Thursday, March 21, 2019

antique flat-liners

George III mahogany and parcel-gilt mirrors. The one on the left sold for $3,300 in 2002, and the one on the right for $1,800 in 2014.CreditStair Galleries
The market for antiques has headed south, I realize this morning after chatting with my friend Bill Samaha, a longtime dealer in what was once made by hand by craftsmen whose skill seemed unassailable.

A March, 2018, article in the New York Times noted:
Will other 18th and 19th century furniture pieces ever return to fashion? Many designers say that antiques will rise again but, after nearly two decades of decline, few are willing to predict when.
“The pendulum is going to swing just like it does in politics,” said Mr. Hayes. “It always does. But I don’t see it coming anytime soon.”
There was a time when design and au-courant denoted a person whose "taste is in his mouth." Today, in the age of the internet and with but few exceptions, the trend seems to be keeping up with those who are keeping up ...

Artworks made of plywood????? You've got to be shitting me! But no one is laughing as the money changes hands.

Once again, I am left in the fumes from the exhaust.


Wisdom is everywhere.

Eyes and ears vary.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

the ascendancy of the White Man

A white America?

Manifest Destiny?

Well, take another look and perhaps learn to savor -- in "El Norte; The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America" -- the Hispanic roots and culture that preceded the preposterousness of the White Man's claims:
This point of view persists. In the 2000s, the historian Samuel Huntington wrote that “America was created by … settlers who were overwhelmingly white, British and Protestant” – and therefore the arrival of Hispanics in large numbers remained a direct threat. Huntington denigrated such immigrants as people with “dual nationalities and dual loyalties”, because of their Spanish language and Catholic religion.
Arrogance is so much easier to spot in hindsight, but still, when it flows from the pens of those claiming to be historians ... JesusfuckingChrist! Exceptionalism is so enormous that it can make you choke when trying to separate Donald Trump's disciples and the rest of us soaking up 'American' history.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

New Zealand et al

The confusion and the anger and the anguish mount in the wake of the fatal shooting at two New Zealand mosques of 49 people. Nationalism and exceptionalism are folded into the mix.

Imagine killing or maiming or disabling someone because s/he comes from somewhere else. And in New Zealand -- that hot bed of wealthy homeowners hedging their bets against the upcoming water wars and race wars and more wars and more wars -- of all places.
CHRISTCHURCH/WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Reuters) - Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after 49 people were killed and dozens wounded in mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques.
A gunman apparently walked into a mosque and simply started shooting. The purity of his race was in question ... and everybody else's as well. Didn't Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, say much the same last week -- Israel is for Israelis, period ... before walking the statement back? Beware the first-est with the most-est, whatever the stripe or configuration. If white people should rule the world (nationalist whooppee), well, that's a major oops. If Israelis should rule in Israel -- as they do -- that's another oops. And the list goes on and on.

What a mess.

Bless all the activist children who are out there bellowing about climate change and other uniting principles. Lord knows I have neither the energy nor the brain power for it all. I have to admit that the first thought into my head in the wake of the New Zealand slaughter was, "It's time for another St. Valentine's Day Massacre -- line up the so-called nationalists and simply wipe 'em out, stem to stern and top to bottom ... They're stupid, perhaps, but they are also armed.

Another warmonger voice heard from.

lolling and writhing

Perhaps life is little more than lolling and writhing.

Or maybe not ... the "lolling and writhing" duet rattles around this morning. It's smooth off the mind's tongue ... lolling and writhing and perhaps it is close enough for folk singing.

"Importance" overstates the case.

Not sure what I'm getting at, but I thought I'd write it down.

Lolling and writhing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

basic survival kit....

Duct tape.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

compost the corpse

'Give back to the earth': Washington could legalize composting of human remains

The legislation, if signed, would see the state become the first in the US to legalize the alternative to cremation and burial


No disrespect intended, but aren't you a little old for books?

