Thursday, March 31, 2005

Earthquakes:

So here's the thing. The Earth is alive. Every biologist I've met agrees; most balanced, informed opinions, it seems, would have to at least accept certain key arguments.

When there are changes in the wider fields of existence, for example the weather, there would naturally also be changes in other of the major subsystems of Earth. Like humanity.

If you step back and consider the implications of storms occurring in weather because humanity heats it up (and it does seem that the Earth was already heating up FWIW,) and the serious implications of so many of our current most peculiar storms in the minds of collective humanity, , I feel obliged to re-examine many assumptions I have held regarding identitiy. We are all in this together, one way or another, it's one of our strongest liberal arguments.

It seems to me that the nature and origin of identity bear heavily in our experience of reality. It also seems very natural to me that as humanity has become so explicitly intertwined on a coherent, global set of levels, that we also see noticeable continental dynamics at play.

This is a rearrangement of ideas as we "moderns" are concerned.

There are many ancient traditions which share a much more presently integral way of being. (That is to say, we approach the Now more elegantly as we appraise ourselves more honestly. There is more about this but not tonight ;> )

The thing for us (at least for you some who do me the favor of reading) tonight is that it is very likely, if not an established reality that we will see considerably more and more powerful earthquakes.

Iran, Turkey. The northern aspect of the valley of the San Andreas, methinks. Watch, watch polar quakes. I strogly suspect aspects of that involved with magnetic dynamics. But strict theory will also have to wait for another night.

Everybody is really used to big quakes on the West Coast of the Sun, too. And check this out- so often people would be amazed. But we treat it like a big deal when it hits areas of geo-political significance. Perhaps I can see how the press might actually be somewhat obliged to softplay some of its presentation, but those of us who make a point of paying attention to things, such as, say, Jared Diamond's work should also note these basic things. It also stands to reason to me that many of our ruling "elite" would appreciate knowing such trends are occurring.

I really do hope someone takes me up on these ideas of mine, too. It seems to me there is nearly ready to be an information leap of some sort soon, and likely across many key areas of significance.



It is to the quick if we get with the fact that this is a very simply a form of heavy magic. It has been of interest to me for some time that the fist to get this would be the atomists, but that as well is for another night.

Goodnight.
-swift

oh-oh!

The Pope is being fed with a tube!!!!

If this goes through we'll have the No-Pope! And then the oldest medieval state in the world will have a familiar pickle of a situation. And much longer to play it out (in).

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Tee Hee!

The D'oh! Vinci Code. "A must read!"

Postponed: Earthquakes and objectivity.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Central Asia

I've been paying a little bit of attention to this area for years, ever since I learned that there's a very good chance of real oil deposits (as opposed to the chimera in ANWAR) in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

The best little bits of info I've been able to glean seem to indicate that private interests have had force presence on the ground for at least 5 or 6 years there.

So that's western oil conglomerates with real soldier of fortune types just kind of hanging out, staking a claim, as it were; maybe just getting involved a bit in local politics.

Before 9/11 I thought it very likely the US would find a pretext to go into this region within 10 years just because of the oil. Now, of course, there's a lot more going on there.

Remember also that China is right there to the East. The Central Asain Plateau is of great GREAT geo-strategic significance. Had we not gone into Iraq, had we meant half of what we said going into Afghanistan, this could have been a great opportunnity for a forward thinking military to plan for the next century (which you may be interested to know I don't think would've been a bad idea). As it is, of course, we have almost no money (and China holding the economic chair we're standing on!), little remaining "soft power" around the region or the world, and flat out zero troop reserves, plus we're hot for Syria and Iran.

A century and a half of colonial history teaches that, in this part of the world, sooner or later factions unite and slaughter the invaders. It is of no small significancee that this is taught in grade schools and family folklore. Being as over extended as we are, there is no real chancee that this will work out well for us.

Whether the Caspian Basin is it where it starts to go bad or not is immiterial (my money's closer to Afghanistan, FWIW). The signs all say the same thing, and the ideologues in Washington refuse to read them.

Later Tonight: The new Indonesian Earthquake, earthquakes in general, and some thoughts on coming changes in a much broader terrestrial context.

NOWWWW!

You will read this now.

