“To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down.” ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Freundschaftsinsel, Potsdam, by Max Baur (Friendship Island)
                    
“How secure have I felt seated at my desk in my house in the dark night, just watching the tip of my pencil in the lamplight following its shadow, as if of its own accord and with perfect fidelity, while that shadow moved regularly from left to right, line by line, over the ruled paper.” ~ W. G. Sebald, Austerlitz
Park Sanssouci, Potsdam, Germany, by Max Baur

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .   

Sitting in Eamonn’s room on Friday afternoon. A few days ago, I began the task of trying to clean this room, which means going through all of the various piles of crap that Eamonn has left here since moving to his Dad’s house.   

I’ve only managed to clean the desk so far. We’re talking about countless binders, notebooks, and piles of paper from high school. Dead pens and broken pencils. Permanent markers that have completely dried up from having no cap. and all kinds of other unidentifiable stuff. Oh, and I also found the title to his Explorer, which Eamonn swore up and down that he had given me. Yep, that title, the one that he had to go to DMV to get a duplicate of so that he could junk the Explorer.   

What possessed me to begin this cleaning project? Well, several things, the main one being that I’m using his computer while mine is dead, and I just couldn’t stand not having one clear space on which to place my Pepsi. That and the fact that if I continued to wait for Eamonn to come over and start to de-junk, I’d be waiting until 2020.   

Corey and I are thinking about turning this bedroom into an office with a futon for guests, not that we ever have guests, nor do we have the money to purchase a futon, but one thing at a time.   

“It is a strange life when I consider it,
how I endeavor to attain strength and clarity,
to mold these base materials into forms which will express me,
and my attitude, my joy and thankfulness. 
I work alone,
who cares whether I produce anything or not,
or who appreciates it? 
Yet I believe a good thing will not perish.” ~ Harlan Hubbard
Friedenskirche, Potsdam, Germany by Max Baur (ca. 1928)

Brett made it through his first week of college. Today’s classes were cancelled because of the hurricane. Although, all we’ve seen is rain. I know that schools and businesses try to be more proactive ever since that hurricane about five years ago that took out everything, and few people were prepared.   

Our hurricane preparation? Flashlights and bottled water. I mean, there really isn’t anything else that we can do. We don’t have a generator, nor do we have anything else in the way of emergency equipment. Next year, though, I want to be sure to have flood insurance in place. In this area, homeowners cannot get a flood policy written once the first hurricane enters the Atlantic, so we’re out of luck for 2010, and even though we don’t live in a flood area, we are close enough to water that we should have it. Besides, regular homeowner’s insurance covers very little in the way of water damage, which means that if there is a massive storm surge, and our home becomes a wading pool, we may well be SOL.  

So back to the whole college preparation thing: We finally got Brett a workable schedule. I ordered his books, only to have two of them kick back from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I mean I searched high and low to find the lowest possible prices on textbooks. One book is on backorder, with no projected shipment date. Another book is no longer available from the vendor from whom I originally ordered, which meant finding an alternative source, which (of course) was much more expensive.   

Things that make a person scream ARGH.   

“With writing, we have second chances.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated 
Chinesisches Teehaus, Potsdam, Germany, by Max Baur (Chinese Teahouse)

 So an update on the various things that aren’t working:   

My computer: The motherboard arrived, and Corey took my CPU and the motherboard to the Geeks, who then quoted him $99 after initially quoting him $49. Then the person with whom Corey was speaking uttered those horrible words (the words that IsaacMak had already prophesied): There’s a good chance that the computer will need to be reloaded with Vista, which means that you will lose everything on the hard drive . . .   

It seems that Windows has implemented a new hitch with Vista and all subsequent windows versions: If the motherboard needs to be replaced, then the operating system has to be reloaded. This news, although not entirely unexpected, is more painful than I can express. The last time I did a total system backup was three years ago. Since then, I have approximately twice the data I had at that time. I won’t bother to mention (so, of course, I shall) how I pointed out to Corey months ago that we needed to get some kind of external hard drive so that all of the systems in the house could be backed up, you know, just in case . . .   

