Sunday, August 26, 2018
Seems like folks these days are gettin all wound up about politics and stupid stuff like that. Democrats v. Republicans. Progressives v. Conservatives. Extremists v. Moderates, blah blah blah.
And to make it worse, with the intensifying effects of cellphones and pads and pods and whatnot and so-called social media blather, what we are barreling toward is a vast dumbing-down, barbarizing of all public discourse.
What was called debate in earlier times now has degenerated to knee-jerk bluster hubris yada yada blahblah hatred the-loudest-loudmouth-wins trouble.
People take sides on every little controversy that rears its ugly little head in the public domain. Seems to me more like, as William Faulkner or William Shakespeare might have called it, sound and fury signifying nothing.
My studies of human history indicate some recurring characteristics of the tactics employed by extremist diehard yahoos: Such people want to push public discourse farther and farther toward extremist tactics so they can impose their great radical-fringe remedies on the rest of us who want only to live in peace and security with a little justice, mercy and neighborly good will toward our fellow-man thrown in.
I was born in the middle of the 20th-century, 1951. Looking back on all that happened during that century, I’ve noticed a few alarming things, such as:
The two worst 20th-century assholes who ever came along the pike and pretended to be great leaders—Hitler and Stalin—both of them manipulated evolving political institutions, and the idiot people within them— to make a grand bloody mess of their two nations and the whole damn world at large.
Both dictators, Hitler and Stalin, were idealogues. Historians call Hitler a Nazi, which is a type of Fascist. They call Stalin a Communist.
What’s more important, however, in the historical classification game is this:
Both Hitler and Stalin were mass-murderers. They did not do justice to the people they claimed to govern.
This factual identification is more important than the ideological label by which each of these two demagogues manipulated their bloody way into absolute power.
And they weren’t the only ones. In the 20th-century, there were others: Pol Pot, Idi Amin. Some would say Mao. And onn a small scale. . . Jim Jones, Charles Manson?
This scenario to which I make reference— this human behavior attribute of folks being swept up into murderous behavior by a maniacal leader driven by ideological or religious frenzy that results in mass murder—it could be right around a historical corner now.
If people do not allow the practice of mercy, decency, compassion, reason— and most of all forgiveness— to overpower imminent institutionalized manipulations of bloody power-mongers, then we’ll have another terrible round of mass murder on this planet.
Religion (old-school) and Ideology (new school) are both, when carried to extremes, cut from the same extremist cloth, and can drive people to endorse mass murder.
Don’t go there.
Ideology is a big circle. On one half of the circle is the arc of conservatism, which in its extremism leads to fascism; on the other half is the arc progressivism, which in its extremism leads to communism. They both start their movements at the top of the circle going in opposite directions. But at the bottom where they collide, we find extremism so lethal that it requires mass-murder as a so-called final solution.
You know what I’m talking about: “Somebody needs to kill them bastards!”
Religion, same thing. “Somebody needs to kill them _____” (fill in the blank)
Which is why we must harken to the greatest clarion call of all, the one spoken by the man from Galilee who stood on a mountainside and taught us:
“Whatever you would want done to you—do that for everybody else.”
This is the most important principle of all. Far greater than communism or fascism, far more effectual than Democratic or Republican power-mongering, far more spiritually effective that the Church or the Caliphate.
Peace on this planet ultimately comes down to what people are willing to do--or refuse to do-- to each other in the name of _______.
You fill in the blank.
King of Soul
Monday, August 20, 2018
At the Start, Hydrogen heaved ho.
Helium laughed. Lithium lay low while Beryllium became bemused.
But Boron bore the burden of all the work yet to be done.
Then Carbon was conceived, and came forth in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, surrounded by angelic hosts of other elements, celebrated as the great center-point of history. He would go on to bring myriads of other elements together in peace and productivity, but in latter days was criticized for attaching himself to everybody’s business.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, good ole Nitrogen nourished all the stuff that came later.
Oxygen got involved and opened a whole new way of life.
Fluorine flew flags of fluorescence for all to see.
Neon knew nothing but nonsense, but was neutral enough to practice non-intervention.
Sodium solved a lot of problems, and he's all over the map with that
Magnesium managed to make itself useful.
Aluminum lightened everybody’s load.
Silicon solidified his/her position, early on in the sands of time, and then later went on to establish a ubiquitous presence in the science of small smart circuits.
Meanwhile Phosphorus flamed along, brightening the path for others.
Sulfur suffered through a lot.
Chlorine clung to just about everything, cleaning house along the way, but has been known to kill when too excited.
Argon atoms are gone until somebody proves their actual existence.
Potassium produces plenteously.
Calcium is known as a great collector of a lot of stuff.
Scandium is scant. Titans use Titanium to tighten up their tridents.Vanadium is very strong, while Chromium captures all the attention. Manganese manages to make good use of itself.
