The Case for Elizabeth Warren

First, Elizabeth Warren says, without any ambiguity, that she is not running for President.  That’s O.K.  There’s still lots of time for her to change her mind, for the moment it’s good for her to concentrate on doing her job in the Senate, the election is still over two years away, and there’s nobody, on either side, who has definitely said they are running.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (Democrat, from Massachusetts)

Senator Elizabeth Warren (Democrat, from Massachusetts)

Still, we can make some good guesses.  Hillary is running.  Maybe Joe Biden.  They’re both a little on the old side, but there’s no law against that.  There are 5 or 6 other Democrats who may jump in if they think they’ve got a shot.  On the Republican side, Rand Paul will run, Marco Rubio will run, and Rick Santorum will probably run, giving us all another chance to laugh at him.  Ted Cruz wants to run, but there’s a serious question about his eligibility and I’m pretty sure the answer is no.  He was born in Canada, to Canadian parents, which puts him in exactly the same boat as Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So, the Republicans are in for another joke of a primary season and whoever gets the Democratic nomination will win the presidency.  Which makes that Democratic nomination a really important goal.  Here are a few of the reasons I think Elizabeth Warren  is the best choice.

She has just written a book, called “A Fighting Chance.”  Writing a book, of course, is what originally brought public attention to Barack Obama, so maybe writing a book is the new prerequisite for the presidency.  I’m O.K. with that.  If you expect to manage the most powerful country in the world, you should be able to write a lousy book.  Hillary Clinton, of course, wrote a book, too.  But “A Fighting Chance” is a much better title than “It Takes a Village.”

Warren would satisfy two key groups within the Democratic Party.  Women who just want Hillary because she is a woman (which is a big part of Hillary’s base), would be able to rally around Liz Warren.  She is, in fact, a woman.  Also, Warren would appeal to people like me, who think that Democrats should stop being fucking wimps and start being Democrats.  A bit less like Obama and Bill Clinton and a bit more like FDR.

Republicans are  geared up to fight against Hillary, to wage a nasty, personal campaign and a Warren candidacy would leave them with nothing except “She’s really, really liberal” which they were going to say about any Democratic candidate anyway.

So, ignoring for the moment that there is a crucial congressional election happening this November and that a million things can change between now and 2016, I am going on the record now: Warren should run.  She would win.

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Ishtar, Eostre, Whatever. It Ain’t All About Jesus.

Yesterday (before going up to the cottage), several people had copied on facebook a little thing about how Easter is actually named after the ancient Assyrian Goddess Ishtar, goddess of sex and fertility and stuff like that, and the eggs and the rabbit are symbols thereof.  Then, today, I found this, from a site called The Belle Jar.

Rebirth of Spring, by Pable Montes

Rebirth of Spring, by Pable Montes

Well, it ticked me off for a couple of reasons.  First, she said it came from the page of “noted misogynist and eugenics enthusiast Richard Dawkins.”  I am a supporter of Dawkins because, seriously, we’ve got few enough atheist spokespeople out there and that’s what he’s really drawing flak for.  He’s not a “noted misogynist,” he’s a “noted atheist” and people who don’t like him say he’s a misogynist.  I don’t know.  Never met the guy.  And eugenics gets a bad rap because the Nazis believed in it, but there are degrees to these things.  When eugenics is used to mean “consciously trying to improve the future of the human race by paying attention to breeding” it is a very positive idea.  I married a smart woman because (among other reasons, obvs) I wanted smart kids.  Cows and pigs have made far more evolutionary headway over the last 200 years or so than human beings have, and it’s all down to breeding.  But when eugenics means breeding a blonde haired, blue eyed master race and killing everybody else (which I’m sure Richard Dawkins has never suggested) it’s a very bad thing.

The other reason it ticked me off, though, I must confess, is that it debunked something I had swallowed whole.  As I read through her piece (I’m assuming that a site called The Belle Jar is written by a woman), looking for things to attack her with (because I do that), I realized  that her basic premise is probably correct.  Easter is probably not  named after Ishtar, and we really have no idea how that was pronounced, because we weren’t there and there were no recording devices.

However (and she doesn’t disagree with this), Easter is a co-opting of ancient pagan festivals by Christianity (and quite possibly named after the Goddess Eostre).  Of course, there is going to be a Spring festival.  It’s the end of winter, flowers are blooming, creatures who lay eggs are laying eggs, and rabbits (and sheep, and many other animals) are having babies.  Humans can be born at any time.  Many animal babies are born in spring, so they will be able to consume lots of grass and get big and fat before winter.

