Author Archives: mandala56

Speaking the unspeakable

Jack wrote this in September, 2005:

The scrutineering’s begun, the witch-hunters are getting their torches all lit up for some really juicy burnings at the stake.

So who is responsible for what’s happened in New Orleans and surrounding communities?

The people of Louisiana are responsible. Louisiana knew about those dikes. The residents knew about them. They continued to build behind them.

Now they’ve been destroyed by the flood they knew was coming for many years.

Who’s responsible for the mess there now? FEMA? President Bush?

Frankly, I dislike FEMA somewhere around Category 5, assuming this was a Cat 4 storm. But FEMA is not responsible for what happened here. They didn’t make the choices that put houses in areas where they’d flood. In fact, they pleaded, begged, threatened and cajoled the communities of Louisiana for many years trying to get them to mitigate flood damage by building outside floodprone areas.

I wish I could assign some blame to FEMA, but I can’t.

So, who then?

The Corps of Engineers?

With the exception of 404 Permitting personnel, the employees of the US Army Corps of Engineers are probably the most qualified, responsible, competent workforce I’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with. The Corps, however, is the instrument of the US Government. It can do nothing without the consent of Congress and the President.

Prez Bush?

I like this president about as well as I like FEMA. I’d love to see him take a bath on this. But the bath would be misplaced, because this Prez, however stupid and lousy I believe he is, (the mirror image of the electorate) had nothing to do with this. He was asked to assist, and he’s assisting as best he can. It might be his fault he can’t respond better, but he had no responsibility to respond, except within the context of the overall well being of the nation.

So who does that leave?

The people you’re seeing submerged in anguish on the news are precisely the people who caused this disaster, by their failure to evacuate, their failure to vote taxes to improve levies, their failure to support building standards to prevent this kind of devastation, their failure to elect officials who’d behave responsibly in the face of this threat that’s been before them for generations.

This nation has no responsibility to Louisiana for this disaster, other than a humanitarian one.

Whatever help can be provided through charities, FEMA (short of funds for rebuilding), and individuals is admirable. It’s compassion and generosity of the sort we ought to demand of ourselves.

But no person who is not a resident of Louisiana is responsible for this debacle. No person who resides outside the boundaries of Louisiana has any obligation beyond a moral one to do anything for them at all.

Louisiana is getting the kind of help you’d give when you extend a hand to a drowning man. It doesn’t matter whether he was drunk and fell out of the boat, whether he was using bad judgment to get himself into that predicament. The rest of us will extend a hand.

But anything we do beyond that is purely a matter of personal choice.

Which, of course, is a falsehood. We’ll all do a lot more than that, and we won’t have any choice at all. We’ll pay for it in deficit spending by our government and tax dollars without anyone asking whether we’d like to do more.

Jack

Ask Old Jules: Nature of reality, 10 happiest songs, This funny, imperfect world, What is Love?

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Old Jules, what do you think about this idea about the nature of reality? My question is: If in dreams we “create” a new ephemeral fragmented reality from a more real reality, could this reality be a dream we’re all having from a more perfect reality? Like there’s another reality more real than this one and there we sleep for some years having this dream, and when we die we just wake up there?

We’ve got a lot to learn about dreams. Everything sentient probably has them. Certainly animals from chickens upward do, and when they’re dreaming their brains believe dreams are real enough to cause physical response. My personal thought these days is that the dreaming mind is responding to a different reality than the conscious mind responds to. Lately I’ve been thinking of it within the context of a hologram and something akin to a computerized flight simulator as one of several analogies. Consider the pilot in command flying by visual flight rules [VFR] and responding to what’s available to the five senses within the hologram. But when he takes a break and hands it over to the co-pilot, the co-pilot’s only able to fly by instrument flight rules [IFR]. What the co-pilot sees is a reality communicated, not by the five senses, but by an air-speed indicator, altimeter, rate-of-climb indicater, compass, navigational radios, tach and so on. But the co-pilot interpretes this data into a set of visual phenomena within a hologram, same as the pilot interprets the direct input of five senses into visual phenomena. But that doesn’t exclude what you’ve suggested. There certainly might be alternative realities and the sleeping mind might visit them.

Old Jules, what are your top 10 happiest songs?

