Just the Facts

January 31st, 2009

~ This day belongs to February.

Even if you don’t read the comics you probably know that there is a growing dissatisfaction with the calendar as we know it, or at least as we know it in the ‘west’, which means where the reach of western consumerism has reached.  But there I go again, adding fighting words to a simple observation.  Who really wants to think about who uses what calendars where or when or why?  Doesn’t ‘everybody’ do it our way, my way, the only way unless it is the highway, or the high way?

Anyway, the first three months use up 90 days and three equal parts would make three months of thirty days.  It’s that simple.  Forget about the rest of the year, change has to start somewhere and if you can get 25% of the year right that is about as good as it gets or as good as it looks for now.  Am I right?  It is the year, the decade, the administration of “change” so why not get started by getting it right about a few days and a few months and changing just two days over to one poor beleaguered and downtrodden (did I say discriminated against?) month.  Free February!  Equal rights (and days) for us all, or do I mean equal nights?  Later on we can worry about the fact that “Oct” means eight and “Nov” means nine and “Dec” means ten, changing names is always so much harder than changing numbers.

What brought me around to thinking about these simple facts is that I love to read the comics, which is why I still take the paper mostly, not that the best comics ever cannot be found on the web, like Duck & Cover, but then you probably knew about that one already.  No, what really brought me around to talking about the calendar and days and dates is the issue of simple facts and the belief that because they are so simple and so obvious that all good people will arrive at the same conclusion when confronted by the facts in a simple fair and honest way.  Like what about the ‘bad’ people, you worry about them, they don’t really matter – it’s the good people that one should care about and converse about and not find fault about, always remembering that most everyone is really good even if they do “bad” (things) for awhile, until they reform or see the light or find the time for better days.

Each new day in February could be a “better day”, a day reserved for niceness, for caring, for helping out ones neighbor or ones brother or ones sister or a stranger that one never knew.  Two days should not be a reach, two days in California when you no longer can be working, not so much a loss, it’s the gain of loss, but now I guess I’m just confusing you.  I assume you know so much, can think so well, are really good (at least inside).

I learned early how to argue, to debate, to use words as weapons because they were cheaper and less permanent in damage than buying bullets – putting them in guns (and then the worst, actually using them – the guns).  But words too can be inflammatory, the “fire” in a theater thing, words can ‘go nuclear’, can hurt and hurt and hurt and seem to last forever though the Persian poet was wrong, one can take words back, apologize, erase the sentence and the substance and isn’t that what the “delete” key’s really for?

The post does really have a point.  The point is that it is often too easy to jump up and down (with words), point to a fire, expostulate about the flames and heat, pontificate about the books that may be burned, about the bodies and about the deaths and about all those ugly things that should not be happening (not ever, not NOW).  But a calmer rancor might be in order, a more casual inquiry into the facts, less passion, less excitement, less the conclusions of the witness.  After all (is said and done) the jury is still out, this great trial (of life) is still not over, there will be new facts tomorrow, in February – but if I had my way February would begin today.

It’s not really what the talking heads are saying, it’s that they’re talking, it’s the habits that they’re in and it’s our habit to tune in to listen (for those that still watch TV’s).  “We watch the news at 6 o’clock,” we eat dinner at six, too.  “Why not a TV dinner?”  Small trays made of aluminum, unfrozen potatoes, turkey or salisbury steak, vegetables on the side.  America was so wonderful, so innovative, so perfect in its patterns – why don’t we BUY a TV tray?  “We need a TV tray.”  We really need two or three or four and if we have guests for dinner maybe even four more.  I guess (in 1958) my father could see where all this was going, so he got going to Afghanistan instead, no Revolutionary Road for him, no sad outcomes when you’re the master of your lives, have courage to take the road less taken.  Everything is always connected – like the cost of energy to TV, it’s better than “a box of chocolates”.  I like a mix of metaphors.

My goal is to turn time into space.  It is a reasonable goal of any good Calendar.  Each day marks off where we’ve traveled, how far forward or how far back.  Time is but a map, and a map is about nothing except about space.  All there is is space.  Let time pass you by, like the wind, it either cools or causes your freezing – it all depends on just where you are.  Time can bring nothing new to you, time can take nothing away.  It’s all about your feet, or where you choose to walk, or what you choose to think or say.  Everything else will come to you, in place, right where you are, that’s the secret that can make things happen, move a little and much will change.  And unlike bullets, words you can always take back.  Don’t rely on anything the ‘heads’ ever say, only you know what is real, their rap is ‘for entertainment only’.

Give February a chance.  Make the least of months bigger than before, with better days, not richer days – just better.  If you add the day from January to the beginning, then Valentine’s falls on the Ides, the Ides of February, with love and hope for all, not just negligees and slippers – flowers and a box of chocolates, hope you do like nuts is like no hope at all and candy does really rot your teeth, adds pounds, clogs arteries; it’s not really so good to go, so let it go.  Change the spirit and the day, rearrange and remake February like your life depends on it, it’s only time – or is it space, or is it more of both you want or need?

It’s like what Bernie Madoff said, not what he did.  Do you believe this guy?  Did you believe this guy?  Do you believe any guy who brings hearts and flowers in the cold of a February blizzard, like in Kentucky, it’s not like in California anymore, not like a greenhouse in the sky, that’s snow not a greenhouse in the sky and icicles and freezing rain and the powers out and don’t you know where you belong, or where you’re going, in space – this is not about time at all.  These are just the facts.  The facts will set you free, will make you free – not just words or bullets, the truth will make you free.  And that’s a fact.

[2009.01.28 / Saturn’s day – Just the Facts]

Confusion in Davos

January 28th, 2009

~ The running of the rabbits.

I am not an economist.  Thank God.  But I do understand the nature of things and money well enough to get by in the world, to buy things or sell things or hold things as in the adage, “know when to hold them, know when to fold em’, know when to walk away, know when to run.”  We might call those that know this bit of wisdom “Citizen Economists”, and all citizen economists are a bit at odds in their perspectives from the experts and professionals of the economic world, those people that have created all the mess.

Davos is a city in Switzerland, the land of chocolate bars, Swiss clocks and watches, and the failed League of Nations.  I knew all about Switzerland once, like in forth or fifth grade, like because I wrote a report or two on Switzerland and studied it and learned what my teachers had to say about the subject.  I don’t remember anything about Davos, Zurich perhaps, but not Davos.

Mostly my memories had to do with the country life of Switzerland, where most of the people lived, where the charming houses had roofs of mud and grass so the cows could graze even on the rooftops (talk about houses that are really ‘green’) and then the Swiss could make Swiss cheese from the abundant supplies of milk.  The leftover (or excess) milk was used for the Swiss chocolate.  Winters were long and cold in Switzerland (I was told), so the Swiss made watches in winter by the fire.  A vendor brought up to each house piles of parts and by the springtime all the springs and screws and little bits of metal were all neatly assembled into the ‘best watches in all the world’.  The watch that I had stolen in Kabul, bought in Hong Kong, was made in Switzerland but was probably not made in Davos.

The bazaars of Kabul were rich and chok-a-block with chocolate bars from Switzerland when I was there in 1959 and 1960.  You couldn’t find a Hershey bar for love nor money nor silver bars or gold coins, or is it silver coins and gold bars?  On the streets of Kabul, with the common folk, with me, the chocolate was worth more than gold & silver, you could eat chocolate and chocolate could keep you warm.  It got cold in winter in Kabul too, like in Switzerland, like in Nevada.  My mind wanders when I write of cold.

Anyway, I learned of Davos by reading ‘conspiracy’ books, about the Illuminati, the Masons, the NWO, and UFO’s and cattle mutilations and the connections with Owls and the CIA.  Davos somehow was all about the control of things, financial control, where the big brass of bankers with big brass balls went and rubbed knuckles and shoulders and buttocks I bet to keep order in the financial order in order to make money for themselves and to keep the planet political so that big money and big politics might ‘beat all’.  These books were all written before ‘the crash’, but then again that assumes that the crash was not all planned in Davos, pieced together over time like some intricate Swiss watch – now it works and now it stops, it’s time to buy another.

