Monday, September 26, 2005

Beginning of the End?

In the three centuries since its' beginning the Great Nation had grown from a few small settlements of political and religious dissidents, adventurers and slaves to the dominant military and commercial power of the world. During the same period, several other nations rose to world power but by the beginning of the 21st century the one-time world powers were reduced to secondary status.
Now, the Great Nation was severely divided on ideological and political lines. The country's leader had pursued a course of military conquest and political colonialism.
The youth and resources of the country were being squandered on the President's pursuit of personal power and vindication of his father's mistakes and bad judgment. Like other members of his dynasty, the Leader was short on good sense and ethics but totally committed to his own personal agenda.
Cronyism was the foundation of his personal political system. Many of the important government Agencies had been staffed by unqualified personnel with political "connections".
Unrest among the Nation's citizens was growing more vocal and visible every day.
As a result, the Leader began to be hesitant in his political activities. Where once he had been confident, even arrogant in his treatment of the press, he now appeared hesitant and tentative. When a reporter at a Press Conference suggested that the Leaders' planned visit to the site of a natural disaster might interfere with the work of rescuers. The Leader immediately cancelled his appearance.

Meanwhile, the Nation's enemies were preparing to re-launch their attacks on what now appeared to be a "limping giant".
To Be Continued

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Moments of "Lucidity"

Once in a while (not often these days) I get a sudden feeling that I've got things figured out and then I wake up and realize I've just been day dreaming. I don't know how or where I first heard "The more you know, the more you know you don't know" and even after Googling it, I can't find out who first said it or wrote it but I do know that it sums up my situation perfectly. Only the very young can imagine that they have things figured out.

The Dalai Lama, aka "The simple monk", offered some simple truths to an audience of more than 12,000 here in Austin yesterday. I don't belittle his talk but I don't think he offered any new or particularly revolutionary ideas. Instead, he shared his thoughts with us in a pleasant, unpretentious, friendly way and told his audience that if they found something in his talks that was useful, they were welcome to take it with them and if not "forget it"

This had a very familiar ring to it and last night, I looked at the framed Sutra I have on the wall of my room:
which ends with the words "When you find any thing agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all. Then accept it and live up to it." The Buddha said that over twenty-five hundred years ago.

Nice seeing His Holiness again. We were born in the same year - I sometimes feel a true kinship with my friend
"The Simple Monk"

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I ran into an old friend at Central Market yesterday, Scott and I worked together in Santa Barbara - it's almost ten years ago now. I used to call him "Sport" or "Kid" but that doesn't quite fit anymore. It's not just that he's in his mid-forties but also because he's gotten so big! He's tall, maybe 6' 3", but in the last five years or so he's broadened a lot, not really fat, jus wide. He told me that I keep looking younger and better. That's partially bullshit of course but not a real lie. Scott's a salesman but he doesn't lie. I can tell when someone's lying by looking into their eyes and Scott's are almost always very clear, bright and alive. "Windows of the soul" is absolutely true and anyone that doesn't believe it can't see much at all.

Talking to Scott is always interesting - he's not boring even when he's talking about things I'm not interested in. We think alike, Scott and I, even though he's a born- again Catholic. He understands about consciousness and compassion even if, like me, he sometimes strays from the path. We talked about responsibility and helping other people, about the Dalai Lama and Andre Agassi. Scott was once a "contender" in Tennis.
Not a real star but someone with a little talent and a lot of ambition. He worked at the Santa Barbara Tennis Club when I was a member there (about 16 years ago).

I woke up about an hour and a half ago, glanced at my bedside clock and thought it was seven a.m. but when I got up and went to the bathroom, I discovered that it was four a.m. so I read for a while but the book I was reading was causing more "angst" than I wanted to experience, so I decided to get up and write.

Maybe we all have a lifetime quota of sleep- like seven or eight hours a day for every day we live and now at the age of 71, I've gotten most of the sleep I really need - for a lifetime.

Friday, September 16, 2005

250,000 Trailers

So the FEMA chief buys all these trailers before he "resigned". Now what are they gonna do with them. It looks like most of the homeless evacuees (aka "refugees") have decided they don't want to go back to "The Big Easy", so I guess that means that cities like Houston, Dallas and Austin are gonna get most of them. Assuming that Austin gets let's say 10% - that means we're gonna have one hell of a trailer park. Bush finally gets his revenge on the only major city in Texas that he couldn't carry in the last "election".
They can't really park them out in the boondocks of east Austin and I know Sun City up in Georgetown will fight hard ("not in our neighborhood") so I guess South Austin will get them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Interesting Times

It turns out that the Chinese toast : "May you live in interesting times" was not as some have suggested a back handed curse or malediction but none the less it does seem especially appropriate in our own times.