Simon & Garfunkel – The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)
Lonnie Donnegan – Jack of Diamonds
Frankie Laine – Cool Water [my pump’s out]
Righteous Brothers – Rock and Roll Heaven
Nat King Cole – Stardust
Roy Acuff – Wabash Cannonball
Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love
Merrilee Rush & the Turnabouts – Angel of the Morning
We’ll Sing In The Sunshine- Gale Garnett
Artie Shaw- Begin The Beguine

Old Jules, I need funny reasons why our world is imperfect?

The north pole refuses to be north despite the fact it’s centered on the spin axis. Every compass in the world points to a place a few degrees off north where the magnetic north pole is located. As if that weren’t bad enough, the magnetic north pole wanders around like a drunken sailor, moving a few miles every year. Then there’s the duckbill platypus. Don’t get me started on the duckbill platypus.

Old Jules, what is Love and why is the word so misused?

Commerce. Love is big business. It sells songs, sells jewelry, sells roses, sells movies. It also provided a rhetorical lever for religions and doctrines. Preachers, gurus, motivational speakers, writers and candy kisses manufacturers all love love in different ways. Patriots love loving patriotism, gun lovers love loving guns, fanatics love loving fanaticism, car lovers love loving cars, bankers and brokers love loving money and morticians love loving corpses and mourners. And most of all, women love love.

A Salute To Immortal Prose In Haiku and Limerick

A Salute To Immortal Prose
In Haiku and Limerick

Cemetery is the place
Save haiku with chisel and mace
No editor chortle
Will spoil your immortal
Words once your headstone’s in place

Muse for men of words:
(In driving drunk and killing)
Man’s consistency

From Poems of the New Old West, Jack Purcell, copyright 2002

Blindsiding ourselves

Jack wrote this in March, 2006:

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Morning blogsters:

Occasionally I have to remind myself how stultified we humans are in our belief systems.  How willing we are to turn a blind eye to information that contradicts what we’ve chosen to believe.

One of the means I use to remind myself is my own memory, my own beliefs during past times.

During Peace Corps Training in 1964, I recall a session with the India X psychologist.  The USSR and the US were experiencing frequent ‘brink of war’ confrontations at the time.  I explained to the psychologist, for reasons I don’t recall, that I believed the Russkies would mind their own business if we would.  That the US was, at least, half to blame for the Cold War.

Which might have been a middling sized slice of why I was booted out of the Peace Corps, though there were plenty of more valid reasons I see today for them doing so.

But my point is, that while the second part of my viewpoint held some solid truth, any suggestion that the USSR would have pulled in the horns and begun to behave themselves if the US did likewise is simply absurd.  My insistence in believing it was a demonstration of my willingness to overlook much of what I knew in order to maintain that belief.

The Russkies weren’t going home at that stage of the game.  Soviet tanks would have rolled across western Europe.  Whether it was proper for the US to risk nuclear destruction to keep this from happening is an entirely different issue.

But the Russkies weren’t going home.

Not any more than the US troops are ever going to come home from Korea, Europe, the Middle East, and who-knows-where else, simply because the rest of the world decides to behave itself as US government says it should.  Not until internal conditions force it to do so, as happened with the USSR, or foreign nations discover a way to make it happen.

In my Peace Corps days I was deliberately overlooking the piece of human nature that’s always prevailed whenever one human, or one nation, possessed overwhelming superiority in weaponry or force.

The reason for these ramblings this morning is all the browsing I’ve been doing on groups and blogs recently.  I’m finding myself wondering which piece of human nature is going to succeed in blindsiding itself with some other piece of human nature next.  My money is on brute force, one way or another.

But there might be some favorable alternatives I’m just turning a blind eye to.

Jack

 

 

Random pre-dawn notes

Jack wrote this in September, 2005:

Morning blog-readers,

Nice morning here.  Moon’s still full, almost straight overhead, cool, clear sky.

A friend told me a couple of interesting anecdotes she’s encountered recently, yesterday.

Seems there’s an outfit in California that’s found a successful means of treating Alzheimer’s, which is a happy piece of human gossip.  Lady just out of the village is putting her home up for rent to take her mother out there for a year to go through the complete 19 month regimen.  She’s gone through the first phase here (six weeks) and seen such improvement that she feels a lot of confidence the treatment works.

Interestingly, it’s mainly a matter of retraining the communications within the brain, re-routing electrical impulses to do what they did before the brain deterioration began, but via different packets of nerves.  Evidently, the mere restoration of communications within the brain halts further progress of the physical damage.