Monday, March 11, 2019

John Oliver on "robocalls"

women with "breed ready" status

An open database in China contains the personal information of more than 1.8 million women, including their phone numbers, addresses, and something called “BreedReady” status, according to a researcher.
Victor Gevers, a Dutch internet expert from the non-profit group GDI.Foundation, found the insecure data cache while searching for open databases in China.

no more the news hound

Bit by bit, I am no longer the news hound I once was. True, the doings of Donald Trump and his mirror Benjamin Netanyau can light my grinding disapprobation fuse, but literally, I now seem to skip over the news in order to reach a comfort zone that is somewhere between the Augustinian "born between piss and shit" and the admired graffito, "Man without God is like a fish without a bicycle."

My own fictions leave me cozy. The fictions and facts of others unrelentingly fail to stir the pot. I am reduced, I guess, to navel-gazing. But there is something to be said for navel-gazing -- at least it's mine and it is something I feel comfortable laying claim to.

My own fictions. The outrages dim. The warm bath water that is my own swirls and eddies and I am at home with bits and pieces of stories left incomplete. Others tend to their own business without a blush. I blush because I was once very gung-ho about about the social injustices and clusterfucks.

Tales and sketches can begin anywhere and I like the anywhere's far better. I'm just more interested, even in the face of question, "who died and left you interesting?" I am turning into Donald Trump, I suppose, but I am too lazy and uncomfortable to put a stop to it. A corrupt election here, a car bomb there, an argument about exiting from the European Union, and, as always, another war.

I like being comfortable and perhaps am simply too old for anything else. It just feels good in some visceral way that 'hard' news does not.

How do you make steel? What is steel made of?
What is the creature in the briny, briny deeps that is more humongous that the giant sea squid? I heard about it on TV. True or not ... there always will be a bigger, a more ferocious, and a more dangerous what-ever-it-is. When a person dies, do the fingernails continue to grow, as a high school test paper once asked me and to which I still don't know the answer, though it seems unlikely.
In the Springfield Armory Museum 20 miles south of here, there is a water-powered lathe someone invented to churn out rifle stocks during the Civil War ... imagine that ... all those angles and cuts and it's all run by water.

Fact and fiction -- my belly button.

I will skim the news ... perhaps.

Or perhaps no longer.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

a mild matter of curiosity

Question: How could Jesus be a winner if I am still a sinner?

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Mr. 80

Happy birthday, Mr. 80.

Oops... turns out I am not 80 at all but rather, as my daughter pointed out, I am 79. Let's chalk it up to a 79-year-old's foible.

80 is a roundy, rattling number, sort of like a couple of marbles in the mouth, idly moving here to there, idly clicking. I kind of like 80 -- at least on first blush. It's smooth and of course I'm never going to turn 80 ... except for the fact that I have ... I guess ... turned 80.

Who'd-a-thunk it? Not I, that's for certain.

And the door is still open.

"A whisper from your past" sends an unsigned, meticulously-hand-written card ... peaceful as a pomegranate. I like it but know I will never find out who sent it. N'importe ... it's peaceful and I'm thankful.

In the news, there is another belching about anti-semitism in the U.S. and else where. Lots of breast-beating and yet no where in the earnest observations do I find one reference to the elephant in the Israeli living room -- the Palestinians against whom Israel unleashes an apartheid that would do Hitler proud. How can this be a rational or even very helpful approach? There is something prim and protected and infuriating about it.

Religion and Israel seem to lose their grasp as I rattle marbles in my mental mouth.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

compulsory voting

Imagine that! It may come with its own headaches, but still, imagine that!
Australia is one of only 19 countries out of 166 electoral democracies where voting is compulsory, and one of only nine that enforce it. It is the only English-speaking country that compels its citizens to vote.
And more, the Aussies vote on Saturdays, not on a workday.

anti-Zionism equals anti-Jew? Get real

All over the world, it is an alarming time to be Jewish – but conflating anti-Zionism with Jew-hatred is a tragic mistake
It is a bewildering and alarming time to be a Jew, both because antisemitism is rising and because so many politicians are responding to it not by protecting Jews but by victimising Palestinians.
I like the lede on this story even if I haven't got the energy to wade through it.