Anyway, some great financial guru now once again in Davos (it’s an annual affair) went so far as to say the the crash has, “destroyed 40% of the world’s wealth”.  This man is confused, not so much because he is a man, but because, because, because… (which is an old 50’s expression to convey the notion of being so lost that a reasonable person does not know where to begin).  I like the role of being a reasonable person, but since I do know where to begin I guess the title might have to pass me by, or at least in this case, oh well, I shall begin.

Fiat money (printed paper and electronic blips and checks and IOU’s) have no real value except in the world of recycling, where the paper part can be reduced to mulch which with proper pressure and drying can be reconstituted into new paper that hopefully can find a better use than paper money, checks, and IOU’s.  There is no “wealth” in money, it is only a theoretical claim on the real wealth that is held in the hands of others.  I use the word “hand” as in the notion of the hand of God that as a metaphor can hold very big things as well as very small things, the point is that they are “things of value”, which means things of real value, useful and utilitarian, like chocolate bars on a cold winters day and watches if one wants to make someone happy like a thief or a con artist on a hillside in Kabul, but as he ran down the hill with my watch I guess I got to see how “time flies” which used to be a ‘little moron joke’ when I was still in second grade at Fremont School in Carson City.  I mention this to remind you that this is a “blog” and not professional journalism, which can’t possibly be this much fun.

Anyway, the point is that Carson City, Fremont School, all the desks at Fremont, all the watches, all the chocolate bars (except those recently eaten), the whole city of Davos even, and all the hotels and the restaurants and the airliners that got everyone there – all this real wealth still exists and has remained much as it was in 2006 or in 2004 or before the crash – amen.  No “wealth” has been destroyed, except of course all the billions worth of buildings in Gaza, but I don’t think they are too worried about Gaza in Davos which might bring us to the real problem of money and of wealth and how it isn’t used to maintain any peace or order but when it comes to money it’s more about war than wealth.  But hey, I didn’t bring up the word “destruction” (past participle of destroyed, or is future conjunctive, or who really knows what words really mean when they’re used outside the realm of reason?).

I left out mentioning the City of Kabul, or Kandahar, or the buildings in the villages of Afghanistan, or the beds in each home, or the camels killed in the Gaza Zoo (shot dead by some Zionist pig), or the cows and chickens and simple artifacts of life that make life possible that have not yet been destroyed but might soon be destroyed because maybe the guy in Davos really is a prophet and not a banker and he is just raising the alarm about the near future of this world where, “40% of the world’s wealth will soon be destroyed” and he doesn’t mean banking, he means WAR.

Wealth is a bit like poker, any prudent person is careful about what he puts into the pot.  He or she keeps their watch on, keeps their skirt or pants on, doesn’t mortgage or bet the family farm.  The “money in circulation” (the pot) can be very large or small or close to nothing at all – but the existing wealth remains the same.  How much one “bets” is based on the size of ones pot and ones willingness to engage in greed.  Don’t get me wrong, poker can be fun.  But ‘fun’ poker is always for small stakes, conservative bets – and smart people never play with the high rollers.

When I was young and living in Carson City one only brought gold or silver coins to the table when gambling at the game of poker.  It was real wealth, not like paper or IOU’s.  But before that people played for a pair of boots, an extra saddle, a good rope halter or leather reins.  Farmers might play for a bushel of oats, miners for a pick, you get my drift.  Sometimes there is no substitute for money and at others money is never a substitute at all; we’ve been here before with Continental dams and Confederate dollars and a plethora of blue chip stamps left over after all the redemption stores forever closed, there’s no cash value written in small letters on your cash, it’s just a coupon, nothing more.

I guess I was going to write something about rabbits.  Maybe it’s more about jackalopes.

[2009.01.28 / Wodensday – Confusion in Davos]

Israel is Serbia

January 27th, 2009

~ I am a witness to our times.

The imperative of history links those alive in each generation to an historical event.  Or in some cases it is to several historical events, or a series, or a thousand.  As the Chinese axiom goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  The “thousand mile journey” might be best seen as the one thousand defining events of every lifetime, assuming a ‘ripe old age’ of sixty, or seventy, or even of seventy-two which in the scheme of things is not bad given the toxicity of things, and the wars – the numbers of wars.

History has been defined as the history of politics, wars, and battles.  We remember those associated with the same.  It is a vacuous and empty history, largely, a history of the planet’s stupidity and pain; but it is the common pain, inflicted on the common person – a memory not ever easy to forget.  Word Press has become impressive, it has fixed the ‘time problem’ about which I posted long ago so now I can freely post about 1599, the battle of Acoma, a war crime even then and now recognized as the defining moment in the events of a generation, of 5,000 people or maybe more – Indians and Spanish and Spaniards all grappling with the bloody events of one week, one day, and the aftermath of that day and week that still lives on after four hundred years; or does it live on forever?

There is a circularity of time.  It circles back to the same themes, the same places.  Each place is impressed, is fossilized, is imprinted with the poignant imprint of imprinted energy that screams out and beckons to “come here”, to visit, to revisit this place and another time so that you may learn and understand and not pass this way again (once you have learned).  The places of which I speak of course are those special places, those places of pain and battle, the focal points of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’.  Even in the empty desert, even in the face of war these places call out, beckon, distract the  warrior from his course toward war as in the case of Patton at the site of Allemain.  But, even given this, Patton would not turn from his road to death and hell.

Which might bring us to a few years back, to Serbia, to war and the atrocities of war and once again after four hundred years of learning nothing from Acoma to the criminals of war – War Criminals, as if not all war is criminal, all real war, all war with bullets and bombs and other modern weaponry, like the muskets and cannons used at Acoma – against rocks and stones and slingshots maybe, arrows at the most, not even one of the enemy was made to die.  These victims were and are our native sons, and daughters, and their children born and unborn and their descendants are among us still, closer than you to me.

We remember the names and faces, a few at least, of the Serbs, of the criminals of war, of those that used war to fuel their own perverted fantasies of life and death and what it means to kill and of what it means to die and of all the victims too – we remember the victims too!  And now, if you’re alive now and thinking, our journey has been marked by a new mile, a new milestone of war, we will remember what will always (perhaps) be remembered as “The New Year’s War”, the war of Palestine, the war of Gaza, the war of Serbia south where even more Moslems were the victims, more heathen people, more like the “Indians” of old that we never sought to understand, whose faith we killed to conquer, who like the Phoenix still live with us today, still closer than you to me.

I do not need to once again start a new rant against the media and the press, against the “news” that isn’t, against CNN and Fox and MSNBC and all the others (the BBC) and all their biases, their distortions, their omissions, and their lies.  I witnesses them, but I watched the war at “Palestinethinktank.com”, mostly watched their ‘Slide Show’, the real pictures of the war, the breaking news as it came in – the “heart-breaking” news.  There you will find the images of White Phosphorus, an illegal weapon in any war, and yet “they” used it, as Americans “we” made it, if you’re Jewish who is “they” or “we”?  It is for each person to decide, like at Acoma if you were Spanish – was it “you” or was it “us” or was it “someone else”, a criminal of war perhaps.  Then (400 years ago) the trials (the hearings) were held in Spain.

The DIME weapons are fairly new, experimental stuff in war, like the gattling gun used by General Custer, at Wounded Knee, used for the mass-murder of civilians, the braves were living too “hiding out among the civilians, using them as human shields (I suspect)”.  A warrior can never go home again, not ever before or during a time of war – isn’t every male a combatant, an enemy, a soldier with arms even if the arms are only human used only for lifting up a wife and child?  Before you decide, compare the Israeli propaganda and the pictures posted on the site, then decide.