Options  for recovering and transferring my data include paying the Geeks to do it, which of course would be expensive. Or we can try to plug the computer in and download as much as possible onto the home network. That option depends on whether or not the computer will even boot.   

Then there is the small problem with the home network, which isn’t working. As I’m typing this a guy from the local cable company is here checking our connections to see why the router/modem will not stay on. I mean, it’s cable, not FIOS. It’s not weather dependent.   

Things just keep getting better and better.   

“I am increasingly impressed by how nature permits human beings to make fools of themselves in vast numbers.” ~ William Glass 
Refektoriumsportal des Klosters Heilsbronn, by Max Baur (Portal Refectory of Convent Heilsbronn)

A few final tidbits:   

Former Senator Alan Simpson, Republican co-chair of President Obama’s Deficit Commission has been in the news lately with his off-the-wall comments; most recently Simpson complained that Viet Nam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange are adding too much to the deficit. Simpson complained that these benefits run “contrary to efforts to control federal spending,” and even went as far as to say that “the irony” is that “the veterans who saved this country are now, in a way, not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess. My contention: Simpson is using too much air to fuel his waning grey cells. 

After President Obama’s speech this past Tuesday acknowledging the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, the usual Republican/Tea Party talking heads lined up to criticize the president for not giving enough credit to W. For once, I am in almost complete agreement with McConnell, McCain, Palin, et al, with one teenie tiny exception: exchange the word blame for credit.  

Yep. It’s all on W., but as usual, the right has been drinking the Kool-Ade. According to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, more credit should be given to W., who had the “determination and will to carry out the plan that made [this] announcement possible.”  

Uh . . . sorry, just threw up a little in my throat . . .  

W. had determination and will all right: the determination to circumvent the Constitution, the will to do more to impede basic freedoms in the name of anti-terrorism. And we are supposed to praise W. for making possibly the worst foreign policy decision in the history of the country? We are supposed to laud him for dragging our country into an unwinnable war based on a faulty premise that had nothing to do with the original post-September 11 mission to capture Osama bin Laden and wipe out the Taliban?  

Don’t make me gag. Again.  

Keith Olbermann did a better job on calling out the talking heads on the right on this particular issue:  

Vodpod videos no longer available.

All images by German photographer Max Baur.

More later. Peace.  

 Music by Eva Cassidy, her version of “American Tune”  

                                                    

The Great Bear
A clear night
Trying to understand
What happened all those years ago
Under this
Exact constellation. 
It does no good
To dwell on the past.
What happens happens only once.
No such thing
As a lesson can be learned. 
And yet the same figure
Slowly appears
At the foot of the garden,
Looking as if
He is made of the dark, 
And I feel the same
Dilemmas rise
That have risen before,
And the same reactions
Hours behind, 
Burning off
What I’ve made of my life.
By the time the starlight reaches us
The world it began
Has gone. 
~ Frances Leviston

“We do not find our own center. It finds us. We do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” ~ Richard Rohr

Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Hebden Bridge, UK

  

“I want to write like August, to swim in it like a pool and forget the clock hands moving across summer’s face.” ~ Terresa Wellborn

When I realized that this post would be #500*, I immediately froze and wrote nothing. I mean, 500? That’s pretty auspicious, at least in my mind, anyway. If I were to estimate the number of words in my posts and multiply by 500, I would get somewhere between 550 and 600,000 words. 

Hmm . . . Things that make you go hmm . . . 

Granted, not all of my posts have been written; a small percentage have been videos. But still . . . I have sat down at my computer (or someone else’s) at least 500 times (more if counting the posts I lost and had to rewrite) and written about . . . well, things. I have to admit that when I began this project, I never thought that I would last this long. Of course when I began this project, I was ecstatic to get 100 hits in one day. 

My how times have changed. Now, I realize that despite my creative ebbs and flows, I will probably continue writing here for some time yet, and fortunately, I am not nearly as obsessed by my stats as I used to be. Rather than numbers, I relish the comments as they are much more tangible (so if you’re lurking and haven’t commented, please accept this as an invitation to do so). 

