Political Symbols

/ Scholarship / Symbols /

Symbols can be tricky. Don’t rely on the symbol user(s) to understand more than a fraction of the symbol. And absolutely don’t expect the symbol user(s) to fully aware or honest about their symbols. Do expect symbol users to assume that you will assume that their use is intelligent and honest. Expect them to assume it in the face of evidence to the contrary: take our present president for example”: is he inciting us to murder, to arson, to disorder; or is he talking us out of it?

His appeal to our being “Americans”, for example. Does that have any objective meaning? What’s the meaning of a mob or protest?

Charlottesville 2017 08 mid-month
What’s the meaning of people, mostly men, marching with torches? That has a long-standing meaning among Americans. Isn’t it so familiar as to be obvious? Doesn’t it mean “We’re a lynthing party? The law means whatever we say it means? and we can change our meaning thirty times an hour. It means We’re Christians! But God didn’t give us this land: we took it! We took it fro the natives, we built it by slave labor, we order it by terrorism.

i post as i scribble, a mess, I’ll have to fix another time

To date I’ve commented on personal symbols, pk idiosyncracies; I’ve taken common understanding for granted. But some symbols which are huge, under our nose, escape detection, dwell in musunderstanding.

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Nietzsche Notes

/ Scholarship / Reading Notes /

I first heard of Friedrich Nietzsche as a freshman in college. I didn’t then claim to have read much or well (or understood much, or well) but on a number of occasions since then, 1956-57, I realize I’d read (and understood) more than I’d claimed. I remember walking with my favorite intellectual, Myron (age fifteen), from Battery Park back to Columbia on Morningside Heights and we talked as we walked, Nietzsche, Nietzsche, Nietzsche.

It’s hard for me to remember, humiliating, because Myron was a Schopenhauer scholar: I still only barely know who Schopenhauer was!

Yesterday evening I watched Genius of the Modern World, Chap 2, Nietzsche. Now I’m about to watch it again: and prepare this spillway for notes.

I like this presenter, Bettany. Three days ago I watched Merx, two days ago I watched Marx again! Then I watched Nietzsche, and yesterday watched Nietzsche again: and watched part of Nietzsche again this morning. Some of my thoughts from the mid 1950s return to me now, and most welcome. Bettany tells us that Nietzsche despised Darwin: in his search for a post-Christian morality, a morality that didn’t need any authority, any God, Nietsche argued that his superman had no need to procreate, or even to survive himiself: martyrdom (non conventional) might be the best, the most noble, heroic path. Suddenly my own life, my whole life, shines before me as an example. The herd needs survival, not the hero.
Note: people misread Darwin, impose alien misreadings on him, it’s the readers’ fault, not Darwin’s. Ah, but Nietzsche: that’s partly the philosopher’s fault: he wrote so vividly, leading into our prejudices. It’s certainoly Elizabeth’s fault.

I’d always heard the Nietzsche’s sister (Elizabeth) fooled the world by appropriating his work, abandoned by him, and making it hers, adhering to her lights. So: which Nietzsche are you reading?
I’m reminded of Thomas Hardy. Mrs. Hardy was forever being told that she was married to a genius, a great writer: Oh, yeah, well I’m a pretty great writer too, Mrs. H. thought: by which she mean stock Christian. No, no, that is not what Hardy was.

So funny: remembering my Victorian studies from 1963: Hardy today, Eliot yesterday!

Reading Notes A — L By Author M — Z
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Monthly

Monthly: scrapbook: reborn each month
(Monthly Note follows below)

Dear North America
2017 08 19 Enjoy the eclipse on Monday, best view for Americans in 100 years, but be warned: have those glasses or don’t look at it! not directly. The last solar eclipse I saw I was skiing on Hunter Mounting, NY. I didn’t need the glasses because I was skiing, not eclipse watching. But of course the eclipse came, and as I skied I also watched, and wasn’t it true that exactly what I’d been warned against, and understood without warning, happened: I was near blinded! And the effect on my sight lasted for years!

Well, whoever said we were intelligent? Whoever said we were intelligent was only half-right. And sometimes the smarter you are, the dumber you are.

Charlettesville, Barcelona
2017 08 17 Imagine this: The Senate decides it has enough votes to impeach Trump. The assume that Trump will resign, follow the Nixon tradition, save the government a lot of money and himself a lot of embarrassment. Trump takes his women on vacation, himself drives a big van, seats nine, and drives amok into the once-upon-a-time Robert E. Lee Park in Charlettesville. Out on bail he wants to rent a van in Barcelona.

