Archive for May, 2010

Israel – maybe halfway through.

Monday, May 31st, 2010

When the West created Israel, everyone knew it was an audacious act. A group of fanatically dedicated people were sent to a foreign country with a bunch of guns and a three thousand year old sheet of paper attesting their ancestors lived there millennia ago. The idea is simple: societies grow toward accomodation. If the newcomers simply hold their ground and fight long enough, their children’s children will learn how to live in peace.

I think this is working. But we’re still closer to the ugly facts than the inevitable reconciliation.

The meaning of flight

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

When I was a kid, the US built the Space Shuttles and we started flying in and out of orbit like we belonged there. At the time, I thought we were wasting a lot of energy going places it would never be too interesting to be. To me, it looked like there was plenty of stuff here on Earth that needed attending to first. I was probably right.

As the decades followed, I watched while we attended to far less than I had hoped for. In the sky we built a Space Station and on Earth, a bunch of poorly functioning toys and a great big physical mess. Mostly, we decided to stop doing things as a country and started acting like we all better just take care of ourselves; we each better grab whatever we can and hold onto it.

I got to be proud of the US and our Space Shuttles. They blew up and we kept going. They fell out of the sky and we kept going. It makes me sad, now, while we’re running away from the future, clutching our meaningless bank accounts, that we’re not going to fly those Shuttles anymore. I wish we could still, at least, pretend like we’re going somewhere.

New life. Same old civilization.

Friday, May 21st, 2010

We’ve recently managed to copy some natural sequences onto purely synthetic DNA and put the activated strands in control of a living cell. This is very cool science. There is some nontrivial work ahead, but we’re getting a pretty good sense of the molecular arrangements we’ll need to put together our own, lab-fabricated organisms. Some people are worried (or thrilled!)  that this diminishes God.

It turns out most people worship something that isn’t, quite, God. Most of us have our beliefs challenged. Most of us are very afraid if our ideas are wrong, our worlds will fall apart. So most of us believe in a God we ourselves actually created, and whom we must defend, at all costs, from the infidel. But the Lord is God, whether we believe it or not. The Lord who created us to create synthetic DNA knows today what animals we will build tomorrow. Don’t be afraid.

Campaign 2010

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Republican: Government is getting too big – we have to limit abortions!

Democrat: I guess we can live with that.

Republican: We need firearms training in elementary schools!

Democrat: Well, okay.

Republican: We’re going to drive out the immigrants!

Democrat: Give us a moment to think about that.

Republican: We’re going to eliminate taxes!

Democrat: Actually, you know, well, we can’t do that, you see, we need to improve American health care.

Republican: Forget American health care!

Democrat: We have to start dealing with global warming.

Republican: Drill, baby! Drill!

Democrat: We need to regulate the banks.

Republican: Leave the bankers alone!

Democrat: We need to create jobs.

Republican: Stop hiring people!

Everybody defaults.

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

In the very long ago, by divine decree, everyone’s debts were canceled and forgiven every fifty years, because if you put an average group of people in an average land of plenty, within fifty years a few of them are going to be living high and starving everybody else to death. It turns out, the mass defaults were good for things all around; every enterprise was profitable again and even the losers got to eat for a while.

Moving forward, anyone next to you with an open mouth to speak out of will be saying the global debts must be paid. History says otherwise.

Capping your well and tapping it, too.

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

I used to enjoy torturing the old saw: if it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and sounds like a duck – it might turn out to be a miniature goose. One of the older games in the gamebook: refute the obvious with a meaningless distinction.

There’s a lot of oil flowing out of a hole in the Gulf of Mexico, and it seems like a whole lot of damage might be done on shore. Of course, the company that drilled the hole and the governments that protect the people on shore are frantically trying to cap it. I think. There’s a lot of lowering of funnels and inserting of tubes, and it almost looks like they’re not really trying to cap the well, but to restart it. That’s some major dedication to the corporate mission, and some awfully expensive crude.

Gay? We should hope so.

Friday, May 14th, 2010

The high court sits splendidly isolated, cameras off, straining at its gnats. Lately, the trend is to reject the stated purpose of the Constitution and genuflect before the document itself, as if the law isn’t a social promulgation but in fact some idolized literal text. There are those on the court who take pride in confining themselves, as closely as possible, to only those words printed physically on the Constitutional pages. It’s a rare day when they choose to bother themselves with the complications of actual humanity.

Won’t it be great if Elena turns out to be a person with a Difference; a warm-blooded human who suffers, herself, when the textual puritans cast their votes against all those not white, male, and landed?

Why I fast (most) Saturdays

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

I think the Lord always is, and created all things, and created people for his satisfaction, and taught us how to live, forever. I’ve read the Bible a couple of times, and I like it. Everything we are is right there, in all its wonderful confusion. Six days behind the plow is enough. On the seventh I remember my Lord and dwell on him.

I love the Lord and I’m aware that he loves me. My celebration of God is always respectful of what I am. I am afflicted in my extremities and when it is cold my circulation fails, and fails worse without food. So in winter, on the Sabbath day, I eat.

This is where understanding us begins.

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Trying to understand the United States means trying to imagine a healthy antagonism towards government. We were invented by people who knew that serving power is inevitable; that most people just want a king. And they knew whoever had the power of government for a moment would want to be king forever. So they set us up to play at government like a game, and showed us that by following the rules of the game, we could always knock off the princes before they became kings.

The United States lives and dies by its faith in the rules, and its leaders are always wholeheartedly committed to scrapping them. This nation, truly, is a miracle.

Another poor couple loses the lottery.

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Actually, I read that another poor couple has just won the lottery, for skazillions of dollars. I guess they waited a long time for this. They waited their entire lives for this. See, that’s how working people live – fervently hoping for something they will never have. That’s the hope that makes them feel right about themselves; that the world is really a wonderful place and life is good because there’s a chance they might win the lottery. And once in a while, somebody does!

So, another lucky couple just gained a large pile of money and lost their whole purpose for living.