But now (at “Palestinethinktank.com”) they have posted the names and pictures – those responsible, the War Criminals, the CRIMINALS OF WAR!  Do they even deserve a trial?  Are not accusations good enough?  Is this not America, like with Guantanamo or with our “smart bombs” dropped on Pakistan and Afghanistan and on the other criminals, criminals of war killed by someone who was well-paid to point a finger, to make an accusation, to turn in a neighbor or a friend or an enemy in business or a jealous husband or all the other things that seem to matter when all it is is the expediency of war.  But, unlike those that the 70,000 slated for Afghanistan will kill, those in the Israeli blue uniforms are the real killers, the criminals, the names written across our brow.  How can anyone stay silent?

The press censors in Israel, and there are many.  The Press Censors in Israel.  Do the sound bites make you blush?  It is like Vietnam all over again.  The war is back.  The people must become aware and rise.  The people must arise.  The government lies!  The people must arise and rise and Stop the War!  Arrest Kissinger and Nixon and Westmoreland and LBJ before they multiply, before they gain more power, before they and their kind takes the whole world with them as they die.  Are they dead yet?  Only in your mind.

Israel will recreate the Taliban.  Their troops will never fight the Afghan War.  The Taliban will become like the Viet Cong, first feared and hated, then tolerated, then supported and embraced as the liberators and the victors.  It is the new American way in war.  The cost of the war will kill us.  Not unlike in Vietnam, something died in Vietnam – not just the Vietnamese and Americans, but something once good about America – go back and visit, the jungles will never let you forget.  Or like Serbia, or like Acoma, or like Gaza then and now – never forget, because (perhaps) you already have.

Post Script:  The obvious goal of the war on Gaza was to reinforce the public support for the ‘wider war’ in Afghanistan.  The population of Afghanistan is about 20 million, 10 million males roughly.  Each Afghan killed will create at least 10 active supporters of the Taliban, each active supporter will recruit five more.  Each wounded Afghan will create 5 willing to rise up in arms for the Taliban, these are the facts of guerilla war.  In time the whole nation and all its people will join in against us as they did earlier against the Russians.  The US can kill a million Afghans, or two million, or more.  We killed at least three million in north Korea, but still lost the war and technically the war is still going on even after 53 years of death, bickering, and fighting.  When things change in Afghanistan to the point where there are two or three million Afghans actively against us, the US will lose.  You can bet on it.  “Hell no, BHO, We won’t go.”  Civil rights was not the only issue in the 60’s.

Post Script, Script:  I guess you have figured out by now that there are two Serbia’s.  Events in the first started the “Great War” (World War I) because the politicians, leaders, and people of the time could not see beyond their existing treaties and foresee the cataclysmic consequences of those paper and emotional alliances.  By the end of the war everything imaginable was forever changed.  I believe that every historical site of conflict on the planet is now sending out a beacon against the prospect of this coming war.  Are you listening, do you see, can you feel it?

[2009.01.27 / Tuesday – Israel is Serbia]

The Fuse

January 26th, 2009

~ Or, “How do you Light my fire?”

I guess for Gen X, or those living on the ‘East Coast’ the title of this post might be “The Fonze”.  But when time is short and getting shorter (which is totally contradictory as a concept to the scientific notion of time as being constant and an absolute) there are only two graphic images that adequately convey the meaning (or the concept).  One is the symbol of the hourglass, time symbolized as sand, pulled by gravity always to a lower point – its movement restricted by the necessity of its passage through a small tunnel (called a funnel), being the only impediment that prevents a ‘whoosh’ of sand and time where everything happens all at once.

It is only the Black Widow spider that can with any truthfulness say that, “Time is on my side.”  But even then, it is more upon her underside, time is beneath her, because her venom can bring only death, or paralysis, or pain.  The other image of the fleeting nature of time is the fuse, that great invention associated with powder and with dynamite and with other things equally Nobel and why aren’t they named after him so we might just say that “War is noble” instead of “War is dynamite” – or do I miss the point because we do?

LBJ launched a ‘war on poverty’, others have risen to a ‘war on hunger’, there have been ‘wars on crime’, perhaps even ‘wars against pollution’.  These are perhaps the “good wars”, the only good wars in the arsenal of men, of women – the ‘battle of the sexes’ is not the good fight, it is more like all crusades (even the first Crusades), where certain territory is marked off as being Holy and people forget that it is only people that make it so, or unmake it so.  It sounds like a National Geographic cover story, “The Unmaking of the Holy Land”, exploring whether it is land or life that is really holy.  Or is it that some people are ‘really holier than thou’?

So now we come full circle through Zion to Obama.  But if there is to be separation of church and state we might question the tax support of the “religious” state whether it be the Jewish State of Israel, or the (now legally) Islamic Afghanistan, to say nothing of Saudi Arabia.  Why do our courts not set us free?  Recently I posted about the first 100 days, pivotal days for any new administration whether elected or brought down by God.  The first week has passed (tomorrow), seven days of mostly indecision, mostly just primping in the mirror if you believe the White House photos on the web, the official photos, but maybe it’s just Chief of Staff Emmanuel that wants to make this new White House look so bad (while looking good).  But still the fuse is burning.

There is no “good war” to be found in Afghanistan, no “good war” anywhere in Israel.  Neither of the two are worth the billions, the lives, the loss, the death toll of civilians or the endless and deafening arguments about combatants and non-combatants and where each is hiding and from who they’re hiding and who really might or could or can protect them all.  If the ‘citizen soldier’ lives at home his family (killed) is a reasonable expectation, he hides among civilians doesn’t he, but that fact should not make him less the target.  Let’s just be honest and say that all war is ‘total war’ and there is no difference in the killing of civilians, be it Wounded Knee, Hiroshima, Dresden, or Buckenwald – did not the enemy always wear military uniforms as they executed the enemy without and ‘the enemy within’?

The good war, though I hate the use of the word “war” with “good” would be a ‘war on greed’.  But like ‘poverty’ and LBJ, first you have to define it.  It’s not just 83 million dollars a year (in salary) that marks off greed, it is the notion that ‘I’ am better than you, that ‘I’ deserve more, that ‘I’ worked harder or longer or smarter, or better understood the system, or were in a better position to buy it.  Greed is not about the spiritual or philosophical or mindal things in life, greed is about the physical things, about land and water and ‘living space’ and the need for houses and mortgages and clean air since all those little particulates of pollution really are just physical – why not make the chemical companies buy them back, is not pollution a trespass, is it really not just that simple?

Obama (BHO) needs to declare a war on greed, start at the top, detain the worst offenders and send them to Guantanamo for the year before it closes, or keep them at the base until it is given back to Cuba and then give the ‘greedsters’ over to Cuba while we’re at it.  Sign another executive order, like Bush did, because Congress isn’t ‘at it’ and is too slow and isn’t it that we elected a President like “next to God” and isn’t all of this a bit like some new religion, Obamamania, but let’s get it going if it’s really good to go.  The fuse is burning, and time’s a wasting and now there’s only 93 good days left and why all the indecision?  Why are we waiting?  Where is the President that we all hoped for?

A Gallup Poll (yesterday) says that the popularity of the President has fallen 15 points in just five days, three points a day.  That’s bad.  At this rate the whole things over in just 23 more days, February 18, just after February 14 and all hearts are broken, hope becomes lost, the tide is turned with a full 70 days to go out of the promise of a hundred.  Is it sand or powder that fills the jar, is it the white sand of time and fate or the black particles of fear sifting ever downward – gravity really sucks.  The light at the end of the tunnel (mixing all my metaphors, making a metaphor of stew) is not a train, but the light of the fuse moving ever toward us, we are the bomb and this light will not make us free.  Our only hope is to change, not spare change, not the easy change of politics and politicians, not the false hope of super-heroes from the sky, it is all within where there is no enemy within, just peace.  Do you really get my message?  Am I clearer now?

This hundred days thing is not a spectator sport, it’s not just about waiting and watching and waiting for something to happen, a speech from the President, an attack, some new crisis great or large.  It is not about the media and historians, writing, telling you what to do or what was said or wasn’t and why it turned out the way it did or didn’t.  The 100 Days is about you, and me, and about the fact that we are all in this together, for better or for worse (or worst) even if the worst is yet to come.  Do we too waste each day, waiting, not acting, not preparing and changing and acting like change is for someone else and not ourselves.  We must change ourselves, lift on those bootstraps if the bootstraps are all you have, all you still have, act while even the bootstraps are left because even those might be tomorrow gone.  Am I getting too poetic, or is just that it is poetry that you fear?

