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Maybe it’s my time of life but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about time —something of which I  never have enough and which I’m keenly aware I’m running out of.  But I’ve taken some informal surveys that suggest I’m not alone in this.

It seems time is a pebble in everybody’s shoe.

Poets deal with time’s perplexity all the time: its demands, its wonder, its fun and (especially) its annoying personal terminality. Like child-tinkerers taking apart a marvelous toy, poets talk time to get a handle on it, to hack a place to hold it, to turn it, to fold it, to climb it and mount it to ride it, to flip it, to hide it, to turn it, to toy with and tip it, to wrench it, to rip it inside out to unlearn it, to kill it, to burn it, to track it in the innards of clocks, to pick it apart like a crow on a corpse, to drill it, to dig it, to bore it and finally ignore it.

But poets are not the only ones who meditate upon the workings of time; everybody does it to some extent whether professionally or as amateurs, out of sheer desperation. When it comes to time we’re all closet philosophers. We all parse time until we either give up due to psychic cramping, come to a stand-off with it, or suddenly realize there’s not enough left to worry about.

The tackling of time is just one part of getting on in years. Kids don’t have time for time. The most beautiful thing about youth is its ability to frolic in the sea of timelessness. But, one way or another, sooner rather than later, this time-frolicking ends. For some that end often comes as a stupendous freak-out epiphany, while for others time just creeps up and renders them quasi-comatose before they’ve learned to enjoy it.

In any case, when time finally clocks you and you find yourself hovering near the ceiling having an out-of-body experience looking down at what used to be you on your back among the remnants of splinters of minutes and shards of hours you might regret the time you wasted watching Sean Hannity reading script written by corporate CEOs and international bankers.

The truth is that as innocuous as time was when the air was green and tenderfeet knew the ballet of beginning; when they were as free as birds ascending a draft of instants in the hour of sometime-but-not-now, time inevitably becomes a bane and cornucopia of elegies.

Time is the  master of poets it has ever enmeshed since the word became flesh —which is to say, as Bob Dylan did, “Time is a freight train, it moves too fast.”

But we’re all poets in some way shape or form. As such, the poet in us would do well to just pour time like water or blood & wine and, savoring, sip it.

Ah, but like most things, that’s easier said than done.

For many among us time is not so resplendent; not so filled with favor. For some, times are really tough because the time of some is frequently held more dear than the time of others. The hours and minutes of little average lives are too often considered to be as weightless and insignificant as a wagonload of nanoseconds. They barely tip our social scales. Meanwhile those of others have the heft of ingots with 24 carat brilliance. In the current marketplace the lives and time of  millionaires have the mass of wrecking balls on the life and times of average folks.

The precious minutes of some buy mere bread while the equally precious minutes of others buy yachts. This has been the way of the world from time immemorial. It’s the way a considerable portion of the American commercial and political apparatus works tirelessly to establish and institutionalize as the status quo once and for all (or few, if you really want to pick a nit).

It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “Time is money”, which is an aphorism with a large thumb we’ve lived under since Ben first uttered it. It’s been the rule of business over labor since man invented slavery.

A couple of hundred years after Franklin equated time and money, philosopher Bertrand Russell said, “To realize the unimportance of time is the gate to wisdom.”

Now, applying the logic of equations  to Franklin’s “time is money” —to simply exchange those terms and apply them to Russell’s “gate to wisdom”, we come up with a truth that, if embraced, might shake the foundations of world; namely:

“To realize the unimportance of money is the gate to wisdom.”

All of our times are short and all have equal value until you start measuring them against net worth; then, depending upon the enlightenment of a culture, they’re either seen in terms of big bottom lines and held in great esteem or judged in terms of small ones and dumped on the junk heap of history and the upwardly mobile.

“Time will tell who has fell and who’s been left behind…”  —Dylan again.

by Jim Culleny
3/31/12

“I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” Rivera explained. “What’s the instant association? It’s crime scene surveillance tapes. Every time you see someone stick up a 7-11, the kid is wearing a hoodie. Every time you see a mugging on a surveillance camera or get the old lady in the alcove, it’s kid with a hoodie.”

Homicidal Hoodies
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Apparently clothing is as responsible for murder as people are, according to Geraldo Rivera. This is the same line of thinking that says short skirts and plunging necklines are as responsible for rape as men are.

Actually, men are hardly ever responsible for anything; not greed, indifference, egomania, arrogance, rape, war, financial corruption, political graft, brutality —not responsible, especially white men with money. It’s everyone else who’s responsible; in particular the underclasses and women —the whipping-boys-and-girls and their clothes.

Rivera just weighed in on the Trayvon Martin homicide regarding the murder part of that observation: Hoodies are as depraved as killers, according to Rivera.

