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Harp of Hyperion

Oct. 11th, 2011 02:48 pm Herman Cain: Alive Because He's Rich | Mother Jones

Key Quote:  "It's disingenuous for Cain to pretend his luck comes from a lack of government meddling rather than his position of extreme privilege. "

Cain's experience does not refute the necessity of healthcare reform for those of us who are not as wealthy as someone like .... Herman Cain.

Herman Cain: Alive Because He's Rich | Mother Jones

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Oct. 11th, 2011 01:53 pm Mitt Romney: Perry Must 'Repudiate' Pastor's Anti-Mormon Remarks

Have to agree with Mitt Romney on this score:

"I just don’t believe that that kind of divisiveness based upon religion has a place in this country. I believe in the spirit of the founders, when they suggested in crafting this country that we would be a nation that tolerated other people, different faiths -- that we’d be a place of religious diversity," Romney continued.

Such attacks, rooted in religious prejudice, reflect poorly on the Republican party.

Mitt Romney: Perry Must 'Repudiate' Pastor's Anti-Mormon Remarks

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Oct. 11th, 2011 11:57 am Why is the Middle Class shrinking?

Just read an interesting article in Time:  "Why America Must Revive Its Middle Class" by Jeffrey D. Sachs.

The title is actually deceptive:  its mostly about why the middle class has declined.

The primary cause, according to Sachs, is globalization and the rise of China in the world markets, further exacerbated by over-investment in housing construction and excess consumer credit.

He argues that *both* parties have been responsible for us getting into this situation, and that the solution is investment  in "education, infrastructure and human capital".

(The article is currently only available in the print edition).

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Oct. 11th, 2011 10:54 am Editorial: Occupy Wallstreet

This writer offers a thoughtful, and I think perceptive, take on "Occupy Wall Street" protests:


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Oct. 3rd, 2011 08:28 am The American Jobs Depression, and How to Get Out of It | Truthout

No startling insights in this editorial, but he summarizes our economic plight in a very succinct manner, including the obvious solutions, and the reasons why these obvious solutions are being opposed.

The American Jobs Depression, and How to Get Out of It | Truthout

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Jun. 29th, 2011 03:22 pm Theological Speculation

As the risk of p*ssing off devout Christians, and annoying atheists (and if I can get under the skin of both parties with the same statement, I figure I must be doing something *right*), let me suggest that the one being that deserves our greatest and most sincere pity is ..... deity, itself.

Consider, a being that is ubiquitous and all knowing (I don't buy "omnipotent", however) .... who does it have to *talk* to? If there is only one God, it must be _awfully_ lonely. At least the Greco-Roman gods had each other for company.

Now, Christianity would answer that by saying that god is one being with 3 personalities: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

There are a couple problems with that notion, however: there is a word for such a condition: "dissociative identity disorder". Essentially, a god with 3 personalities is a multiple personality case.

Even so, that doesn't solve the dilemma: if all three personalities are all-knowing, how could God the Father, for example, tell God the Son a knock-knock joke? They would both already know the punchline.

The joy of conversation is the thrill of discovery, after all. What does an all-knowing being have to discover?

Which leads to my speculation: If the mystics and shamans are correct, and the mystical experience includes, amongst other aspects, a sense of "at-oneness" with the deity/universe, maybe that is deity's one "out": that when human beings have brief, intense, experiences of god/Buddha consciousness, that is the only time that, as a matter of reciprocity, that deity has an experience of _human_ consciousness.

If you believe that deity has intervened in human history, then maybe this explains *why* it does so: the more we evolve as a species, the higher a level of consciousness we attain, the more likely it is that deity will have the opportunity to experience these brief moments of "escape" from its enduring deity-ness -- just as spiritual and mystical experiences have the benefit of briefly lifting from us the burden and limitations of our humanity.

God is lonely. The only times it gets to alleviate its loneliness is when experiencing the brief inter-connection of human/limited/temporal consciousness with its divine/unlimited/trans-mundane consciousness which we think of as the "mystical experience". And that is why it has intervened, in the course of human history, to lead us to ever higher levels of awareness, sympathy, empathy, and consciousness.