The nursing home industry and possibly the medicos won’t like this, but everyone else probably will find it a blessing if they’re able to afford the treatment for their loved-ones whom they’re watching slowly sink into an ugly oblivion.

Same friend also told me an interesting anecdote about the daughter of yet another woman who’s just come back from Iraq, evidently National Guard.  Says she’s overwhelmed by nightmares, getting no sleep, won’t go anywhere and sleeps with her M-16.  Constant state of unreasoning fear and anxiety.

The ship carrying all her belongings and those of her co-troops was evidently destroyed in the NO hurricane, so there’s also that to keep her feeling down.

Crazy sending women to a place such as that.  This whole all-volunteer army thing is one that could have used some testing in a lot of ways before it was implemented, but the political atmosphere was absolute death to the draft, and they needed to shore up the numbers of warm bodies to use for cannon-fodder some way.  Adding women doubled the pool while tipping a hat to political correctness.  Still does.

And strangely enough, while men mostly weren’t much interested in making a career of the military if they could do anything else, except those of a particular personality type, women chomped at the bit to get in, then fought to get into the combat arms branches.

A person has to be careful what he asks for in this life, out of respect that he might get it.  They’ve got it all worked out now as a precedent.  Next war big enough to involve the draft will have women coming home in body bags in roughly the same numbers as men.

What a piece of work is man!
How noble in reason!
how infinite in faculties!
in form and moving, how express and admirable!
in action how like an angel!
in apprehension, how like a god!
the beauty of the world!
the paragon of animals!
And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
Man delights not me; no, nor woman neither.

I have of late,–but wherefore I know not,–
lost all my mirth,
forgone all custom of exercises;
and indeed, it goes so heavily
with my disposition
that this goodly frame, the earth,
seems to me a sterile promontory;
this most excellent canopy, the air,
look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament,
this majestical roof fretted with golden fire,–
why, it appears no other thing
to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.

William Shakespeare
Hamlet II

Back during the draft days a major part of the young men were tickled pea green to have flat feet, anything to keep them out, while women had an automatic non-obligation along those lines.  They were what young men were supposed to be fighting for.

Strange stuff, when you think of it.

It’s going to be interesting to watch the battle between the FDA and medicos and that new Alzheimers treatment bunch, thinks I.  It’s not a ‘medical’ treatment, per se, and it has all the earmarks of just the sort of thing that ought to bring the folks who make a living out of keeping the status quo on ugly death out with their jack-boots polished to a fine sheen.

Similar to the way they’ve kept out a simple herbal method of shrinking tumors to zip clean out of the respectable cancer treatment business.  Native American herbal recipe involving sheep sorrel, black burdock, slippery elm and turkey rhubarb you can brew at home, knocks out benign and malignant tumors anywhere and in the human body, but there’s not a medico in the US who will prescribe it, despite the thousands of people whom they’ve pronounced living dead who are walking around because of it.

Ah well.

Jack

Retroactive Deja vu

Jack wrote this in September, 2005:

A decade ago emergency management workers used to marvel.

A tidal wave, an earthquake, mudslides, floods hit in South America, China, Armenia, casualties would be in the thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands.  But a similar event in the US would leave a few dozen people dead with just a lot of property damage.

Emergency management workers knew this wasn’t their doing.  Mitigation workers knew it wasn’t their doing.  A few believed it was just a confirmation that God was on the side of America.  Most believed it was pure, dumb luck.

Everyone knew the potential was there, the vulnerabilities.  In fact, one of the reasons no effective mitigation efforts found support lay in the fact that these things simply don’t happen to the United States.  They happen elsewhere, to foreigners, to strangers.

We watched the tragedies, helped as we could, we Americans, but we came to believe a catastrophy for America was an airline crash where a hundred or so people died.  A hurricane where people lost their homes.

It’s clear our luck ran out on this one.

I saw a newspaper this morning and read with shock about the chaos and the inability of the emergency response and recovery infrastructure to deal with an event of this magnitude.  I shouldn’t have been shocked, because it’s obvious, in retrospect.

Maybe things would have been different if we’d not stretched our resources so thin…. if we’d continued to use our regular Army to fight our wars and left the National Guard and Army Reserves inside the US boundaries, but there’s no assurance of  this.

There’s a certainty that a lot less human death and suffering and property damage from looting would have resulted if there’d been a determined evacuation before the storm came in.  There’ll definitely be a lot of questions asked about why that didn’t happen.