It is the Big Moustache’s opinion that callous disregard for human suffering by inanimate objects is an outrage. Clothing must be outlawed (or at least incarcerated in maximum security laundries) to stop the widespread murder and sexual assault caused by textiles.

If what Geraldo says is true then it must also be true that unattractive unkempt moustaches are as responsible for assault as anyone who forceably shaves that annoying thing off Rivera’s upper lip.

Rivera:

“I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” Rivera explained. “What’s the instant association? It’s crime scene surveillance tapes. Every time you see someone stick up a 7-11, the kid is wearing a hoodie. Every time you see a mugging on a surveillance camera or get the old lady in the alcove, it’s kid with a hoodie.”

It’s reasonable, therefore, to shoot down anyone wearing a hoodie, and to arrest any employee of The Gap for selling the vicious things.

This is the kind of stupid deep-dish thinking that passes for journalism and political commentary in the USA.  Listen to the statesmen-wannabes running for Chief Republican Nitwit before you decide to argue the point.

I just can’t get over the feeling that we, as a nation, are seriously screwed.
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Jim Culleny, 3/23/12
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….
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Dangerous White Boys In Hoodies

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Via 3QD:

To our great shame  the great shame of progressives American now has:

• the highest poverty rate, both generally and for children;
• the greatest inequality of incomes;
• the lowest social mobility;
• the lowest score on the UN’s index of “material well-being of children”;
• the worst score on the UN’s Gender Inequality Index;
• the highest expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP, yet all this money accompanied by the highest infant mortality rate, the highest prevalence of mental health problems, the highest obesity rate, the highest percentage of people going without health care due to cost, the highest consumption of antidepressants per capita, and the shortest life expectancy at birth;
• the next-to-lowest score for student performance in math and middling performance in science and reading;
• the largest prison population in absolute terms and per capita;
• the highest carbon dioxide emissions and the highest water consumption per capita;
• the lowest score on Yale’s Environmental Performance Index (except for Belgium) and the largest ecological footprint per capita (except for Denmark);
• the lowest spending on international development and humanitarian assistance as a percentage of national income (except for Japan and Italy);
• the highest military spending both in total and as a percentage of GDP; and • the largest international arms sales.

Meanwhile politicians are harping about birth control (Republicans), the necessity of a new theocracy (Santorum); how great massive wealth is (Paul Ryan); colonizing the moon (Gingrich); grits (Mitt Romney); and how to kill Medicare (all Republicans, again).

The loathesome legacy of Ronald Reagan and supply-side economics… “Trickle-down”: the Big Scam

by Jim Culleny
3/15/12

PS:



60% Lunacy

March 13, 2012

Economic troubles are the least of the US’s worries.  Over half of one of the the country’s only two parties are lunatics: those who live in a world of fear and fantasy against which the facts of life have little effect. For lunatics facts and fictions are interchangeable. The truths of life have become so groteque to the deranged that fictions are their only sanctuary.

Polls show that even after president Obama has released his long form birth certificate 60% of Republicans still say “…that they either still consider Obama’s birthplace to be open to debate or aren’t sure.” What’s more “…33 percent claim that the president was “definitely” or “probably” born elsewhere.” 18% still consider the long form a forgery.

If time travel were possible and you took these people back to 1961 in Hawaii, gave them bags of popcorn and sat them down with calendars and GPS gizmos to watch the birth of Barack Obama in all its natural wonder and geographic certainty they would still claim the thing was staged and that they’d been abducted by liberal aliens and tractor-beamed into a hovering spacecraft by a cabal of communists under the direction of Saul Alinsky and socialist, Bernie Sanders, who stood ominously apart eating french fries with Osama Bin Laden and Malcom X.

The latest lunatic candidate pumping like hell at the birther well (joining bad-hair-day and perpetual pouter Donald Trump, the barely-tethered-to-earth Michelle Bachmann and every other spineless Republican politico who cynically poisons that libation) is Republican Cliff Sterns of Florida. Sterns is in a tough race and is dispensing birther Kool-ade to the Sunshine State’s whacked-out thirsty. These people are so destructive that some of the hysterical are even doubting themselves.

I have serious problems with president Obama: his continuance of the Bush policy of indefinite detention, the war in Afghanistan, and his constitution-diminishing defense of the extra-judicial assasination of US citizens —seroius problems, but his place of birth is not one of them. In fact, this president falls easily into the long line of presidents who have found themselves in the grip of war and its power over them.  In this, half-black or half-white, he’s as American as apple military rations.

