Hardasses   (2017Jan21)


Saturday, January 21, 2017                                               9:48 AM

Hardasses like to rag on the Arts as if one-tenth-of-a-cent on every tax dollar is going to kill them—meanwhile, they wouldn’t give up their Sunday football games if it were they that were getting concussed, instead of their ‘heroes’. These are the same bozos who want to institutionalize Islamophobia, driving hordes into the arms of ISIS just so they can hug their hate ever so close. I think we should relocate all the anti-watchdog advocates to Flint, so they can see what they’re pushing for.

George Washington did not lead a rebellion so that we could each sit back and say, “What about me?”—he was thinking more along the lines of “What about We?” Selfishness may be natural, but when overindulged, it becomes downright un-American—or should I say Trumpian? Listen to me, hardasses—you think you’re being tough? Maybe in a barfight—but in the world of ideas and understanding, you’re all a bunch of whiny little sissies.


You all think you’re so tough, being against the Other. But guess what happens when it’s your own kid—or anyone you really care about? All of a sudden, being gay, or poor, or sick, isn’t the crime you thought it was—suddenly, it’s just a human problem. We’ve seen it a million times—so don’t pretend you’re tough on the issues—you’re just unconnected to them, ignorant of the full spectrum of the human condition. You’re trying to make a virtue of being unable to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

This clown you just elected president is going to embarrass you, just as all your weak-minded judgements ultimately leave you walking around in the emperor’s new duds. His first act as President?—Putting his wife’s jewelry e-store on the White House web page. Signs of things to come. I would have been shocked, if he hadn’t spent the last year showing us how stupid he is.


Icarus   (2016Jul06)


Wednesday, July 06, 2016                                                3:14 PM

I’ve been watching the PBS series “The Greeks”—fascinating stuff, and it ties together the ancient history of Greeks with their present-day, and ours. In last night’s segment they touched upon the myth of Daedalus and Icarus, father and son. Daedalus was a legendary scientist and engineer, forced by King Minos (so the legend goes) to design and build the great maze which imprisoned the Minotaur and the monster’s victims—a group of young people sent annually from the other islands of King Minos’s reign, to be sacrificed to the Minotaur in tribute to the king.

Daedalus didn’t care for his bloodthirsty, despotic boss—neither was he too pleased with being a captive employee—Minos had forbidden him to leave. So Daedalus invented marvelous wings made of wax and feathers, etc. He intended for himself and his son, Icarus, to escape the evil king by flying away to another island. He warned his son, before take-off, that the wings would get wet and fall apart if he flew too low, too close to the sea—and melt and collapse if he flew too high, too close to the sun.

Icarus’s flight is a popular tale—he ignores his father’s advice and is drawn towards the Sun, flying too high. His wings melt and his father, Daedalus’, joy at successfully reaching a free island—is dashed by his grief at watching his son plunge into the sea and die. Everyone has seen a picture or painting of this iconic scene—in my art-study days, I even drew or painted a few myself.

PBS’s “The Greeks” makes a connection between the fall of Golden Age Greece and Icarus—they, like most, take from this myth the lesson of Hubris—an overweening pride. I can’t argue with their interpretation of Ancient Greece’s fall—they got rich off the backs of their over-taxed protectorates—transforming the powerful unity of democracy into an elite that abused their power. They did indeed forget what it was that made them great to begin with. And one of their over-taxed satellites was Sparta—you know you’ve gotten too big for your britches when you go and make Sparta mad.

But Icarus I see quite differently. To me, the story of Icarus is the story of wisdom, learning, and maturity creating sophisticated mechanisms that can’t be trusted in the hands of the young and foolish. Daedalus invents a machine—a machine that, according to legend, he was able to use as it was meant to be used. But in sharing it with his son, he put a power that required responsibility into the hands of the irresponsible. It is, in a way, the story of modern man.

No genius ever invented the next big thing and thought to himself or herself, ‘what will the dumbest kid in the world do with this?’ No, they just invent new things, find new powers—and present them to the human race as a whole. But our technology does eventually end up in the hands of the dumbest among us—with predictable results. To me the story of Icarus teaches us that a wise man can invent more than a foolish man can be trusted with.