Back to the White House.  Shoot some hoops.  Bush played golf til nine, one, one.  What’s the hurry when it’s all been scripted, Mr. President it’s this way to the door, here’s the speech it’s all been written, start when you see the light; or feel the bomb.  We’ll be with you Mr. President, we will all be there.

[2009.01.26 / Monday – The Fuse]

Some Little Known Facts – Part 2

January 24th, 2009

~ Some additional little known facts about Afghanistan.

Yesterday I was reciting statistical information gleaned from a work complied in 1959 and published in 1960 by the Encyclopaedia Britannica.  I continue.  A Plate 17 tells us that “Pushto” is the only important language in Afghanistan, on Plate 18 it is made clear that Afghanistan has a literacy rate among those 10 years and older is 10% or less.  Moving on we find Plate 23 that suggests that there is little ‘surface drainage’ in Afghanistan and that the surface drainage that does exist does not drain into any ocean.  The plates on geology are difficult to decipher, but suggest that the land is mostly mountains, post glacial, and without any major mineral production.  Plate 25 is also vague, but clearly suggests that the land is “Continuously Hot, Negligible Precipitation” (which I guess is why there is little drainage, and no drainage to the sea).  Among the Climate Graphs depicting monthly temperatures for 27 different cities of the world, needless to say Kabul is not included (nor any other Afghan city), needless to say.  Plate 33 “Age of larger cities” seems to indicate Kabul, but does not list it as existing before 1850, the chart in fact does not list it as existing at all.  You get the drift, Afghanistan is clearly presented as an unimportant ‘high, dry and desert country’ in an unimportant part of the world.

But it ’gets better’.  Plate 38 is about World Trade.  The USA towers above every other nation with 23.5 trillion dollars of total foreign trade – over $200 per person per year.  In 4 point type one learns that the figures are really from 1951-1953 in this 1960 Edition.  Afghanistan has a foreign trade of 62.7 million dollars, just 3.7% of the United States, less than $25 per person per year.
Plate 39 is Air Routes, the only one indicated connects Tashkent (USSR / CCCP) with Kabul.  The chart indicates that some unknown airline (airlines) fly over Afghanistan on their way between New Delhi and Tehran or between New Delhi and Beirut.  Afghanistan is listed as being a member of the UN.  Afghanistan is also a member of the International Labor Organization, but not the “North Atlantic Pact” (later becoming known as NATO), and not the International Ice Patrol (I assume because the nation does not border the Atlantic, but then Italy is, and Italy doesn’t border the Atlantic.  Afghanistan is a member of the World Meteorological Organization.

On the detail for Plate 47 Afghanistan is listed as an “Independent Sovereign Country”, a Constitutional Monarchy, but it is unknown what year the nation became either independent or a constitutional monarchy.  The nation is said to cover 250,965 square miles.  Afghanistan has a population of 13 million (but only an ’official’ estimate since apparently there has been no census since 1947 – and there probably were not to many in modern times before 1947.  Other nations listed as a “Constitutional Monarchy” were Cambodia, Ethiopia, Greece, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Laos, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Nepal, Norway, Sweden, and Thailand.  Seven nations had territorial claims in Antarctica, Afghanistan was not one of them.  Afghanistan is indicated as having no foreign possessions, no colonies and is not a part of any regional or world-wide economic pact such as the Commonwealth of Nations.

As is typical in Atlases, the British Isles are presented at the beginning of the Atlas in a scale of 1:2,000,000; Afghanistan is presented 30 map pages later, in a scale of 1:8,000,000, a scale 75% smaller, showing 75% less detail about the nation.  On page 163 the “Kingdom of Afghanistan” is presented by the use of a variety of statistics.  They are included here for educational purposes.  In 1953 the population was estimated at being 12,615,146.  This indicates a 400,000 person increase by 1957, the year of the 13 million person estimate.  This reflects a population increase of .59% per year which would suggest that the population of Afghanistan in 1959 was 13,153,852 (Estimated).

There are 13 provinces listed for Afghanistan, not unlike the US original 13 states.  They are (with the 1953 population estimates):  Badakhshan 456,249; Farah 318,488; Ghazni 424,221; Greshk 188,814; Herat 1,210,882; Janubi (Southern) 935,099; Kabul 1,519,632; Kandahar 927,855; Kataghan 937,452; Maimana 419,060; Mashreqi (Eastern / Shibarghan) 1,208,523; Mazar-i-Sharif 1,000,000; Parwan 1,035,211.  The figures include an estimated 2,033,000 nomads – (these are groups and individuals that traditionally move across or within Afghanistan and often cross into and out of the surrounding countries with little or no regard for national borders, nation-states, passports or ID cards of any kind, or claims of land ownership or sovereignty.  These people were the freest of all the people who inhabited Afghanistan, they were a full 15% of the population).  There are listed no population estimates for 1957.

There is no breakdown of population by age or by sex.  However the following information (for 1953) based on ethnic orientation is provided: Pakhtuns 60.5% – 7,865,000; Tajiks 30.7% – 3,991,000; Uzbeks 5% – 650,000; Hazarahs .8% – 104,000.  The figures add up to be 13 million, the population estimate for 1957, not for 1953, but who is to question the integrity and attention to detail of the Encyclopedia Britannica?  There is no information for emigrants, immigrants, or foreign born.

Finally we have category #3, the population of cities.  Again they are listed alphabetically, but I present them in order of population.  The city statistics are from 1946 and are again ‘estimates’:  Kabul – Kabul Province 206,208; Kandahar, Kandahar Province 77,186; Herat – Herat Province 75,642; Mazar-i-Sharif – Mazar-i-Sharif Province 41,960; Ghazni, Kabul Province 27,084 (This information is of course wrong, as Ghazni is the capital of Ghazni Province; Faizabad – Badakhshan Province 25,770; Maimana – Maimana Province 25,698; Baghlan – Kataghan Province 24,410; Shibargan – Mazar-i-Sharif Province 22,462; Charikar – Kabul Province 21,070.  The total is approximately 548,000 “urban” dwellers, about 4% of the entire nation.  It should also be noted that there are approximately 4 nomads for every person living in a city of 20,000 or above.  In reality the vast majority of Afghans live in very small villages and individual dwellings scattered throughout the mountains, hills, and valleys of the nation.  The population density was 52 persons per square mile circa 1957 (estimated).

According to the EB Herat grew by 25,000 from 1946 to 1957; Kabul lost 6,000 people; Kandahar gained 3,000; and Mazar-i-Sharif gained 8,000 – but again these are only estimates.  In the conventional parlance of the time Afghanistan was always compared to Texas in size.  In population Afghanistan was of course much greater than Texas with a population of 13 million compared with about 8.5 million for Texas in 1957, 52 people per square mile as versus about 32, and of course Texas had a lot more cows and barbed wire and a lot more other types of fences and of course it bordered on the sea and had oil and was a slave state, but yeah, Texas was about the size of Afghanistan, but certainly wasn’t half as high, no mountains in Texas, but maybe about the same literacy rate – Ah shucks George, you do know what I’m talkin bout.  Did I mention that most of Texas is “hotter than hell”?  Well most of Afghanistan is not really all that hot, just the southern deserts mostly, but I guess Texas rivers do drain somewhere into the sea, isn’t that what Galvestan is all about?

[2009.01.24 / Saturday – Some Little Known Facts – Part 2]

Some Little Known Facts

January 23rd, 2009

~ Some little known facts about Afghanistan.

It seems that there is a question about how much of yesterdays post was perceived as a metaphor and how much it was perceived as being real.  As a metaphor the idea was to compare the notion of ‘going back’ (to Afghanistan) and ‘going back’ to a time in America where things were not as utterly changed and possibly as equally destroyed (in America) as they are in Afghanistan.  The deeper question is that of asymmetrical change (or damage) and whether such really exists if the planet is a true sphere and functions as a whole.  The answer probably lies somewhere in the synthesis of science and philosophy, where the two disciplines (when disciplined) converge or more possibly at their confluence – the mingling of waters theme.

