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A bit of a think: notes from a dawdler
Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals... except the weasels.
Until now, the secretary's poetry has found only a small and skeptical audience: the Pentagon press corps. Every day, Rumsfeld regales reporters with his jazzy, impromptu riffs. Few of them seem to appreciate it.
But we should all be listening. Rumsfeld's poetry is paradoxical: It uses playful language to address the most somber subjects: war, terrorism, mortality. Much of it is about indirection and evasion: He never faces his subjects head on but weaves away, letting inversions and repetitions confuse and beguile.
To confuse and beguile... His work embodies the very spirit of our times.
Things will not be necessarily continuous.
The fact that they are something other than perfectly continuous
Ought not to be characterized as a pause.
There will be some things that people will see.
There will be some things that people won't see.
And life goes on.
- D.H. Rumsfeld
I mean to persuade you that the style of governing into which America has slid is most accurately described as fascism, and that the necessary implications of this fact are rightly regarded as terrifying. [...] fascism is a word that is completely foreign to most of us. We need to know what it is, and how we can know it when we see it.The sermon draws on ideas from an article by Laurence W. Britt, "Fascism Anyone?", who analysed seven fascist or protofascist regimes, proposing "fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power."
According to Davidson Loehr (my emphasis):
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights: Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause: The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice - relentless propaganda and disinformation - were usually effective.
6. A controlled mass media: The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite.
7. Obsession with national security: [The actions of a national security apparatus] were justified under the rubric of protecting "national security," and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.
It is both accurate and helpful for us to understand fundamentalism as religious fascism, and fascism as political fundamentalism. They both come from very primitive parts of us that have always been the default setting of our species: amity toward our in-group, enmity toward out-groups, hierarchical deference to alpha male figures, a powerful identification with our territory, and so forth. It is that brutal default setting that all civilizations have tried to raise us above, but it is always a fragile thing, civilization, and has to be achieved over and over and over again.He suggests that despair would be wrong:
I hope that we can remember some very basic things that I think of as eternally true. One is that the vast majority of people are good decent people who mean and do as well as they know how. Very few people are evil, though some are. [...] the way to rebuild broken bridges is through greater understanding, compassion, and a reality-based story that is more inclusive and empowering for the vast majority of us.Prepare yourself, though:
Those who want to live in a reality-based story rather than as serfs in an ideology designed to transfer power, possibility and hope to a small ruling elite have much long and hard work to do, individually and collectively. It will not be either easy or quick.
Remembrance Day or Armistice Day is a day of commemoration observed in the Commonwealth of Nations and various European countries (including France and Belgium) to commemorate World War I and other wars. It is observed on November 11 to recall the end of World War I on that date in 1918.Most of our Western-centric attention seems to be taken up with one war in particular these days, but take a look around the globe and the situation is - as ever - horrifying. The following is taken from GlobalSecurity.org (emphasis added by yours truly):
The United Nations defines "major wars" as military conflicts inflicting 1,000 battlefield deaths per year. In 1965, there were 10 major wars under way. The new millennium began with much of the world consumed in armed conflict or cultivating an uncertain peace. As of mid-2005, there were eight Major Wars under way (down from 15 at the end of 2003), with as many as two dozen "lesser" conflicts ongoing with varying degrees of intensity.Current conflicts include:
Sounds like something too big to forget, doesn't it?
Most of these are civil or "intrastate" wars, fueled as much by racial, ethnic, or religious animosities as by ideological fervor. Most victims are civilians, a feature that distinguishes modern conflicts. During World War I, civilians made up fewer than 5 percent of all casualties. Today, 75 percent or more of those killed or wounded in wars are non-combatants.
"Midlife is when you reach the top of the ladder and find that it was against the wrong wall." - Joseph CampbellCampbell may have been referring to the career ladder but his statement applies to whatever "ladder" you are on. It may be the ladder of marriage or family. It may be the ladder of a unique goal you are pursuing. Or, it may be the ladder of personality development.
They are usually right, and [blah blah blah].And we like taking quotes out of context for the purposes of self-aggrandizement, too.
Photo by Ian Montgomery, BirdwayI mow a property down the road and for several weeks now one of these birds has been walking around the backyard there. I’ve always called it a Plover, but googling for a pic has confused the issue: it could be a Spur-Winged Plover (vanellus miles novaehollandiae) or a Masked Lapwing (vanellus miles) or as the picture above is titled, a Masked Lapwing (vanellus miles novaehollandiae). It’s a seemingly carefree little creature, and spends most of its time on the ground, walking around, as these birds generally do.
MAX (from the kitchen): How the hell do I know why there were Nazis? I don’t know how the can opener works.218. Maybe just maybe, at this point in time, at the end of the day, it's all up for grabs. Mate.