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Prayer for Atheists & the Culture Wars

I was thinking of Doc's comment about how prayer is different from meditation, and as the left becomes largely secularized and often atheistic, this difference can have knock-on effects.

Meditation is more like the hollow bamboo tube - the taking what the universe offers. American ethos isn't like that - we're a demanding bunch, with a "don't tell me what to do mentality". Submissiveness doesn't play well in the heartland.

Homage to Catalonia: the Conspiracy Factory

This week we were met with scenes of police removing protesters in Barcelona, with outcries of heavy-handidness by Madrid. Absent the cries of police brutality was any suggestion of how police should handle the unwanted job of removing thousands of protesters, and what is an acceptable level of force - critical to me, as I'd meditated for 2 weeks on horrid images of US police wailing on and pounding a black man's head into the pavement for two minutes, along with unneeded body slams say of a skinny girl in a tight skirt.

More important, I didn't hear any discussion of what I'd been hearing for weeks - that Putin's bots had turned to fomenting dissension and turmoil in Catalonia, hoping for a final split that would give the EU another crisis to leave it on the ropes. This is impressive,as the story of how Russia manipulated the US election keeps snowballing as one unlikely scenario after another gets divulged.

The outcome of Catalonia's unapproved referendum will be predictable - the people who will show up will be overly in favor of secession even as the majority may be iffy, and the supposed police overreaction will be presented as proof that Catalonians need independence *now*, fait accompli. Meanwhile Putin must be sniggering in his kofje - not a complaint in sight.

Hef & the Culture Wars

There are a million words to be written about the misogyny of Hugh Hefner's mission, many already being jotted down. There's a lot of humor and contempt to be had still for a grown man that liked hanging around in PJs far into adulthood. There's something to be said for his early civil rights support, as testified by Dick Gregory and others. And that lead me to the territory I'd like to address, as it goes to the crux of our recent NFL morass, the need for BLM, last year's election, and a host of other issues.

Hefner founded the Playboy Club in 1953, not in tinseltown as we recall today but in Chicago, the thriving center of the Midwest.in our still glorious post-war phase. It was a conservative place in a conservative era. It's easy to think of the 50's as some Happy Days thing, Richie Cunningham all fresh and speckled, I like Ike kind of lovely romance with paradise and God-given but deserved success. But most here know that dream of the suburbs and the lucky trip to Vegas was a hyped-up myth, that the house didn't pay out nearly as often as stated, that half the "lucky ones" strolling in and out were shills. And instead of carefully crafted Walt Disney features and Elvis rockumentaries, it was as much about Lenny Bruce and Last Exit to Brooklyn and Naked Lunch and the  National Guard called out to LIttle Rock to enforce integration and McCarthyism and tons of other foul stuff covered with a sanctimonious wholesome totally marketed image in a Golden age of marketing. This was "Family Values", aka "we're Christian and you're not".

Wanking Weiner

Well, someone's got their schadenfreude going big time. Anthony Weiner's going to serve hard time, despite having destroyed his marriage and his party's campaign, undergone treatment, expressed remorse in no uncertain terms, for showing his wanker over the internet to purportedly an underage girl*.

[*there's a whole load of suspicion over whether Russians and/or Republicans set  the known sickie Weiner up with an "underage girl" who seemed to have a Master's degree in English lit from her non-too adolescent literary references. But I guess for now we have to assume it's partly true, police penchant for lying or not.]

Now let's compare this sentence with say Brock Turner, who raped a comatosely drunk college classmate (didn't even know her name) behind a dumpster, left her with her clothes wrapped around her ankles and her bare ass in the pine needles while Brock the perp tried to run away from 2 Swedes who fortunately happened to notice the ruckus.

Trade Policy Reality Check - neither Scrooge nor Sucker

I've noted this over and over, but maybe this one will get through. Below's a chart showing the largest countries. The 2 largest are down at the bottom with pathetic GDP per capita of China's $10K and maybe $4K for India. China has roughly 5x our population, India 4 1/2x. And while their income is awful, China's rose about 500% from super awful over 25 years, while India's has more than tripled.

For some reason we're not able to ever think of that as *OUR* success, that rather than sending Bibles and powdered milk, we have found a real way to lift almost 3 billion people out of poverty in just 2 countries, and it certainly doesn't end there.

Of course much of the credit belongs to them - cutting their birthrates drastically, producing productis and services that are wanted by the rest of the world, steady incremental improvements and attention to obvious areas like infrastructure & education, and less obvious ones like government regulations & judicial reform and various human rights. In the meantime, the last 8-10 years, we've been flat.

The Man Myth

Ah yes, another firing of an idiot who stated what much of the world believes, that "men are more charismatic performers? ... they work harder? ... they are more driven? Possibly a bit of each."

Having spent part of the weekend listening to drunken "charismatic performers" at 5 am and the last 1 1/2 years horrified by the latest batch of "more driven" men, I'm still bewildered that people think of this as a plus, as a feature, rather than a grave disqualification, or at minimum a toss-up among other useful measures, such as efficiency, quality of work, consistency, team inspiration & enablement, etc.

Four Tumors

John McCain came out of the hospital this week yet again a hero, with all of America cheering him on. Never mind that he was off to do battle against the type of health care that had just saved his life - the free health care that had made his life livable for 50 years since his horrid Vietnam days, while so many other lives slump by.

But it was 10 months ago that America went ballistic on Hillary Clinton for supposedly hiding something sinister - presumably a tumor tied to a blod clot a few years back, or maybe just maybe Parkinsons, or something else, Wikileaks even going as far as to offer a poll to guess. The Media was hardly down with sympathy at her moment - why hadn't she said she had pneumonia, gasp!?!? why had she covered things up? and lots of bets on when, not if, her demise would come.

The Nuremberg Defense

It was summer of 1972 and G. Gordon Liddy along with his plumbers had just broken into the Watergate with the help of some disgruntled Democrats, but gotten caught. Meanwhile, the DNC in a futile attempt at unity had forced the Eagleton choice on McGovern only to see it blow up in his face with stories of psychiatry and electroshock.

Leftbehinds

Our techno selves are gaining ground, but despite the Kurzweil singularity and all the promises of our cyberfuture, I'm more interested in stuff.

A few groups reviewed Lennon's Imagine, with the usual questions of whether it's the drippiest sappiest song ever written, or something of noble spirit with timeless scope.

But me, I'm looking at these pieces I find strewn about and wonder who's going to take care of them, archive them, re-imagine them in other forms and colors and textures and mashups. An old postcard, a record, a nice rock, a ticket from a concert, an unfinished sketch...

Our humanity will be determined by what we cling onto. No one will save us from the responsibilities of our own space, no one will clean out that room - that bit's ours, to love, honor and cherish, or simply dispose of through neglect. It's us.

We keep getting stuck in what other people define for us. How about we just think about what we want to think about, develop what we want to develop. At the end of time, it might just be us, a tent, a campfire, and a tin of beans. Who ever needed more?

Poof. Like Quinn in space - that's all it ever was, just a promise. And we know about promises.

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