Friday, June 06, 2008

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

Summer seems to be here. The weather has been warm and humid, and unusually wet. We have had numerous storms, some severe. Everything is so green and lush. This morning has been a relief so far: cool, cloudy, breezy. We are getting thunder, some lighting, and occasional light rain. A thunderstorm is approaching. It might get wild for a while then sunny and hot this afternoon. As I am typing this the wind is rising. We’ll see.

The following quote is from an article in the Guardian by Ian McEwan. Apocalyptic thinking distorts much of our politics and social behavior. We need to learn to learn to think for the long haul. As far as Christian apocalyptic thinking goes, we have been expecting the end of the world-as-we-know-it for a couple thousand years. It hasn’t happened yet. It is about time we learn to love this old world that is ever renewing itself and remains young.

But, as McEwan observes, apocalyptic thinking is immune to contrary data, such as two thousand years of life as usual. Catastrophe thinking is, indeed, prevalent in these United States of America. And its not just the weird fringe that believes it. We have a President who, apparently, is one, as is much of what we have taken to calling the religious right. Since this world is going to be destroyed by fire in the near future and a new heavens and new earth established I guess it is okay to destroy the one we have.

“Contemporary apocalyptic movements, Christian or Islamic, some violent, some not, all appear to share fantasies of a violent end, and they affect our politics profoundly. The apocalyptic mind can be demonising - that is to say, there are other groups, other faiths, that it despises for worshipping false gods, and these believers of course will not be saved from the fires of hell. And the apocalyptic mind tends to be totalitarian - which is to say that these are intact, all-encompassing ideas founded in longing and supernatural belief, immune to evidence or its lack, and well-protected against the implications of fresh data. Consequently, moments of unintentional pathos, even comedy, arise - and perhaps something in our nature is revealed - as the future is constantly having to be rewritten, new anti-Christs, new Beasts, new Babylons, new Whores located, and the old appointments with doom and redemption quickly replaced by the next.”

Friday the 6th of June

St. Thérèse, the Little Flower, had it absolutely right: it is in the practice of love in the small details that we really begin to redirect the world to God’s purposes.

“Jesus does not demand great actions from us by simply surrender and gratitude.”
St. Thérèse of Lisieux

From a blog on the on-line edition of America

“Last night was about more than politics. It was history. Clinton was not the only one to lose last night. Bigotry received a mortal blow. Last winter, many of my black friends cautioned that there was no way a black man could win, that anti-black bigotry was still too strong, too deep. That concern lies in rubble today.”

With Barack the nominee I feel like we, as a nation, have made a tremendous stride towards justice and the transformation of our national shame of slavery, prejudice, and segregation. It was a mere 44 years ago that we finally guaranteed the vote to black Americans and in 1965 we put an end to that odious recipe for oppression: separate but equal. This turn of events got me to thinking about Walt Whitman. Here is a bit from a poem he wrote around 1850, before our bloody Civil War that ended slavery. He was hopeful even then that something like Barack would eventually arrive.

Not a grave of those slaughtered ones,
But is growing its seeds of freedom,
In its turn to bear seed,
Which the winds carry afar and resow,
And the rains nourish.

Barack is the nourished seed of these slaughtered ones bearing its fruit.

Indeed, it is unique and new.

I hope that Hillary is his VP choice. I think she will be. She has earned it if she wants it. And it will make the Democratic ticket even more historic.

From an article in the Times (not the New York version) titled Nassim Nicholas Taleb: the prophet of boom and doom

“The only way you can say ‘Fuck you’ to fate is by saying it’s not going to affect how I live. So if somebody puts you to death, make sure you shave.”

Taleb is a former “trader” and currently a best selling author with his book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. I guess he predicted the current economic decline, was pooh-poohed for it, and is now commanding 60-grand from Wall Street, corporate types for his lectures. He has an MBA from Wharton, and a Ph.D. from the University of Paris.

Here is the best part of the article:

Taleb's top life tips

1 Scepticism is effortful and costly. It is better to be sceptical about matters of large consequences, and be imperfect, foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic.
2 Go to parties. You can’t even start to know what you may find on the envelope of serendipity. If you suffer from agoraphobia, send colleagues.
3 It’s not a good idea to take a forecast from someone wearing a tie. If possible, tease people who take themselves and their knowledge too seriously.
4 Wear your best for your execution and stand dignified. Your last recourse against randomness is how you act — if you can’t control outcomes, you can control the elegance of your behavior. You will always have the last word.
5 Don’t disturb complicated systems that have been around for a very long time. We don’t understand their logic. Don’t pollute the planet. Leave it the way we found it, regardless of scientific ‘evidence’.
6 Learn to fail with pride — and do so fast and cleanly. Maximize trial and error — by mastering the error part.
7 Avoid losers. If you hear someone use the words ‘impossible’, ‘never’, ‘too difficult’ too often, drop him or her from your social network. Never take ‘no’ for an answer (conversely, take most ‘yeses’ as ‘most probably’). (I haven’t been real good with this lately, I used to always say – Never say never.)
8 Don’t read newspapers for the news (just for the gossip and, of course, profiles of authors). The best filter to know if the news matters is if you hear it in cafes, restaurants... or (again) parties.
9 Hard work will get you a professorship or a BMW. You need both work and luck for a Booker, a Nobel or a private jet.
10 Answer e-mails from junior people before more senior ones. Junior people have further to go and tend to remember who slighted them.

The evidence just grows and grows. From the New York Times: Bush Overstated Evidence on Iraq, Senators Report

Go Jayhawks ...err... I mean Celtics. Celtics 98, Lakers 88

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