Trump Unlike You, Unlike the Media
2017 08 17 Trump’s demagoguery isn’t a “religion”: religions include their members in salvation, in specialness, wisdom, truth. Trump divides populations, with everyone in the wrong, and Trump, alone, in the right.
(Gee, he’s just like me after all!)

Note that the idea of “Innocent until proved guilty” is a WASP idea, a white idea, Protestant at its core. older Christianity presents man as damned until saved, guilty by definition: until God declares not innocence but forgiveness.

Proof? Facts? There is o proof; only God’s declaration.

If you want facts, reason, truth, evidence, then you’ve got to get rid of God, and priests, and miracles.

Me? I’ll take God, sometimes, ’cause that’s my havit, life long: or adulthood-long. But at rational moments, never very long-lasting, I’d take reason, science, evidence: I’d banish authority, shoot bishops. And demagogues.

Fire and Fury
2017 08 12 Pearl Harbor is one of my earliest memories, I was barely a toddler. By the time I was ten or eleven, the war seemed to be over, sort of, but not really. I’m not the only kid who feared that any loud noise overhead was the last loud noise I’d ever hear. In 1951 I wanted to live; now, 2017, I don’t. But I want my son to live. He turned fifty last month. If 78 or 79 is long enough, maybe too much too long, what the hell, maybe 50 is half long enough. So the hell with me, the hell with him: but what about his son, my grandson? He’s eleven or so. Already he’s an exceptional sentience, but he’s merely merely approaching the threshhold for a decade or two of adequate life. I don’t want him jumping at loud sounds overhead.
On the other hand, after WW II, the beginning of the Korean War, loud sounds overhead were a novelty on Long Island. They’re been common since: so common. Do they register? Does anyone hear them? let alone attribute them? Regardless, I want my grandson to have at least a few decades to worry about.
That means I don’t want Trump scaring the shit out of everybody, especially not out of Koreans who themselves want to live, and have rights.

Curry Clan
What a wonderful time to be alive and to have WiFi and YouTube. Every other hour new material featuring Roger Federer, Steph and Milana! And they’re not the only ones: did you see Garbina as she accepted her Wimbledon trophy? Jeez what a dress. What a haunch! What an appealing new star.

By normal yardsticks maybe LeBron is the best player (and Steph merely one-of-the best players) (and KD and Westbrook etc are in there). But what star athlete has ever ravished us the way Steph does? And it isn’t just basketball: everything about him is ravishing. And it doesn’t stop there: his family is ravishing: and not just his daughters, and not just him mom! his sister, his wife! …
And it doesn’t seem to be calculated: I just watched a YouTube video of Steph in China. OK, that’s scripted, and why not? But it goes far beyond script, it’s importantly improvised. Ayisha is on the floor! with Steph! and a bunch of Chinese guys, all of whom can dribble and shoot and pass, and Ayesha shoots a ball that hovers near the rim, an alley oop, and Steph finishes it! Wham! Decisively. And then says Who knew she had such eyes! No, no, that’s not script. That’s the current cream of the Curry clan having fun.

Ayisha was having fun. She’s not embarrassed to be on the floor. You or I would be embarrassed, but not Ayisha, or Sonia, or Sydel. I watched a doc with the whole family the other day, Sydel was just a little girl, Ayesha and Riley and Ryan weren’t in the picture. Sydel was shooting, Sydel was missing; but she was getting the ball near the rim, she wasn’t apologizing to anyone, no one was pushing her: she was growing, getting stronger, her percentages were improving, I don’t doubt: and if she never scored one basket it didn’t matter, it was a family, playing, men, women, children: boys and girls. Steph and Seth went at each other, brothers, one bigger, older, stronger, more experienced, so what, brothers! and their little sister was 100% welcome, she didn’t have to win any contest, no score was being kept.

I’m telling you, we get to see a lot of Fed, and his family, and very welcome, thank you. But it’s not the same: Fed’s familty sits in the audience. Mirka used to play and play well, but she infured, then she was the girlfriend, the wife, now the mother, the multi-mother … but it’s Roger who’s on the court, embarrassing the world’s best.

I don’t know: maybe there are films somethwere where they all play, and welcome, and no one keeps score. I bet his da and mum are good athletes too. Otherwise, where did he come from?

