Archive for November, 2010

As serious as it gets

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Maybe history usually works this way: things just happen to us. But this American ‘liberty’ of ours is a rare and precious thing, no mistake. Emphatically, no mistake!

Just because it’s the way things usually work, or just because we let it happen, or just because we really don’t know or care, or just because most of us never wanted liberty in the first place – here we are again. The most important decisions in our lives are made without our knowledge or consent, in secret, by people who view us as expendable pawns in their larger, more important, political game. And yet, we are the people. If this country isn’t for us, it isn’t this country.

Folks running things now do it in secret, and they may be killed – killed! – if their conversations are made public. It’s not possible these conversations are legal. It’s not possible the actions they initiate and condone are moral. But we’re told to stand behind them because these secretive people, acting above the law, might otherwise be killed. And most of us do.

Privatize your pension, and lose it.

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Today’s joke on working Americans is: we can earn more through private investments than we’ll ever get from Social Security. This one is a real knee-slapper. Capitalism does follow rules, which have been understood perfectly for years. Lots of us work. Lots of money is made. A few of us take it. If lots of us put lots of money into private investments – hoping to get it back at retirement – a few of us will take it.

This is criminally easy now. (I’m obliged to note a few people are, in fact, starting to look at this; something to do with a Democrat in the White House). Try to think it through:

Our new computers manage trillions of historical and real-time data points to, say, predict the weather. There are only a few thousand equities traded on the electronic exchanges, and a few thousand more funds. People running the markets have precise information on every trade at once, with hundreds of billions of dollars to trade short and long simultaneously, and a decades-long ‘investment’ horizon. The price of any particular asset today is exactly what the house wants it to be today. Go ahead and place your bet.

Campaign 2012 (2)

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

A working person who votes for a Republican is a stupid person. That’s a fact.

Republicans repeatedly say war is necessary for national defense. They insist on unlimited government spending on every effort to promote war. They rant that government requires unlimited authority over the activities, privacy, and mobility of its citizens. They demand laws on how we identify ourselves, how we carry our money, and what we can do with our bodies.

As Democrats, christian socialists insist universal financial security is our best national defense. A society of free individuals can resist all enemies. The Constitution was written precisely to limit the power of organized financial elites to control government through politicized interest groups. Our vision of America is for Americans.

Let’s not get married.

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

I remember George Bush saying (something like), “I know I’m right. I can feel it in my chest.” This is a weird thing to say, but it’s the thing, in fact, that gets bunches of people to cheer all together – they’ve got the same feelings in their chests.

Chests began cooling all over the globe today when this news came out of Italy: it’s okay to wear a condom if you’ve got HIV. This is major: it’s better to prevent losing a life than it is to encourage giving birth every single time you have sex. Maybe you’d better avoid conceiving a child in order to prevent losing an adult. They’ll slice it and dice it for decades, I’m sure, but the Church just gave it all away.

The Church always knew, of course, that morality isn’t about violating God’s will – no act of contraception or abortion ever prevented a life God intended to create – it’s about the community warm-chestedness which comes from sacrificing promiscuity together. It was for our own good we were encouraged to stay out of the way of biology. Now, at last, we’re going to have to sort things out for ourselves. Thank God.

What it means to be alive

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Mostly my life is wanting something and being afraid, with lengthy stretches just performing tasks at hand. There are little patches here and there of simply breathing and being aware, and I love these; I’m tempted to make a religion out of them. But this is all there is, practically speaking, and it gets used up and goes away. The really old people I see laugh a lot. I want to laugh like that. I want to live a long, long time.

So I want the world to be a place I can laugh in. I want to make sure of it. I’m afraid I can’t.

50 years after

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

The material arrangement of the universe changes when a person is born into it, just as the physical structure of a brain is altered when it has an idea. You have been so much more.

You added to everything you touched each step of the long way here. Your failures became discoveries. Your losses you turned into hope. Your successes were gifts you gave to the world. You wake up more beautiful each morning.

I admired you long ago. I love you today. Let’s have lunch tomorrow.

conundrum

Monday, November 15th, 2010

A fabulous fiction from our financial religion: human beings have unlimited wants. Otherwise, economies wouldn’t need to grow. Money driven society doesn’t pay more to its owners if the economy doesn’t grow, so – presto! – humans have unlimited wants.

In fact, human wants are easily circumscribed by local possibilities. Typically, our conditions are abject. Only the wealthy – and those who concoct their faith – have unlimited wants. Surprisingly, the rest of us find joy in merely living.

Our most stable arrangement is one of precarious happiness. We’ll fight tooth and claw to defend any place we’re sufficiently warmed, fed, and covered from the rain – if we believe we’ll still be here tomorrow. You think we’d be miserable, but we’re not faking: we’re content. Stay away and leave us alone.

Why Harry takes so long

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

We all know why, of course. It’s because the films are conceived, designed, produced, and released to make as much money as possible. That’s what our art is about. That’s what our lives are about.  In an abstract way, it’s sort of fun: I saw a story the other day about a couple who somehow won millions of dollars, and promptly gave it all away. The headline: Experts are Stumped.

I first noticed this cultural wave when one of my college girlfriends, listening to some wild-eyed dream for my future, announced that if I failed, at least I’d have several salable job skills. It took a me while to understand what job skills had to do with it. I wasn’t alone. Lots of us shared the contempt of the freely creative for those who ‘sold out.’

Now, I’m sure artists have always wanted to make lots of money. But I’ve also believed the machinery which consumes and rehashes an author’s work, amplifying the thrill features for sale to the little minded, inevitably diminishes the result. Harry hasn’t changed my mind.

Meanwhile

Friday, November 12th, 2010

My children are stretching out, running around like awkward four-legged spiders. I’ve taught them everything I know already. They don’t look back very often.

I had a dream the other night – just a dream, honey – about a woman across the room. Absorbed in her friends, still her eyes met mine and she didn’t look suddenly away. A ‘pretty girl,’ they would have called her. The party shifted and she was gone. Then, just next to me again, listening. Odd, and giddy, like youth. A woman who liked me.

It took fifty years for my hope to break. We were going to do such things, my imaginary friends and I. Time passes slowly. It seems so long ago, now. I don’t worry about tomorrow anymore.

Jesus and me

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Jesus, reported to be the wisest man who ever walked on earth, chose not to write. I choose to believe that’s because he wanted us to put our faith in him, and not in what is written. I watched Mr. Eastwood’s latest movie, and supposed that while making it he had a few thoughts about dying himself. Perhaps not, but I am now of an age where some who are the dearest parts of my life, and so I too, must think clearly, objectively, about death. At moments my heart seems to break.

I have talked to Jesus since I can remember. My mother taught me to. I’ve never heard an audible word in response, but I have been warmed and comforted through ugliness and sorrow. I have been joined in my celebrations and my laughter.

Books are made. Laws are written. Some say God wrote them, and cling to them. Religion, for many, is only an explanation of death, and occurs to them only when they confront their real fear, which is simply loss of life. Jesus promised (someone wrote it down) that by listening to him and believing what he says, I will be aware my life never really ends. This feels true, and much has been made of it by others. But I hear people use the words from the books a lot, and I don’t believe those always mean what folks think they do.