All The News That's UN-fit To Print

From Matt Taibbi

It's our fault. We in the media have spent decades turning the news into a consumer business that's basically indistinguishable from selling cheeseburgers or video games. You want bigger margins, you just cram the product full of more fat and sugar and violence and wait for your obese, over-stimulated customer to come waddling forth.
When you make the news into this kind of consumer business, pretty soon audiences lose the ability to distinguish between what they think they're doing, informing themselves, and what they're actually doing, shopping.



Putting the "IS" in ISIS

I just wanted to bookmark this site which critiques the Atlantic article about What Isis Really Wants.

Interpretation. Every useful insight Wood has about end-times prophecy or the Caliphate is compatible with the more common scholarly view that ISIS’s version of Islam is one interpretation among many. One writer who strikes that balance well is Hussein Ibish. As he said in an interview:
Neither is ISIS authentically Islamic, nor is it in any meaningful sense not Islamic. It is a bizarre interpretation of Islam yoked to a political agenda which is very modern. If we just stop fretting about the relationship of ISIS to the religious base of its ideology and accept that it’s a bunch of extremists who come out of a tradition that they manipulate to justify their crimes and their ambitions, it’s not so complicated.


Personal Bookmark

My Personal Bookmark of another thing to remember

 "In my schoolboy days I had no aversion to slavery. I was not aware that there was anything wrong about it. No one arraigned it in my hearing; the local papers said nothing against it; the local pulpit taught us that God approved it, that it was a holy thing, and that the doubter need only look in the Bible if he wished to settle his mind — and then the texts were read aloud to us to make the matter sure; if the slaves themselves had an aversion to slavery they were wise and said nothing."

 "There was, however, one small incident of my boyhood days which touched this matter, and it must have meant a good deal to me or it would not have stayed in my memory, clear and sharp, vivid and shadowless, all these slow-drifting years. We had a little slave boy whom we had hired from some one, there in Hannibal. He was from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and had been brought away from his family and his friends, half way across the American continent, and sold. He was a cheery spirit, innocent and gentle, and the noisiest creature that ever was, perhaps. All day long he was singing, whistling, yelling, whooping, laughing — it was maddening, devastating, unendurable. At last, one day, I lost all my temper, and went raging to my mother, and said Sandy had been singing for an hour without a single break, and I couldn’t stand it, and wouldn’t she please shut him up. The tears came into her eyes, and her lip trembled, and she said something like this— “Poor thing, when he sings, it shows that he is not remembering, and that comforts me; but when he is still, I am afraid he is thinking, and I cannot bear it. He will never see his mother again; if he can sing, I must not hinder it, but be thankful for it. If you were older, you would understand me; then that friendless child’s noise would make you glad.” It was a simple speech, and made up of small words, but it went home, and Sandy’s noise was not a trouble to me any more. She never used large words, but she had a natural gift for making small ones do effective work. She lived to reach the neighborhood of ninety years, and was capable with her tongue to the last — especially when a meanness or an injustice roused her spirit."
-The Autobiography of Mark Twain



Explaining the Un-explainable

I just had to note this...I don't understand the science of it but somehow it makes sense to me. He is writing how Einstein's realization on the nature of relativity explained the previously UN-explainable orbit of Mercury (who knew? Not me.)

In other words, in that November hour one hundred years ago when Mercury dropped out of his math, he alone of all humankind knew the universe was not what it had seemed for centuries. That’s the reason his moorings snapped, however briefly. As he later wrote, to do such work, one feels “akin to…the religious worshipper or the lover; the daily effort does not originate from a deliberate intention or program, but straight from the heart.”



I Had A Dream!!

I had a dream like night. Somebody was doing some Kotekaishi on me.

It has been way over a year since I last practiced Aikido.


Thought of the Day: Stop NOW!

(A painting from 1979 - the last time I really tried)

OK, next weekend I am taking a 3 day class on Plein Air painting. I have not really applied myself to painting since just after high school over 35 years ago. So what am I thinking here? I know my talents are not going to be suddenly recognized and rewarded by national or local acclaim. I will likely produce nothing anybody but myself might enjoy. What is the end game? What's the point?

But then again why do anything since for the most part all of our lives and life histories, while interesting, are completely transitory, ephemeral?...all record of it will ultimately evaporate sooner than we would wish (who was that daverush/zeppomanx guy anyway?).

I was pondering this on the drive home today and the notion struck me that the “reason” you do anything is not for the product or effect, but for THAT MOMENT when you actually DO something.