State Monopoly
2017 08 05 Jeez, not only is it against the law to kill yourself, it’s against the law to encourage help in the area. Guy was miserable, guy’s girl says so what are you waiting for, guy’s girl goes to jail for 15 months! The state already told the guy he had to go to school, couldn’t talk about God while there, couldn’t opt out; now his friends can’t help him either. It’s like being a Jew at Auschwitz: you can’t leave, you can’t complain, and if you see a way out that might apply to others, you can’t tell them either..
Fortunately, the stupidity of the Nazis is always near infinite: And Always Growing.
Maybe I should have chosen a German camp, in Germany, not one in Poland, but that’s the camp that came to mind as I was scribbling fast.

We’re In Love

Milana Vayntrub
Milana Vayntrub
thanx smartasses100sexiest

2017 08 02 We’ve all noticed this girl, even me who watches next to no TV. I’ve also noticed that I’m far from being alone. Heterolsexual males of all ages love her: but so do people from all other gender and preference categories. “We all love you!” blurted one network beauty.

OK. My life has been filled with astonishing females. It’s nice to hear them named, to learn something about them; but Milana’s bio is staggering: Modelng since three, choice TV spots since age 5 … drops out of high school to start university …

But of course she’s surrounded by people who dress her carefully, light her well, give her choice material, offer scripts for everything she does … And Jesus does she fly with it.

Continues as reverse chronology: Monthly Archive

Such archives date backwards: counter chronological: today, yesterday, the day before …

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Mushroom Anniversary

/ Culture /

I have a rare memory: I remember Pearl Harbor! US involvement in WWII was packed into the next couple of years: ’41 to ’45. I also remember in that period hearing huge airplanes overhead: bracing, trembling. There were airplanes before WWII, but it wasn’t until Hiroshima that the sky was filled with nghmare. Little kid, six, seven years old, hears the loud bombers: we brace, we freeze, we’re ready for eclipse.

By 1950 people my age were ready for any day to be our last. It didn’t matter whether the US won or lost some war, we expected our life to be at an end. And we certainly didn’t believe that even at age 3 or 4 that we were innocent in the matter. There followed Kennedy’s threats and Khrushchev banging his shoe and bombs and bombers filling Havana.

Most Christians believe that they’re the exception, No? I was always ready to believe that we are the rule: there’s no essential difference between us and the goofballs who stood by while the Romans, led by the pecker by Jews, crucified Jesus. We’re stupid, we’re evil, and we’ll do stupid and evil things at every opportunity.

But let’s concentrate on only one thing here: I heard loud noises in the sky, monster machines roared overhead, I was not the only mortal expecting any moment to be my last. We bombed, why shouldn’t we be bombed? The Passion typified our acts of justice: we built a republic on slavery, not to mention genocide: anyone can see the quality of our innocence.

Did Germans believe after WWI, with Hitler’s rise in the ’30s, that bellicosity made them safe? ? I suspect that’s a fault universal in human belief.

Look at Trump: he really seems to believe that leading with his face makes him look intelligent.
We want to look intelligent, fool the world, so we elect him.

What launched this babble last week was a Yahoo headlined Trump Has Been President for Six Months Now and It’s Exhausting. And North Korea is banging its shoe on our lectern. Between me in the early ’40s and this generation of kids is acceptance of your own doom the norm? or the exception?

I drafted this last week without posting it. Now I do post it, sparked by today’s Yahoo headline that N Koreas IBMs aren’t very dangerous after all. I believe it; but it doesn’t make me trust the world. I don’t trust humans, I don’t find human intelligence to be genuine: more like BT Barnum suckers: This way to the Exodus.

Note: Am I quoting Barnum’s sign correctly? Barnum charged admission, people pid it, but then stayed all day. Barnum wanted more cash at the entrance: so he put up sign intended to confuse the illiterate, get them to leave: they could come back in if they paid a fresh entrance fee. Good. But was “exodus” the word he chose to mask “exit”? You know what I mean whatever the word was.

Fire & Fury
2017 08 10 Uh oh, now Trump is toying with the nukes, toying with crazy men.
Read Jared Diamond’s stats on primitive warfare: seems to be universal, universally deadly: how did we ever get to here from there. One day we’ll really be here, and there, and everywhere: so much jelly.

Culture

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Sexist Quantification

Quantification is a key concept, modern and still only partially developed: Galileo timed things with his pulse: most people still don’t get it, not even if they’re in a science department at Harvard.

