Thursday, November 13, 2014

Salvete, qui legunt -

At present I find myself with three blogs, in effect - this one on Blogger here,;   my Wordpress one  (a left-over from Microsoft's personal pages days);   and now a shared one, the Redwood Stoa site at, where I can post as "the Redwood Stoa" along with my co-Stoics.  I'm wondering if I can link all three - the software side of all this, even the user interface side, I usually find somewhat baffling (interface and utility expectations frustrated), so I'll have to poke around a bit.  The alternative is to dump one of the two personal ones. 

When next I post, I want to look at my son's personal Deus ex Machina, "The Four Agreements" of Don Miguel Ruiz, a self-help book with a lot of Stoic parallels. 

Vale valeteque.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Post-Midterm Elections, 2014

"Dear Diary - "

"But every time there's a thunder storm around Marshfield, they say you can hear his rolling voice in the hollows of the sky. And they say that if you go to his grave and speak loud and clear, 'Dan'l Webster--Dan'l Webster!' the ground'll begin to shiver and the trees begin to shake.  And after a while you'll hear a deep voice saying, 'Neighbor, how stands the Union?' Then you better answer the Union stands as she stood, rock-bottomed and copper sheathed, one and indivisible, or he's liable to rear right out of the ground."  --The Devil and Daniel Webster, by Stephen Vincent Benet

It's certainly better that Republicans have their turn than that more of them go underground and turn their backs on the United States' republic itself.  I am content if "the Union stands" and hasn't gone fascist. 

When President Obama was elected back in 2008, the American Right went insane - Birchers, racists, Confederate-sympathizers and conspiracy nuts came out of the woodwork, and the Tea Party spontaneously formed around the hard-assed and dissatisfied among us.  It was a "Yokai Dai Sensou" American-style, and it found itself well-funded and popular, and it went right to work.  In 2012, and after these 2014 Mid-Term Elections last night, I was glad that - at the least - there was no coup attempt, no death-squads, no assassination attempt; that the United States' republic still stood and the rule of law still stood.  Even drowned in Republican super-pac money, the house still stands.

As individuals we have no control over life, over others, or over how others think.  All you can do with regard to political opposites is point out their fallacies, their immoralities, and their hostility to life.  Beyond that, it's all about looking at that life and reviewing your own perceptions against reality and good sense. 

And so on and so forth.  Valete.

Monday, August 11, 2014


Religions and Gods are like technology - in themselves they don't matter, but how we use them DOES matter.  Sadly, human nature makes a weapon of EVERYTHING. 

Al-Qaeda?  God = Murder; and the Prophet is hailed as Murderer-in-Chief. 


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Emerson - my Introduction

When I wandered into the library the other day and perused the philosophy section (as I am wont to do when I can catch the reduced-hours library still open), I found a book on "Transcendentalism in America", by Koster. The very first page is a three-photo splash of Thoreau, Emerson and Whitman. Perhaps, I thought, this book will explain just what these folks were all about, what the thread of Transcendentalism was, and most important in satisfying my ignorance, what Emerson was all about, he the most famous of the three and the least accessible to me. 

So, I am reading. 

Was Emerson a philosopher?  He thought so, I guess.  And the quotes from him in this book tend to cover ground seemingly Neo-Platonic and even, perhaps, Stoic: 
"A man is fed, not that he may be fed, but that he may work."
"A leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time, is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole.  Each particle is a microcosm, and faithfully renders the likeness of the world." 
"What we are, that only can we see." 
"As soon as the man is at one with God, he will not beg."

But what remains most apparent is that Emerson's cart always seems to be hitched neither to stolid horses nor to hard men, but to clouds of mystic supposition.  I read Koster's remarks on him and I say, Yes, our pertinent time IS indeed the "everlasting now", "the present, which is all there is" (as Koster puts it - for there is no past, except in its forming of  "Now", and no future, except in its becoming "Now").  Or I say, Yes, we see things not as they are, but as we are (quoting Anais Nin, I believe).  But then at other times Emerson loses me:

"Empirical science is apt to cloud the sight, and by the very knowledge of functions and processes to bereave the student of the manly contemplation of the whole." 
"Nature is not fixed but fluid. Spirit alters, moulds, makes it....  Every spirit builds itself a house, and beyond its house a world, and beyond its world a heaven."
"No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature.... the only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it."
"Who shall define to me an Individual?; I behold with awe and delight many illustrations of the One Universal Mind; I see my being imbedded in it....  I can even with a mountainous aspiring say, I am God, by transferring my Me out of the flimsy and unclean precincts of my body, my fortunes, my private will, and meekly retiring upon the holy austerities of the Just and the Loving - upon the secret fountains of Nature."
Emerson finds it important "to feel after the evidence of things not seen"; and then, in the same breath and in supposed apposition, explain that one does that "to explain the mazes of mortal things."  The first I mistrust; the second (quite rightly a task for men, whether philosophers, laborers or businessmen) I must think can be explained only (if at all) with reference to concrete things.  For the Emerson-inclined, how can he or she escape the wishful thinking that "feeling after" the misty "evidence" of still mistier "things not seen" only too easily leads to?  How can one avoid a merely personal, pseudo-mystical cloud?  How can one get a grip, EXCEPT by the corroboration and criticism provided by example and hard proof? 

Notion vs. Ignorance vs. Facts vs. Blather.  These are the four corners, you might say, of any serious discussion.  Will or an idea or a need urges us a Notion, our Ignorance shapes it, then the visible or provable Facts re-shape it, and we repeat the re-shaping, continuing to trim away the mere Blather.  Emerson went through this but, perhaps, either got stuck venerating the Blather, or simply dismissed as unimportant the facts available to refer to. 

Sharing a Blogger’s Resentment, Worry and Despair – and My Comments (Which I Think are Worthwhile)

I just finished posting a long, long comment on a fellow blogger’s site (his site is well-named as “Help, They Want Me to Socialize!”).

He was worrying about his future, and so much of what he was rehearsing was exactly the kinds of things that I’ve had to cope with and only slowly learned to understand over 59 years of less-than-ideal life. In any event, I see my comment as a sort of manifesto or wake-up-call for people with depression, and am sharing it here.

You can follow this link to the site and my comments:

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Musical Clue

A clue.

Lenin was seen weeping upon listening to one of Beethoven's quartets - and yet he was as ruthless and detached a despot as any we've seen.

A clue - to what? That no man is free of emotion, of opinions seeded into him at birth and baked in the chaos of life and learning. We can modify what we think, but we cannot escape being inherently emotional - in both the senses, of (a) spontaneous reactions (First Movements) and (b) Opinions and Passions.

Just now myself, falling asleep at work, helpless to stem that all-conquering middle-aged somnolescence that comes upon me when sitting, I pulled out my smartphone and plugged in my earphones and dialed up Lang-Lang playing Beethoven's Emperor Concerto (Piano Concerto No. 5). With volume set to a realistic but ear-damaging level, the Beet' roused me - transported me - to the heroic realms that I shall never find upon the Earth. (And I'm supposedly an adherent of Stoicism. Hah!) And so I successfully completed my work.

To see a semi-spastic creature such as myself reacting to the bold Beethovenian tutti must be a sight. But I have to reflect: The discrete blows of the piano's felt hammer on its tone-cables ring true, here in my physical self, in my very motor-neurology of jerky-motion-bolting-missed-try-again-bolting-closer-jerkily-hit-it-now-phewwww. Beethoven is here percussive in a grander-than-life sense; his orchestra does not strum out tones, but belts out thunder, ego, gaiety, lightning, contemplation, orgasm, marching and frolic and dance. Nor Bach, nor Mozart, nor Chopin, nor Brahms can do this, in this sort, in all these modes and movements, nor with such an intensity - none but the Beet'.

Listen to it yourself.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Fudged Edges of Office Work Information

Petty rant: about Normal People, office management, and the craziness that mid-managers arrive at:

Long ago I learned that while it was a heinous sin at work to be inaccurate on your timesheet, it was even worse to be accurate. "Oh, my God!" the accounting poeple used to say - "I don't care if you were in at 8:01 or at 7:56! Just put 8 am, for God's sake! We can't handle your fractions!" So a timesheet it turned out was NOT a record of time spent at work, but rather a fiction of a sort useful as paper justification for a payroll system.

And, well, I just had another such moment - some 38 years or so later - but about a "Travel Schedule Notice" system. It's the automated way my company keeps track of whether employees and domini are in their prime offices or not. But - once again - I have been operating under a misapprehension, thinking that the Notices were relevant to our whereabouts and out-of-office status. Nope, that's not it, apparently. I just confounded my poor supervisor, leaving him flummoxed and at a loss, because I posted - in simple honesty - that I'd PROBABLY be out tomorrow at Jury Duty.
He told me that that was wrong; I was out of line. He couldn't believe that I would actually say I was going to be out if I thought - merely expected - to be out. Keeping people informed did not extend to actually telling about something.