Enough for the esoteric and abstractions.  On a more mundane note the post was more to remind me of the fact that I am far behind in my efforts to bring my impressions and experiences of Afghanistan into the public eye, or even the eye of my family and my friends for that matter.  My experience in and of Afghanistan of course began with an exploration for facts, facts about Afghanistan, something relatively rare in 1958 as the real facts about Afghanistan (for most) continue to be then as now as equally rare in the here and now – only the scale of magnitude has changed, the proportions (of mystification, misperception, and ignorance) are probably about the same.

In hind sight there was probably much more information available then than it then seemed.  These were the days before the internet, before well-funded libraries (except in New York City and the other major cities, mostly of the eastern seaboard).  Also there was then a great less understanding of where facts and figures might be hidden, a greater reliance on the titles of books which for Afghanistan did not bode well as very few books had “Afghanistan” in their titles.  In my case all this ‘missing information’ was greatly compounded by the fact that the State Department, at least at the ‘Mission’ level almost universally appreciated that there was little ‘good’ information about Afghanistan – ‘good’ meaning meaningfully accurate or current.  Most information was not even estimates, but was more often “guesstiments”.  This applied to the information gathered by the UN regarding Afghanistan too.  When I was there nobody really talked about what the population of Kabul (the capital) might be because everyone knew that nobody really knew.  I guess I am fortunate in my experience that it was the government itself (of the United States) that taught me to be suspicious of and wary of statistics and reputed ‘facts’.

It should also be noted that most statistical approaches and assumptions of the western world did not particularly comply with the realities on the ground in Afghanistan, her people, her history, and her culture.  The ‘west’ wished to super-impose their perspectives on the matrix of the land but the land had a different matrix, one that really wasn’t a particular match.  It is easiest or simplest to summarize this difference by stating that in Afghanistan the people were fundamentally ‘free’, far freer than those in any western nation, certainly than anyone born in the USA.  Afghans did not have to have books and a media and holiday or inaugural speeches to tell them how free they were, they just lived it everyday, as a matter of life and course.

Of course the Afghans did not have (then) particularly any books, any media, or any patriotic speeches.  They also did not have any sales tax, any income tax, any personal excise taxes, any poll tax.  There were for the common person no taxes on newspapers, communications equipment, energy consumption, theater (movie) tickets.  There was no gambling and were no lotteries.  Except for the police and the rather random expectation of military service for males the government, most government, was mostly an abstraction in daily life, except perhaps for the fairly universal love (or at least respect) for the King.

The 5,000 year history of the land did not leave a lasting memory that favored the acquisition and collection of governmental facts.  It had at one time or another all been tried before, and with each effort the people ultimately suffered – taxation, conscription, confiscation, annihilations, prejudice, and wars.  The collection of facts by any government did not, over the very long haul of time, prevent famines, invasions, religious change or the collapse of empires or civilizations.  They often only added to the peril, or at least this seemed the ever-present but almost unconscious Afghan perspective.  This attitude may be best illustrated by the fact that one could walk from north to south, east to west, across the entire width or breadth of Afghanistan in 1959 without ever encountering so much as one fence, one sign, or one checkpoint to impede ones progress.  Only in the age of Lewis and Clark and only in the western part of America could an equal claim be made as the topic regards the US history.

Statistics are an effort to ‘define’ and thus function to confine.  Definitions and numbers are ultimately designed to limit, to control, to enable planners to plan that which often cannot be planned or put away or gathered up especially as it might apply to the affairs of “men”.  The unexpected always happens and that is what makes life good, even if it is the unexpected reality that life actually unfolded almost as expected.  It is the assumption of certainty that kills, that is the enemy of life, that stifles spontaneity, reach, or even abandon.  The law of the people was “Inchalah”, ‘God be willing’, the words passed across every tongue at least five or six times in every day.  There was no expectation that God was predictable or patternistic, there was only the understanding that ‘God knew’ and that whatever he might manifest was, if not good, at least necessary, and that what is necessary must be good.

This is not meant to be a dissertation of the various aspects of religion and belief.  It is not meant to define “Moslem” or “Christian” or “Buddhist”.  In the western world these terms are used to categorize and define, but they usually tell very little about what one may expect from the behavior of any individual.  Behavior in Afghanistan was carefully calculated, graphed, and predicted in the mosaics, designs, and hand-woven rugs that were always everywhere – an ancient math and geometry unexcelled by any modern mathematical model flashing through any modern Intel driven computer, yet more than just ‘math’, it was art and science and faith all wrapped up in one, and each one Afghan had his or her place in that whole, imperfect as that place might be or seem to be by those not ‘in’, but only outside.

In the truest form of the religion of Mohammad there is a prohibition against the depiction of those things that only God can make, meaning mostly animals and ‘man’, but also including the flowers and mountains and most everything natural in-between.  Imitation was not seen as the highest form of flattery, God does not need to be flattered.  The approach was more mindful of an appreciation for  the absolute uniqueness of every thing and its endless capacity for change, transformation, and evolution.  How can a changing and living thing made by God ever be stopped and captured and bottled?  If one could, how could doing so be right?   A difference between Afghanistan and Iran (and most Arab nations) was that in Afghanistan this stricture was continued, at the expense of art and artistic expression many said.

But in Afghanistan the creations of God could never be ‘objectified’, made ordinary, be allowed to become too knowable or too predictable.  In experience these creations would have to be newly seen each day or each season to refresh and renew their vitality, or be cherished and revisualized only in the mind, and with each day or season all these creations would somehow change, there could be no lasting caricture, no stereotype image that suggested ‘dog’ or ‘donkey’ or even an eagle against the wind.  These creations would have to be reduced to symbols, word or geometric, in order to be discussed.  In both the world of words and the geometry of design each entity would have to be constantly integrated with a larger whole, all geometry was always complex, as words in conversation or in prayer, each symbol linked and juxtaposed with and against another until both flow and meaning become intent, or revealed, or known.  All these things were not taught, certainly not taught in any school.  They were learned by others as I learned these things myself, by the process of life and an exposure to the people, the culture, the environment.  It always took much thought, patience, observation, participation, and even ‘looking’.

So in a work complied in 1959 and published in 1960 the Encyclopaedia Britannica tells us on Plate 8 that Afghanistan is a nation with one time zone throughout the country, observing a time different than all its five bordering national neighbors.  In fact Afghanistan’s neighbors use five different time zones, depending on the border.  Afghanistan is ‘about’ four hours and thirty minutes (in time) earlier than Greenwich (London time).  The ‘about’ is important, as Afghanistan does not observe British “whole” time, Afghanistan deviates by four (4) minutes, and these four minutes of time distinguishes Afghanistan from all of its neighbors and from the rest of the entire world save Liberia (16 minutes), the Maldive Islands (5 minutes), Tonga Island (10 minutes), and Saudi Arabia which had an approach to time totally unique and all its own (being the home of Mecca and where midnight begins each day at the moment of sundown).

How does one account for or explain this four minute difference?   It may be sufficient to suggest that Afghanistan (then) moved literally and symbolically in its own time, unbowed to the rest of the world, but then again maybe it’s just the Brits that are saying this.  Is it so important to be different than “London”?  Like America, Afghanistan was occupied by British colonialism and like America the British were militarily defeated.  America’s response was to attempt to establish the Prime Meridian for the globe at a point running exactly through the US Capitol, with a changed system of both time and space coordinates to add emphasis to both the fact of Independence and a symbolic challenge to the established order as dictated from London (via Greenwich).  It would be interesting if ‘Afghan time’ really reflected (in its four minute deviation) the standard time of a world with the Prime Meridian running through Washington, but if not Washington, where – is it Mecca?  For each fact, there is always a corresponding geometric.

