There could be a wee problem here…

but no doubt our overlords are on it…

[NYTimes] Thomas Pikettys new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, described by one French newspaper as a a political and theoretical bulldozer, defies left and right orthodoxy by arguing that worsening inequality is an inevitable outcome of free market capitalism.

Piketty, a professor at the Paris School of Economics, does not stop there. He contends that capitalisms inherent dynamic propels powerful forces that threaten democratic societies.

Gene McCarthy Talks To Marc Chagall

When I met Marc Chagall
I asked him first of all
whether he had ever seen
in life or in a dream
a cow just sitting down
He said that he had seen
cows both blue and green
and also that he knew
cows that danced and cows that flew
but that he had never seen
in life of in a dream
a cow just sitting down

(Gene McCarthy, at his 1780’s farmhouse Rappahannock Co. Virginia)

Gene McCarthy, Selected Poems p.20
Lone Oak Press, 1997

What Good People Want To Be When They Grow Up

Emilio DeGrazia  emilio-degrazia head shot 20130907-120x116-edged
When one’s vocabulary shrinks to one word––“No!”––the mind trains the body to perform sick tricks. While sitting on their hands the anti-government slugs have taught themselves to point a finger of blame all around. This finger has yet to develop the flexibility enabling it to turn itself around.
There’s more good news for them to complain about. College students prefer to work in government. In a survey of recent college grads, conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, students expecting to graduate with B.A. degrees by the end of 2013 chose government work as their top choice, with human services, education, and social services their next highest preferences. Far below in their rankings were careers in finance, retail trade, computer and electronic manufacturing, other manufacturing, and oil and gas extraction.
We told you so, is what the nay-saying fickle finger must be telling itself. Government is bad, and this generation of college students has turned out bad because of it. Their schools and teachers are also bad, because when children go to schools where cooperation and self-esteem are taught they want to make a career out of what they’ve learned. A generation of young people who care so deeply about government, human services, education, and social services that they actually want to get paid for doing things like that must be suffering from the morally corrosive influence of ObamaCare. Why, these anti-Darwin social Darwinists must be asking themselves, can’t everyone be like us, busy devising new ways to cut government, human services, education, and social services? How can so many students get college degrees without believing that making a lot of money enriches lives? Why do they put so little faith in oil and gas extraction? Don’t they believe in futures? Continue reading

The Sea Wing Disaster of 1890 by Fred Johnson @ GCHS Jan 26 2014

Fred Johnson, Red Wing historian introduces his new book on the Sea Wing Disaster that killed 98 people in Lake Pepin in 1890. About 50 minutes. Filmed at the Goodhue Co. History Society 1166 Oak St, Red Wing, MN 55066 (651) 388-6024. Fred’s book will be available in June/July 2014. Call the GCHS at 388-6024 for details. And of course you could pre-order and you could join the GCHS !!!

Most Disquieting Thing You’ll Encounter For A Long Time

Radical thinking about humanity – Dave Winer @ Scripting News

Yesterday on a walk through frigid Central Park, I listened to a New Yorker podcast interview with Elizabeth Kolbert about how things are going on Planet Earth re extinction of species. The short answer: “Not so good.” We seem to be in the middle of the Sixth Extinction, which is also the title of her book.

Until recently, it was thought that Great Extinctions didn’t happen, that evolution was a slow methodical process, but it was proven by a Berkeley scientist, Walter Alvarez, that the Cretaceous era came to an end because of a meteor hitting the planet. We know this because meteors have lots of iridium and our planet does not. And there’s a layer of iridium in the fossil record right around the time of the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The podcast had a couple of ideas that shook the foundation of my thinking. I like it when that happens, even if I don’t like the message these revelations carry.boyOnDinosaur.gif

First, there’s nothing special about humanity. We’ve only been here about 200,000 years. Long enough to destroy everything, but in the grand scheme of things, when the destruction is finished, the planet will probably evolve new species, a different cast of characters, that do what we do, more or less. It may take tens or hundreds of millions of years to clean up after us. But this is not a problem for the planet. It has the time.

We may be insignificant, but what we are doing re destruction of the planet’s ecology is unprecedented. It’s never before happened here. We don’t know about other planets elsewhere in our galaxy or the universe. But we’re in the process of recreating climates that haven’t existed on earth for 50 million years. That’s something. Not something to be proud of, of course.

Second, the mundane things we do every day, the example she provided was driving to get groceries, are actually totally extraordinary. When we get in the car to run errands we’re burning the bodies of animals that lived millions of years ago. We’re moving the carbon from their bodies from deep below the earth, into the atmosphere and the oceans, transforming them. Destroying old habitats, and creating new ones. This is not something that “natural” processes do. You need a supposedly intelligent species to do this.

Her book is coming out next month. Asked if she was suggesting things we might do to solve the problem, in the book, she says she is deliberately not doing that. My guess is the reason for that is the next epiphany that hit me after digesting a bit of the podcast.