Thomas Cahill on “Bill Moyers”


Monday, December 30, 2013              1:44 AM

On Bill Moyers tonight a guy said, ‘There’s really only two sides: kindness and cruelty.’ And I agree. When all detail is scraped away, a kind person will do what they can, and a cruel person will do what they can get away with. The main obstacle to that clarity is human history. We start focusing on debts, borderlines, dogmas, politics, and whose dad could beat the other guy’s dad. The cruel side uses all this ‘white-noise’ to tap-dance endlessly around the simple issue of ensuring that no one starves to death.


My South African friend became quite exercised about we Americans always bringing up Apartheid. (On Bill Moyers they also talked about Mandela’s turning away from revenge or bitterness towards his oppressors—and how that was as rare a thing as a thing can be.) I think South Africans have a false sense of how easy it is to end bigotry—their miraculous, overnight switch from apartheid to equality, as an entire nation, could have gone in many different, less peaceful, directions after Mandela’s release from prison.


But the funniest thing on TV today was mentioned on both Bill Moyers and Religion & Ethics Newsweekly—The new Pope, Francis, is throwing a huge monkey-wrench into the neo-con evangelists’ secularizing of Christianity. He reminds the world that ending poverty and hunger must be a Christian’s highest priority, Catholic or otherwise—this flies in the face of pious Republicans whose decidedly selfish narrative ‘explains’ cutting food stamps for poor families and refusing to raise taxes on the wealthy.

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The Roman Catholic Church, prior to Francis, was a major banking institution and the single biggest holder of real estate around the globe—an institution soaked in power and property—and was thus reliably on the side of big business and high finance. Pope Francis’s new thrust seems to be a sharp break with expectations. He wants Christians to live their faith: mercy, charity, and love—and he’s not inclined to spiral off into some distraction that allows the status to stay quo. Recently, the Pope even mentioned the existence of atheists like myself—and not as damned souls doomed to perdition, either!


This pleases me more than I can say. I was happy enough to hear that the Catholic Church had finally seen the light, vis-à-vis pederasty and general corruption amongst the priesthood, and would no longer consider buggery an ‘old tradition’, but rather as the crime it was always (quietly) known to be. But now—O, to have a Pope stand up and tell the world that we don’t know what Christianity is. If Christians want to be worthy of their faith they have to act like Christians. They have to believe in mercy towards, charity for, and love of our fellow men and women.


You know, people talk about the Jews having to avoid the flesh of scavengers, like pigs and shellfish; or the Muslims having to pray four times a day (or is i


t 5?). But Christians get a pass. To believe in Christ is to want to follow his teachings—which say plenty about the poor and the outcast, but nothing at all about mortgage derivatives or early foreclosures. There was a story about J. K. Rowling in the news this week—she was a billionaire, but now she’s given away so much to charities that she’s become a mere multi-millionaire. I was shaking my head at the thought that this was news—it was news because no one else had ever f*#king done the same.


But between her, Bill and Melinda Gates, billions of US $s in foreign aid, and the Catholic Church, we still have starving kids and homeless victims of a global system that says, ‘not my problem.’ Just within the USA alone, we have erosion in our beautiful Capitalist sand-castle—Detroit declared bankruptcy a while ago—the whole city. Of course, rich people can move. But what does civil bankruptcy mean to the Detroit denizens that were already broke before the crisis? It means that what little support the poor were getting there will become no support at all. A major city in the USA!—O how the mighty have f*#ked up.


And often we hear about the churches of all denominations being the major source of soup kitchens, charities and volunteer work. There’s only one problem with that—nobody goes to church much anymore. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger—but there are definitely a lot of people besides just me, all staying home from church—some just lazy, yeah, but a lot that just don’t have religion in their lives now. A lot of Catholics are staying away because of the betrayal of sexual misconduct committed by their once most-trusted and respected civic leaders, their local priests. And don’t even ask about the number of young men deciding to enter the priesthood–who in their right mind would jump into that abyss?

I don’t want to go into that cesspool of a subject, but my point is—the church is no longer the core of a town or a neighborhood. And without the collections funds, the charities have no cash to operate. It is time we stopped looking to church charities and began implementing something more secular. We could call it “The Centers For People We’ve Finally Stopped Pretending Weren’t Suffering” (“…and stuff”, as Derek Zoolander might say).

Well, I Googled, so now I know the guy on “Bill Moyers” was Thomas Cahill—and he was right: ‘There’s really only two sides: kindness and cruelty.’