After 70+ years in this current lifetime, I feel that I have gone the gamut or perhaps even run the gauntlet.
Starting with the simple world of depression-era New York in the late 30's and on to the 40's and the age of Rosie the Riveter and "Johnie marching home". Times Square on V-E day. Los Alamos in 1945. Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the A Bomb, Cold War, Beatniks, Korean Police Action, Existensialism, The Silent Generation, "JFK, Blown Away- What Can I Say"
Flower Power, Love not War.
Weathermen & The Velvet Underground,
Beatles, The Brady Bunch
Ed Sullivan, Red Skelton, Red Buttons, Red River Valley
Dylan, Jagger, Bianca, & twinkies, tweetie & Looney Tunes
Steve McQueen, Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, Marilyn Monroe
Joe DiMaggio, Arthur Miller
Norman Mailer and Susskind.
And we're still not past the 60's
It was interesting.

Friday, September 09, 2005

"The Police Taught Everyone Around Here How to Loot"

A local blogger from New Orleans:
"Kirby Gee works as a bartender at a New Orleans Bar called "Miss Mayes". He says the bar did pretty good business even through last Wednesday—the cops kept them in shotgun shells as long as they kept pouring drinks. Gee says the police taught everyone around here how to loot. They were the first to bust into the grocery store down the street and the Wal-Mart a mile or so up the road. He also says they took to breaking into car lots in the days after the storm and driving off with brand-new Escalades. I'm not sure whether to believe him, until a cop car drives buy towing what looks like a mint-condition Corvette Stingray. "And these are the people telling us to evacuate," says one of the porch dwellers. Every time a Humvee rolls by, a few of the guys make sure to flash the peace sign."
Maybe it was the cops who were doing the shooting last week!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

New Orleans: The Horror & the Promise

So far, I haven't found an awful lot of coverage by the world press on the NOLA disaster and most of what I've found so far has not been particularly enlightening or thought provoking but a few comments are worth repeating like this from Le Monde correspondent Corine Lesnes: " Katrina aura peut-être réduit le fossé entre les Etats-Unis et le reste du monde.
L'hyper-puissance est revenue dans le commun des mortels." (Maybe Katrina has reduced the moat between the U.S. and the rest of the world" and "The super-power has rejoined the world on equal footing"
Katrina, "The Big Leveler" literally and metaphorically.
Barbara Bush has expressed concern that the Katrina regugees now in Houston and other parts of Texas, may not go home ( Reminds me of a bumper stcker in I saw in California : "Welcome to California - Now go Home").

Will New Orleans ever be rebuilt? Should it? Jack Shafer in SLATE says no "New Orleans won't disappear overnight, of course. The French Quarter, the Garden District, West Riverside, Black Pearl, and other elevated parts of the city will survive until the ultimate storm takes them out—and maybe even thrive as tourist destinations and places to live the good life. But it would be a mistake to raise the American Atlantis. It's gone."

Maybe it could be the New Atlantis, just let the Mississippi reclaim the delta and maybe they can build a subterrenean pleasure dome.

The idea of rebuilding an entire city from ground (or water) up is a fascinating fantasy. All the Utopians of the world should hold a convention with a grand prize for the best plan. Personally, I would love to a "Nova Venezia" instead of a new New Orleans.

Canals in place of streets, a huge" Piazza San Luigi Braccio Forte" (for the city's patron saint, Louis Armstrong)
water taxis driven by "Gonzolieri"
I'm sure you get my picture- what's yours?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

"Seeing is Believing"?
We "see" someone running out of a darkened store front carrying a carton of soft drinks and a bag of groceries.
Voice over: "Widespread looting is hampering rescue efforts in New Orleans"
We assume that the man with the groceries has taken them without paying and he is "looting" but what else might be going on? Maybe the "looter" can't buy what he needs or wants because the stores are all closed.
Maybe whatever is left in the abandoned store will be swept away by the rising flood tides.
Maybe the man and his family haven't had anything to eat or drink in two days.
Maybe- the man is just returning to his home after receiving the groceries from relief workers.

Our perception of what we think we see is completely distorted by the media and their own agenda.

Maybe you can't believe what you "see" on television.