barking dog-owners

SADDLE RIVER, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey town is putting some bite in an ordinance that could result in hefty fines and even jail time for owners of barking dogs.
The Saddle River council is amending a one-sentence noise rule by placing time restrictions that would prohibit dogs from barking, howling or yelping for more than 20 minutes between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. or for more than 15 minutes between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Violators would face a fine of up to $1,000, up to 90 days or up to 90 days of community service.
Anyone who has lived around such neurotic dogs and their neurotic owners ("s/he's such a sweet dog") may feel a sigh of vindictive pleasure.

on turning 80

Like a puff of wind passing idly across the summer-smooth stillness, the questions tiptoe on the shiny lake, touseling some boy's so-perfect hair. It's an area of roughness in the midst of all else that is in order and solution and stasis. Just a small patch. Summer. And then, of a sudden, it's gone -- back to a glacial stillness, like the rest.

Unfortunate onlookers rustle up sages and wise men. Why does simplicity always need to be so damned complex? It doesn't, of course, but that understanding comes with time, I think: Questions don't posit answers. Hell, they don't even posit questions. Let the small boy be and smile. It's just a puff.

On Saturday, as man's crow flies, I will be 80. How did that happen? What does it mean?

With time, the need to overlook or drill down into the questions abates. Answers are just grist for the question mill. What a bonny lad! Relax and tousle his hair.


There will be swimming later and in the meantime, it is smooth.

Do a cannon ball!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

holy jumpin' jibber-jabber, Batman!

OK, I surrender: Any time a British publication uses the word "maths" I know I'm going to become and remain lost. It gives me permission, which I receive gratefully, to be dumb. But this piece from the Guardian is wonderfully compelling somehow, a tale that takes on artificial intelligence and manages to shoehorn in everyday laziness and stupidity like my own.
Machines can already write music and beat us at games like chess and Go. But the rise of artificial intelligence should inspire hope as well as fear, says Marcus du Sautoy
Who hired this guy? Who pays him? And how does anyone know they're getting a bang for their buck? Luckily, because of the key word "maths," I do not feel compelled to answer in any coherent way. I can just sit back and marvel about whatever marvelous (or is it just nutsy-fagin?) confetti he is sending into the environment?

I wish I could say I would return to read the article again, and thus 'understand' better -- but it's a lie. It's all about "maths;" I am a nobody when it comes to "maths;" so you figure it out and tell me what's going on. Strangely, I love this strange miasmic leap into Neverland or wherever the hell it is.
Slackers should take note: the human aversion to hard work, it seems, is often nothing but a good thing. “I think human laziness is a really important part of finding good, new ways to do things,” he says. “I often look at things and think: ‘This is just getting too complicated – let me try to step back and figure out a shortcut.’
I think I love the fact that someone actually hired this guy and then let him lose in the rabbit warren. That's what I think ... or anyway what I think I think.

Buddhism, the cheat sheet

Because there was reason today to look it up, I did and rather liked it and so will republish what I wrote a bunch of years ago. Buddhism seems so éloigné today... sort of ... so to speak ... but what the hell ... a one-page, disposable cheat sheet on Buddhism -- not my worst crime I hope.

The truth of Buddhism does not come from a book. It does not come from a temple. It does not come from someone else. It is not written on a piece of paper. The truth of Buddhism comes from the individual effort to investigate, verify and actualize a clear understanding of this life.

Shakyamuni Buddha, the man most often referred to as the founder of Buddhism, was born on the border of India and Nepal in about 565 BC. He attained what is sometimes called enlightenment at 35 and preached until his death at 80. Many schools of Buddhism sprang from his teachings … in India, Tibet, China, Korea and Japan among others. Uncertain estimates put Buddhist numbers at about 350 million worldwide.

It is good to remember that the word “Buddha” simply means “awake.”  Not holy or unholy – just “awake.”

All Buddhist schools agree on at least two things:

1. THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS: These are observations about the world around us.
The Four Noble Truths are:
*** 1. There is suffering (dukkha – the uncertainties, dissatisfactions and doubts that life can dish up); 2. There is a cause of suffering; 3. There is an end to suffering; 4. There is a way to end suffering.

