Monday, December 31, 2018

What Do You Have in Mind?

Mindfulness. Examining one’s thoughts as if they were as remote as the dancing reflection in the pond of the distant streaks of clouds high in the sky.

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Wisdom of George

American culture has lost its way in part because we no longer celebrate the kind of people who can explain the operational principles of a compass, moral or otherwise.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Aquaman Isn't All Wet

Jason Momoa as Aquaman, DC's King of the Seven Seas

On my way to see Aquaman, I grabbed some clothes at random and found myself seated in the cinema wearing my orange sweater and green pants.
The movie was good fun. Even though the undersea kingdom scenes were as silly as one might expect, they offer a certain fairy-tale wonder to the eye.
Much of the dialogue is of the declamatory-predictable variety with sentences that you can finish before the actors do (“The two worlds … are one!”). The single exception is Jason Momoa’s refreshingly cheeky bro-witticisms.
We get two romances for the price of one — Aquaman and Mera’s meet-cute and the lost-love heart-tugger of Aquaman’s father and mother (with Nicole Kidman playing Aquamom).
The character’s comic book origins are faithfully served. A lot of the plot is video game quest stuff. You must seek the thingie that solves the puzzle of the whatsis to find the other thingie. The best parts play on the same “fish out of water” theme that worked so well in Wonder Woman.
For all that, much of the film sweeps you along like a big, friendly wave, with Momoa carrying it on the strength of his broad shoulders and considerable bad-boy charm.
I think, however, that what with Aquaman, Thor, the Black Panther and Wonder Woman, we’ve had enough superhero royalty to satisfy us for a while. No more “true kings,” please. That quasi-racist notion never fails to irritate me.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Warm Guns and Cold, Dead Children

I have thought that ever since. That's why I knew the Parkland teens would be able to accomplish nothing. We are a society of monsters. A country of warm guns and cold, dead children.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

I Wish They'd Paid Attention to Superman

The 21st century GOP and the people to whom they pander actually don't believe in equality, which means they actually don't believe in freedom, for all their strenuously broadcast propaganda to the contrary.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

La Joie de Vivre

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday, December 8, 2018

You Can Look It Up

I know and understand Bernie's values, which are those of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt. And those values are precisely what we need now. I will be glad to vote for him, or anyone he endorses.

How Easily Duped We Gullible Americans Are

I have been expecting the arrival of the full-bore fascist GOP ever since George W. Bush stole the presidential election in Florida with the assistance of his brother, the corporate media and the U.S. Supreme Court. And it has arrived.

Friday, December 7, 2018

War Without End, Amen

War without end, amen. The wet dream of the American military-industrial complex.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Christopher Isherwood: The One Who Was

'Lost Youth' by Deng Chengwen
“And now, before I slip back into the convention of calling this young man ‘I,’ let me consider him as a separate being, a stranger almost, setting out on this adventure in a taxi to the docks. For, of course, he is almost a stranger to me. I have revised his opinions, changed his accent and his mannerisms, unlearned or exaggerated his prejudices and his habit. We still share the same skeleton, but its outer covering has altered so much I doubt if he would recognize me on the street. We have in common the label of our name, and a continuity of consciousness that I am I. But what I am has refashioned itself throughout the days and years, until now almost all that remains constant is the mere awareness of being conscious. And that awareness belongs to everybody; it isn’t a particular person.
“The Christopher who sat in that taxi is, practically speaking, dead; he only remains reflected in the fading memories of us who knew him. I can’t revitalize him now. I can only reconstruct him from his remembered acts and words and from the writings he has left us. He embarrasses me often, and so I’m tempted to sneer at him, but I will try not to. I’ll try not to apologize for him, either. After all, I owe him some respect. In a sense he is my father, and in another sense my son.”
Christopher Isherwood, whose close observation of the man in the mirror evokes for me a Buddhist sense of the ephemerality of self.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Looks Like He's Just About to Turn Into a Bat