The moment you look at the tree and apply paint to the canvas
The moment you look across at somebody and listen then talk with them
The moment you practice Aikido and give in to the movement and go for koshinage

Think of Van Gogh. Never acknowledged at the time. What good did it do him then that his painting now cost millions? At the time he was painting, all he was doing was giving in to the moment and applying the paint.

So that is what I am thinking, screw the product...live in the moment and look at the hill and apply the paint.

.   .   .   .   .   

I suppose a critique of my idea above may be that my example contradicts the point of the post. First off, I am positive I am no Van Gogh, AND my point is for Vincent he could not know of his posthumous fame and acclaim. Posterity and myself may adore and praise his paintings now but it could have gone another way and his works might have been lost to art history.

 .    .    .    .    .

This way of thought runs counter to our current celebrity culture where being famous and rich IS the point or at least the justly deserved reward of doing stuff


It makes you think! (or does it?)

The Internet threatens final confirmation of Adorno and Horkheimer’s dictum that the culture industry allows the “freedom to choose what is always the same.”


 I may be turning into a grumpy old man, but sometimes I think all the cool gadgets (I admit I like gadgets) are ultimately not that special.

For instance, the more recent hype about the new iPhone. I mean I know it is more modern, has more stuff...but in a fundamental way it is still like my old Blackberry. Or even an older cell phone.

In fact the whole mobile gadget universe is from a human behavior level the same, in that the whole point is to make you NOT look around at the world you are actually living in. Instead, head bowed as in prayer, look not to the left or right or within yourself. But peer through this portable looking glass.

A twist on the Socratic dictum is "Distract Thyself"

. . . . . . . . . .

Oh for the days we it was cool to be able to quote from Freudian Marxists. 


The End Is Nigh, maybe

In case you didn't know, the world is supposed to end, or there will be a total economic collapse in two weeks.

There is a religious rumor and also a claim that there is a two mile comet that will collide with earth on the 23,

Anyway here is a site that has skeptically collected a list of different apocalyptic scenarios.


From that blog we have...

Let’s start with what’s being predicted for September 23, 2015 – and for September 2015 in general. According to various conspiracy, prophecy, and prepping websites, the following things will happen on the date itself:
• Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.
• President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis at the White House. Of note is that Francis is the 266th Pope, September 23 is the 266th day of the year, and the average length of human gestation is 266 days.
• The Autumnal Equinox.
• The First day of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, also known as “the Feast of the Sacrifice.”
If you add in days either just before or just after 9/23/15, you also get a number of apocalyptic events:
• A range of dates that Comet 67P is scheduled to make an extremely close passage of Earth, September 15-28.
• The September restart of the CERN Large Hadron Collider will open a portal to another dimension.
• The end of Jade Helm 15 on September 15.
• The September 25th launch of a new UN initiative, Agenda 2030, which signals the end stage of Agenda 21 implementation.
• The date of the last of the “Four Blood Moons” heralding the End Times, on September 28.
• The approximate date of predicted economic collapse.
• The end of a Shemitah year in the Jewish Calendar, the last year of the seven year agricultural cycle, that traditionally brings with it great tribulation.
All of these events have been prophesied to form a combination that will bring on the End Times. What are the sources of these predictions?
• The obvious confluence of the three major world religions on September 23.
• Biblical prophecy, specifically the “Four Blood Moons” prophecy.
• The End Times prophecy of Sir Isaac Newton.
• A dire warning from French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who claimed on May 13, 2014 that we have “500 days to avoid climate chaos.” 500 days after May 13, 2014 is September 24, 2015.
• Prophetic dreams and visions by people attuned to such things.


Isn't it odd that...

Isn't it odd that many of the same people who will not accept Global Warming as a danger, at the same time really believe the world as we know it will end with a rapture and tribulation with millions killed while the dead rise from the grave to preside over a 1,000 year rule with Jesus...

Anyway, it is odd what some minds find unreasonable and even stranger what those same minds find reasonable.


Remember this...

 Note to self:

Parker Palmer observed in his magnificent commencement address that

violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering.”


Encounter a Poem

We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.

And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.

That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

O my love, where are they, where are they going
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.