2. THE EIGHTFOLD PATH: These are the tools suggested as most useful when seeking out a truly peaceful life in a changing world.
The Eightfold Path is:
*** 1. Right View 2. Right Intention 3. Right Speech 4. Right Action 5. Right Livelihood 6. Right Effort 7. Right Mindfulness 8. Right Concentration.
The word "right" is sometimes translated as "complete." A “complete” effort is thorough-going and whole-hearted. Nothing is held back. Buddhism is not a threat-based persuasion: You won’t go to heaven (right) if you practice it and you won’t go to hell (wrong) if you don’t. But honesty is required -- complete honesty.

The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path carry with them the verifiable observation that everything in life changes. There is nothing that does not change. Joy turns to sorrow, love turns to anger, birth turns to death, and the family car always gets a flat. All Buddhist schools agree on such things, but how they approach them may vary.

But as the Dalai Lama put it once, "Everyone wants to be happy." And that is probably as good a summary of Buddhism as any.


You knew it was coming and now finally, it seems, here it is. Move over TED talks. Make some room on the self-referential rainbow of social analyses. It's here at last:
Are you turned on when you look in the mirror, and enjoy nothing more than a steamy night at home alone? You could be an autosexual.
Go back to your lairs, oh ye purveyors of gonna-fix-things-that-ail-you. No need for anyone else's opinion. The is the last word....

Only you know it isn't.

All you know is that is has endless possibilities and someone's going to make some money.

Monday, March 4, 2019


Snowman-ready snow -- 6-8 inches' worth -- fell overnight and the area is humming with snowblowers and potential cardiac incidents. Schools are closed together with other outlets that have taken to succumbing to the first hint (what?! -- do we live in Georgia now?) of slip-sliding and -- what did you say?! -- snowplows.

I guess I've joined ranks with the old farts who grit their teeth and grumble, "when I was a kid, we all walked 15 miles through the snow ("barefoot" for added drama) to get where we needed to go. Everyone else did too."

The word "pussy" springs to mind, but I won't say that. Some millennial improvement imp might jump my bones.

massacres in Australia

 ... just some shuddering history worth noting.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

marital weights

Competitors take part in the annual UK wife-carrying race at Dorking. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

the many uses of a bed frame

Men and relatives carry the coffin of Sudheer Qureshi, a boy whom mourners say was killed by shelling fired from Indian Administered Kashmir, during a funeral in Jehlum Valley in Pakistan Administered Kashmir, Pakistan March 2, 2019. Picture taken March 2, 2019. REUTERS/M. Saif-ul-Islam

Saturday, March 2, 2019

coming back?

My accomplishment du jour -- and with the somewhat grouchy nudging of my wife ...

Today is Saturday.

Don't ask me what day I imagined it to be otherwise, but at least I seem to be on course now.

Two days ago, I had a 'procedure' that intended to increase blood flow in my left-leg/foot. The affair was intended, as I understood it, was to have been a one-day, in-and-out matter. Instead, I remained in the hospital overnight and was crabby as a wet cat. Hospitals are mausoleums in disguise from where I sit and I didn't like it -- no color, no art, beds made to aid the aides who make them but not the people who rest in them ..... bleah!

After bitching enough -- though with reference to what day, I'm not sure -- I made it home, wobbly and drugged. I slept and slept and slept some more. The blood flow seems to have improved, the pain reduced and I am sitting at the computer ... I think.

In Africa, as I imagine it, the chief sits plump as a plum on the only chair. He is the only one raised up. His tribe sits in the dust. He decides and ponders and expatiates. Things are as they should be and I have no clue as to what this has to do with a hospital 'procedure' but it comes to mind ... a fat belly and everyone pretty much content in the gathering.

In the passage of days, who knows what may have happened. Still, the sun is down, the night dark. The chief's well-fed belly glistens. It is proper -- as with male lions who don't do much of the hunting and yet get first pick of the kill -- that the chief should be fed. Is there more?

