A Room of My Own – Emilio DeGrazia

Whenever the house gets messy enough I like to retreat to a favorite little space where I hope everyone will just let me be. There, in that small room, I find some quiet ways to come to terms with all the messy troubles in the world. I’m suspicious of the way the word spiritual is used, so I tell myself it’s where I make my separate peace.

In that room there’s a window looking out. So I also call it a room with a view.

That window is small enough to provide me some dense impressions of how human beings tend to behave. Yesterday, after turning off the TV news and its steady stream of talk about wars and the horror potential of four-hour erections, I imagined myself somewhere in the Mideast right after a fellow named Jesus, like many others, was crucified. The region I’m in is teeming with religious cults, rituals, prophets, seers, and devotees. Some of these cults come from Persia and beyond, others from what we now call Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, and beyond. And all these cults compete for attention with the devotees of the various Greek and Roman deities.

The region is, religiously speaking, untidy, and messy if we disapprove. The Romans, who rule the scene, think it best to let people believe what they want as long as they pay their taxes and behave. A few of the Roman emperors think of themselves as gods, but because there are so many gods all around the emperors secretly know they’re not the only ones in a crowded field of minor league god-players.

Anybody with teenagers in the house knows this much: Untidiness gets on the nerves. So many cults, so many deities, so many important things to believe, this way or that. The urge for neatness kicks in, for the sake of order and clarity and purity. Throw a bunch of stuff out, finally. Get rid of all the cults and gods that clutter the temples, streets and minds. Get back to basics, the god I like.

So polytheism officially lost out, and the great monotheistic religions took over. The woman devoted to chastity no longer has her own special goddess, Artemis, to call her own, and the drunken lecher no longer calls on Bacchus to juice him up. The Gnostics, who believe themselves in the special know about most things divine, have to join the Roman church or play dumb, and the Manichaens, with their rival kingdoms of evil and good, become just one more designated minority heretic group. The One God, Jewish, Christian, and eventually, Muslim too, becomes the acceptable, invariable and eventually required only God.

So why don’t we get along? Why all the trouble and fuss in the Mideast and here at home? The troubles are not just about oil and jobs. They’re also about dignity and belief and the right to believe and be left alone to get on with the daily chores of life. Trapped by these troubles are ordinary and reasonable people who want zealot politicians and preachers to go mum for a change. These good folk don’t like others trying to mind their spiritual business.

The monotheistic leaders agree that they all worship the same God. one, absolute, an invariable. Meanwhile, the other invariables persist – the chaste woman, the lecherous drunk, the mystic knower, the saint who thinks he’s living in a black and white, evil and good, world with other believers who look at all things spirituality, morality, abortion, gay marriage, big corporations, and religion’s role in politics this way and that.

But now there are not countless sacred cults to choose from and to find comfort and community in. So here we are, stuck either inside the umbrella, or somewhere outside. If we’re inside the One God umbrella it’s easy to take potshots at everyone outside, and vice versa.

Things get much worse when those inside the umbrella multiply and divide. Then they begin taking potshots at each other too. Various types of Catholics and Protestants come to mind, and Sunni and Shia, with many local variations. Things get much worse when the uncivil comments the zealots hurl at each other turn into civil wars. While people stuck in civil wars crucify each other, they also live in the same town, and sometimes next door.

There’s usually no backing down, especially when zealots begin making speeches and when the basic response that results from thinking of the world as good and evil gets on the roll called revenge. You killed my son? Then I’ll rape your daughter. That kind of thing.

And when there’s no Rome to collect taxes and keep the calm, that is, when people require government to take only one side, things are likely to get worse.

It makes a lot of people wonder where they can find a decent cult to join. They’d probably do much better by clearing space for a little room of their own, but please, everyone, don’t bring your messes into my little room.

Seen On A Newsgroup-Why the Metadata the NSA Has on You Matters

Seen On A Newsgroup…

Why the Metadata the NSA Has on You Matters
http://gizmodo.com/why-the-metadata-the-nsa-has-on-you-matters-512103968

From the article:

They know you rang a phone sex service at 2:24 am and spoke for 18 minutes.
But they don’t know what you talked about.

They know you called the suicide prevention hotline from the Golden Gate Bridge. But the topic of the call remains a secret.

They know you spoke with an HIV testing service, then your doctor, then your health insurance company in the same hour.
But they don’t know what was discussed.

They know you called a gynecologist, spoke for a half hour, and then called the local Planned Parenthood’s number later that day.
But nobody knows what you spoke about.

Maybe if they hired some engineers they could figure it out.
Spending a couple more billion in the process.<g>

Speaking of which, I hear a lot of yelling about the costs of
state medicine, but not a peep from the “opposition” about the costs of snooping.

Maybe the money spent saving a life from a “terrorist attack” would be better spent, saving thousands on thousands of lives, on an effective health policy.

I’m probably biased …

Drought Map for June 4th 2013

There’ll always be an England…

“A parrot owner was given £2,200 in compensation after a low-flying RAF plane caused his feathered friend to drop dead.

parrot-playing-dead

The pet bird was terrified by the noise when the Hercules transport aircraft roared over its owner’s house.

parrot-peg-leg-on-crutch-pirate theme-small-edgedIts death in Ayrshire followed a similar incident where a low-flying plane caused a parrot to fall off its perch and break both its legs. Military chiefs agreed to cover vet bills – including two splints.”

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/parrot-owner-given-2200-after-1928036

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vuW6tQ0218

Dorion Sagan: Why Are We Here?

in SALON 20130603
Excerpted from “Cosmic Apprentice: Dispatches From the Edges of Science”

Dorian SaganWhy are we here? Might this all just be a big fluke? Even if evolution is, as Arthur Koestler said, like an “epic recited by a stutterer,” what is the plot? It seemed like God had a good idea, but then he got sidetracked. Where is he going with this thing?

I believe the writer Kurt Vonnegut touched on the heart of this question. Before a full house of mostly women at Smith College, he first drew a chart that graphed stories. On the X axis he drew time, on the Y happiness. By making a line, he showed, he could map any human story. Goldilocks and the Three Bears started off with a jump when she found the house in the woods, it moved higher like a stock as she saw the table place set for her, then higher again as she found her warm bed, before plummeting when the bears came home. The Garden of Eden started off very high, plummeted down, and then flatlined. Vonnegut used a big sheet of paper to mock scientific reductionism and social science in particular. Most stories weren’t so clear-cut or geometric; they were more squiggly.

Then he told about his own days. They often started, he said, despite protests from his wife, who thought he could use his time more wisely, in taking a leisurely walk to the post office to mail a single letter. At the post office he bought a single stamp from the pretty teller. They smiled and he slid her the envelope. Nothing would ever happen, he admitted. But still, that was not his point.

What was it?

“I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.”

read more HERE

Every Photographer Has An OH SHIT Moment

hat tip gawker, where it runs as a great big gif… this here’s a much smaller file size mp4

Betty Carlson & Francis Jensen Wedding 1941

I think RHH took the film; Everett Lindquist dubbed it onto VHS. Wish I had the original 8mm film cuz I think I could do better. But it is nice to have something, anyway, from 70+ years ago.