- Czeslaw Milosz


Brain Power

I started reading "Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change " which lead me to "Emotional Brain" where a reviewer on amazon listed these as similar and good books

1. Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, by Antonio Damasio
2. The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language, by Steven Pinker
3. Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind, by V. S. Ramachandran, Sandra Blakeslee
4. Nature's Mind: The Biological Roots of Thinking, Emotions, Sexuality, Language, and Intelligence, by Michael Gazzaniga
5. How Brains Think: Evolving Intelligences, Then & Now, by William H. Calvin

I just wanted to remember these titles


The Non-voting World

from Tomorrow's Song by Gary Snyder

The USA slowly lost its mandate
in the middle and later twentieth century
it never gave the mountains and rivers,
                   trees and animals,
                           a vote.
all the people turned away from it
myths die; even continents are impermanent



The Anti-Don Draper Story

I have slowing been scanning the nearly 1000 35mm slides my father took throughout his slide taking career. And in one sense these from the 250 slide marker are less emotionally rewarding. The 1964 trip to California took us by the Grand Canyon there there are dozens of landscape pictures. But what is the most fun is pictures of people, maybe in funny costumes. But I am sure at the time my dad felt it important to take pictures of these majestic rock formations.

But I am struck by the the picture above. I think it is packed full of meaning, both personal and sociological.

From 1964, my dad is taking a picture of his family where my mother taking a picture of the two children, posed in front of a natural wonder that took millions of years to develop.

I am certain my father did not appreciate the "meta" aspect of him capturing my mother taking this picture. But in a simpler consideration it is one of the few really natural pictures there is of our family. Even though my mother staged it, the fact that he is taking a picture of the setup is very cool.

You plop two baby boomer kids in front of sight with a geologic scale, and a picture of a picture by a couple who rode the post WWII economic wave yet both came from inauspicious economic upbringing.

That is the basis for mutli-genarational novel or the measuring stick of a mid century sociology text.


The Practice of Standards

I watched the pilot episode of Mr. Robot and really liked it. It scratches an entertainment itch that rarely gets attention.

So, I'm digging it but there is a part where Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) is talking to the main character Elliot about the nature of money and says

“Money hasn't been real since we got off the gold standard. It's become virtual.”

The point being modern business is built on something that is “UN-real”. And as much as I like the show, I'm calling bullshit on this point. Mainly because it buys into a knee jerk libertarian talking point. That money “meant something” when we were on the gold standard and now it is all messed up and any moment we will be using wheelbarrows of money to buy a loaf of bread.

Two things, the moment you start using paper money all of business is dealing with “virtual” money. It is just paper. Very nicely printed paper, but it is is virtual representation of something of value. It IS NOT REAL, and never was.

But more importantly, even if everyone walked around with gold coins in their pockets and we only bought and paid with gold, that too is not real.

WHY is gold considered, well, the gold standard? It is only because a bunch of people decided “Hey, we value gold and want some more”. Gold is just a metal that by itself does nothing. It is horrible for tools or weapons. And really for all the gold jewelery in the world, they are only worth something because a bunch of people decided it looked nice. But looking nice doesn't increase crop yield or bring rain when there is a drought, or stop rain when there are floods.

Gold is only of value because of desire. The desire for gold has caused oceans of blood to be spilled and killed millions of people. Continents were crossed and civilizations were destroyed just because people decided “I think gold is important”.

So back to using the gold standard, in 1860 why would a human being be accurately worth $800 or at the same time a months rent was $4? Or anything?  It is just because people decided on those numbers and used them. Supply and demand is just about desire, NOT about real value. Money is desire, and desire has no stable gold standard, desire always wants more. So even if we were on a gold standard or non-gold standard, it is all just a way for people to place a dollar amount on human emotions and desires.

The universe did not start like a board game where bits of gold were passed out to everybody and the rule book assigned them a value. So please, for the love of God, stop thinking of the gold standard as anything approaching a "real" and stable way to think about life.


Change Systems

Last fall after a System update to my 2012 Nexus 7 tablet, it was un-usable ever after. And there was no good way to downgrade.

To try and find some use for this tablet coaster, this week I installed Ubuntu touch on it.  BUT that was never really developed for that model so it was VERY beta, and only slightly better than the lag-ey tablet it had become.

For the record this was the most helpful for installing Ubuntu Touch on the Nexus 7 from an Ubuntu machine, after I rooted it from my windows machine


However when I first started the Ubuntu tablet adventure I ended up using Windows to install the Skipsoft Android Toolkit on my Windows laptop. Which I found to be a very easy way to unlock and root a Nexus 7 tablet.

So After the Ubuntu touch tablet fail I looked for a way to install a working Android OS back on the tablet. Here is how I had to restore to a more primitive Android OS

Even though was able to use the Windows software to root my Nexus 7 I had to use an Ubuntu OS to install the Ubuntu touch on the tablet. And I also found that to put it back to Android it was dependent on having a Ubuntu boot OS, for the Android OS re-install.

In this video, it will show how to Return your Google Nexus 7 to Stock Android (thus uninstalling Ubuntu Linux).

