Monday, July 25, 2016

the most beautiful woman in the world

On a whim, I typed into Google, "the most beautiful woman in the world." I really did not know what to expect, but the phrase intrigued me: Something within was quite sure there was such a person; on the other hand, I could not conjure that person up.

I only skimmed a few sites. And it was like looking at porn ... very cookie-cutter, repetitive and without imagination. The vast majority were pink people. The vast majority were pretty. The vast majority were not above 40 or below 18. The vast majority seemed to go to the same hair-dresser.

I could see why they had been chosen but balked that a search that included the word "beautiful" was set aside with such apparent ease. Where were the brown people? Where were the Nepalese or Tibetans -- the people I sometimes think are the most beautiful people on earth? Where were the elderly whose faces took my breath away ... or the kids? Where were the artful men?

Beauty is one of my very weakest spots and yet what it is I haven't got a clue. The best I can think of is that it is "to die for" ... literally. Music, art, people ... the air around me evaporates and I am left is some strange, well-lighted place. Birth and death are minor matters. There is just beauty.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

fiction as a soporific

As all things are footnotes to something else, so I found this footnote interesting ... and applicable:

The other day, while poking around in the old myth that people need seven or eight hours of sleep per night, I skimmed almost without noticing across the suggestion that when going to sleep at night, reading is a pretty good aide.

But not non-fiction, the suggestion ran -- read fiction.

Fiction slips you away to a credible-yet-wispy world akin to the anything-can-happen of dreams and thus segues naturally into the universe that, with luck, will shortly be a reality: sleep.

I'm not sure if it holds up as a generalization, but it certainly fits with my experience. It's not forced. It's light. It's like a puff of wind against the cheek ... a suggestion ... a hug-less hug somehow.

Anyway, I like it and it seems to be true, though it's a bit hard to tell with the increasing capacity to sleep at the drop of a hat.

busted with bottles

Maybe the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be listening to a defense attorney in Michigan as he defended his client for collecting five-cent-deposit bottles in Kentucky and attempting -- or thinking of attempting -- to cash them in in Michigan where the return is ten cents per container. 10,000 bottles. Jail time possible.
The case will turn on whether Everidge’s conduct went far enough to say he “attempted the crime, rather than was he just thinking about it”, Henning said. “His lawyer is making this is a purely legal argument: ‘Yes, he had the bottles from out of state ... but he hadn’t gotten far enough yet. And therefore he has not committed a crime.”
“You can’t be punished for your thoughts ... the difference is between mere preparation and perpetration,” he said.

more U.S. war dollars

An interview with Ret. Col. and Boston University Prof. Andrew Bacevich takes on the topic, "Why Wars in the Middle East will cost the U.S. trillions more"

It's just audio and it is dense with historical linkage, but it certainly is an antidote of sorts to the cotton-candy offered up by the political establishment or media talking heads.

holding on loosens the grip

Holding on loosens the grip.

Iconic Spanish Civil War photo ... real or staged?

Iconic raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi ... real or staged?

Both of the above have raised questions about their veracity. I do not intend to chase the tendrils and arguments. Instead I wonder, what is so necessary or important about "the truth?" If it's true, so what? If it's not, so what? Isn't it, in whatever instance, just true ... even if it's false? Does the truth shed any real light?

Yes, yes ... there are social niceties. There is importance. There is unspeakable cruelty and likewise kindness. If it's true, is it improved? If it's false, is it improved? Take it apart. Put it together.

This morning the old ad rattles around puckishly: "I coulda had a V-8!"

Is it true? -- holding on loosens the grip.

Friday, July 22, 2016

and you thought Christians had no sense of humor

Honest-to-goodness billboard put up by an Auckland, N.Z., church in 2009.

the two most important days of your life

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.

-- Mark Twain

giving up your enemies

Every once in a while, along the mostly-forgotten and dusty shelves, an old truism will reassert its brightness despite the dust and age and assumption that the lesson has somehow been learned when in fact it has just been saved.

Last night, the Republican presidential convention closed up shop with nominee Donald Trump, a man of much volume and little discernible substance, exhorting an unfilled hall in Cleveland. This morning, there is a small sigh from where I sit: "At least it's over" and the sense of having to endure it all is given a bit of a rest.

It is tiring to endure and endure and endure. The obvious focus of that endurance is Donald Trump's disparaging of presumptive Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton, but the whole political process in this presidential year -- Republican and Democrat -- is so wearing, so alien from the electorate that will pull the voting levers, and so shaming. Where is the relief? There is no relief. There is only enduring it all.

Donald Trump has no policies that I can name. But he can whip up a crowd with his naming of his enemy, Hillary Clinton... love to hate that woman! The crowd cheers. Trump is not ashamed. The crowd is not ashamed. The circle-jerk reaches, if not a crescendo, at least something yummy and pretty loud.

And it ain't just Donald. The winds of the times seem to be filled with the presumption that depicting and defaming an enemy is the same as knowing where your friends and relief reside.

God, what a wonderful feeling -- having an enemy. When friends become scant, relying on an enemy is such a support. Islamic State, communism, anything standing in the way of American exceptionalism ... oh I do love to hate. I do love to rely on it. Seriously.

But the very tendrils of doubt that dimmed the reliability of friends or principles in the past likewise eat away at the enemies of the present: They're wicked and I feel ennobled by pointing them out and relying on them, but ... drip, drip, drip....

And once more, as of a less dusty yore, I am thrown back on  my own fucking responsibility and endurance. 
It is not what others do and do not do that is my concern.
It is what I do and do not do -- that is my concern.
That comes from "The Dhammapada," I believe. But it doesn't matter so much where it comes from as it does whether it's true ... which it is ....

Dust or no dust.

Who dares to give up his friends?
Who dares to give up his enemies?
Who dares to endure?

I'm sorry that there is no other choice, but there is no other choice.

photo contenders

In the series Inside Out, Istanbul-based photographer Can Dağarslani blends two people with diverse architectural elements in the search for identity   
A mirrored building in the Osthafen area of Berlin, Germany

‘Taken in Agra, India. A vast majority of acid attack victims are women, with heavy concentration of such attacks occurring in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Shaboo faced an acid attack when she was just one month old, resting on her mother’s lap. The reason is unanswered. The attack killed her mother, and her father was sent to jail. Her brother was adopted by an aunt, who refused to take Shaboo in because of the stigma associated with these victims. Shaboo was adopted by an orphanage ashram in Mumbai, where she received the emotional and financial support to graduate college’

On 16 April 2014, the MV Sewol sank off the coast of South Korea. The tragedy claimed 304 lives, including 250 students on a field trip. Kwon Mi­hwa bursts into tears after taking down her son Oh Young­seok’s funerary portrait from the official altar. Still without answers and justice two years later, parents shaved their heads and held a two-­day march in protest, holding their children’s funerary portraits’

From expansive landscapes to intimate portraits, the top 20 images from each of five categories have been selected by this year’s jury, which includes representatives from World Press Photo, National Geographic, Magnum Photos and more. They will be exhibited at the 2016 EyeEm photography festival in Berlin on 27 August, where the winners will be announced

Thursday, July 21, 2016

stamping out democracy

I have no way of assessing how feasible or diabolically insane it might be, but this article about libertarian-leaning Peter Thiel and his hope that capitalism may one day stamp out democracy has a ring of credibility ,,,,