Haha.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Huzzah! Osiris lives again!

Well, another year and the Sun comes again to the North where Saxons roam!
Invincible! We storm the gates of heaven an again we crash in upon ourselves.

The dead run in the street like thieves on the day the soldiers come.


We know the explosion for who we are.

Many myths we entertain oh so seriously these days.

Let fire bring anew what it will, the death preachers (and we)are ones who truly come to know our own works.

Our tears and our prayers and our love, forsooth!

It slakes my soul.


Peace and Rejoice, all,
chimneyswift

Saturday, March 26, 2005

What is it?

When we have a situation as ethically messy as Terri Schiavo (or Red Lake, or Guantanamo-torture A.G., or Enron or fill-in-the-blank), how do we deal with it?

There is a divide in this country, and one side truly is interested in fixing things, looking at causes, evaluating actions etc. and one side truly is not.

The reason the New Right resists looking at what causes ethical miasmas is that they belive in a mythologically dualistic reality. God and Satan war for our souls, we either pass or fail.

Red Lake is too complex, let us just say they all failed. Abu Ghraib is forgettable because we have passed and they have failed (whether "they" are the poor hick reservists or the Iraqis they tortured). Terri Schiavo, now she is a template, a blank screen we can project all our rationales of goodness upon. She will live because life is good and we must always cling to life because otherwise we are disrespectful of it.

When there is a astract principle established absolutely, run and hide.

But the idea of LIFE cannot meet the demands of these zealots. Their ideas of God and the Rapture demand they champion life militantly only because they cannot accept that God also gave us death.

The rules of the 10 Commandments and all the literal King James Scriptures can be mastered: remembered and spit out in the faces of nonbelievers. This is a power-mastery coplex that demands rather than convinces, and those who would convince rather than demand will eventually be seen as the enemy.

Though it sounds extreme it is true, for this is an extremist, militant philosophy and its premises of dogma and dominance are irreconcilable with the premise of reason.

The sad thing is that reason is not all that. It's philosophical limitations are in fact quite extreme. The frontiers of reason, however, are frightening to some, and this is but a part of a much longer-scale drama.

The simple fact is that the frontier of reason can take us to the fact of death and give us not much more. The simple existential hard-assed squint is not fulfilling to most people. Beyond the fact of death, though, there is a mystery (or several). But reason cannot grasp mystery.

So people instead champion the comforting absolute of rules easily mastered. The obvious fact that these zealots are led in their charge by cynics is no small comfort to the "few" who stand, insistent and apalled, still reaching for a language that addresses process and reality.

---

We are developing this language, of course, but we will have more setbacks before we have triumphs to celebrate again.

The Siren Fetus

OOOh! James Wolcott has it!

If Terri Schiavo is a large scale fetus, and cannot speak for herself, then what is anyone to do but save her?

The big problem with this situation is that of course no one wants to be Terri Schiavo, or connected to her I.V. It's horrifying!

But as I was saying earlier, pity moves us. Those who cannot put together what it is to be pitied and what it is that creates such situations then go on to create pitiable messes. The sickest part is that today we have a dominant rubric that violently champions this approach to social analysis.

Nowhere here is empathy, nowhere the consideration of human equality.

On Billmon, blogging and all that.

Not that I expect any one of my one anda-half regular readers are actually fans of the blogoshpere, but here is why I still like Billmon.

Backstory: Billmon is perhaps one ofthe greatest writers of the blogosphere. He, however, works in the belly of the beast - as many who write online do - but feels it a bit much.

He went through some public agonizing a while back, quit, came back, quit again, left his site up (but just sitting there) for five, six weeks without posting and then just started up again, but without actually writing anything, just cut-and-pasting cross references(!).

I don't care. He gets it in a way very few do. Dig through his archives and find the economic analyses- he rivals Krugman, but is not limited by column length or ties to the Gray Lady. Beyond that, when he writes, he has a way with words that kicks all our asses.

Who are we then to hold his anguish against him. Why else do any of us do this? It's an outlet, just as the Cunning Realist alleges in this also very well written piece that all lefty bloggers should read for lots of different reasons.

So that's part of the spectrum and part of the culture. And damn if I could take it either being that close to the Horror.



Cheers, y'all.