But there is no cure for birther brain fracture —that dementia is self-willed.
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by Jim Culleny
3/13/12

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Here’s a little video as spiritual as anything you’ll hear in church:
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Fresh Brim-Feather

March 11, 2012

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“Our institutions are at the mercy of a body of foreigners (the Holy Alliance of Catholic Nations). . . and held completely under the control of a foreign power.” —Samuel B. Morse, 1834

“Roosevelt inevitably draws upon his Jewish ancestry. It is as natural for him to be radical as it is for others to be true Americans . . . he is not one of us!” —Reverend Gerald Winrod, 1936

“What I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his [Obama] having grown up in Kenya, his view . . . is very different than ours . . .” —Mike Huckabee, 2011 (Obama did not grow up in Kenya)

“What if [Obama] is so far outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan . . . behavior, can you piece together [his actions]”  —Newt Gingrich, 2012


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Fresh Brim-Feather
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Inside the eye of a new storm
are you lost? came the question;
came as a little nesting tornado, a
windy Matryoshka tucked
naturally within another;
a wind like the tiny tempests
that lift street leaves from gutters in fall
—a miniscule funnel by standards of
Tornado Alley but
if you’re small (as small
as a small thought)
the small question,
are you lost in this new storm?
is as mighty as a tsunami
gathered on a beach at your feet
its humping, horizon-lifting wave
poised in the instant before
yesterday-would-be-better

—then-there
in the shutter-click before
it rakes the landscape,
in the time before
too-late

……………. still

inside the eye of this new storm
everything’s familiar;
the heavens have not issued
new revelations
news is always old-hat
but with a fresh brim-feather
love and hate are ghosts with heartbeats
eternal as new babes, and
to be lost in a new storm
is as natural as breath & death
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by Jim Culleny
3/11/12

Little Flying Robots

March 10, 2012

For a  non-mathematical mind like mine this is awesome.

Via 3QuarksDaily

Out From Under

March 7, 2012

The struggle for the mass of men and women to get out from under the thumb of the wealthy elite has, historically, been a long one.  Until now the United States has in it’s 235 + year, history helped the cause of poor men and women by managing, however slowly, to give its underclass the chance to free itself from the bonds of slavery and virtual indentured servitude, the stifling influence of religious fableism and the oppression of workers and women. But now we see in America the rise of a kind of new feudalism, the threat of theocracy, and a return to state and church sponsored misogyny.

What Rush Limbaugh did by slandering Sandra Fluke with his typical ugliness was to expose the thinking of a significant part of the conservative right and the Republican party. The vileness of that creep’s remarks has been tepidly challenged not only by the pathetic stock of this year’s GOP candidates, but by the party in general. If silence is golden the Republican party is again in its element. John McCain, to his credit, has been one of the few Republicans to call Limbaugh out for uncovering the sewer of his character yet again.

Sandra Fluke’s basic problem in the eyes of Republican fundamentalists is that she is a woman.  What’s worse Ms. Fluke is a smart, brave, accomplished, and socially conscious woman. This last is most likely the source of the derision of Limbaugh heaped on Fluke.  Let’s face it, besides his Machiavellian loud mouth and the money it sucks in, Limbaugh has little going for him in the realm of soul or physical attraction when it come to women.  He’s been married four times because (my guess is) once the allure of his wealth wore off and his exes realised what they’d married they decided it just wasn’t worth it, dumped him and left Rush to the desert of himself.

But what the Limbaugh-Fluke incident brought to stark light is the iron grip that its medieval right has on Republicans. But why does the right hate women and feminism? This is a question Digby at Hulaballoo asks:

“We know why misogynist creeps like Rush Limbaugh hate feminism. But why do conservative intellectuals hate feminism (assuming they aren’t also twisted creeps like Limbaugh?)”

His answer comes in a piece by Mark Steyn.

Summing up, Steyn’s view is that the modern state’s trajectory is to undermine the traditional family and, therefore, everything that’s good. Without the support of the modern state women would have to perform the duties and responsibilities of millenia of women before them.  They would be forced to become subservient drudges and the sexual object of husbands —or men in general.

For Steyn “Big Daddy (big government) sings a siren song: … statism is a girl’s best friend.  So it is in government’s best interest for those men old fashioned enough to marry women and thereby woo them away from the big stash of Big Daddy Statist.”

So the state that allows women the same freedoms and opportunities as men, that lifts them out of subservient drudgery, or worse, is something to be reviled. This is the fundamental thrust of the conservative hatred of the liberal state and modern women: that it (and they) undermine, among other things, the traditional family and traditional economic structure that have allowed a small wealthy elite to pull the strings of power through most of history.

As Cory Robins summarizes at Hulaballoo:

“The priority of conservative political argument has been the maintenance of private regimes of power—even at the cost of the strength and integrity of the state. We see this political arithmetic at work in the ruling of a Federalist court in Massachusetts that a Loyalist woman who fled the Revolution was the adjutant of her husband, and thus not be held responsible for fleeing and should not have her property confiscated by the state; in the refusal of Southern slaveholders to yield their slaves to the Confederate cause; and the more recent insistence of the Supreme Court that women could not be legally obliged to sit on juries because they are ‘still regarded as the center of home and family life’ with their ‘own special responsibilities.’”