So here I am, muddling about, trying to think of something to say in my anniversary post. Who knows where this may lead . . . By the way, I was quite surprised to see all of the 500 images that I found when I did a Google search, so I took that as a sign that I should bedeck my post in the company of other historical 500th things, like Henry VIII and a 500-year-old bridge in the UK. Granted, some of these anniversaries occurred before mine, but hey, Henry won’t mind. He was all about self-promotion.

So here I go . . . 

“Knowledge of the self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent on me to know my self, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties, and its very atoms.” ~Kahlil Gibran
Image of King Henry VIII in Celebration of His 500th Anniversary

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers.

I have created three sets of five in honor of the big 500. It’s the least I can do. No really, the least: 

  • I have decided that in the history of television, five shows stand out as being uniquely entertaining, at least in my estimation:

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”: I mean really,  hilariously funny and engaging dialogue (shows up again in another Joss Whedon creation, “Firefly” which I would have listed here, but it didn’t last long enough) 

“The West Wing”: Still waiting for a President Bartlett, unfortunately 

“Law & Order” (original): Twenty years. Just as relevant. Who else can say that? 

“House”: One of the best-drawn modern tragic characters 

“Oz”: Consistently gripping drama with an ensemble cast unlike any other ever seen 

  • Based on the above, I realize that I am a nerd/drama junkie. Sitcoms just don’t do it for me.
  • I still need a haircut.
  • Being the party of “No” is nothing of which to be proud.
  • The war in Afghanistan is too reminiscent of Viet Nam in that it is an unwinnable war. Counterinsurgency in a country that has repelled conquerors for over 1,000 years is lunacy. They don’t want to be Americanized, and the concept of American imperialism is outdated. Bring our military home.
“Brilliance is typically the act of an individual, but incredible stupidity can usually be traced to an organization.” ~ Jon Bentley
A 500 Yen Coin
  • BP’s former CEO Tony Hayward has been reassigned to Siberia. At first I thought that this was funny until I found out how much he is being paid to go away: $1.6 million in salary, and more millions in pension benefits. I guess he got his life back.
  • President Obama appeared on “The View,” causing some critics to lose their minds, saying that the show was not serious enough. Need I remind everyone of Bush’s appearance on “Dr. Phil”? At least most (Snooki aside) of the questions on “The View” were pointedly in keeping with today’s issues. And as far as the Boy Scott Jamboree that Obama passed on, how about the other 12 U.S. presidents who declined the same invitation, including Republicans Nixon, Reagan and Ford? They weren’t called un-American.
  • Jon Stewart is right. Nothing Obama does will ever make the right happy. Nothing.
  • Just a reminder: W. had a surplus coming into office ($236 Billion, according to Congressional Budget Office). Obama had a $1.2 Trillion deficit when he took office (same source).
  • Another reminder: The Wall Street crash happened on W’s watch, not Obama’s.
“Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star.” ~ Confucius
Darth Vader 500th Anniversary

Well, I just lost one-third of this post when I tried to save because the router went out. Lovely. Let’s see . . . what was I rambling on about anyway . . . 

  • All of Corey’s sunflowers are dead, which means that the beautiful patch of yellow in the backyard is now a sad patch of droopy, green stems and leaves.
  • For some reason, centipedes abound in our house this summer. I don’t care what you might have to say about them, I am terrified of centipedes. I know that this is an irrational fear, but I used to have nightmares about them when I was a child. I dreamed they were in my bed. These things are hard to kill, and before you lecture me on letting things be, you should know that I only swat a few things: cockroaches, flies, mosquitoes, and ants running rampant on my kitchen counter. Nevertheless, centipedes just won’t die.
  • I’m ready for fall, which is weird since I still think that it’s April.
  • At one point we had about six tennis balls throughout the house. Today, I couldn’t fine one, which means that Tillie and Shakes cannot play pool ball. They are very sad puppies. Next week, I’ll probably find the missing tennis balls in an unlikely spot.
  • I think that I’ve just about decided what my next tattoo will be, not that I’ll be able to afford one anytime soon. These are the kinds of things with which I occupy my mind. Small things . . .