-swift.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

An Imposed Dearth of Responsibility

The Right wing, with their many canards and joyous offensiveness, love to pick on liberals for what they call our "Blame me first" approach to social issues.

What the right wingers really want is the freedom to act without any accountability. Any consequences their actions have for others are the problem of those who have the problems. Likewise the unfortunate get the blame: for being less fortunate, for being in the way, for being a rebuke to the pure society of dominance, power and obedience craved by our craven leadership.

The suffering of the downtrodden gets in the way of these fever dreams. It is an inconvenient fact, and one that is dangerous to their ideology of power.

Suffering, whether by someone living in the toxic industrial swamps of Lousiana or Bangalore, or the war zones of East St. Louis or Mosul, is something that elicits empathy in the human heart.

---

It is no coincidence that the initiation ritual of the Skull and Bones (TM) revovles around forcing a sexual identification with shame and death. The void for these men becomes a source of political power because they, by identifying with it (a malignant and viscious interpretation of it, anyway) they see when and how others try to avoid existential conflicts and then maneuver to dominate choices or create conflicts of identity vis-a-vis their opponents' relation to their existential denial.

This, then, is why leaders such as MLK, Malcolm X and Bobby Kennedy meet violent deaths. They are resistant to these forms of coercion.

---

What we can do is to look directly at the suffering of others. This in itself is a subversive act in a society ruled by dominance and power.

When we can speak clearly and directly about suffering, then, this can create circumstancees conducive to social change.

Finding people who can do so, however, can be hard when many leaders of the political opposition are seriously intertwined with the very causes of the suffering that need to be called out into the light.

Coming soon: The modern mind and death terror, Terry Schiavo and Baghdad.

Late note: It seems Digby was having at least somewhat similar thoughts this morning. In any case, please visit this superior blogger if you do not already.

First Steps

Who wants to focus on the void?

Why would we do such a thing?

It is honest.

Our lives are idexes of our honesty. Certainly it is uncomfortable to contemplate the ways in which our lives are meaningless, (and I of course strongly discourage Nihilism as a philosophical choice) but there are repercussions to such avoidance.

---

Let me first cut to the chase and suggest that one accomplishable goal would be that by balancing the horrific, the beautiful, the ambiguous and the contradictory aspects of life we become more aware of the profound and mysterious aspects of our lives that are in fact all around us.

This kind of aesthetic and philosophical sensiblility is not easily compatable with societal compromises and abitions, of course, but niether are they mutually exclusive. One must simply accept that to live in such an idealistic way is hard work.

---

If we run from this challenge, however, and accept the ready "truths" of dogmatic religion or live instead for glib materialism and historic significance, then we are hiding from ourselves those questions we have no good answer for. In this way, fear grows in our subconscious minds and we at critical times act in ways we do not understand our own motivations for.

Yes, it is like being hit in the face with a big red rubber ball (for all you Huckabee's fans), but by god, it's better than living the only life we've got hiding from shadows.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Red Lake

I have never much cared for the collective wringing of hands that follows horrible tragedies. For that matter I have never much cared for how our society mourns in general.

This kind of thing in particular, this horrible, senseless tragedy, shines a light on our societal shortcomings when it comes to dealing with grief.

I'm not sure if it's Buddhist past life heritage or a particular twist on my internalization of Catholic Catechism, but for whatever reason, I have alwaysfound it easy to have empathy for a person who has committed terrible acts.

A few years ago, shortly after the rash of school shootings had subsided, I got to see a PBS Frontline about Kip Kinkel (sp?) the Suburban Oregon teen who shot up his school.

I had thought then (and still think now) that the driving force for these shootings, rural, suburban, on the res (not so many in the big bad cities...), what have you, is just the void. Adolescents are so open to the bleakness possible in life, and so many of the rest of us build our lives around not seeing that bleakness.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Mostly Terrifying

Where do we go from here?

If we assume that James Wolcott has called it aright (and in truth I think there are many of us who have had similar feelings), what can we expect? What choices will we face?

This has always been a hypothetical question. “What if the fall of empire were to happen today?” A science fiction question. So let’s look to the sci-fi authors for some input.