But the reason it didn’t happen is right there in the beginning of this jotting.  Things of this magnitude don’t happen here.  Those victim-faces filled with anguish could have made the choice to leave.  They didn’t do so because they believed as we all tend to, that US soil is somehow sanctified against such stupendous tragedy.

The costs will by high in their personal lives because of this tragedy.  Their choice to stay will also be enormously high for the rest of us, as well.

If those traumatized victims had merely used good judgement, taken measures to behave the way any prudent person would behave when a CAT 5 storm’s coming in from the Gulf of Mexico, the only thing those FEMA, National Guard, Police, Firemen and rescue workers would be dealing with would be a few stragglers who simply found it impossible to leave, and the hospitals who couldn’t.

Hopefully all over the US people with spare bedrooms will give over a piece of themselves in the form of shelter, make the sacrifice to trust those people who made a lousy choice we might well have made ourselves.

Somehow those people have to be relocated to the spare bedrooms of America for a while.

Are we up to the task?

I’m not.

Jack

Ask Old Jules: Relationship with death, Leap of faith, Gratitude today, How bad is your life?

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Old Jules, what’s your relationship with death?

I figure it could come anytime because I’ve gone around the sun enough times to raise the odds in favor of me not waking up some morning or falling off the porch and not getting up, or just exiting the vehicle when I’m chasing deer out of the chicken feed. Mainly I try to make certain the cats have a way out of the house and someone will check on the chickens to make sure they’re fed and won’t stay locked up in the night fortress indefinitely. Death’s not a big deal to the dead but what’s left alive needs to be attended to.

Old Jules, what was your last leap of faith?

I trust that one way or another everything is going to work out and that for my purposes how it works out will be satisfactory. I took that leap again when I read your question, but I take it constantly while I’m awake.

Old Jules, what do you feel most grateful for today?

Same as every day. Everything that’s ever happened in my experience of life, everything happening now and everything that’s going to happen. For specifics, grateful for electricity, grateful for a shelter, grateful for enough food, grateful for my Pendleton Wool Blankets, grateful for my cats and chickens.

Old Jules, how bad is your life?

My life’s good and full of appreciation for happenstance. Generally a pleasure. I have a lot of issues at the moment, including a well-pump problem causing me to have to haul my water half-mile from the neighboring place, a truck I have to park on a downhill grade to get it started by rolling downhill, a couple of trap-wise coons occasionally getting my chickens without yet having to pay with their lives. But none of those detract much from the pleasure I get from life. I’ll confess I prefer a hot bath frequently here instead of a shower at the neighbor’s place, and it’s a teeth-clinching experience having to defecate in a hole outdoors mid-winter, but those are passing discomforts and have no bearing on the joy of life. Our ancestors had it far more difficult. I’ll deal with them one step at a time. Same as I’ve dealt with everything all my life.

 

The wisdom of the storm

Jack wrote this in September, 2005:

There’s probably a lot Americans can learn about themselves, about the government, about foreigners, and about victims from this event, provided they’ll allow themselves to do it.  However, that seems unlikely.

That’s an unfortunate trait we humans share, not allowing ourselves to closely observe, digest, and learn things we’d rather not contemplate.

We’ve grown accustomed to the shrill cries of immediacy, the razor edge of opinion communicated as fact, of analysis while the water’s muddy and incomprehensible, then the unfortunate decisions left behind and forgotten after the scapegoating and recriminations are over.  There’ll be another crisis or exciting sports event, important musical concert to demand our attention to help us avoid learning whatever’s to be learned from all this.

Time was when we could afford such things.  The US once had a gross national product that involved manufactured goods, as opposed to raw materials, agricultural products and hamburgers.  Today all we have is an enormous military, a lot of computer related activity, and an inflated view of ourselves because of what we once were, similar to the one the Brits had of themselves during the first generation following the dissolution of the Empire.

We’ve done a lot to get where we are, to maintain the self-image, but it’s going to go away.  Deficit spending simply can’t happen on a sustained basis, even though ours has set a lot of records.

Fact is, there’s got to be a time coming when the remittance man knocks and wants to be paid.  When the addict, the gambler, or just the poor guy who’s buying groceries and gasoline on his credit card tries one last time and the guys who’ve been making the loans shake their heads, no.

Hopefully that won’t happen during the immediate aftermath of this storm.  But in view of petroleum prices there’s reason to suspect it will happen sooner than we’d like.