To explore the problem of statistical presentation more deeply it is important to note that Afghanistan is colored Red on the Britannica map of time zones.  In 4 point type the explanation is, “no zone system has been established”.  This would suggest that Afghanistan was still on ‘local’ time in all the communities across the nation, where based on the sun being at its Zenith at noon – or on “Saudi Time” with noon twelve hours removed from Sunset.  In this case the four minutes are a reflection of someone’s perception of “time in Kabul”.  The modern western mind is boggled by the fact that time may be uncertain, not necessarily constant and linear (or circular), and might be subject to subjective orientations (religious, political, or otherwise).

Was it a legal, a political, or a religious act when my watch was stolen on that day on the mountain that is at the heart of Kabul?  What does it take before one comes to appreciate and tolerate a different culture, and what really are the facts?

[2009.01.23 / Friday – Some Little Known Facts]

100 Days

January 22nd, 2009

~ Going forward and going back when time is in a bottle.

“One hundred days of time on the wall, one hundred days of time.  You take one down and pass it around, ninety-nine days of time on the wall, ninety-one days of time…”  It was a song of my childhood.  Of course the lyrics were different then, it was OK then to drink and drive or at least sing drinking songs when others were driving.  We sang on the bus.  We sang on the ski bus that took us up to the Reno Ski Bowl from Carson City, the Carson Comets bus, circa 1959, just about 50 years ago today, but the bus went up (and back) on a Sunday I believe.

I was still ten in January of 1959, old enough to learn about binge drinking from a song, old enough to become better at skiing and to ride a bus and then a ski lift up a mountain of gold probably undermined by Spanish miners which caused half the mountain to collapse one day and slide down into the valley below with some great and terrific roar that was still remembered in 1959 by the tribes of the surrounding area, but that was before the reservations, the slide that was, on Slide Mountain but it had a different name before the rocks came tumbling down.

A President’s life is marked by the accomplishments of his first one hundred days, like the bottles on the wall, “take one down” and then there are each morning fewer left.  There are 1440 minutes in each day.  I know that because I had an office once, in Oakland, California downtown on Broadway.  It was one of those well-built and beautiful old buildings that the rich used to build to commemorate their place in the community and maybe to make a buck off others willing to rent an association of name.  The address was 1440 Broadway, built by Borax Smith who made a fortune hauling Borax out of Death Valley, California by using mules in teams of ten, making twenty mules to the wagonload.

Mr. Smith tired I guess of mules and moved on to establish the Key System in the “East Bay Empire” of northern California, Berkeley and Oakland then mostly, but he had great plans to built much greater communities to the south all nicely connected by his rails and trains and electric trains.  I am sure that his motto was “make every minute count” and that the address of his great edifice was not at all an accident.  Did I mention that the man died ruined and broke, but his building survived as a testament to high hopes and better times.

I did little better than Mr. Smith in my much more modest business, but that’s another story.  This story is about time and the passage of time and the fact that if mankind could really store time in a bottle ‘he’ would just take it down and pass it around and things would be much like they really are anyway.  Learning to count backwards in 1959 would be good practice for coping with the coming space age and Cape Canaveral scientists who used counting backwards to create a consciousness of ‘zero’ as the base of all number and counting systems which was a lot further along than we ever got on the bus because when the last ‘one’ bottle was taken down we all knew that, “that was it” and there would be no “zero, blastoff”, especially after thirty-five or so young skiers had “taken down” a full 100 bottles of beer (if only in their mind).

Mr. Obama’s 100 days should end sometime in April, about the 20th if I have all my leap years figured right, which puts the end of his first hundred days at about the same date as the date that I first arrived in Afghanistan, exactly 50 years ago on that day in April, although I might be a day or two off given the International Dateline thing and the fact that one always loses track of time when bottles are being counted off the wall.  Anyway, the politics of Obama has again made me think of Afghanistan and contemplate once again the possibility of a 50 year anniversary return; especially since Obama is seemingly so intent on ramping up the war once again in that long-suffering part of the world.

Traditionally I am not drawn to war and combat zones and places where bombs go off and helicopters spew deadly ammunition from the sky, sometimes if they actually do kill real insurgents and not just the local folks having a wedding or a party, but I guess from the military point of view you can’t have a party without the beer and you can’t have the beer without counting (backwards).  All wars are about the continuous clash of cultures, which brings up Rodney King and his question, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

My idea of civilian tourists in war is much about the film images of the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930’s, troops with bayonets marching down streets with people crying and screaming and fleeing for their lives as bombs explode and machine bullets bounce off of walls and stoic American and British civilians wearing their tropical whites hold up one mere hand to stop the Japanese invasion in its tracks, at least long enough to save some impeccably dressed white woman (always wearing a broad rimmed hat) from some certain outrage to be committed by the Japanese (yellow peril) troops or the almost equally sinister great unwashed Chinese mob.  But all wars are fueled by their racist stereotypes and the filmed footage of the various propaganda machines.  I really do not know firsthand the real face of war.

I would probably like to just one last time travel up the Khyber Pass, pass once again by Tor Kham, see if any of the remnants of my father’s bridges still survive in the Kabul Gorge.  It might be fun to see how Bagram has changed now that Ike’s Airforce One has forever cleared the runway never to return.  I wonder of my old house still stands, or was it leveled by a Scud in the 1980’s or was it torn down to make way for some greater house that actually might have outdoor plumbing.

I know the old great bazaar has long since burned, but there are needless to say other bazaars and other places to see, like the noon gun, or at least the platform, I know the old gunner is long dead.  But he only fired powder, not shot or shell, to mark each day in passing, he could count far beyond a hundred and counted up, not down.

I really do not know what is now possible.  I don’t know how difficult or dangerous the road.  Maybe it would be a metaphor about America – dangers and possibilities around every turn, in every building, where is it better to be alive?  I would be a very old man in Afghanistan, alive there before almost everyone I would ever meet.  But I am getting older too, here in America.  Did I say my father never made it back before he died?  He didn’t.  Sometimes too late means never.  I do not know.

There would be so much to plan, papers and passports.  What contacts?  Who’s permission?  And how great is the danger really and how safe does America make it?  Can one still really go ‘Round the World in 80 Days’ (such short planning)?  I do not know.  But just perhaps, I really might try.

[2009.01.22 / Thursday – 100 Days]

Too Bushed

January 21st, 2009

~ Hope versus Hard Knocks.

For a people expected to take seriously the advertisement, “Help I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” the Obama inaugural message is certainly curious, if not out of touch at least thematically when he says that America must lift HERSELF up.  The commercial message is that the ‘lifting up’ requires both a technological purchase, a battery and a button, and a team of on-call heroes or super-heroes in the guise or role of medics.  The commercial is a variation on the older theme of, “I’m dieing doctor, Save me.”

But while Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) was a ‘doctor’, Obama does not even pretend to be a doctor, or a medic, or even someone ready for the mouth-to-mouth of CPR.  He is not an orator like FDR or Kennedy.  He does not have a way with words.  He is only ‘better’, better than the mentally challenged and verbal cretin George W. Bush.  By comparison of the two, Bush makes Obama seem the orator that he isn’t but that I wish he were.

I would like to be euphoric about Obama the President.  I am more than happy about Obama the man, a black person, a Negro even, an African American that has risen above all the challenges of his race to become the president of the USA.  But he has never known the legacy of slavery, his ancestors were not ever slaves, they were always free, free Africans from Africa never herded into halters, cells, and slave ships, never even passengers on any ship.  Obama’s people never knew the cracking whip, the clank of chains, the brutality of the cotton fields, they were always free, and even living in Kenya, Free!  Obama may look black, but he is different and his past is different and I think he knows he’s different.  But in our euphoria we are still ever blinded by the colors of flags and skin and just mere symbols everywhere.