One thing she said that I strongly disagreed with was “Most Christians…. know that Jesus wasn’t really born on December 25th, and they know that there were never any actual snakes in Ireland, and they know that rabbits and eggs are fertility symbols.”  Certainly not the Christians I’ve been hearing from.   They believe that Noah’s Ark is a true story, that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, and that we atheists are waging a war on Christmas, because it’s Jesus’ birthday and that’s that.

Still, she was right about more than she was wrong about and I give her credit.

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Easter Weekend

This will be an abbreviated blog because I am at the cottage in beautiful Cesky Raj for Easter weekend, so I am experimenting with alternate technology. I tried typing it on my kids ´ tablet but that didn ´t work very well at all with my fat fingers. I am aware that many of you regularly communicate in social media using your phones. You upload photos, add a comment, do tags, whatever the hell they are, and all between bites. I don’t see how you do it.  So now, I am dictating  this to my wife who is typing it on her iPhone. I promise you a real blog tomorrow.

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From Sonnets to Scandal

The difference between a “modern sonnet” and a sonnet is that a modern sonnet is not a sonnet.   I point this out to people who put their poems on facebook and say “here’s a sonnet I wrote,” when it isn’t really a sonnet at all.  They almost never rhyme, they very often don’t have ten syllables per line and sometimes they don’t even have a consistent number of syllables from line to line.

They aren’t necessarily bad poems, but they aren’t sonnets.  They have the same relationship as modern art has to art.  Once you remove all the rules, people just paint any old damned thing and hang it on the wall.

Condoleeza Rice

Condoleeza Rice

Perhaps I’m being a bit of an asshole, a bit confrontational, but I’d like to make it absolutely clear that all of the poems in my book “155 Sonnets” abide by the old rules.  Shakespeare had 10 syllables per line.  I have 10 syllables per line.  Shakespeare had 14 (sometimes 18) lines.  I have 14 (sometimes 18) lines.  Shakespeare’s  sonnets all rhymed.  So do mine.

That’s all I’m going to say about that for now.

 

Here’s a minority opinion for you:  Morgan Freeman is over-rated.  Sure, I enjoy the program he narrates on the science channel, the subject matter is fascinating, and he doesn’t totally ruin

Olivia Pope

Olivia Pope

it, as Shatner sometimes does when he’s narrating a science program, but if I was choosing someone to explain the secrets of the universe to the masses, I would choose somebody who can say “thirteen” and not “thoiteen.”

 

 

I may have written about this before but, if so, I’m writing about it again.  There is one TV show I go back and forth on, and that’s Scandal.   It’s definitely got drama, action, interesting, complex characters, and romance, although it’s generally a very warped, psychopathic view of romance.  But,  I am not sure if it’s actually exposing the dark underbelly of inside Washington politics, or if it is just, like most television, propagandizing for evil.  I want to watch, but I feel guilty for watching.

And I wonder just how closely it is modeled on the Bush (43) administration.  Cyrus Vane, the adviser without any conscience at all (who is also totally gay) seems to be Karl Rove.  Add to that the rigging of the voting machines in Ohio incident, and that comparison seems inescapable.  Then there is the President’s father.  His absolute horribleness and the way he is always calling his son a loser, an idiot, and a weakling, makes me think he is supposed to be Poppa Bush.

Not the image we usually have of him, but… we know young George always had an issue of feeling inferior to his Dad, we can assume old George knows young George is an idiot, because everybody knows that, and we can be pretty sure that Old George was one seriously nasty son of a bitch because just look at the family he raised.  So, I wonder if the writers of this show know some things we don’t.

Then, of course, there is the character of Olivia Pope herself.  Condoleeza Rice?

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Kepler-186f

The discovery of exoplanets is happening at a pace similar to popcorn popping, and they are finding them closer and closer to Earth size and the level of detail they can figure out about them is amazing.  Then again, they could be completely wrong about any given place, we’ll never know till we get there.  Which will be a long damned time from now. kepler

The newest flavor of the month, Kepler-186f, in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan)  is only about 10 percent bigger than Earth.  It’s sun is smaller than our own, by quite a bit, but it’s in the habitable zone of proximity.  So, a little bit heavier gravity, dark and damp, and (don’t ask me how they know this), everything there looks kind of orange.  So, a bit like Detroit.

