. During the summer before medical school began we broke up. I tried to get back together with her. She by then was also seeing another man much younger than I. I asked her to marry me. She said she would need time to decide. That weekend she went hiking in the Trinity Alps. She fell off a cliff and died. The young man and I accompanied her body back to Iowa where her family lived. Two weeks after the funeral the young man went swimming in a lake somewhere in the East Bay and drowned.
There is probably some symbolism hidden in there but I am too far removed from my roots and too close to death to see it. As we age, the past and future grow more shadowy only the present remains colorful. That’s a good thing I think.
In today’s newspaper there was and article that pointed out that Jet Blue which was rated one of the best in an Airline Quality analysis based substantially on customer perceptions. However, for no apparent reason other than it was rated among the lowest in that same analysis, Spirit Airlines stock was up over two times more than Jet Blue’s. According to a stock market analyst, the reason for this anomaly is that, “Some analysts view them as focussing more on the customer rather than the shareholder.”
Doesn’t this turn neo-liberal economics on its head? Wasn’t competition in the market supposed to produce better products and services at lower prices?
Perhaps this incongruity is best explained by a Dilbert’s cartoon in the same paper that shows the bald pointy headed manager announcing to Dilbert that the Board of Directors debated between “creating fantastic products or attracting dumber stock holders.” They decided to do a stock split. The manager explained that it was the easier of the two options.
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
It wants the US economy and governance to move closer to achieving Franklin Roosevelt’s proposed “Second Bill of Rights.”
Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that its citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income and power? If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to? What is freedom, to those without wealth, income or power?
B. Testosterone Chronicles:
1. Khutulun, Mongolian Warrior Princess
“In the 13th century, when khans ruled Central Asia and you couldn’t go 10 minutes without some Genghis, Kublai or Mongke trying to take over your steppe, women were well-versed in badassery. In a society where skill on a horse and with a bow and arrow was more important than brute strength, Mongol women made just as stout herders and warriors as their men.
One woman, however, had the combination of both skill and might. Her name was Khutulun, and she was not only a devastating cavalry-woman but one of the greatest wrestlers the Mongols had ever seen. Born around 1260 to the ruler of a swathe of what is now western Mongolia and China, she helped her father repel — repeatedly — the invading hordes commanded by the mighty Kublai Khan, who also happened to be her great-uncle. Her favorite tactic was to seize an enemy soldier and ride off with him, the explorer Marco Polo recounted, “as deftly as a hawk pounces on a bird.”
Off the battlefield and in the wrestling ring, Khutulun went similarly undefeated. She declared that she wouldn’t marry any man who couldn’t beat her in a wrestling match; those who lost would have to give her their prized horses. Suffice it to say, Khutulun had a lot of horses. By the time she was in her 20s and a spinster by Mongol standards, her parents pleaded with her to throw a match with one particularly eligible bachelor. According to Polo, she initially agreed, but once in the ring found herself unable to break the habit of a lifetime and surrender. She overpowered her suitor who, humiliated, fled; she eventually chose a husband from among her father’s men and married him without submitting him to the evidently impossible challenge to out-wrestle her.”
2. Smedley Darlington Butler, a Profile in Courage
Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) a United States Marine Corps major-general obtained the Corps highest rank authorized at that time. At the time of his death he was the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. He also won two Congressional Medals of Honor.
Butler is well-known for having later become an outspoken critic of U.S. wars and their consequences. He also exposed the Business Plot, a purported plan to overthrow the U.S. government and assassinate Franklin Roosevelt. After retirement from the military he ran for Senate as a Republican but was defeated. In 1932 he supported the military bonus marchers at their encampment in Washington DC and was there when Gen. Douglas MacArthur led the attack on them killing several veterans. He later became a spokesman for the “American League Against Fascism.”
Smedley Butler wrote a book called “War is a Racket.” In an interview he said:
“War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.”
According to Wikipedia, in his penultimate chapter of “War is a Racket,” Butler argues that three steps are necessary to disrupt the war racket:
“1. Making war unprofitable. Butler suggests that the owners of capital should be “conscripted” before other citizens are:
“It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war. The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labour before the nation’s manhood can be conscripted. … Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our steel companies and our munitions makers and our ship-builders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all other things that provide profit in war-time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted — to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get”
2. Acts of war to be decided by those who fight it. He also suggests a limited referendum to determine if the war is to be fought. Eligible to vote would be those who risk death on the front lines.
3. Limitation of militaries to self-defense. For the United States, Butler recommends that the navy be limited, by law, to within 200 miles of the coastline, and the army restricted to the territorial limits of the country, ensuring that war, if fought, can never be one of aggression.”
Alas, todays war profiteers have learned how to earn enormous profits even in peacetime and therefore the wars we do have tend to be localized in extent and useful primarily for getting rid of unneeded inventory.
Robert F. Kennedy speech regarding a nation’s true GDP:
“We will find neither national purpose nor personal satisfaction in a mere continuation of economic progress, in an endless amassing of worldly goods. We cannot measure national spirit by the Dow Jones Average, nor national achievement by the Gross National Product. For the Gross National Product includes air pollution, and ambulances to clear our highways from carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for the people who break them. The Gross National Product includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm and missiles and nuclear warheads…. It includes… the broadcasting of television programs which glorify violence to sell goods to our children.
And if the Gross National Product includes all this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets alike. It does not include the beauty of our poetry, or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials… The Gross National Product measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile, and it can tell us everything about America — except whether we are proud to be Americans.”