Wimbledon is coming, the tennis world, the civilized world, is about to retest its enthusiasms: who’s number 1? (on grass) Who’s #2? Who’s 1 and 2 among the women …

Johnnie Mac, a good tennis player but an even better stand-up (or sit-down) commentator, had said that Serena Williams was one of the greatest athletes of all time. He’d also said that she was the best female tennis player ever seen publicly. Ah, but people, people who don’t know their ass from their elbow, were saying that he said she was one of the greatest, period; so he had to qualify: greatest female tennis player. He qualified further: if we were talking about tennis players worldwide, without regard to gender, he estimated she’d be able to play competitively among the males at a level around 700 world-wide: the top 699 male tennis players would beat her off the court; she might split sets with players #700, 701.

Serena didn’t thank him for the compliment. Until we actually test such claims in a series of tournaments, it’s neither a compliment nor an insult. It would become a compliment if we knew, from rational testing, how other great female tennis players would have faired against the top several hundred men. Ask yourself, you can’t “look it up”: how deep among the males would Chrissie have had to play before she won, ever? before she won consistently? How deep would Navrotalova have had to play? Lenglen? Hengis? When would Sharapova have started to win a set now and then playing against males? 800? 900? Would Martina Hingis have been able to beat ranked males while the number was still three-figures? Played the 700th ranked male Hingis loses 0-6, 0-6? How about Court? Lenglen?
How many women players would win a single game before we got to male #1,000? #3,015?

Myth must not be tested.

No, no. Notice. Civilization doesn’t know the answer. We’ve been protected from the answer. We’re in the realm where reason is forbidden, myth rules. Myth must not be tested, no quantification for religious beliefs.

Serena’s reply to Mac was was cute: please limit yourself to things knowable!

Wait: no imagining allowed? Notice, the web interviews celebrities; no scientists, no philosophers. No, no. Our prejudices are far too important to us to allow rational inquiry: no testing allowed.

Chrissy’s responses to such speculations decades ago were right on the moneh: playing about John, her husband, Lloyd, she wouldn’t have won a single point! the best woman player in the world, multiply tested, not one point!!

later Tuesday afternoon
Wow, Mac got a lot of people’s goat. Now he’s said he wished that men and women did compete together: then we’d “know”; “We wouldn’t have to guess!”

Whatever John’s point; that’s my point: Guessing is all we’re allowed because myth is involved.

It’s too late to test the past; but we could try to figure out how to test the future: next Wimbledon women’s champ: schedule her against the men, figure her place: then, Always test.
Or, don’t: but then admit that you don’t want to know.

Knowledge isn’t easy, but some knowledge ought to be possible: at least more possible than it’s been.

Thinking Tools

first draft,
2017 06 26 -27

John McEnroe called Serena Williams one of the greatest athletes he’s ever seen. He ameded that to The greatest female tennis players, etc. Now Mac says that if she played on the men’s tour she’d be ranked maybe 700th. That’s very good: has any female player ever been likely to do better than that? It’s a surprise only to those who don’t know or understand a thing about it.

I’m reminded of an interview with Chrissie Everett from decades ago, she was married to tennis player John Lloyd at the time. Lloyd was a pro but was wasn’t top dozen or two. An interviewer asked Chrissie how she’s fare if whe played singles against her husband. “I wouldn’t win a single point,” Chrissie answered.
No. She was just the best female player in the world. The best.
And we fans loved her.

PS Would Chrissie have been around 700 among the men? I doubt it. That’s Serena’s accomplishment.
And of course she would have shellacked Bobby Riggs, the conning old drunk. But until it can be quantified, tested, it’s just bullshit. And “Bobby Riggs” isn’t a real test: he was the top male pro once upon a time, a long time ago. That was tested, quantified. But tests would have to be regular, and unregulated, that is not regulated by church or crown, to be rationally meaningful. I like to see Serena, at her best, say age twenty-five, tested against the top males, the top several hundred males, for lots of money, before we judge whether “700” is a compliment or an insult. I read it as a compliment, but what do I know? same as Mac knows: next to nothing.

There was a story today right on the money where Mrs. Mac said to John Why don’t you and I play mixed doubles together at Wimpledon. Johm replied, But you’re not a tennis player! She responded, “Exactly.”
You need a tradition of quantification, continuous testing.

I’m also reminded of the days when Nixon’s White House was acusing Times journalists of being “self-appointed.” And actual Times journalist mocked, “Hello, I’d like to appoint myself Nixon-critic at the New York Times“!
No, the jounalists are hired and promoted by the editors who are hired and promoted by the owners who are hired and promoted by the advertizers, the university journalism departments. … Right, Mrs. Mac, exactly, you don’t just walk into Wimbledon and appoint yourself to the qualies, then to the final sixteen …

If Mac is right, and Serena would really be able to play @ 70 +-, then where would Martina fit? and where Martina Hingis? and where Margaret Court? Evonne … If there are really difference between males adn females let us know rationally what they are, and not by court of no-data-allowed.