You will need to go and download the Stock Android image from the following website:

Image will download into the downloads folder. Go to the Downloads folder, and extract the files to the same directory, and then run the following commands on your Ubuntu Terminal:

1-) cd nakasi-jzo54k (make sure you get the right file name)
2-) sudo ./flash-all.sh

Watch the show, and you will be done in less than 5 minutes. 

So it is pretty weird that a company would force a download on a tablet that made it useless. AND made it impossible to downgrade.

So the work around is to "root" the device which is kind of hacking it, AND then to get one of their old images and set it back to a more simple OS. AND then you have to install "Disable Service" to stop any automatic ystem upgrades


It's 4 AM, what's on your mind?

I woke up at 4:00 AM this morning and starting thinking.

Accept these suppositions.

All structures or organizations, whether political, economic, religious, social, are man made and somewhat arbitrary. It is only because of the vagaries of cultural streams and accidental occurrences that cause them to the coalesce and form as the mass of humanity moves through time and space.

Kind of like the cartoon view of Chaos theory, where random events, or purposeful events with unintended consequences, affect a million other events. And suddenly we have a world with terrorists, crazy politicians, self righteous billionaires on TV yelling about how paying people below a working wage is better for them that being able to pay their bills. Something like that.

Beyond noticing how self serving, self deceptive and hypocritical politicians and billionaires are, the supposition implies all that could change. But probably these cultural streams will simply move in a different direction and we humans will be carried along in the torrent frantically grasping for floating debris to keep us afloat.

That is what I think of when I wake up at 4:00 AM. And the is pretty much the first thing that came to mind. Now that I read this, there may be a reason I could never go back to sleep.



This is not to say there may not be realities that come to bear on these man made constructions. Much like the idea of Mathematics as a human invention, as is revealed at certain crucial points (e.g. in why -1 x -1 = 1) , BUT if it did not work in the physical world of engineering we would not be using it nearly as much. And I guess that is were the arguments might start...but unfortunately the world of of human structures is much more open to interpretation of what "works" as compared to engineering. 7:00 AM


Note to Self - Remember this

Where "Values" Come From

I remember this from a few years ago and wanted to pin it down while I remember it. It is from an All in with Chris Hayes with Chris Mooney and  Haidt who, while having slightly different conclusions both agreed on camera that people decide first what to believe and then find the evidence to support it.

And a forum that articulated it well...
As the host explains, we don't reason in the way that we to tend to believe that we do.  We arrive at conclusions through values and intuition, then use reason to construct a rationale.



Habits or No Mind?

Observation 1:

There is a school of thought that, in order to live a fulfilled life, we humans just need to replace our bad habits with good habits and “BLAMMO” we are set for success. A pretty good introduction to this is The Book of Habit. His theory is our conscious mind does not determine how we live, rather it is our habits. And since we are driven by habits, we should find a way to harness them to our advantage. He shows how our behavior is usually determined by a simple stimulus-reaction- reward process and he proposes recognizing this and finding ways of accepting the stimulus but change the reaction and end up being rewarded with a more healthy or profitable reward. So a new beneficial habit replaces the tragic habit.

I see these poor lifestyle habits in myself, I can say I want to change something but I just can't seem to do it. Of course if someone has “good” habits they attribute their success to pure will power, but I don't buy it. At least not completely.

Observation 2:

Somewhere, some time, I read about an Aikido master who said something to the effect...”For the advanced Martial Artist getting rid of bad habits is easy, the difficult part is to eliminate GOOD habits”. Which if you know something about Aikido it makes sense. The idea is to use the most appropriate technique for the given situation. So even if you have a gift for koshi nage or iriminage and can usually make them work (especially at the dojo where uke is learning how to go with the flow ), those cool throws may not have actually been the most appropriate.

Observation 3:

I've been reading Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki...

A mind full of preconceived ideas, subjective intentions, or habits is not open to things as they are.

To be quite natural to ourselves, and also to follow what others say or do in the most appropriate way, is quite difficult....Zen is not some fancy, special art of living. Our teaching is just to live, always in reality, in its exact sense. Pg 88


Sooooooooooooooo....One thing is, what if some theoretical person is doing quite well with their good habits and is very successful . Does it matter if they are actually driven by really empowering results of societal behavioral modification? Or if they are very committed, satisfied self righteous jerks? Or even committed, self righteous non jerks. Point being, they are driven by habits and not by a free, unfettered mind.

If it works for them they would look at me and say I was the one living  a lie.