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Jun. 8th, 2011 01:08 pm Learning from Esther Williams

 Maybe I can learn something from Esther Williams:

I read somewhere that when Esther Williams goes out in public, she has pre-printed cards which she gives to people whenever they start asking her the single most common question she receives. The card reads: "Yes -- I still swim".

The other weekend, I went with my wife to various public events. Given the limits of my hearing, I've obtained a directional microphone, to screen out ambient noise, when I'm talking with people in noisy environments.

In the course of the one weekend, I must have gotten close to a dozen people asking me "are you recording?". Every time, I gave them the same answer -- which I'm thinking might be good to have printed on a card: "No, I'm not recording. I'm deaf. This microphone is my 'ear'".

Or would there be a better way of phrasing that?

For that matter, is there anything you frequently get asked? If you had to make up an Esther Williams card, what would it say?

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May. 29th, 2011 12:21 pm Straying Gourmands

Vince and Gray As I've shared, here, before, we have befriended a couple of the local stray cats in our neighborhood, whom we have dubbed "Vince" and "Gray".

They have become such a part of our life, and we, such a part of their life, that the cats know our schedule:  when I wake up, most days, about 7:30, the cats are sitting near our back door, expecting to be let in, and fed.  When I come home from work, some time between 7:30 to 8:30 at night, the cats are there again, expecting to be let in the *front* door, and fed.

The other night, when I got home from work, the kittehs were waiting, and I let them inside the house to be fed.  We had run out of the expensive dry food that they like, but I had some cat foot purchased from the 99 Cent store, which I put down for them.  Then, I went into my home office to check my email, while they ate.

A few minutes later, Vince (the black and white cat pictured) came into the office, stood up on his hind feet near my chair, and put his front feet into my lap for a moment.  Perhaps because he's figured out I'm deaf, this is his way of notifying me that he wants to bring my attention to something -- usually, when he does this, he then walks to the door, signaling that he wants to be let out.

However, this time, he walked into the kitchen, and starred at the cat food bowl.  Gray was still there, starring at his bowl, too.  (We've had to put down two bowls for them, so that they would quarrel over who gets to eat first).

As I came in the kitchen, both kittehs alternated from looking at the food bowls, where the cheap cat food lay, untouched, and then looking up to me with pleading expressions.  The intended communication seemed pretty obvious:  "You're NOT expecting us to _eat_ this stuff, are you?"

Their evident displeasure with my offering was so emphatic, that I couldn't help but chuckle.

Fortunately, we have some canned cat food, which we give them occasionally as a treat.  I opened the tin, and put 1/4 of the contents in each bowl.  While I was doing so, Vince got so excited that he started making vocalizations:  not the "meow" of most ordinary cats, but a more high-pitched "EEEeeeeeEE!" sound.

They set too, with enthusiasm (and probably ate some of the cheap cat food which was still lying under that canned food in the process).

Yep -- it seems that, strays though these kittehs are, and dependent as they seem to have become upon us for food, they still have *standards*, and cheap, 99 Cent store cat food doesn't _cut_ it!

Just our luck -- my wife and I both have refined palettes -- and, foodies that we are, we seem to have attracted cats that are *epicurians*!!

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Apr. 18th, 2011 08:56 am Strong Atheism

 A good take on the conditions which give rise to strong atheism.

Key Quote: "As an ideology, strong atheism tends to emerge under the threat of theocracy. Strong atheism found its public voice in the US under the twin stresses of George W Bush's second term in office and 9/11's demonstration of the worst dangers of fundamentalism."



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Jun. 27th, 2010 10:56 am Job ... or *Occupation*?

My favorite quote on the topic of work: "Find a job you love, and you will never *work* a day in your life".

I'd always heard it came from St. Patrick, but when I looked at some websites devoted to quotes to confirm that, just now, I found it being attributed to Confucius.