So much for the great 500th post. I sort of lost my momentum after part of the post disappeared. I think that I’ll go have a bowl of cereal and watch a “Law & Order” rerun. That always works. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Iron and Wine, “Such Great Heights” 

 

*I realized today that my actual stats show only 496 posts, but, and this is a big but, I have written and posted 500 times. About a year ago I made 5 posts private, but I then decided to delete 4 of them permanently, which puts my total at 500 . . . Crystal clear, right?

“He that cannot reason is a fool. He that will not is a bigot. He that dare not is a slave.” ~ Andrew Carnegie

Cards from The Fuhrer Quartett

   

Part 2:
“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy” ~ James Madison

One of the justifications used for calling Obama a tyrant or dictator is that he has signed Executive Orders. As of March 2010, President Obama had signed 43 Executive Orders. Between 2001 and 2002, W. issued 85 executive orders (54 and 31 respectively) compared to Obama’s 56 executive orders issued between 2009 and 2010. Lest anyone think that I am playing loosely with the facts, this information is available to anyone on the Federal Register of the National Archives. Let’s put that in context: 

Total Executive Orders Signed

GW Bush 268
Clinton 363
G. Bush 165
Reagan 380 

Lenin Card in The Fuhrer Quartett

Critics also contend that Obama is a tyrant because he ignores laws, although I’m not sure which laws he is ignoring. An article in boston.com states that as of 2006, Bush “claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution . . . Far more than any predecessor, Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws—many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone as the head of the executive branch or the commander-in-chief of the military.”  

And let’s not forget all of the signing statements issued by Bush in lieu of presidential vetoes. Signing statements are those documents in which a president lays out his legal interpretation of a bill for the federal bureaucracy to follow when implementing the new law. Bush repeatedly used signing statements to state that he does not have to obey certain laws because he is commander in chief. 

By the way, that argument being bandied about by tea baggers and the like regarding taxation without representation? Hello? This is a representative government, and there has not been a president in recent memory who has not increased taxes. By the way, that whole tea bagger thing, you know, being a resurrection of the original tea party? “The Tea Party originally was for taxation without representation . . . These people have representation. The majority voted for Obama, and this got a majority vote. To call it a Tea Party movement makes no sense,” contends Patricia Kelley, 75, a social work professor emeritus at the University of Iowa. Kelly said that co-opting a historic event in American history for an Obama backlash is wrongheaded. 

For example, Ronald Reagan, the republican that right-wingers love to mention as the bastion of all things conservative, increased taxes by $132.7 billion between 1982 and 1988. 

“When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.” ~ Plato

And those who compare Obama to King George by saying that our president has acted in the same way as the monarch the founding fathers excoriated? Let’s discuss just a few of these: The revolutionaries claimed that the king “sent out swarms of Officers to harass the people, combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.” Are Obama’s “swarms of officers” the census takers? Of the last three censuses, two were conducted under Republican presidents, and all involved sending census takers throughout the country to gather information. 

Or are the “swarms of officers” referring to the right’s protest against the term czar, as in energy czar, education czar, car czar (what?)? To clarify, czar is a media term referring to an appointed official who is in charge of a particular policy; I believe the term was first used during Reagan’s administration: drug czar. The first president to use czars? Well, that would be FDR (some say Andrew Jackson), who had 19 individuals in appointed positions. By the way, W. had the most, with 47 appointees, 31 of whom were referred to as czars, which is why critics are correct in saying that Obama has more czars (35) but fewer appointees (39). 

Hitler Card in The Fuhrer Quartett

“Combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution”: Is this a reference to the 2nd amendment? According to one conservative, “At the heart of gun control in the United States are Democratic tyranny and the Democratic oppression of black people . . . The Democrats on the Progressive Left will continue to pursue our disarmament.  Only unarmed men and women can be made the slaves of tyrants.” Um, okay, but as far as I know, that amendment hasn’t been repealed. 