Iron Age innovations initiated innumerable inventions.
Cobalt combines with others to combat corrosion.
Nickel has made itself a necessity.
Copper's a good cop, conducts a lot of traffic.
Amazing Zinc sets up rustless zones wherever it goes. Thank God.
And then there's Gallium; it has the gall to call itself a metal, as if it were a major player along with iron and nickel and all those other big-time movers and shakers.
Germanium is a dope in silicon valley. Arsenic is also a real dope, but reputed to be a pathological killer when let out of his cell. He hides behind old lace.
Selenium periodically illuminates this end of the Table, while Bromine combines medicinally and then resigns.
Krypton is a rare super-phenom found only in old comics of the 1950’s.
Now here's the line-up for the second Period:
Rubidium rules while Strontium drools— radioactivity, that is— 90 times a second, I think, and then renders all those other metalistic johnny-come-lately wannabees as metalla non grata.
If we keep this mining expedition going long enough, we could find lucky ole Silver hiding under the Table.
Along the way we're bound to kick up that perennial also-ran can—Tin— he comes to town and makes the rounds, but always ends up wasting away in a landfill, a real slacker if there ever was one.
And I mean, sure, there are some bright spots on the Periodic Table. There’s the star of the show, gold, hiding down there in the middle of the pack, and glinting in at a clandestine #79. Highly-prized all the time, but he's oh-so-hard to find, unless you’ve got a really big credit line.
Every now and then you may catch sight of that tempereal Mercury, but its hard to pin him down. He never stays in one place long enough to amount to anything. He’s got a really hot temper, but, I'm told, a cold personality.
Down there in the middle of the defensive line there’s the Lead heavyweight-- not very fast, but good on the line-- a good blocker for those fast Uranium backs.
Uranium backs are the stars of the show, you know, forever racking up the big stats. But most of them are real hot shots, and if their temper gets worked up, you can't get rid of 'em. The refs kick 'em out of the game, but they hang around for a long time like they own the place and make trouble for anybody who crosses their path. Don't cross 'em. If they get really fired up they'll go plutonium on ya and that's all she wr
Saturday, August 18, 2018
In 1971, Don McLean released a great tribute song about the tragic plane-crash death of early rock-n-roller Buddy Holly.
In the musical tapestry-tale that McLean weaves for us, he laments the loss of Buddy Holly’s influence, which had been to musicate an appreciation for the boy-girl melodrama as it was being lived-out and expressed during that early 1950’s phase of rock-n-roll.
Bye, bye Miss American Pie is a long ballad, with many verses.
An early verse in the song registers a commentary, allegorically, on some later rock influences that seem regrettable, or even destructive and decadent.
Consider the verse:
“And while Lenin read a book on Marx,
a quartet practiced in the park;
and we sang dirges in the dark
the day the music died.”
The “quartet” that practices in the park is, I believe, an indirect reference to the Beatles, and their huge impact on pop music during that time—the late ‘60s. The singing of “dirges” seems to mourn the loss of an earlier, more innocent, emphasis in rock music. A classic budding (Buddy) love-song celebration between boy and girl was being cast aside by the foursome from Liverpool. Along with many other rock groups of that time, they were collectively driving pop music toward a psychedelic netherland of chaotic social consciousness.
And so, while my present downloaded Miss American Pie copy of the lyrics contains the line “And while Lenin read a book on Marx, a quartet practiced in the park,” my aging baby boomer mind notices what seems to be McLean’s play on words here. . . and I hear the line in my mind as:
“And while Lennon read a book on Marx. . .”
meaning that John Lennon’s apparent turn away from teenish romanticism toward a kind of pop-culture anarchy—this change of direction— seemed to be based at least partly on his reading of Karl Marx’s revolutionary economics.
Now of course I have no proof that the great poet and songwriter John Lennon did read Karl Marx’s stuff; but I do think it likely that he did, because that period of time—the latter 1960’s— was indeed a revolutionary time, sociologically at least, if not in a fully political US manifestation.
Nevertheless, I will point out that nowadays, 50 years later, all those wild-eyed Lennonist malcontents who were turning university campuses upside down (while singing All we are saying is Give Peace a Chance) are now, for the most part, running those same (mostly State) universities.
While all the Buddy Holly types and their Peggy Sue wives settled comfortably in the suburbs and enjoyed giving birth to Gen-Xers and Millennials.
I mention all this perhaps only because there seems to be now a regurgitation of Marxist theory—a re-reading, as it were. Here’s what I want to say about that. Karl Marx was a very intelligent man. His analysis of nascent industrial society during the early-mid 19th century was uncannily perceptive and accurate.
Where he went wrong was: thinking he could write a prescription—the necessary and inevitable “dictatorship of the proletariat” that could be worked out among the foibles and disasters of human society and somehow make it all culminate as some ideal Pax Humana.