Third, there is nothing we can do. We might as well enjoy consuming the last resources of the planet, and perhaps should turn our attention to leaving an adequate record of our civilization for the next one to come along, millions of years from now, in the hope of helping them avoid the catastrophe that ended us.

BTW, in case you’re feeling guilty — don’t. This process was not caused by anything we consciously did. Certainly not anything you or I did. Just the existence of a species capable of doing such big things was probably enough to destroy life on the planet. You can listen to the podcast and let me know if you hear anything different. It seems this story is full of revelations about our reality.

Thom Hartmann “The Crash of 2016”

Published on Dec 5, 2013

Looking at American history, Hartmann, host of The Big Picture, sees that roughly every four generations, catastrophe strikes. To avert the next economic and social disaster, he urges us to reject the destabilizing profit motives of corporations, and embrace the ideals of democratic civil values that once defined the nation.

Founded by Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade in 1984, Politics & Prose Bookstore is Washington, D.C.’s premier independent bookstore and cultural hub, a gathering place for people interested in reading and discussing books.

My Kuhl Jak Rabbit #1007 Emilio DeGrazia

I got something really Kuhl as a Christmas present this year.  It’s a “Men’s Jak Rabbit #1007,” a sort of fuzzy-soft jacket sweater with a zipper pocket over the heart area for toting, I suppose, warm feelings about the cell phone I don’t own.Kuhl Jak Rabbit #1007_(1)

I’m not sure how much the “Men’s Jak Rabbit #1007” cost my lovely daughter, who carefully picked out something she knew I’d like.  The tags that come with my Jak Rabbit #1007 are especially interesting.  One tag says that it’s “Crazy Soft” and made of “100% polyester Italian fleece.”  The flip side tells me that it has “Micro fiber faux leather accents for added style,” and a “Signature Kuhl thumbloop for added warmth.”

I love the thing.  It’s so fuzzy, smooth and toasty I can’t keep my hands off it, though I’ve become a bit wary about how to preserve the privacy of my virtue when I see others eyeballing it.  I’m a rather thrifty guy, but I don’t dare ask my daughter how much it cost.  I don’t want to drop even a tiny hint that she might have been fleeced.  I’m content to be wearing it right now, as I write, certain it’s giving my literary style a softer touch.  That alone makes it worth what she paid for it.

The Kuhl people must be foreigners, maybe German or Swiss, and they take their fleeces seriously.  “It’s really not even fair for the competition,” says one of the Kuhl tags in both English and French, “to put this jacket in the ‘fleece’ category.  The superior quality and ultra-soft hand put the Jak Rabbit in the premium category and at the top of the podium.”  I’m not sure it belongs at the top of a podium, but to me the Jak Rabbit #1007 feels like a top of the line product, especially for those with good taste in France.  What is called “ultra soft” in the English version of the label comes off as “ultra doux” (“ultra sweet”) in French.  It must be both.

But to tell the truth I admit that my Jak Rabbit #1007 has a special place close to my heart because it’s made of “100% polyester Italian fleece.”  Because a tag, in bold letters, informs us that the Jak Rabbit #1007 was “BORN IN THE MOUNTAINS” I can’t help thinking that its fleece had its origins in the Italian Alps.  Everyone knows that any quest for authenticity involves a search for origins, call them roots.  Though my ethnic roots are in southern Italy, a region looked down upon by Italy’s righteous Northern League political party, I’m satisfied to know my Jak Rabbit #1007 takes me back both to my European and Italian roots, however snow-covered.  My new fleece makes it clear that my sense of ethnic pride is not skin deep.

It also fits the free-spirited and free-thinking urges at the base of my philosophy of life.  The remarkable tag that Kuhl attaches to its product speaks to the worldwide youth movement I still feel in my oldest bones.  The Jak Rabbit #1007 is “born,” we’re informed by the tag, “from our rebellious philosophy to question everything, break the rules, and reject the status quo.”  I agree, but I also know my Jak Rabbit #1007 will require me to live dangerously, like all Kuhl products, which are said to “resist, defy and oppose the norm.  Wearing them tells you they represent not only the freedom of movement, but also freewill.”

Since freedom of movement and free will are at the core of the American Dream, my Jak Rabbit #1007 comfortably fits my patriotic needs.

The philosophical depth of the Jak Rabbit #1007 provides a new high.  Experts who keep track of advertisements inform us that Americans, on average, experience 600-625 “exposures” to ads every 24-hour day.  If each ad exposure is five seconds long then the average American spends two hours out of each 24-hour day and night exposed to ads.  Though it’s hard to know how ads affect us while we’re asleep, it’s obvious that they’re participants in the conversations that go on while we work and play.  And because so many ads are entertaining and fun, how can we not thank them for influencing our sense of what’s true and real?

I’ll try to be truthful here about one thing that bothers me about the ads I’m

exposed to every day:  In a society that values free markets and free expression you’d think that more ads, like the Kuhl ad, would offer consumers a little free will.

