Archive for September, 2010

The Prez and Mr. Wen

September 30, 2010

I can just imagine what our President must have been saying, in advance apologeia, to the Chinese premier last week:

SO sorry, Mr. Wen. Our unruly House of Representatives is liable to do anything in these present dire circumstances.  They’re like a herd of wounded buffalo that’s been cornered in a canyon by a bunch of emerging nation cowboys.  No tellin’ what they’ll do.  We’re a democracy,  you know.  The reps are sensitive to their constituents, we the people and all that.

We’re not like you guys in China, with your micromanaging number-crunchin’ CCP bureacrats who get everything figured out and then tweak the economic engines with a spurt here and a spot-check there.
No, we’re a wild bunch, especially those guys and gals in the house. They’re liable to do any desperado thing to save their asses in this election year.

I understand what you guys are going through over there.  Hey, we were doin’ the same thing a hundred years ago, expanding like crazy. Hell, I’ve heard about Pudong in the last twenty years or so, like our  Los Angeles was back in the heyday…

Our folks are runnin’ scared; they need to figure out how to start making stuff again and selling it to each other instead of buying so much from you guys, but try to tell ’em that  when they’re down at walmart looking  to save a buck…a devalued buck.  Hey, speaking of devaluation,  you might want to think about propping up your yuan a little bit to give us a fightin’ chance  before this thing blows up in our faces.
I mean, you guys can do a turnaround, right?  Look at what Deng did back in the 80s after the big guy kicked the bucket.
Bottom line, Mr. Wen, is give us a break, will ya?


September 28, 2010

Now our last day’s just begun;

our revolution’s surely won,

no need for knife or gun,

’cause the ancient anointed one

hath finished work that’s long been done.


Oh you daughter and you son,

for our time is just begun,

and our race already won,

though yet we run.

Is it fun?

A ton.

The Twelfth Imam

September 26, 2010

Muslims of Shi’a Islam believe there is a great Imam, a spiritual leader, who has been alive on the earth since the year 872 c.e. They believe that he, Muhammed al-Mahdi, will emerge from his prolonged hiding and return to public life someday, probably soon.

Shi’as believe that when this Imam, the 12th Imam after Mohammed, returns, he will be with Jesus. They believe that their return to public ministry together will initiate a new age of  peace and justice on earth.

We Christians do not accept this scenario of Christ’s return to this troubled earth.  We believe Jesus will return on his own, being One with God, the Creator of the Universe. There will be no need for a Twelfth Imam accompanying him.

Whose apocolyptic vision is the correct one? The Christian one derived from the Bible, or the Muslim one derived from the Q’uran? When that great day comes, we shall see who is right, eh?

oil cleanup up-close report

September 25, 2010
In the midst of all that is going on in the world today, you may find yourself better informed by reading this eyewitness report from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Denise Schutte provides an upclose perspective from her visit to a fishing town near the mouth of the Mississippi River.
It will probably take many more of these personal reports for us to figure out what has happened down there, and what we can do to support preventive and corrective measures.

the poor Tyger

September 16, 2010

an excerpt from Glass Chimera:


A bright security light cast its beacon of safety through misty rustling darkness, and across the domesticated wilderness of Audubon Park. Its glinting wavelengths flickered upon the ripple of a black zoo-pond. And that reflecting light shone across the untamed eye of an unexpected night wanderer, one whose goings forth were unaccounted for and certainly unauthorized. Meanwhile, while somewhere in the world at that very instant an errant author or wild-eyed reader was fixing their refined, so sublime homo sapien attention upon some worn-out, quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, which being surely squandered and nearly nappingly pondered, did boldly pose their question to the restless beast,

” Tyger, tyger, burning bright

in the forests of the night

what immortal hand or eye

could frame thy fearful symmetry?”

… why, why, the very tiger did creep and creep, then leap and leap, o’er its very irksome cagey keep and pounce upon the earthen floor, its captive status to endure. . . nevermore!


And so Harry Clerval, while his wife Clarissa was hearing Gladys’ gossipy tale, did squint through the Louie’s window toward the tall oak tree across the street in the churchyard. For, as he carefully yet blinkingly observed, he thought he saw a tiger, a striped Bengal tiger, crouching among the branches, perched above, no doubt ready to pounce upon, unsuspecting passersby below.