The cases Robins cites are old, but the sentiment is as immediate as Rush Limbaugh’s anti-woman rant and the attitude of a huge segment of the conservative right in this election year.

Jim Culleny
3/7/11

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My Religious Life

March 2, 2012

Religion may be a wonderful but treacherous thing.

On one level religion is an expression of the inexpressible. It’s founded upon mystery. But when we try to express the inexpressible we net confusion and end up with doctrine as obscure and arcane as the instructions for a Comcast remote —which may be appropriate because that’s what the religions of many are: a multiplicity of otherworldly choices long on faith but short of rationality and understanding.

In a wise move to avoid confusion Jews at first steered clear of speaking the name of God. God is ineffable some ancient(s) surmised and decided it might be best to not speak the name of a being no one knew anything about— an obviously powerful one at that. Among other things, any name they dreamt up might offend god. Who knew?

Inevitably though¸ the names came —you can’t shut up a born labeler. Eventually we had as many names for god as we have religions. Besides plain “God” we have (or have had) Elohim, Yahweh, Adonai, Jehovah and El Shaddai (or just plain El), Allah, Vishnu, Brahma, Krishna, Rama, Wele, Jok, Nyam, Lesa, Cuta, Jesus, The Holy Spirit or, simply, Father (to name a few).

Some say, The Great Spirit, but I humbly say, I haven’t a clue.

Actually, one of the best names for god I ever heard (we’re told) was spoken by God to Moses out of a burning bush. God told Moses he could call him “I Am That I Am”, which pretty much says it all without revealing too much. If it really was god who said that, you might think he or she was being coy. If it was some 4000 BC story-teller, he was probably hoping to dodge a lightning bolt.

This wisdom of not speaking God’s name (a name the framers of the US Constitution assiduously kept out of our fundamental legal document, clairvoyantly seeing a train wreck if we took that road) is, I think, best addressed by the Taoists. Without getting into technicalities they referred to the inexpressible as The Tao, or “The Way”.

In fact a character referred to as Lao Tzu (who scholars say may or may not have been one individual) in a book called the Tao Te Ching (that he may or may not have written alone), approached the problem of the unspeakable by noting:

If you talk about the Tao, it’s not Tao. If you name it, it’s something else. What can’t be named is eternal. Naming splits the eternal to smithereens. Not tangled in desire you embrace the unknown … Call it no place. No place or darkness.

Think about that. Anything you say about the Tao (or God) is bound to come up short and leads, inevitably, to confusion.

Scan the global religious landscape before you argue the point. What do you see? I see a sect for every nuance, a god for every whim and a war for every god. This is again why our Jeffersons and Madisons (who, unlike congress, actually thought these things through) kept god out of the constitution; they knew we must keep a wall between church and state. And this is why an intellectual featherweight like Rick Santorum ought to be kept as far away from the presidency as an enlightened electorate can keep him …oops.

But what about that “place of darkness” referred to by Lao Tzu; must that not be an evil place? No. This would not be the bad darkness dreamed up by fundamentalists and populated by Satan, liberals and independent women. It would be a darkness more like one written of in a little book penned by an anonymous Christian mystic of the late 14th century called The Cloud of Unknowing: namely, a state of humility.

It says there, “of God Himself can no man think” (not even Franklin Graham, Anonymous might have added if he’d been writing today). “For thou hast brought me with thy question into that same darkness, and into that same cloud of unknowing,”

The level of high degree stupidity it takes to think that threatening the rationality of our constitution with religion is almost majestic. To look at history and see what religious conflict has wrought, to look at the theocratic chaos of the middle east, to remember the brutality of religious conflict in Yugoslavia and, finally to ignore the wisdom of the founders as the far right of the United States desires and to still want to make the US a “Christian Nation” envisioned by a big chunk of the GOP is to step back in time to one of very bad darkness indeed.

In religious matters humility’s best, it keeps you grounded and out of other people’s bedrooms.  You want to pray, fine, just do it in a closet as Jesus advised.

My mother was a devout Catholic, but she was no Rick Santorum. She was a good woman who understood that her god was, by all evidence, pluralistic. She knew that every view of god offered something, but cost something as well. Whatever my trail was through several expressions of the ineffable, it was launched by my mom and her faith and became (sorry Mom)

My Religious Life:

I was Catholic,
but was not universal enough
when I was.

I was Protestant,
but did not protest enough
when I was.

I was a Transcendental Meditationist,
but was not transcendent enough
when I was.

I was a dilettante Buddhist,
but (unlike the lotus) I failed to bud
when I was.

Now as a Taoist
in an inscrutable plan
I’m most content, because
it’s nothing I can really talk about
if I am.
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Jim Culleny
3/2/12

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