But, it’s 500 light years away.  So, traveling at the top speed we can reach today, it would take about 5,000 years to get there, and we still don’t have the kind of ships which can sustain generations of Earth colonists..  Or immortality, or cryogenics.  I suspect that computers with human personality implants will be running the first ships out, but then the ships will have to contain carefully stored, grade A sperm and eggs, in order to populate the alien planet, which will be a relly weird life for them.

Even if we fire a message off into that direction in space, it will take 500 years to get here, and the same amount of time for them to send a message back, unless they have progressed farther than we now think physically possible, and only if they think we’re worth talking to, and they don’t just send a ship to blast us out of space, like Vogons.

Nonetheless, I think we ought to be getting ready to go.  It’s our best bet so far.

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From Wu-Tang to No-Wang

From Wu-Tang Clan* to No-Wang Clan for rapper Andre Johnson, who performs under the ridiculously pretentious name “Christ Bearer.”  Apparently, dude was just chilling with his friends when he suddenly jumped up and bobbitized himself, I don’t know if he  got the knife from the kitchen or if he always carries a meat slicer with him.  Then he jumped off the balcony, seemingly trying to kill himself.

This man no longer has a penis.

This man no longer has a penis.

I’m not sure about that last.  Maybe he just freaked out at the realization that an important piece of himself was gone and jumped off the balcony in a fit of grief and hysteria.

Which raises the question, what the hell prompted him to do that, anyway?  Maybe he’d already decided to commit suicide, but if he did it was a stupid plan, they were only on the 2nd floor.  Having decided to commit suicide, maybe he figured he’d go out in a blaze of glory.  Sure makes Van Gogh look like a B-lister in the artists who’ve sliced off body parts Hall of Fame.  Maybe he figured he’d become really famous after his death.  Maybe.  Actually, he’s still alive, so he might speak more about it in a day or two.

His friends say no hard drugs were involved, but of course they would.  I know I would.  Still, the vast majority of cocaine users, even those who consume in copious quantities, almost never suddenly decide to slice their sausage clean off. There’s no motive.  And opium or heroin users wouldn’t be able to pick up the knife.

Now, I know that somewhere in a hospital in Los Angeles there is a man who is going through a hell of a shit time right now, and it’s probably not nice to speculate and make jokes about his situation, and I hope he gets better and all, but damn, this is a weird situation and somebody needs to make a movie about it.

I watched one of his videos.  I won’t say he’s devoid of talent.  It is, though, just a long string of  offensive language, glorification of violence, and bragging.   He will never be as important as Van Gogh, no matter what he cuts off.

 

*Although his association  with the Wu-Tang Clan widely reported in the media, the Wu-Tang Clan music collective issued a statement saying “We don’t have anything to do with this guy,” although instead of ‘guy’ they employed a common pejorative with clear Oedipal implications.

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Our View of the Universe Just Changed – Again

It’s not exactly great journalism on my  part to link to something like this, which I haven’t read myself because it’s too sciencey with lots of words like quarks and bosons that sound like they should be evil species in a fantasy universe, but I just loved the opening line: The existence of exotic hadrons — a type of matter that doesn’t fit within the traditional model of particle physics — has now been confirmed, scientists say.

Exotic Hadron

Exotic Hadron

It seems that every couple of days, scientists are confirming some completely new type of matter, totally rearranging the way we see the universe.  You don’t get that with religion.  Each religion has it’s explanation of the universe- be it God, Allah, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster – and they’re not changing, no matter what.  That gets boring.

If you join a religion, you sign on to accept their version of life, death and the universe, and it never, ever changes.

Some of them are harmless enough – the ones that don’t take themselves too literally, the ones who don’t go door to door threatening people with eternal damnation, the ones that don’t forbid you to use modern technology, the ones who don’t put more importance on a silly costume than on common sense, adaptation to local climate, and a reasonable sense of aesthetics, the ones who don’t want to force science teachers to teach things which are clearly, demonstrably false, and the ones who don’t object to people having a bit of a good time.

It’s the absolutism of belief that bothers me.  They’ve got no room to grow, nowhere to expand to.  They cannot raise their consciousness, or even expand their view of the universe, without betraying their belief systems.

And our consciousnesses are being raised every day.  Our collective consciousness, anyway.

 

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