Coming back is where I seem to be. From where and to where is open to question.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

"if it's not funny, it ain't true"

Rarified incondibula
Berate the harridans’
Foremost fibula

But Oistrackh never
Hit the strings
That left me gasping
For diamond rings.

Sweet the tall redwood
Sweet the fern
It’s all enough
To make anyone say “dern!”

I guess this solemnified gibberish came to mind in connection with a line read in an internet Buddhist bulletin board a week or so ago: “My wife says that if it’s not funny, it’ ain’t true.”

Still looking for the truth.
It ain't either funny or fun.

Is there any room here for laughter?

Monday, February 25, 2019

[fill-in-the-blank] ONLY I

 A mural in Jinwar. The female-only commune in north-eastern Syria opened in November and is home to Kurdish, Yazidi and Arab families. Photograph: Bethan McKernan/The Guardia"
 Does anyone else out there find their been around-the-block-teeth itching at the mention of one-pointed organizations?
 Does anyone else get a case of itchy teeth when someone posits a [fill-in-the-blank]-only way of seeing or building anything? Isn't whatever it is -- women-only, men-only, peace-lovers-only, greed-merchants-only, children-only, Christians/Jews/Muslims/Buddhists/Hindus-only ... pick-your-only ... isn't that which proclaims its only-ness doomed to dissipate from the get-go? And I mean anything?

All the reaoning and excuses in the world can't right this ship. I might love the idea of a women-only commune, but I'm sorry, it won't wash and it won't wear. I love the effort, but I cannot and will not pretend that the future is any different from the myriad futures that preceded it.

Think "only"....
Now think "human being"....
Now get real.

where science and comics collide?

A paragraph that may or may not make you want to read the story of which it is part and parcel:
The hypothetical Planet Nine, thought to be lurking in the distant Oort cloud, has been suggested as exerting a gravitational pull on objects in the depths of the solar system, including the recently discovered dwarf planet The Goblin and another object named Biden.

the little stuff

Of late, I realize I have seen enough movies or whatever so that I can pretty much know the outcome and can turn my focus to the lesser lights of what appears before me on the screen. It's no longer the star and starlet and their star-crossed adventures, but, for example, the cleanliness of the cowboy boots worn in some western drama. Notice the boots retreating in this shot or that ... notice how spic-and-span the leather two or three inches in front of the heel is? The character wearing the boots may be old and grizzled and trail-worn, but the boots are squeaky new. Notice how clean/clean/clean the horses are (no caked on or newly scrubbed-off shit on the rump). Notice how almost dust-less the main drag of and 'aging' and 'storied' cow town is. Notice how none of the horses -- whether of heroes or villains -- ever get shot in western-movie showdowns ... and this despite the fact that the horse is the most obvious target?

And does anyone any longer count the bullets expended during a six-shooter-dominated gun fight?

It's sort of like the majority of the so-called news pictures: Take a look at the newspaper and count up the number of smiling faces vs. the number of those (outside some disastrous loss) with compressed and frowning lips ... the other half of the facial equation.

If you can't believe the smiles, how far behind can the frowns be? And vice-versa? My local newspaper is positively awash in smiling-smiling-smiling faces. Can this be news and if not, why does it dominate the 'news' section?

I don't mind being diverted to picayune matters like this: I've got the stars and starlets pretty much fixed in my been-there-done-that sights. Now it's time for the credulousness I should dispense with in their environment to take a turn. I thought movies had actual jobs for those who would make the environment and the action dwell in the same space seamlessly.

No biggie -- it's just horse shit and horse shit, I suppose.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

words once victimized

Think of all the underutilized and perhaps maligned words in your native tongue -- words wantonly left out and ignored or, perhaps worse, misused and denigrated. Are they too not victims whose time in the shades of literal or metaphorical opprobrium has been prolonged and deserves a moment in the bright light of agreement and applause.

Oh the victim-hood!

Consider, for example:


And nor is such an example, alone.

The me-too's await!

Let the cangues hang from newer, unaccustomed necks!