Americans are going to have to pull back the reins, begin to examine what things they’re willing to give up as a nation, or the issue will be decided for them.  But, of course, the first half of that sentence is an absurdity, moot.  The issue’s going to be decided at the bankruptcy auction, by the remittance man, by the grocer, the car dealer, the world when it finally shakes its head, no.

When Americans begin to come down off the emotional high of watching storm victims and marching goose-step in their legions of admiration-explosion for the heroes and their pity for the victims they could serve themselves well by turning off the television, cancelling the newspaper, and simply thinking about this disaster, about America, about foreigners, about the national deficit, and about what, precisely, the common dollar bill has to eat to keep it alive.

Jack

One that got caught

Jack wrote this in September, 2005:

For some while I’ve been haranguing you bloggers to take a look at what this War on Drugs is doing to destroy our institutions, mainly in the criminal justice arena. Here’s an example of a tip-of-the-iceberg for-instance:

The Lincoln Courier, Lincoln, Ill, reports police Cpl. Diana R. Short, 46, and her husband, paramedic John T. Short, 41, were charged with several drug felonies, including growing marijuana in their home for distribution, plus charges of illegal weapons possession. Short’s husband has already accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced to six years. Meanwhile, Diana Short has pleaded not guilty; she faces 18-90 years in prison.

Okay. There’s going to be a bad apple in any barrel. Right? A cop sees a river of money running under her feet, same as all cops do. She’s holding a cup and she’s thirsty. Her pay, according to her thinking, isn’t at all what it should be, and she drives past crack houses and drug deals enough times a night to know the battle to get it off the streets is futile. Begins to wonder, “Why not give myself a raise?”

Several months later Diana’s daughter, Brianna D. Strohl, 24, was charged with conspiracy to do a meth cook raise money for her mother’s bail. Short evidently instructed her daughter by phone from a jail phone and the calls were recorded. The daughter faces 6-30 years.

You have to read a lot between the lines here to see the implications.

First, this lady cop certainly knew phone calls from the jail were recorded, but for some reason we can only guess, she wasn’t deterred from talking about committing a felony on a jail phone.

Hmmmm.

Secondly, this officer was raising weed in her home. Is it possible the officers charged with enforcing drug laws aren’t being tested regularly? Even if the cop wasn’t smoking there’s pollen. Pee in a bottle. Hair, clothing, that sort of thing.

The fact is, in the State of New Mexico police officers are almost never given drug tests. During the several years I worked for an agency within the New Mexico Department of Public Safety not one employee of that department was asked to take a drug test.

Now why, one wonders, would that be?

Probably a visit to your own police department, bloggers, will reveal the same is true in your own State Police and local police administrations.

“I can’t answer for you,” Bob Dylan once whined, “You’ll have to decide,

Whether Judas Iscariot had God on his side.”

Jack

A couple of things

Jack wrote this in October, 2006:

The people on my friends list have been awfully courteous about not sending me spam they’re sending out to mailing lists, and forwards.  I appreciate the fact you don’t do it.

A while back I was getting daily email notices that I had messages on the blog site.  I’d check and find a lot of jokes I heard in 1954, warnings about spyware, cutesy platitudes, and just people wishing me and a hundred people a nice day with a smiley face.

I asked those folks to cease doing it, and when they continued I removed them from my list.

Those of you left, thank you.

I did get a forwarded PM today, but it’s the first in a while.  A cautionary thing about the dangers of identity theft, etc.  Somewhere backward among the forwards was a long note from someone who called herself, Chosen Lady.

Lots of praising of the Lord and self-backpatting for being so good.  But, she said, “Even Jesus knew when to get mad, and so do I.”  I paused long enough before deleting the message to wonder where a person might find Jesus quoted in Matthew, Mark, Luke, as being angry at anyone.

Brought to mind a funeral I attended once.  The preacher took the opportunity to throw a little fire and brimstone into the mix….. lots of people out there to say goodbye to a friend so I suppose the minister had a bigger audience to yell at than the usual Sunday fare.

After the preacher finished another man got behind the podium.

“Bill was a good man and my good friend for forty years.  We’re here to feel our last goodbyes to him.

“All the time I knew Bill you’d have never known he was a Christian until he died.  He acted the way a Christian ought to act, but he didn’t feel the need to brag about it.

“I could say a lot of kind things about Bill, but at the moment that’s the highest praise that comes to mind.”

I agreed then, and I agree now.

Jack