“Pretended legislation”: is that healthcare reform? Let me ask you this: Is this country based on majority rule? Did reform pass with a majority? Or is the reference to Obama’s planned suit over Arizona’s immigration law? The way in which our Constitution is drawn, federal statutes prevail over state statutes (e.g., 14th amendment). I’m pretty sure that President Obama wasn’t around when this was decided. 

“Logic:  The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.” ~ Ambrose Bierce

Of course I would be remiss if I did not mention Godwin’s law: i.e., the ultimate reduction of a commentary thread results in someone being called a Nazi. And there is the predecessor to Godwin’s Law, the “reductio ad Hitlerum,” identified in 1953 by neocon philosopher Leo Strauss, by which any person or argument could be demolished by even the most tenuous association with Hitler. All of this, of course, relates directly to the growing trend to compare President Obama to Adolf Hitler, you know Tea Baggers, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin. The list is long and growing.

No, using the Hitler card to denigrate a politician is by no means a new tactic; it is, however, an offensive tactic.  Ron Rosenbaum, in an article for Slate, said this:

“Calling Obama a tyrant, a communist, or a fascist is deeply offensive to all the real victims of tyranny, the real victims of communism and fascism. The tens of millions murdered. It trivializes such suffering inexcusably for the T.P.ers to claim that they are suffering from similar oppression because they might have their taxes raised or be subject to demonic ‘federal regulation.’

Listen up, T.P.ers: The Nazis were not Socialists. The Socialists were not Nazis. They were blood enemies. In fact, the Socialists fought the Nazis, while conservatives and nationalists stood by and thought Hitler would be their pawn. Hitler, need it be said, was not a Socialist. He hated the Socialists. Had thousands of them murdered as soon as he came to power.”

Rosenbaum’s article uses Nikita Khruschev’s “Secret Speech” of 1956 as the basis of his argument against the tea baggers debasement of “language with their false use of words, contesting that tea baggers should read the speech if they really want to know about tyranny. He states that

They’ve [tea baggers] made a graven image of alien evil out of him. Obama: communist, Muslim, Kenyan, Manchurian candidate, fascist, socialist, capable of all varieties of political malevolence. A supervillain, with superpowers. Who requires super lies to combat.

It’s time to take on these superliars and stop them from spreading their poisonous ignorance.

“Bigotry tries to keep truth safe in its hand with a grip that kills it.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore

I found the following analysis particularly relevant in the current climate that freely compares Obama to Hitler and this administration to Nazi Germany: 

When you get right down to it, our sitting President and Adolf  Hitler are pretty much the same person, except Obama hasn’t suspended democratic elections, implemented a policy of cultural nationalism, embarked on a massive expansion of the armed forces, created a class system based on ethnicity, assumed control of the national media, staged an attack on the legislative branch, implemented a eugenics policy or invaded a sovereign nation. 

He is black, though. If you hate Barack Obama’s politics and you’re also a racist, the election of our first black President is doubly galling. You know what else is galling? The fact that Adolf Hitler—generally agreed to be the worst human being of the modern era—was a racist, too. 

By relentlessly connecting Barack Obama with Hitler, the right gets to associate Nazism with socialized medicine, charismatic leadership and big government, instead of corporatism and fantasies of empire

I think the following quote that I found on a forum actually comes closest to defining why so many people are afraid of Barack Obama: “He dares to act just like every other President, while not being 100% white. That’s enough to make him a tyrant in the eyes of the extreme haters.” 

Quit hiding your racism behind your declarations that your freedoms are being subsumed by a socialist agenda. Quit painting Hitler mustaches on Obama’s visage. Hitler was not a socialist; he was a fascist. They are not the same thing. Fascism organizes under a corporate perspective. Fascism has a basic disdain for human rights, is inherently racist and sexist, disdains intellectuals, promotes rampant nationalism, and uses fear to control the masses. 

Here endeth the lesson. 

More later. Peace.

Music by Jann Arden, “Looks Like Rain”