Once again, here was a system with some ulterior purpose that I had thwarted. And I'm not exactly sure what it was. Apparently, if there's ANY conditionality to the absence-to-be (in this case, the condition was if, after checking the night before as to whether my Group will in fact be called to the Hall of Justice, they will have said yea or nay, something I have no control over but will certainly keep me away from work in the case of a "yea") then we have to treat it as a non-possibility until the actual day of Jury Duty, when we'll treat it either as nothing (I go to work, I'm not needed for Duty) or as a sudden case of an illness (I planned to come to work - even though I knew I might well not - but I can't come to work, I'm out with a case of Jury Duty). Despite that fact that I've been forewarned AND WAS REQUIRED to forewarn my company that I had a Jury Duty date coming up.

I will commit this caveat to my work-notes on Jury Duty (notes already needed because of the whole confusing and explicitly conditional business of Jury Duty):
Sheesh. Apparently, the Notices we send using this system do not amount to notices of information, but amount to official declarations of intent that have the weight of fact, despite being merely predictions or plans. Phew.

Not a big deal, but it's more of that "You had better do this!!!" followed, once you've done your bit, by unexpected bursts of "Don't do that!!!" Such as: "Work hard all the time, don't steal time from your employer!" followed by "My God, don't overwork yourself!" Or: "Take your vacation, it's yours, it's healthy - be sure to take it!" followed by "I don't know - you've been using a lot of vacation time lately; this is not going to look good on your record..."

In other words, any publishing of info on one's future work whereabouts is subject to a 95-percent-sure rule: If you're not 95% sure that X is happening, then ignore the indications that it is going to happen and treat the outcome as an unexpected case of food poisoning - sudden, pertinent, immutable, decisive. Conditional futures have no place in informing co-workers - at least, not in the formal systems.

Okay. We'll try that. And I expect that all organizations tend to be crazy, once organized - ideological party, church hierarchy, group of friends, modern business - it'll always be whacked and out of order.... And not a big deal, in any event.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Found an inexpensive copy of Conquering Sword of Conan - third book of the tales, as published by Ballantine/Del Rey.

Took it up at bed last night, chose to re-read "Black Stranger".

I feel a little clunkiness in the writing, but only a little. In general once again, Howard evokes, engages, focuses, realizes his characters so very well. And all the way through I mused on my youthful fascination with these manifestos of the manly, the muscular, the violent - these testosterone-driven ideals.

"Ideals" is the wrong word; "Mores Maiorum" would be better, or perhaps "Struggles". It's the whole idea of struggle against death, against murderers, against the deceivers and manipulators. But no, "ideals" IS the right word - Conan's selfish life is a fantasy of a powerful, healthy, independent, endangered, irresistably strong being. It is the Fascist/Nietschean fantasy of The Will, which inevitably appeals to young men - at least, young men like me. The more so since I'm none of that. If Plato had been right, I'd be built on a Type like that.

But, back to the book tonight - we've got Picts to worry about....


I know, I know. I'm relatively feeble; I'm too sensitive, and not too sharp.

AND - worst of all! - I'm spoiled; I've "had it too easy". That is all I ever hear from Right-wingers, Left-wingers, hot-shots, malcontents, as well as my OWN conscience.

"You're not extreme! You're not courageous!"

But I am near 60 years old and NOT likely to improve a whole lot in this area.

Besides, I'm one hundred percent MORE courageous and able to get by than I was at age 16 or 20. That counts, even if it doesn't make me into a war hero or a brilliant, hard-nosed academic.

Just needed to say that.

And also: Down with Hitler, up with Léon Blum! Atque etiam Carthago retinenda est....

Thursday, March 13, 2014


I just found an old blog entry that tickled me - blogger Captain Kosmos back in 2006 was also blogging of Space Fantasies of the sort I loved as a kid, and in particular he had good words to say about Space Angel, a favorite of my childhood.

His site is:

The hero of Space Angel was Scott McCloud. (No, not the guy who writes about comics!)

And here was his ship, the superbly sleek Starduster !!!

They just don't make 'em - well, draw 'em - like that anymore.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

"The Muse: Love Profaned..." [Very good blog-entry by Mike Hoffman, March 28, 2013]

Mike Hoffman, March 28, 2013:

The Muse: Love Profaned...:   There are dangers inherent in living in the Technosphere.  Right now, the Technosphere involves three things: people (you), Money and Machin...