A Shocking Indictment31 comments
picture5 Aug 2008 @ 19:24
Anything more than the truth would be too much.

---Robert Frost

River whispering over the stones,
Sunlight streaming through frozen pines.
In this still pool, in this falling light,
Zen conquers the dragon of delusion.

---Li Po

The merit of (the rooster's call) is in its freedom from all plaintiveness. The singer can easily move us to tears or laughter, but where is he who can excite in us a pure morning joy? When, in doleful dumps, breaking the awful stillness of our wooden sidewalk on a Sunday, or, perchance, a watcher in the house of mourning, I hear a cockerel crow far or near, I think to myself, "There is one of us well, at any rate"---and with a sudden rush return to my senses.

---Henry David Thoreau

This is Naomi Wolf, born in San Francisco in 1962. She was an undergraduate at Yale, then did graduate work at New College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar. The Beauty Myth, her first book, was an international bestseller. She followed that with Fire With Fire: The New Female Power and How It Will Change The 21st Century, published by Random House in 1993, and Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood, published in 1997. Misconceptions, released in 2001, is a powerful and passionate critique of pregnancy and birth in America. In 2002, Harper Collins published a 10th anniversary commemorative edition of The Beauty Myth. She is the author, most recently of The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot and the forthcoming Give me Liberty: How to Become an American Revolutionary. Her essays have appeared in various publications including: The New Republic, Wall Street Journal, Glamour, Ms., Esquire, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. She also speaks widely to groups across the country. She's on the hit list of the usual suspects among the right wing.

I'm sure there is nothing new about women maintaining the conscience, as well as sometimes the home fires, of this nation. What is new and welcome to me, at least in the last quarter century, and particularly on the Internet, is the frequency and brilliant integrity of their verbal artistry. Is it my imagination or are female writers speaking truth to power, at least on the left, better than ever...and just where and when we need it? Thus was I stopped in my tracks this morning by a reference to an article Ms. Wolf published on Friday, in the Daily News Egypt. Where?

I had not heard of the paper, but I have neglected to become more expert in the journalism of the Middle East. First published in Cairo in 2005, The Daily (Star) News Egypt claims to be an independent, privately-owned publication, intent upon unbiased reporting. It's in English. Ms. Wolf's article is entitled "Dear World, Please Confront America," and I suspect we'll hear more about it during the remainder of the week. Naomi Wolf's endorsement of Barack Obama can be found at the website www.jews4barack.com . Let me tell you, even I was a bit shocked by the appearance of this piece.  More >

 The Fabulous Phil Mattson Reunion9 comments
picture16 Jul 2008 @ 10:58
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.

---Albert Einstein

The buds swell imperceptibly without hurry or confusion, as if the short spring day were an eternity.

---Henry David Thoreau

Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.

---Wallace Stevens

Reunion En Plein Air
Jean-Antoine Watteau

I've titled this particular piece of pondering so that Google will pick up "Phil Mattson," and I'd better get right to the reason why. A couple years ago I wrote the first of a few articles about this remarkable vocal teacher, which you still can take a look at here [link] and a few other places on the Internet. The followup articles, like this one, came because of response from former students, who wish to express gratitude and make contact with each other. One of Phil Mattson's students from 25 years ago, Roy Turpin, has gone so far as to propose a reunion celebration next July in Creston, Iowa, where the venerable teacher continues to inspire young people. I'm trying to help spread the word a little bit. Contact me if you want referral to more information.

But what about this urge to reunion? It seems to be one of those traits we humans have come up with that's nowhere else in creation. I understand elephants have graveyards they revisit to mourn and remember relatives from the herd...but that's like Memorial Day. Some flying creatures migrate to the same places, but I guess they don't do that to say hello to each other. I wonder if dolphins and whales have reunions with those who have gone away from the pod.

Many of us who came up through the 1950s probably remember family reunions, where as a kid you didn't know anybody but hoped there might be distant cousins there you at least could play with. There was a lot of food, chiefly baked beans as I recall. Then came school reunions which rebellious outsiders like me tried to avoid at all cost. I enjoyed seeing old friends, but didn't want to risk rejection again by people who didn't like me in the first place. I phoned up a friend from college a few years ago, told him I'd be in town, and suggested we get together. He said he didn't see the point in visiting the past and so refused to see me. I never went that far, but I guess I can understand where he's at.  More >

 The Poor In The US Are Sick And Dying: Happy?17 comments
picture27 Jun 2008 @ 12:06
Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also
leaks through the holes
in the roof
of this ruined house.


Getting rid of things and clinging to emptiness is an illness of the same kind. It is just like throwing oneself into a fire to avoid being drowned.


Yet do the lazy Snailes no less
The greatnesse of our Lord confesse.

---John Hall

The Gini coefficient measures the distribution of income on a scale from zero (where income is perfectly equally distributed among all members of a society) to one (where all the income goes to a single person).

Yesterday at noon I attended a support meeting that I like to go to when school isn't in session. It lasts an hour, is attended by a few regulars, and consists of sitting in silence---unless someone wants to share how the day is going. When that happens we're not supposed to comment back particularly, or offer judgment. It's just practice in offering up something about oneself honestly and simply. On this day, however, (and this happens sometimes) a young, strong-looking woman no one had seen before jumped in immediately. She had been clinging to the man she identified as her partner, rubbing him and caressing him. He was silent but obviously concerned she was coming apart. Her voice and the rest of her trembled uncontrollably as she told why she was there. She said they were not from here, but had traveled the hour and a half down from Columbus, to move in with her grandmother. They had lost their jobs and home, and had a newborn. Grandmother had taken one look at her, called Social Services, taken custody of the baby, and thrown them both out by court order. The girl had been off crack for 3 days, but---and here she began to cry---she knew no other way to deal with a hopeless situation except to drug, she'd relapsed before, and now she was here in this room, with us.