“What the hell?”

the times they are a changin’

September 13, 2010

You know something’s about to break when Paul Krugman writes about Chinese obstinacy instead of the need for more federal reserve notes.

two sides to every firestorm

September 12, 2010

In this great nation of free people expressing ideas freely, of course we find that there are two sides to every story.
On one hand, Daniel Greenfield analyzes the koran-burning controversy from a constitutional perspective. He comes up with some pretty good points, like this one:

“The same media which has consistently opposed a Constitutional amendment that bans flag burning (generally because they tend to agree with the flag burners), has now decided that burning the Koran should be a crime. Because burning the flag or killing thousands of Americans is no big deal– but burning a Koran, someone should make a law about that.
Given a choice between burning the US Constitution or burning the Koran– the media happily raises a lighter to the First Amendment. To them nothing American is sacred, but everything Islamic is.”

On the other hand, since any incendiary issue (like, say, the American thrust toward revolution in 1776 that ultimately led to our constitution and its protected rights) is complicated, we see another side of the story with legitimate points, as represented in this article from Alex Kane of the Indypendent, a New York City newspaper, which documents a groundswell of support for the Islamic center among the residents of that city:

“Organized by New York Neighbors for American Values, a new coalition of over 100 groups formed in response to the opposition to the Cordoba House project, faith leaders, elected officials, musicians and activists voiced strong support for the proposed Islamic community center, which will also include a September 11 memorial, a restaurant and culinary school and more.”

So I say that if Muslims in New York City can convince their neighbors that it is safe and appropriate for  them to build a cultural center (or mosque whatever), then let ’em build the dam thing.
But don’t curb the constitutionally-protected rights of a Florida pastor to express his opinion about it, or about the oppressive religion behind the controversy.
If the Muslims of these United States have something to contribute to our free nation, then let them convince us of their respectful intentions. They are free to present their case, and to express themselves religiously by their practice and by their construction.
Likewise, Rev. Terry Jones is free to express his views by burning a Koran, as long as its his property.

As for the issue of the so-called jeopardizing of the safety of our soldiers…just what are our soldiers defending, if not those constitutional rights and the people who are entitled to them?

the 9/11 Dilemma

September 11, 2010

These days, people in the western world don’t put much stock in sacred texts. Since we’ve evolved beyond all that quaint mythology and hocus pocus, we prefer not to acknowledge the the very real forces of spiritual contention that strive beneath our tragic history.
As literate as we are, we have not yet figured out that probably half of the world, myself included, is still bound up in the traditions of ancient religions. Most of the devout folk who derive their morality from these diverse streams of human spirituality congregate in their respective synagogues, mosques, churches and temples. By gathering together, believers reinforce their faith, multiply it, and extend it.
The educated members of our species eschew the old associations, and view them as divisive.

Certainly, human history reveals that religions are divisive. But the cold, hard, inconvenient truth is that if we weren’t killing ourselves over religion, we’d be whacking each other over something else, like oil,  food,  real estate, or each other’s spouses.

As a believer, I find myself here, September 11, 2010, on the tail end of the Judeo/Christian tradition. That particular stream of faith documents, among other events, many historic disputes that have arisen among various luminaries of the faith, most notably these two: Jacob/Esau, Isaac/Ishma’il.

But hey, the most recent offshoot of the Abrahamic tradition is, alas, Islam. Read em’ and weep, all ye Christians and Jews. Torah/Bible says God ordered the patriarch to go up on the mountain to sacrifice his son, Isaac, whereas the Q’uran identifies the prospective sacrifice as the other son, Isma’il. Islamic tradition says that Mohammed was taken up by Allah at the rock, which is now within the Dome of the Rock. Christian revelation specifies the next ridge over, the Mt. of Olives, as the location for Christ’s second coming. The Jews, meanwhile, are down at the wall wailing and crying for Messiah to show his face.

Among modern readers of these texts, people who are literate beyond religion tend to allegorize, or reject altogether, the spiritual truths that have been brought forth. Among literal-minded readers, however, steadfast faith leads to scriptural doctrines that can prove to be quite dogmatic.

When a fundamentalist of one sect burns, or threatens to burn, the sacred texts of another, swords–these days guns and bombs– come out of the sheaths.  The cool-headed members of our species consign such stunts to vain sound and fury, signifying nothing. Nevertheless, most of the religious folk of our world are still taking sides on these issues.

Excuse me, but I am one of those dreaded religious relics of the human race who favor faith over diversity. Although I’ll try to tolerate anyone who doesn’t want to explode me, I’ll not concede that anything goes in the universe of truth.
Therefore, even as coolly objective as my secular, multiculturalized rose-colored-glasses-wearing better-angels would like to persuade me to be, I nevertheless take my place on the great mandala by sharing this song, which I laid down a few years ago with some friends of mine in David Browne’s studio.
We’ve got a song to sing.

to commemorate 9/11

September 11, 2010

Here’s a song that some friends helped me to sing, a while back. We’ve got a song to sing

violent religion?

September 10, 2010

If one insignificant book-burning could provoke widspread violent reprisal from Muslims, then what does that indicate about the character of Islam?