I think part of the answer, such as it is, is that most people simply never doubt themselves, the world, or anything. They have grown up accepting their worldview and that is pretty much it. But for some reason I just can't shake this gnawing felling that “the world” is simply not what we are told it is. And I seem to catch glimpses of “realness” in the oddest of places. In some random drawing, a photograph, a well executed irimi-nage, a shadow on the porch. Or a quiet half hour on a cushion.

But, maybe I am wrong on all counts and I am chasing my own shadow and foolishly asking it questions.


podría might be hard to understand


First-person singular (yo) conditional form of poder.
Formal second-person singular (usted) conditional form of poder.
Third-person singular (él, ella, also used with usted?) conditional form of poder.

yo podría
el podría


More lost words, now found

¿cuánto tomará?

How long (will it take)


Español Otra Vez

I am trying out another Spanish language path.This time the free version of the online service Memrise.

 I started at the very beginning so I am moving along the real beginner stuff pretty quickly. I like the format, but I am not sure how effective it is but as I get further along maybe I will be pleased. I hope so.

Here are some simple words I didn't know or had forgotten.

duele hurts
enojado angry
gracioso funny


Just Sitting

So I'm on life version 3.0, 4.2, 54.2 or maybe 0.0. Anyway the first week of trying to change habits and find a way of a healthier life...but a way that I can do. To that end on Monday and Tuesday I rode to the lake and was pretty pooped, pretty quickly. Today it was cool and I rode around the lake which is about 10 miles.

Along those lines, tonight I returned to the Maria Kannon Zen Center for an hour and a half of Just Sitting. 90 minutes of no purpose, no nothing...just sitting and breathing.

So if I can get my body in a good place and my mind in a good “no place”....maybe I will be well enough to try Aikido again.

But now I will try to “Just Sleep”


Book Review to Keep This Blog Alive

The SamuraiThe Samurai by Shūsaku Endō
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aside from talking about cultural differences regarding how individuals relate to their community, there are many similar feelings expressed in this novel as in Deep River, but I like how following an (apparently) real historical story provided some boundaries for the theology.

I do think the crux of the book springs a theological consideration. Something like it is a big, big world and you cannot count on nations, tribes, churches or even the man next to you to not betray you. BUT for Endo there is always the emaciated, suffering Christ who hears your prayers, even if he cannot, or will not change your fate.

I found a snippet on the Internet where in an Interview Endo sympathizes with the Apostle Paul over the other Apostles.

Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

And I that is a key point for the Samurai, he cannot grasp why people revere this loser. So after hearing the highlights of Jesus' life we read...

The samurai could not understand how a man like Velasco could believe a story so palpaly absurd. Pg 173

But by the end of the book he and his and his fellow envoy totally lost “Faith” in the local Lord their patron, the council of elders for which they previously would have given their life.

'The world was very wide. But I can no longer believe in people' that is what Nishi Kyusuke had said...pg 238

When questioning the renegade Japanese monk about his belief in Jesus...

“I can believe in Him now...because He was ugly and emaciated....He could not close His eyes to the grief and agony of mankind. That is what made him emaciated and ugly. Had he lived an exalted powerful life beyond our grasp, I would not feel like this about Him.” pg 220

Even if the Samurai never really accepted Christianity, by the end of his life, once everything had been stripped away from him and those in authority he once trusted betrayed him...he at least understood.

And there is also a less clearly stated notions of what living is really all about anyway. Except at the very end.

“Finally from within the white smoke which enveloped Velasco's stake, a single cry rang out.
'I...have lived...!'” pg 267

Of course Endo's view of Christianity is at odds which many churches of today, and actually even the Catholic Church of his own time. 

View all my reviews


and to love is to live to the fullest

To paint is to love again, and to love is to live to the fullest. But what kind of love, what sort of life can one hope to find in a vacuum cluttered with every conceivable gadget, every conceivable money maker, every last comfort, every useless luxury? To live and love, and to give expression to it in paint, one must also be a true believer. There must be something to worship. Where in this broad land is the Holy of Holies hidden? - Henry Miller

And this

No matter what you touch and you wish to know about, you end up in a sea of mystery. You see there’s no beginning or end, you can go back as far as you want, forward as far as you want, but you never got to it, it’s like the essence, it’s that right, it remains. This is the greatest damn thing about the universe. That we can know so much, recognize so much, dissect, do everything, and we can’t grasp it. And it’s meant to be that way, do y’know. And there’s where our reverence should come in. Before everything, the littlest thing as well as the greatest. The tiniest, the horseshit, as well as the angels, do y’know what I mean. It’s all mystery. All impenetrable, as it were, right?