For someone raised in Hawaii, Kansas, Indonesia, and Chicago his speech was too much about the times of Colonies, about the eastern and southern shores and their history.  He spoke glowingly of Valley Forge, of cold hard winters, icy currents, storms to come – this is not the Obama of his youth, it is the ‘taught’ Obama, the ‘schooled’ Obama, the Obama trained that the media is the message, the medium, not the message born of the heart and soul of experience and suffering and sacrifice.  When is it that Obama really suffered?  I would feel better as an American if I were led by someone that had once really suffered, like FDR, like Kennedy, like King – especially when he says we must stand OURSELVES up in face of our suffering.  It sounds like the old racist taunts of bootstraps and ‘pluck’ and the tired old motivational phrase of the bad guys everywhere that, “work will make you free.”

But you might forgive this ageing Boomer, too tired of the last Boomer Bush and too cynical about the younger Boomer Obama (he really is a ‘Boomer’ still).  It’s time for Boomers to move over and move on, not to get-together in cabinets, in quasi-military phalanxes, issuing marching orders for a new order birthed only in the rhetoric of ‘hope and change’ as if that alone was not always the whole and only history of the world from the beginning of all time.  Hope and change is the old order as it always was and is, the devil is in the details, or also wherein the truth may lie, and/or progress or salvation.

Bush has been “the snow that was stained with blood”, he was the snow-white purity of  America gone bad, the evil born of violence when only violence seems the answer.  Still the airports are no more than security zones, checkpoints against free movement, a place to become fast acquainted with ‘security’ and with guns where ID’s are checked like in the days of Nazi soldiers parading on the platforms of the trains.  We must seek security of the state from its ever present enemies (or so it was said and again is being said across the world).  Was it freedom that really won the war?  Are the FALLEN heroes really the guardians of our destiny, is it the dead that guard, or should the dead bury the dead as Jesus said?  Indeed, the Obama speech was contradictory and curious – is it words or actions that might make us free?

Based on the Bush years the election of 2008 was more about the inmates in an asylum choosing their own leader.  The point that all involved are inmates is not an internal issue, it is only an external one, of concern only to one that is outside, or at least outside the system.  In this case the symbolism of Obama becomes important, he is the symbolic slave (never really a slave so never really ‘freed’), he is Spartacus, he is the first slave among all the slaves (held in detention and isolation and confinement) and as the leader of the slaves (which are “Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Hindus – and non-believers; shaped by every language and culture..”) he recognizes that the path is “towards” prosperity and freedom; he did not say it is a path OF prosperity and freedom.

Of course it must be remembered that Spartacus, and his revolt of the slaves failed.  If you’ve seen the movie, the quest was marked by ‘high hopes’ and ‘great expectations’ and no shortage of blood and toil and politics and sacrifice and suffering.  Rome and Italy, not just England, has shaped our history and our culture as Obama knows and has clearly stated.  A careful reading of the Obama speech leaves many questions among the many contradictions and contradictory sentences and themes.  Who really wrote this speech and why?  After the last 132 years of sacrifice and suffering the people of this nation and of the world deserved far better words, and especially after Bush et. al..

I can never return (on this good green earth) to airports open and free, to saying hello and goodbye ‘at the gate’ and not at some fascist type security gate.  This is not the land of the free, nor home of the brave, except for the words, and the sign that says that, “words will make you free”.  And that sign also tells me that I am still in a prison even if I am not shackled down with chains.  We are all in Gaza now.  That is the message of Gaza.  That is the message of those who did not see, who do not acknowledge, who do not know that all of Gaza is just a camp, a refugee camp, an internment camp or concentration camp, a prison – for prisoners of war.  All the outlets and exits have been closed, long ago, locked and closed and guarded by enemies with arms, with guns and ammunition and orders to maim and kill.  They will and do kill, you know, these enemies with guns.  “And the rockets red glare, gave proof through the night that the flag was still there.”, the words were penned by another prisoner of war rejoicing at the firing of other rockets.  Do we forget our history, is not America about rockets, or do we forget the insufficiency of rockets except as symbolic acts?

Has Bush, or is it history that has made me crazy?  Wake me when it’s over.  And until then, let me dream.  Go work, if you will – but work will not ever make you free.  Blessed are the unemployed and blessed too the undeployed.  Or maybe at this point, we’re all just too tired, too bushed for words.

[2009.01.21 / Wednesday – Too Bushed]

Bills that were never paid

January 17th, 2009

~ Thanks for the memories.

As I have noticed before Bob Hope is not my favorite person, but having said that and even having posted about Bob, I do need to mention a rather sweet song by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross.  It is entitled, “Thanks for the Memory”, a depression era song.  It’s probably about California, somehow, as Bob Hope is much about California, or was when he was alive and when California was alive, at least alive economically.  California (you see) used to pay its bills and because the state paid its bills it was natural and even perhaps fair for the state to expect people to pay their bills to the state.  It had something to do with ‘the social contract’ being something that people used to talk about and discuss back in the days before Bob Hope and television and Bob Hope on television (if you get my drift).

Anyway, the theory suggests something like if one has a credit card or a mortgage and stops paying off the credit card or the mortgage, then, the bank will get mad and stop issuing new credit or making new mortgage type loans or at least (it may be said) stop lending to the deadbeat that isn’t properly paying what they owe.  I use the term “deadbeat” advisedly, as just about everyone in America seems at risk of becoming ‘deadbeat’, as in the heart stops, one gasps for breath, and all the financial wind is knocked off the sails (or retail sales) and the whole ship of state or person is rather effectively becalmed as in ‘calm’ is a better place to be than in a tizzy about all the financial excitement that everyone has been yelling about of late.

I know better than to post about money.  I have said I really don’t believe in the stuff.  You’ve heard my pitch and high pitched rants about the unreliability and silliness of money, about its ability to distort things and people and values and all the good things in life as money always moves in unfair distribution and it comes from Caesar or the Masons and not from God (no real pennies from Heaven) so save your breath and stop worrying about the stuff, it will never get you by, but will enslave you, torture your soul and even cause headaches – thank you Lord Krishna, amen.

I was talking about California.  The state has become enamored with the idea of money, other people’s money, printed by the Federal government it seems, not the good God given gold of California cast into coins and ingots and the crowns on teeth and other ways of preserving wealth.  Where (really) was an income tax when California really needed one (like in 1849) when it might have made a difference and saving a little for the future might have made a bit of sense.  But gold has always been ‘found’ money in California, not made like the more recent money made in Washington DC with the aid of Congress, but the Federal Reserve System (of circa 1913) does I guess have something to do with all the mess.

Evan Halper and Patrick McGreevy of the LA Times now give us the news (January 17th) that California will become a deadbeat Dad (or deadbeat lady of Empire as depicted on her crest) as of the first of February, which I note is not so far away.  She (or he) will stop paying back the money loaned by plain everyday working folks who were so stupid as to overpay their taxes, California income taxes that is, to be specific, but the specifics might include a whole lot more as we are dealing with journalists and journalism and the whole lying bunch of bureaucrats who never told people that they may never get their money back, like some big Ponzi scheme (or Madoff Scheme if you read me regularly).  Thanks for the memories.

Now the average ‘Joe’ (or ‘Jill’) is not a bank, but in this day and age is asked to act like one, although they are certainly not entitled to the bailouts that the bigger banks keep getting, keep getting, keep getting, keep getting… (tell me when to stop).  Yes, the average California couple will be asked to keep ‘bankrolling’ the bankrupt government so it can keep stiffing its creditors as the state effectively and very publicly will fleece Peter to pay Pauline, but only after really shafting Paul (financially) in the process.  I guess ‘Pauline’ refers to all the state employees and office holders and even the Governator himself who will keep getting money while others just get the shaft, maybe not really royal, but the shaft never-the-less.

The media tells us to only spend what we have and to pay our bills and not to go further in debt.  But California (because it is a state and not a person, but is legally a person – go figure) cannot read or watch TV and so has not heard this lesson, and so insists on moving into a La-la land where it thinks that not paying money owed will have no real consequences.  California (I think) is wrong.  Of course no one can punish California, no prison big enough, no military adversary strong enough, no police force on its tale, no debtors pillory either real or imagined.  No, it will be “just like Mike”, imitation is the greatest flattery.  People will imitate California (I believe) and just say ‘no’ to paying bills – state bills first, but then probably others.  Politics is often based on “Pay to Play”.  Why pay when the state will not play (fair) with the money borrowed from working folk through excess taxes overpaid and never due (the state).