A more recent quote, but, in its way, just as profound: "The lesson Studs has taught me is that your life is over when you stop living it. If you can truly "retire," you had a job, but not an occupation." Roger Ebert, about Studs Terkel. (http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/05/how_studs_helps_me_lead_my_lif_1.html )

As contrasted to that, I often feel like there is something askew when I read people moan on Facebook on a couple related themes: if they are working, how much they hate their jobs; how eagerly they are looking forward to the weekend; or, if they are on vacation, how much they dread having to return to work.

It tells me that either there is something seriously *off* about the way most people view work, or there is something seriously *off* about the way _I_ do so:

What does it say about me, for instance, that inside of the first week after I returned home from the hospital after, narrowly, surviving meningitis, getting used to being deaf, the continuing dinning/buzzing/whirring of tinnitus, having to use two canes to go from room to room, as I acclimated to no longer having an internal sense of equilibrium ..... I got back to work.

Specifically, even though I was on sick leave, I'd field requests for web page updates, and take care of them on my home computer. A part of it was that I didn't like to let people down. A larger part was that it provided a welcome distraction from the other challenges I was then facing. But, still, I wouldn't have done it if I didn't enjoy the process of coding HTML .... using relatively simple computer code to create a particular verbal/visual arrangement.

I actually had to *lobby* with the doctor to get cleared to return to work as soon as I did; he was surprised that I didn't want to languish at home as long as I could get away with doing so.

True, I probably could have been making at least twice the money I make presently, if I had continued to practice law in Illinois .... but, all the time I did so, I never found the work, itself, that personally satisfying. I *endured* it, if order to have the money and (try) to find the time to do the activities that gave me personal satisfaction.

When I dropped out of my practice, and pursued a Master's in Library Science, I knew that step would be counter-intuitive to most people -- why would *anyone* want to do something that would *diminish* their potential income? A well established lawyer can easily make over $100,000 .... a well established *librarian*, even a duo-degreed lawyer/librarian, makes closer to half of that.

But I was choosing the path towards doing something I love: I *like* helping people find information that will provide them with solutions to their problems, I *enjoy* teaching, doing research is, for me, an intellectual treasure hunt, the fun of problem-solving.

And so, I do not find myself dreading the end of the weekend, or a vacation ... I look forward to returning to my work, to tasks which I, (mostly) enjoy, which create value, and by which I win the esteem of my colleagues, even if, as I know all to well, that librarians are held in much lower esteem by *society* than are lawyers!

The reason I've pursued a degree in Religion, even, isn't a fiscal decision to maximize my income ... its moving, yet again, towards something which I expect that I will find even more personally rewarding: I love reading about world religions, talking about them, writing about them. And, already, I'm having articles published about the insights I have gleaned about religion, informed by the mode of analysis inculcated in law school -- the training the defines, for good or ill, "thinking like a lawyer". I've even had one or two speaking engagements to talk about the contents of my articles -- and I hope to get more.

Eh .... in the eyes of the world, I'm probably more then a bit off beam .... after all, my life choices demonstrate that I am more concerned with maximizing *satisfaction*, rather than _wealth_.

As contrasted to that, I once met a young woman, an associate in a large law firm, who complained to me about how wearisome it was working 12 to 16 hour days, 6 or 7 days a week; how frustrating it was that she had bought a condo on the Gold Coast of Chicago, with a view looking out on Lake Michigan, and never was home late enough to see the sunrise over it; how she had been able to afford a fancy SUV, but that, since she was a convenient commute away from her work via public transportation, it mostly just sat in the condo garage, taking up space, and incurring garage fees.

She expected me to pity her, to sympathize with her.

I did pity her, although I couldn't, truly, sympathize. To sympathize is, literally, "to feel along with". I couldn't sympathize because I had never had that experience, nor would I care to.

To the world at large, to choose job satisfaction over maximizing income, is askew of the values and priorities to which most of society subscribes.

But when I hear complaints about people looking forward to the weekend, dreading the end of their vacation, enduring having to do things that are less then personally fulfilling, and the stress that they experience as a result ....

..... as opposed to people like myself and some other of my close friends, who truly *enjoy* our work, and find it personally satisfying ....

.... I have to conclude that it is *society* that is askew!

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