David Brin wrote a wonderful little book called The Postman, (which should not be judged for having been dragged through the muck by Kevin Costner at his worst) in which the biggest concern are neo-feudalist survivalists. This book is both quaintly dated and eerily prescient in many ways. For our circumstances, though, I don’t expect a Fall would be so complete or explicit today, for reasons I will discuss shortly.

Margaret Atwood’s latest, Oryx and Crake, is much more important for today’s concerned reader. While making liberal use of novelistic conventions to foreshorten time’s passage, she still manages to convey an all-too-plausible misc en scene for the decline and fall of Western Civilization. Not that she has advice for us, mind you. It’s doomsday out there, and damn the torpedoes.

Another recommendation, a bit more off the beaten track, is Outlaw School, by Rebecca Ore, who manages to give a searing warning of the potentials of modern social extremism without actually ever mentioning religion. This is a truly relevant book for 2005 (it was written a few years ago). Keep working, whatever happens, she shows us, and things will come of it, even if only indirectly.

But what if we take some time to imagine a future for ourselves? Preliminary observations about our current and future circumstances are mostly terrifying, but let’s get to details.

We can, for instance, safely conclude that the credit and banking industries will squeeze the middle class ruthlessly, given the new bankruptcy laws. Yet there will yet be those who manage to hold on. Importantly, there is no small incentive for the insurance and mortgage sectors of the financial industries to maintain at least some vestigial middle class.

As many have noted, the crisis of the middle class is now one of emergency cash expenditures, mostly health are related. In this way the radical right’s emphasis on religion becomes self-fulfilling: those who have a social support network to turn to will avoid poverty. Those who do not, or whose extended family groupings have to face multiple crises, will become service-industry statistics.

(There is some question in my mind about private banks appearing on the scene who give preferential treatment to Christians, especially in the mortgage sector, but I have not seen this yet. What I have seen are indications that a separate micro-economic community based on evangelical membership is emerging. This would be something to pay some attention to with regards to other potential forms of social exclusion.)

In any case, those who maintain their place in the bourgois classes will be much more fully beset by difficulties (indeed, peril), and thoroughly saturated by messages tying financial solvency to relative moral worth and codes of political conduct.

It is a given that the only segment of the middle class that matters in today’s political calculations are those who consent to the ruling agenda. As well, we can easily see and foresee how the dying demographic of the middle class liberal will be made less and less a factor in over-all political calculations. In the intermediate term, though, there are many middle class liberals waiting to be bled dry.

Damn it sucks to be a boomer.

(I maintain several iotas of optimism regarding the Dean insurgency, of course, but that gets us to the media wars, which I will write on soon.)

Better minds than mine have noted that the value/stability of mortgages and property values constitute economic indices that are both very important and very threatened.

What I expect is the development of a new class of financial instruments that allow people to continue living in houses that are somehow more fully not theirs.

Furthermore, I have faith that in the self-preservation instinct of the elite and their managerial class, it will be widely acknowledged that change which is penetrating and internal is far more stable than change which is dramatic and external. The question now is how much pressure will be brought from outside actors.

Given the suicide commando combination of our current foreign policy theory and fiscal policy, it is easy to wonder if our financial institutions will get the chance to play out their hand.

The alternative would have to be quite dire, and yet a full scale collapse does not yet seem plausible all the same.

Go read Margaret Atwood and Rebecca Ore. You tell me how plausible their scenarios sound.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The setting:

Ready to invade someone, anyone, the blitzkrieg blunderers stake their spot like thirteen year old rowdies with no bigger kids anywhere to be seen.

Old battlescarred players shift around purposefully. Eyes meet, agreements are proposed (some quietly made.)

Rumblings can be heard from deep in the very ground. Storms blow fitfully, dissipate, blow again. Rumours in the wind seem to imply that some animals are considering new migratory paths. Many stop to mourn those who cannot change theirs, and may well be doomed.

We, the persistently knowing faithful reach out to one another. We are scattered but unbowed. Though tired and poor, yet we are resourceful and determined.

Our persistent clarity elicits great huffing and puffing diversions from the Wurlitzer's mighty lackeys.


Open mic, cast...

Check one. Check check.

When in Rome be ready to fiddle, burn or dance. Run if necessary and remember not to fight City Hall, if at all avoidable.

Sibilance, sibilance. Check.