I would really like it if you’re average fan could instantly retort, Yeah, Serena can play at 700; could Martina have played anywhere near 700? or Hingis or Suzanne Lenglen?

Suzanne Lenglen

PS I was able to track down pix of the divine Suzanne Lenglan because since age 15, wandering MOMA, I’ve been a huge fan of her cousin, Jacques Henri Lartigue.

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Job Offer

/ Teens /

My poor mother threw our father out not because he was a drunk but because of his philandering. Once Mom saw that Dad was not doing what she’d thought he was supposed to do, love and support her and her alone, Mom, with Utter naivte, continued to believe that Christian American society would do what it was supposed to do: force him to continue to support us even after he’d been thrown out. Next thing we know Mom is ready to scrub floors in order to feed us. No matter how hard she worked she would have needed luck to get $40 a week for humiliating labor; but, she was a gorgeous red head, learned shorthand, and got a job as a secretary for an insurance broker who specialized in matters marine. So Mom takes dictation and is also the decoration on the boss’s series of yachts, using his 30 footer and his 50 footer to display his wares. Next thing I know Mom is making friends with thrice-married millionaires who buy each grown kid a Cadillac for his birthday: while wife #4 totally redecorates the mansion. This story is about one such, guy with a thirty foot yacht who piled up the money selling cork for Armstrong. His secretary was a whiz, maiing out birthday presents and Christmas presents to a long list of customers, friends, and colleauges. Wally was a runt, always laughing in his throat: a prinkster: Do you want to see a hair stand on end, he asked me. He guided me to my knees at his side, told me to look at the wet drink ring on the coffee table surface, put my eye right next to it. Wally yanked a hair from my scalp, dropped it on the drunk righ. Splash! har har har. Wally had flicked the drink ring in my eye.

Then he asked if I was born again, told me that Jesus was the greatest salesman who ever lived. “He had something to sell,” I commented.
“Oh, I’m not going to worry about you, quoth the practical joking salesman.
Mom dismissed me. Wally asked what I planned to do for a living as I stood once again. “Don’t know,” I said, still uncomfortable with this clown. “Well, go to college, then come see me,” advised Wally.

I think that was my first job offer: and the first job I ever knew for sure I didn’t want. YoYo.

Wally had a huge mansion on the ocean in Bayshore. I always thought of him as we drove to our weekend beer parties in the Hamptons. There the ocean is held offshore by barrier islands; in Bayshore is think it was ocean directly on Long Island. Wally had multiple acres and the whole ocean. His wife was in there, all alone.

Stories by Theme by Age
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Fallacies

/ Thinking Tools /

The School Fallacy

I’ve never been a fan of named fallacies: The Pathetic Fallacy, the Ad Hominem Fallacy. I don’t trust fallacies we’re schooled about: but I’m about to jot notes about a common error of human thinking that ought to be named, in fact I’ll name it: I’ll name it The School Fallacy. The School Fallacy is particularly dangerous because it’s assigned to us, typically by experts, by institutions, by priests. It could also be called the Church Fallacy: or the Institutional Fallacy. It could also be called the White House Fallacy, or the Polonius Fallacy:

You get a bill from a lawyer: it’s implicit that you got a legal service, perhaps legal advice. Institutions want you to encumber yourself with the School Fallacy: the lawyer wants you to believe that you got good legal advice. The school teacher, the school, want you to assume that your got a valuable lesson from the school, from the teacher; not just an expensive lesson: a good lesson.

You get a call, the voice says it’s from the White House, the President’s office. Is it Trump on the line? or some bureaucrat telling you to do something as though Trump is telling you?
Should Hamlet believe that Polonius speaks for the king? Should Danes believe that Polonius speaks wise counsel? or palace gibberish?

The priest tells you something, he wants you to assume that it’s God speaking, that what you hear from him is biblical.

The confusion I’ve always been ready to believe is that when I hear from God I’m hearing the truth. God’s word has authority. Not only does God’s word have authority, but it’s right!

If you see a weather report, if the report predicts rain for Wednesday, and it’s Wednesday, is it raining? Are you wet?

If God tells you to circumcise your kid, should you do it? If the kid bleeds to death, is it your fault? or the Temple’s, the rabi’s?

Institutions insist that you make generous mistakes: generous to them, harmful, toxic to you.

Thinking Tools

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