Any reader who has worked or volunteered in a religious institution or social agency of any kind, I'm sure, has had a situation like this land in your lap. Maybe you've been stung before when you offered food or cash. If you've referred the person somewhere else, you probably never did learn how it turned out. Maybe you're in a group, like the one I go to, where you actually get to see the person again and again, and possibly watch the miracle of a recovery occur---or not. Please forgive me if I insulted any reader with the title, which indicates more and more poor people in the United States are becoming sick, that this is one way of taking care of the "surplus population," and maybe that's OK with you. Maybe you don't know what else to do. Maybe you don't want to hear about it. Or think about it. Then surf on, reader, and be well---because a new article on the subject is out, and we need to go into it.  More >

 George0 comments
picture24 Jun 2008 @ 11:43
If the "black box" flight recorder is never damaged during a plane crash, why isn't the whole damn airplane made out of that stuff?

Whose cruel idea was it for the word "Lisp" to have a "S" in it?

How is it possible to have a civil war?

---only 3 of the unanswered questions of George Carlin (1937-2008)

I saw him in person only once, but it's embarrassing to relate. It was in the mid-60s and he just was starting the kind of stand-up that eventually would develop into rants on a philosophical level. I don't know if it was in Boston or New York, but he was the warm-up for some other act---and I don't remember who that was. But I remember George. His microphone was loud and had reverb on it, like disc jockeys were starting to use---and he had been one himself, so he could do this DJ voice thing really good. He already had elements of words you can't say, and I remember him shooting them off at the end. I don't think there were all 7 yet, but it was so reminiscent of Lenny Bruce that I thought he must be imitating and wouldn't amount to much. Well, it turns out what he was doing was perfecting.

Bruce and Carlin (and we shouldn't forget Lord Buckley) still were called comedians, but they created their own stuff rather than employ joke writers whose work they'd memorize and deliver. That was hard enough to do and we still love that kind of comedy. How could Henny Youngman remember all those one-liners? George Carlin could have been one of those guys. He was great at making funny faces for instance. But it wasn't enough for him...and I'm not sure humorist really captures what these people do either. He made us ponder things...and now that the show is over, and there'll be no more "Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?", maybe we'll have to come up with some answers.  More >

 My Piece Of The Pie2 comments
picture21 Jun 2008 @ 11:14
Dead, our white bones lie silent
when pine trees lean toward spring.

Remembering, I sigh. Looking ahead,
I sigh once more.
This life is a mist. What fame?
What glory?

---Li Po

But, but, but...The Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Hudson Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Reason Foundation, the American Freedom Coalition and the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy (among others) have been spending considerable time and energy explaining that all is well with the world and that things could get even better if we would only come to our senses and get government off the backs of corporations...

Government is harmful and corporations and corporate libertarianism are a boundless good. I mean, ask DuPont, Chevron, Mobil, Monsanto, the Chemical Manufacturers Association, General Electric, General Dynamics, Philip Morris, Chemical Bank, Texaco, Westinghouse, the Western Coal Council and the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.

---comment yesterday evening by Anonymous

So what does this kind of "individualism" mean? Freedom from government? Okay, then does that mean we don’t want any of the services only government can provide? Such as good roads, schools, parks, public safety, clean air and water, oversight, restaurant and food inspections, fire and police services, health care, etc.?

I guess once all these “intrusive” government services (which steal our freedoms) are gone we can finally begin to enjoy the blessings of true freedom. Remember: “tax dollars don’t belong to big government, they belong to you.” Oh yeah? Then who is government if not us, a reflection of who we are? Even if bought up by every corporate interest with a lobbyist we still choose our reps. Select them.

---comment yesterday by Paul Quintanilla

A monumental undulating steel wall by Richard Serra will be the first thing you see when you step inside the new Broad Contemporary Art Museum, Renzo Piano's three-story building for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

I have a colleague at work who talks all the time about his piece of the pie. He's also semi-retired, a few years my junior, which placed him in Viet Nam as a Marine. Nearly every day he boasts he's a conservative, and often identifies me, in front of faculty and students, as his "favorite liberal." He means it mockingly though, and is not known as someone who listens patiently to someone's argument against what he believes. He comes from coalmining stock around here, learned to work hard as a boy, took tough discipline knocks, and found out what he thinks is important in life his own way. He attends an evangelical church and doesn't like uppity women---and let's 'em know it. He didn't think America was "ready" for a woman president. I've never heard him mention the name Barack Obama.

I'm not sure what he means exactly by his piece of the pie. I don't think it's limited just to stuff he can buy with his hard-earned dollars. But that's a lot of it. He hates taxes that limit his spending because the money seems to go to lazy, no-good people through the hands of corrupt bureaucrats. He follows the boss' orders (unless he can avoid it by laying low) but generally doesn't tolerate being told what to do. He often mentions his distaste for anti-littering campaigns---but chastises students more than anyone else if they toss something onto the ground. He's a pretty average joe I guess, especially in his own eyes.

I used to indulge him in the past more than I do now. I think he's gotten the point, over the last year especially. that I won't good-naturedly laugh off his jagged barbs anymore, but now come back in kind. He's not sure what to do with that, since I'm not sure he learned anywhere that there are good things to come from open discussion. He prefers a chain of command I think, where rank largely has been earned through demonstrable accomplishment. Corporations have been filled with men like this in the United States...but as to whether women approve of this approach---well, that would be a different article. This is about that piece of the pie, whether such a pie really exists, and what you really need to do to be part of it.  More >

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