The tags on my new Jak Rabbit #1007 offer some wonderful educational opportunities for harried teachers in our beleaguered schools.  The Kuhl tags make it clear that certain foreign words like “faux” have enormous prestige these days.  The name of the product itself offers shortcuts that bad spellers can use.  Biology teachers stand to gain by engaging students in experiments designed to identify the authenticating qualities of fleece.  And a geography curriculum is waiting to be developed by educators eager to help students find France and Italy on a map, while demystifying them about how a Jak Rabbit, after being “BORN IN THE MOUNTAINS” leaped across the Atlantic to be manufactured by nameless workers in El Salvador.

Doubtless some of the educational issues in the Kuhl ad will require the expertise of higher authorities in our colleges and universities.  The Kuhl ad might inspire philosophers and scientists, for example, to elevate class discussions of free will to new depths.  Departments of psychology could expand their experimental, developmental, and clinical approaches to consumer behaviors to include the paranormal.  English departments could use Kuhl ads as creative writing models useful to the writing of fiction and poetry, or as examples of a prose style that leads to jobs.  Business departments and whole colleges of commerce, currently so frustrated by the economy’s failure to benefit from the marketing wisdom passing through their graduation lines, would be able to develop post-doc seminars on the commercial value of the laughable.

One truth remains:  I love my daughter much more than I love my Jak Rabbit #1007, however Kuhl it is, and I deeply appreciate her gift.  I also mean it when I say that from the 600-625 exposures to ads I experience every day none provides the soft, warm, and fuzzy pleasure I derive from my actual Jak Rabbit #1007, and I’m convinced  I arrived at that conclusion by way of my own free will.  The ad for the product, moreover, is special for the way it draws attention to how truth in advertising affects public discourse and thoughtful responses to the important concerns real people have to deal with every day.


Blizzard Tree
(A Holiday Carol) Emilio DeGrazia

Oh what are these sounds I hear in the sky,
The cold wind screams and deadening cry
Of the songs birds sing when abandoned to die?
Oh what are these sounds I hear in the sky

When summer’s buried under glaciers of ice
And solstice stars, distant and dim,
Are so lost in blank seas of endless black space
The New Year’s epiphany can’t hear its own hymn?

The blitz has buried rows of corn on the plain
Ranged in white lines there like armies of night.
Out there the cold shivers like bones going insane
For a hint in the sky of redeeming warm light.

So what is that tree doing naked in sky
With limbs reaching out to winds going wild?
Is she the mother who never asks why
She’s there to give life to a new baby child?

When the child was born was the mother unleaved,
Stripped naked and bare by the cold winter storm
That fired her courage when she heard a small cry
At the approach of any shrill noise in the sky?

What hymns does the hearth fire breathe in the air
To the mother cradling her new baby’s sigh?
How can bare arms enfold enough care
To warm the life she holds in trust there

Inside walls made from well-seasoned trees
With memorized music toned in their woods,
The lullabies there composed by summer and spring
Accompanied by wild chords the winter winds bring.

Oh, who is in that tree hanging in sky
With naked limbs reaching out to a child
To shield it from winds going wild
With love in winter that will not say die?

As blizzards whistle through cracks in our homes
Where we huddle to watch the warmth taking wing
Let’s gather tonight for the hymns woodfires sing
To honor the love in good women’s wombs.


Blake’s Thanksgiving…

It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted,
To speak the laws of prudence to the houseless wanderer,
To listen to the hungry raven’s cry in wintry season
When the red blood is fill’d with wine & with the marrow of lambs.

It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements,
To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughter house moan;
To see a god on every wind & a blessing on every blast;
To hear sounds of love in the thunder storm that destroys our enemies’ house
To rejoice in the blight that covers his field, & the sickness that cuts off his children,

While our olive & vine sing & laugh round our door, & our children bring fruits and flowers.
Then the groan & the dolor are quite forgotten, & the slave grinding at the mill,
And the captive in chains, & the poor in the prison, & the soldier in the field
When the shatter’d bone hath laid him groaning among the happier dead.

It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity:
Thus could I sing and thus rejoice: but it is not so with me.

William Blake (b. November 28, 1757), from The Four Zoas

Eben Alexander Westminster Town Hall Nature of Consciousness

Eben-Alexander small edged from Wikipedia “Alexander is the author of the 2012 autobiographical book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeons Journey into the Afterlife, in which he asserts that his out of body and near death experience (NDE) while in a meningitis-induced coma in 2008 proves that consciousness is independent of the brain, that death is an illusion, and that an eternity of perfect splendor awaits us beyond the grave complete with angels, clouds, and departed relatives, but also including butterflies and a beautiful girl in peasant dress who Alexander finds out later was his departed sister. According to him, the current understanding of the mind now lies broken at our feet for What happened to me destroyed it, and I intend to spend the rest of my life investigating the true nature of consciousness and making the fact that we are more, much more, than our physical brains as clear as I can, both to my fellow scientists and to people at large.

MPR recorded this and then put it on their website in a way few people could audit… I found a way to play it and record it and post it here so others can now get at it and listen. 52 minutes.