I really hope the state will reconsider.  It needs to pay its bills or to stop collecting taxes.  It cannot operate under rules so different than our own, than those that everyone else really knows and all too well.  The taxpayers owed money will not even get an IOU, they will just not get paid, as in the check is NOT in the mail and maybe never will be.  The result will (I trust) have a cascading effect in California (and then beyond, as everything really does happen in California first).  The great California shakeout (I guess the name’s been used) will pit the state refusing to pay its bills versus the people refusing to pay theirs.  I think California will need a lot more police and prisons (and lawyers), which (the excess thereof in California) just might be what busted the budget in the first place.  But at least (now) shear madness has a date, a date on the calendar – the date is February One, double ought nine.

When those now alive and sentient are asked at some future date to give a summary of our time there will be but a five word answer, each person will answer just the same, “It happened all so fast.”

Be aware.  Stay tuned.

[2009.01.17 / Saturday – Bills that were never paid]

Plane Down Two

January 17th, 2009

~ Plane Down Too.

It is an old axiom of journalism (old journalism) that contends that the further one gets into or follows a story the more “truth will out”.  Many stories of course have little truth in them to begin with, so there is little truth ‘to out’.  In other instances the ‘out’ part is the fact that there were no facts involved with the original story, i.e. it was bogus through and through and the real story is how such a bogus story could be reported as a ‘true story’ in the beginning.

I’ve been around the block with a journalist or two; reporters, editors, readers – maybe even an owner once or twice, the question always being who really owns the news and when does ownership really change in an ‘open marketplace of ideas’.  A hundred years ago my grandmother finished her first course in journalism, correspondence study started on a farm in Kansas and wrapped up in a college dormitory in San Diego.  The ‘school’ (correspondence type) was remiss in sending their diploma, poor record keeping evidently by a school that always stressed the importance of records and notes and remembering and retaining facts if one were to be a proper journalist.  I digress, but each digression is important, like the mailing of a diploma and not just the mailing of lesser lessons.

After a year’s hiatus and much postage spent my grandmother received her rather large diploma, she saved her other lessons too and from those lessons my schooling in journalism began, through her, by them.  The issue is to always get your facts straight, make a record of and report accurately attribution, and remember that a journalists ‘stock in trade’ is the byline if one is fortunate enough to be granted a byline by the editor when writing.  In 1909 journalism, of course, was about writing – just about writing.

Journalism has of course changed a lot since then.  We have the tele-tubby school now, image in, image out without the benefit of any pen, without the benefit of that marvelous connection of intelligence that occurs when the hand-eye coordination between body parts comes into play that requires images to first go to the head and then the hand and then back to the head via the code of literate language before the author is content to call it “news” or fact or something real and not false or misleading or misinformation that might distort the truth or cause confusion or consternation or tomfoolery even on the part of another person, the reader, the high priestess or priest of any paper, a citizen well informed through which a government may be endowed by the grace of God to justify the principal of self-government.

Journalism (then) was considered a sacred trust.  It was a necessary part made possible through the marriage with literacy and learning that in turn made possible an informed and caring electorate that might vote with intelligence and care for representatives that might use thought and reason and real facts for passing judgment on the issues of the day.  How far away from that point we have come in just one hundred years.  We have the sound bite now, never touched by a human hand, just recorded or spouted or read from a teleprompter telescreen of television, electrons passing through the airways, leaving only a truth that might (with sensitivity) be felt, but might never be reached with rereading or in most cases even reason.

So with all that having been said we must return to the plane (down) or the fact that now there are not just two planes down, but many.  Each plane exists only in the mind as we focus on the real plane left floating in the water, drifting, tied up, hauled aboard a barge, taken away too soon from our ken from whence experts will inspect and pronounce their every conclusion still.  There will be no reporters there, just the words of experts reporting expert findings and all the facts that journalists were once charged to investigate and challenge and write about in openness and not secrecy – anyone with a press pass free to call, even just a young girl fresh from Kansas.  She is still here, if only in your mind.

Yesterday we started with two planes down, the one that was and the one that might have been.  The consequences (of each) would be quite different.  The outcome was dependent more upon the facts (reported) than the existence of the plane.  The passengers were important (almost) only as a ‘body count’, very bad if dead, very good if all survived.  Hidden between the lines and lives of this story is secreted the story of Gaza, eight or eleven deaths in eight years (and a little fear) makes good cause for a war most vile, a retaliation of a 100-to-1 carnage of lives and a million-to-one in dollars lost to the damage and destruction of property.  Israel will NEVER be forgiven, the world will never forget.

But the model is not the forgiving or the forgetting, but the facts of the news.  The news says that these ratios of revenge are ‘good’ or somehow justified, or must be somehow accepted just as ‘facts’, not humans, just mere facts.  Gaza as an episode teaches that each injury must be repaid a hundred fold or more, the Bible is left in dust, an eye-for-an-eye is just rubbish.  The new order is a hundred eyes for each eye, or maybe a thousand, or maybe the blinding or even annihilation of an entire people or an entire race – it is ethnic cleansing brought to the exactitude of science, and the science used is the new electronic journalism.  The model contends that it is not facts that matter, only what is said, and what is believed, if only for that short necessary moment during which fateful decisions might be made.

Today the plane that was has morphed into two planes, each with a separate set of facts.  Yesterday NPR reported (very clearly) that the pilot had been refused permission to return to La Guardia.  Today, the Associated Press (courtesy of Jennifer Peltz & Cristian Salazar) state with equal clarity that the plane was granted permission to return to La Guardia, but the PILOT decided not to.  One news report was clearly wrong, or not.  No reporters involved believe in attribution.  So the watchful witness is left to speculate, to ponder, to argue facts without knowing or being there are being privy to the real facts.  Or do facts make any difference, being the basis of all law and all of that it seems.

Perhaps the pilot said he heard the tower ‘just say no’, but the tower says it just said “yes”.  This is the world of journalism without attribution, just speculation and spin, an endless morphing of planes and incidents until each person in America has his or her own story of what went on, wrong, right, and each a separate set of lessons from the incident, conclusions, things to remember for tomorrow.  But the flight recorder will tell (if found in tact and whole and no inaudible portions after all the experts are done with the examination of it all).  A commission will eventually ‘settle’ all the facts, sift, sort, throw out and decide what will be the “official” story, so different than the one one heard on the day of the event, before the censors censored and the vested interests all agreed on what you should know – and why.

But this does not take into account what the pilot heard, or thought he heard, or what were the voices in his mind.  He may uphold, he may recant, we have a hero just trying to stay alive and make his way in the world the best he can as things get more complicated and complex each day.  The story always changes.  Bad reporting, bad facts, a bad story from the ‘get go’.  What was it that you really saw, thought, believed?  Was there ever really any plane or was it just something floating in the water, a news story to replace something else (more important, but unreported) that really happened on that day?

I wrote my post before I knew that both engines might be missing.  I could not see beneath the water, nor apparently could CNN.   I wish I had a great machine, a big Tivo in the sky that could record all channels all the time and all radio broadcasts too and had software to sort out all the A 320 stories of that day (or maybe other days too) and could cross-index all the information and stamp each report in time.  I suspect that somewhere some reporter said that the plane going down had no engines, said they knew, did not say from whom or how.  In time we all will know.  Did the pilot drop the engines early, or can planes still do that now, it might be the secret of his success (perhaps kept secret against future flights).  It’s the engines (under wings) in water that flip planes over, the weight that can pull them down.

But wait, Sara Kugler (AP) has reported that the NYPD had policemen arrive (over water) within four minutes of the crash, I guess the pilot had reported he was “going down” and exactly where and special boats were standing by and very special officers too, (with nothing to do), just eating donuts and standing by just waiting to be heroes.  I want names and the histories of these convenient heroes.  It’s beginning to look a little too pre-planned, or do I see a different plane?

Stay tuned.

[2009.01.17 / Saturday – Plane Down Two]

« Previous Entries