Wednesday, July 27, 2005

How to talk to a whatever...

Just stop talking ABOUT them. Go find one and talk WITH them.

"if you must"? No! just plain "you must".

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Support our troops

Build more bridges so they will have a place to sleep when they come home.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Maybe its just me but this looks like it could help...

All eight of you who, on an average day, read this blog or stumble onto it lookng for minimal underware maximally modeled will detect that I don't read much. One of the things I don't read much is my hardcopy subscription to Tikkun. But in a fit of idleness I wondered what their website would look like and browsing there I found their attempt to build a "network of spritual progressives".

I don't think they will mind if I quote the short form of their charter verbatim because I am suggesting that you might find their cause worth joining. I did. Given the windmills at which I so windily tilt, my enthusiasm for this effort is founded partly the delight of discovering yet another group who are joined in what I once thought was a lonely cause. I particularly value items 1 and 4 of their adgenda:

  1. Advocates a New Bottom Line in America. This bottom takes into consideration not only how well institutions and the economy maximize money and power, but how well they maximizes love and caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity and behavior, kindness and generosity, non-violence and peace, and the extent to which they enhance our capacities to respond to other human beings in a way that honors them as embodiments of the sacred, and enhance our capacities to respond to the earth and the universe with awe, wonder and radical amazement.
  2. Challenges the misuse of religion, God and spirit by the Religious Right and
  3. Challenging the anti-religious and anti-spiritual assumptions and behaviors that have increasingly become part of the liberal culture
  4. Challenges the extreme individualism and "me-firstism" that permeate all parts of the global market culture.
It is not exactly me but then joining and helping never are.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

maybe I should just give up this blogging

Few matters interesting enough to merit aphorisms are so simple as any aphorism might fairly and adequately encompass.

Friday, July 15, 2005

And now for something completely different

Rather than the usual blathering attempts at wisdom, I would like to point you to the real thing. This story leads todays MIT Technology Review. Bhutan will undertake an experiment in democracy that makes US history look shortsighted indeed. It is also a brilliant demonstration of the difference between government by an morally enlightened leader and government by whatever Dubya is.

If you have problems with the link [I feed it cookies I got with my subscription], maybe this paragraph will whet your appetite to go to the library:
Rejecting the models of urbanization and unregulated market development usually promoted by the U.S. government, the king has crafted the framework for a political economy based on a theoretically harmonious mix of representative government, south-Asian-style capitalism, traditional religious values, environmentalism, hydropower, tourism, mandated preventative medicine, and universal health care.
It is everything I want in a country and none of the superpower crap I don't want and can't afford.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


If it doesn't cause the occasional revolution, it doesn't deserve to be called education.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Are you bragging or complaining?

That is what my dad used to ask me.
It is a subtle form of self flattery to say "It can't get worse!", "Now I've seen everything !" etc. Even if things are definitely bad for you , you are presuming that your suffering is unusual.
Nah. Not that I wouldn't feel sympathy for you but it is not special.

Even without the boon of a sympathetic nature, knowing how badly some situation affects you gives you the motivation to find a solution, but learning how badly it affects others teaches you where to look for that solution.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Immortality gone wrong

Dr. Menlo, eclectic fellow, dragged in a bit from the Times Literary Supplement [I could use a literary supplement, the fortune I spend on vitamins hasn't done squat for my writing] about a newly pieced together poem of Sappho. The article in the TLS cast into my mind the weirdest metaphor for our relationship with death and healthcare: Tithonus, given eternal life but not eternal youth...just rotting away like so much human cordwood piled in a nursing home, doing nothing, listening to Fox News, waiting, waiting, waiting and waiting for a turn taking that last ambulance ride. But the turn never comes because we are more afraid of death than all the senescence and lost capacities that are its prelude. We the society, if not we as patients, have a doctor who we will pay well not to let us quite die even if we have to steal the money. We have research funds to hunt down the last mysteries of disease and wring the last hour of life from our bodies when, with no mystery at all, children grow stunted and starved for want of far less funds. And we don't now and certainly won't have the funds to share what the research finds; all pay, some benefit.

If our attachment to life were a bit more rational, we would devote more resources to keeping healthy those whose lives could yet be full than to keeping alive those who now cling to life. If we weren't, as a society, in a state of vague denial of death, we would not shut the old and dying away in the company only of machines and doctors trying to do the impossible. A dysfunction of our civilization is that these aged, with their savings, constitute the lucrative market. Another is that we have a keen focus on whether or not you are dead; forestalling that inevitable second of transition when the single binary digit representing your existence goes from one to zero. But we have less interest in the many and messy dimensions of whether or not you are fully alive. The poor doctor can't save your life, he can just add some days to its length. Your students, friends, lovers and family save your life from being a mere existence.

You cannot cure age but you can cure neglect and the life style that hastens aging.

There would be a bonus: ask people in nursing homes which they resent more: their infirmities or the dearth of visitors. Those who are literally at death's door are an uninteresting constituency, they don't vote much and except for a few diseases, aren't calling on their congressman to fund stem cell research. They are out of sight even more than the homeless. Isn't it funny that a politician who had a program to benefit everyone who was going to die would have 100% of the population as a constituency? Ah, but that wouldn't be politics would it? That would be religion.

The executioner, being a bit past ripe, is not the least bit unaware that he will age and die. He calls here for hospice, not heroics when his time comes.

If we focused on being alive rather than staying alive, we would succeed at both rather than failing at the one and cheapening our success at the other.

It is more likely arthritis that prompted Sappho's poem than the expectation that 2600 years hence, it would be seed to a reverie on immortality gone wrong. But we take our inspirations where we can find them so thanks, Dr. Menlo, for that bit of news.

The standard of care ought to be the time we spend with all who ail as much as the money we spend so others will tend them. [Are my age and guilt showing? Good! That is the best example I can set.]

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

One of the most saddening traits of culture.

Among our species, there emerge "primitive" cultures that are far more advanced than "advanced" civilization at preserving places of wonder. The magic of a place untouched by signs of "progress", can touch the heart. There are not enough "sacred" valleys and mountains and lakes. This is one of the few uses of the word sacred that the executioner favors. The scale for sacred places is not a human scale, pocket parks don't get it.

It is not because of human but because of merely cultural blindness that the beauty of a place is the seed of its own defacement.

The grafting of cultural priorities onto the root of human needs is an arbitrary development and full of hazard. In doing this we replace the needs of the heart with self appointed prerogatives and biases of nation and dynasty. The many dry up and poison the mortal contentment and sustenance of the few right at the source and only later notice the loss. The argument for this course is that our very numbers created a need. There is no need for these numbers.

Demanding balance, picking up every stone to assure our pan tips even with any other, we topple and break the scale.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Two kinds of precarious

  1. "Truth is a Pathless Land "  [from J. Krishnamurti]
  2. The most potent heresies differ from the orthodoxy by so little that the incautious adherent veers into error by tiny degrees and can never identify the turn where they parted from grace and faith.

Which do you prefer?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Why inclusiveness?

We are all in the same boat: if you don't give everyone an oar and a bucket, we will just go in cirlces or go to the bottom.