What we have is a corporate media overwhelming tilted right, and frightened of even challenging glaring Republican lies. When Rudy Giuliani lied on national television that we had NO domestic terrorist attacks under George W. Bush, ABC's "liberal" coward George Stephanopoulos was afraid even to call him on it.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Please, Keep Looking

The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are. Mindfulness, courage and truth. I don't know if they'll carry the day, but I know they're the only values worth having.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Conservatives Aren't Moral at All. They're Tribal

What liberals have a hard time understanding is that conservatives, while constantly paying lip service to what they call morality, actually do not accept the rule of law, or any universal moral imperatives.
In their view, what other tribes do is wrong, period, and what their tribe does is right, period — up to and including torture, encouraging the murder of journalists and unarmed black citizens and lying the nation into war for private profit.

America: A Land That Has Left Truth Behind

"The Oxford English Dictionaries named 'post-truth' its word of the year in November 2016, right before the U.S. election.
"Citing a 2,000 percent spike in usage – due to Brexit and the American presidential campaign – they defined post-truth as 'relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.'
"Ideology, in other words, takes precedence over reality.
"When an individual believes their thoughts can influence reality, we call it 'magical thinking' and might worry about their mental health. When a government official uses ideology to trump reality, it’s more like propaganda, and it puts us on the road to fascism.
"As Yale philosopher Jason Stanley argues, 'The key thing is that fascist politics is about identifying enemies, appealing to the in-group (usually the majority group), and smashing truth and replacing it with power.'"
— Prof. Lee McIntyre

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Life Under the Liar in Chief

I’ve always thought that people lie too easily, and don’t fully appreciate what damage they do by lying. And now we have an object lesson in that principle: Donald Trump, the ultimate liar, the man to whom truth is a joke, completely meaningless. And, not coincidentally, he is one of the greatest disasters in U.S. history.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Whipping the Watchdogs

The corporate, political and bureaucratic imperatives under which we operate today preclude the idea that anyone owes the American public the truth. That’s why professional journalism is not merely dying because of shifting commercial considerations. It is actively being slain.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

How the Uneducated Con the Gullible

Republicans always think that because they are ignorant of something, that makes it untrue.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Monday, November 12, 2018

Made for me by Jim Crail.

Let's Let Stan Lee Have the Last Word.....

RIP Stan Lee. Stan’s determination to be creative in a then-despised medium finally led to the most successful entertainment franchise on the planet Earth. I'm sure that strange development stunned him as much as anyone.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Trump Loves Cruelty for Its Own Sake

And Trump is not an ABERRATION in the fascist Republican Party. He is its CULMINATION.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Trump's War Without an Enemy

I always knew Trump would eventually start another war to stay in power. I should have guessed, given his background as a “reality TV” clown, that it would be a fake one against a powerless “enemy.” But the Republicans will use this phony stunt to lay down a marker for martial law in America.

The Rise and Fall of the United States of America

Fox News should offer a show called the Dunning-Kruger News Hour.    

Thursday, November 1, 2018

What Trump Is Really After

Trump's “birthright citizenship ban” is a ploy, testing the waters. What Trump would like, ultimately, is to be able to strip anyone he targets of their citizenship and therefore all human rights. This is the kind of thing I knew would follow when the fascist GOP took control of all three branches of government.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Face That Will Destroy America

This screaming woman was at a Trump rally

The Republicans didn't create this face, but they coddle, encourage and exploit it for power. It's the face that, left unchecked, will destroy the United States of America.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Yes, Certainly in America

You glimpse some dead-faced, vacant-eyed white guy in a mug shot and you think, “Now, which is that? The mad gunman? The mad bomber? Is he the one who shot those people in the supermarket today or in the cinema yesterday? Or is he the one who crushed that protester with a car, or the one who slaughtered all those schoolchildren in that place, where was it again? In America somewhere. Yes, certainly in America.”