What he didn’t understand was: any theoretical, proposed Pax Humana, always works out to be Pox Humana.
In human history, notably even in the late so-called Christian Europe, we have managed to repeatedly screw society up by generating a few Pox Hamanae of our own—with a pathetic string of infamous wars, pogroms and inquisitions.
Such a despicable history. In spite of (or maybe because of) the fact that we Christians identify human nature as being depraved and therefore imperfectible, we cannot collectively overcome that curse, choosing instead to cry out for our individual salvation. Does such personalized deliverance relieve us from our collective responsibility for assuaging the human condition?
Yes. However, we profess that. . . Christians are no better than anybody else. But we are forgiven, because we acknowledge, before God, our need for judgement, repentance and atonement. And He takes that acknowledgement seriously.
Be that as it may, I know you didn’t land here to hear a sermon.
So, moving right along, I’ll explain how I happened to land on this track in the midst of a particular Saturday morning. The whole cerebral ball of wax started when I read this passage from page 283 of Teilhard de Chardin’s (published 1947) The Phenomen of Man:
“To outward appearance, the modern world was born of an anti-religious movement: man becoming self-sufficient, and reason supplanting belief. Our (his mid-20th century) generation and the two that preceded it have heard little but talk of the conflict between science and faith; indeed it seemed . . . a foregone conclusion that the former (science) was destined to take the place of the latter (faith).
“But, inasmuch as the tension is prolonged, the conflict visibly seems to need to be resolved in terms of an entirely different form of equilibrium—not in elimination, nor duality, but in synthesis.”
Now this means, in a present world of 2018, which still presents a notable presence of us Christian believers, we should consider our Christ-blessed role as peacemakers. Maybe this way. . .
~~Those of us who believe that a loving God watches over the earth—we need to listen to the activists who probably have some valid points about the destructive effects of all this stuff we’re throwing into our atmosphere.
~~While those who have figured out that all the bad effects of human behavior and institutions are destroying our earth—you people need to realize that we cannot (it’s probably too late to) fix this mess we’ve gotten ourselves and our planet into. And we need to allow some room for faith to, as a mustard seed, grown and provide some faith shelter from the destructive effects of perpetually erroneous Homo Sapiens .gov
What we need now is a little agreement and cooperation between those who naively believe too much and those who cerebrally think too much, and who think they can correct Pox Humana by regulating all of our freedoms into bureaucratic socialist mediocrity.
What we need now is what Teilhard called synthesis, a little meeting of the minds, and some peacemaking agreement among the peoples of the earth.
Good luck with that.
Now getting back to American Pie and Lennon and Marx and all that . . .
The third phase of the Hegelian Dialectic is Synthesis. In early 19th-century, Georg Hegel, Marx’s theoretical predecessor, identified an historical pattern which he named the Dialectic. What this pattern revealed was, in the typical path of human thought/action, a chronic pattern of conflict between one ideological side (Thesis) and the other (Antithesis). But Hegel also identified a recurrent merging of these opposites that could tend to resolve some disputes. He called this resolution Synthesis. Hence, the (simplified) Dialectic: Thesis provokes Antithesis; but ultimately they merge, in human acting out, and become a new worldview, called Synthesis.
As in, for instance, in our mid-20th century Baby Boomer scenario. . . Capitalism v. Communism, or Democracy v. Socialism, morphs into . . . (whatever it is we have now) . . . democratic statism?
Anyway, Marx and Engels used this Dialectic framework as a theoretical part of their Communist Manifesto, published in 1848.
And then much later, 1971 . . ."while Lennon read a book on Marx, a quartet practiced in the park", and . . . all this other stuff happened while we boomers grew up and became the people in charge instead of the people being charged, but we still find ourselves "all here in one place" (a small globe), a generation, a human race lost in space, and so let's consider the . . .
Bottom line: let’s synthesize a few opposite ideological points and somehow come together to . . . maintain our earth clean, green and peaceful, instead of assaulting each other with vindictive politics, fake news and a new cold war of polarizing tribalism.
King of Soul
Saturday, August 11, 2018
There we were, all in one place,
a generation lost in space.
Now here we are a half-century after
a life with all our pain and and laughter—
almost exactly fifty years to the day
since Sargent Pipper taught the band to play,
and though they been goin’ in and outa style
we are gathered here to crack a smile.
So may I introduce to you?
--the one and only googled shears,
by which the great gargantuan engine hath snipped
every profound idle idol idyll mobile-friendly byte ever quipped:
I heard the news today, oh boy:
four trillion holes in tiny shiny mobile screens;
and though the holes were rather small
they had to rank them all.
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill
the mobile-friendly Mall
I’d love to turn your phone on . . . .
King of Soul