How to Be Safe in America

For safety's sake, let's stay out of all synagogues and churches, all movie theaters, malls, supermarkets and Walmarts, out of Vegas and Dallas and New York. Let's hide and cower at the approach of every stranger. I'll dash for groceries while you give me covering fire. But above all, let's never do anything about the guns. 
THAT would interfere with our freedom.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Guess Who's Coming to Be Shot?

Trying to pick up his dry cleaning, the 16-year-old black teenager was stranded in a white Miami neighborhood when the buses stopped running.
He was hoping to hitchhike when an unmarked police car pulled up. “See that alley over there, boy?” one of the cops said. “Get your ass up in there. Now.”
He obeyed, and the unmarked police car followed him in.
Alone in an alley with no witnesses, the young man saw a revolver protruding through the car window, pointed at his head. He heard the two police officers talking inside the car.
“What should we do with this boy?”
“Find out what he’s doing here.”
“Should we shoot him here?”
Frightened and furious, the boy explained how he’d ended up where he was. The cop behind the wheel asked him if he could walk all the way back home — the 50 blocks to “colored town” — without looking behind him. The boy said he could.
“Think about it now,” the cop said. “Cause if you look back, just once, we gonna shoot you. Think you can do that?”
He said he could. So the long trek began, with the young man glancing at the reflections in store windows to see that the unmarked car was, in fact, slowly following him all the way. For 50 long blocks. When he reached the corner where he lived with relatives, the police car pulled out and sped away.
“Fifty blocks is a long time to think about what’s happening to you, to stew in the insane injustice of it all,” the boy said later. “But it’s also a good long time to internalize messages such as discipline, independence, the value of character and toughness of mind.”
The year was 1943. The boy’s name was Sidney Poitier, and 21 years later he would win the Academy Award for best actor.

The Cognitive Dissonance of Propaganda

Rule of thumb: Whenever anyone on a comment thread begins their statement with "I'm a lifelong Democrat," they are, in fact, a corporate right-wing digital sock puppet.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Does Meditation Make You Immune?

Are people highly advanced in meditation serenely immune to anxiety, cravings, depression, fear and irritation? No — but they gain an edge on existence.
In their 1995 report on yogis in the advanced stages of meditative practice, The Stages of Mindfulness Meditation: A Validation Study, Jack Engler and Daniel P. Brown found: “What changes is not so much the nature of conflict, but awareness of and reactivity to it … (With practice) there is greater awareness of and openness to conflict, but paradoxically less reaction at the same time in an impulsive, identificatory and therefore painful way … (The practitioner) may note the intense desire until it passes, like every other transient mental state, or he/she may act on it, but with full awareness … Mindfulness is said to automatically intervene between impulse or thought and action in such cases. This mechanism of reality, combined with clear and impartial observation, allows a new freedom from drive and a new freedom for well-considered and appropriate action.”

Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday, September 14, 2018

In the Faculty Dining Room

In the Faculty Dining Room: “Christ, it is sad, sad to see on quite a few of these faces — young ones particularly — a glum, defeated look. Why do they feel this way about their lives? Sure, they are underpaid. Sure, they have no great prospects, in the commercial sense. Sure, they can’t enjoy the bliss of mingling with corporate executives. But isn’t it any consolation to be with students who are still three-quarters alive? Isn’t it some satisfaction to be of use, instead of helping to turn out useless consumer goods? Isn’t it something to know that you belong to one of the few professions in this country which isn’t hopelessly corrupt?
“For these glum ones, apparently not. They should like out, if they dared try. But they have prepared themselves for this job, and now they have got to go through with it. They have wasted the time in which they should have been learning to cheat and grab and lie. They have cut themselves off from the majority — the middlemen, the hucksters, the promoters —by laboriously acquiring all this dry, discredited knowledge — discredited, that is to say, by the middleman, because he can get along without it. All the middleman wants are its products, its practical applications. These professors are suckers, he says. What’s the use of knowing something if you don’t make money out of it? And the glum ones more than half agree with him and feel privately ashamed of not being smart and crooked.”
— Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man