Friday, August 31, 2012

OK...  OK...  I know it's not April, and I know the Middle English prologue won't make sense to some good people, but I can't stop myself...  When I came out of the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park today some young fellows were "maken melodye" so sweet that I thought of Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales and "ferne halwes" and how today a note from a special friend in a straunge stronde put such a longing in my heart to  "goon on a pilgrimage" that I stopped and got the images for today.

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droughte of Marche hat perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
When Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every hold and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the younge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open ye,
(So priketh hem nature in hir courages:
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmers for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, couthe in soundry londes.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tell me
what you see...
what you want to see...
Show me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Oxford is also a shoe.

Thunder happens with rain 
And rain with thunder
But not always...

Cambridge is not a shoe.

Lightening is another thing.
Thunder can't happen
Without it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I was about to say that I’m eager to hear Paul Ryan explain exactly why it is that Ayn Rand appeals to him so much that he makes at least one of her books required reading for members of his staff... but I’ve changed my mind.  Taking my cues from Ayn Rand herself, I can figure out what his responses would be in any situation, and it scares me.  Excuse me, Representative Ryan, for a response based on my feelings, wishes, hopes and fears... for my country and for me.

   Surely Ryan has read Rand’s philosophy which was published in the Times-Mirror in 1962.  Here’s what she said that her philosophy, Objectivism, is and why it is the only important guide to life... VERBATUM copy:

1. Reality exists as an objective absolute--facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.”

2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.”

3.  Man--every man--is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others.  He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.  The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.”

4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism.  It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others.  The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders.  In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.”

Apparently, Paul Ryan believes he can perceive the world in absolute black and white with no shades of gray or hidden meanings or intentions to give him pause.  Apparently Ryan believes feelings, wishes, hopes or fears are not relevant to developing a correct response to a situation if we know what the facts are. Of course, I get it that facts are facts... but what I don’t get is Ryan’s (or Rand’s) insistence that there can be only one correct response to any situation if we know the facts. For example, if he accepts his church’s dictum that abortion or even contraception is always a sinful, wrong response to unwanted pregnancy, that means abortion and contraception to prevent pregnancy are always, under all circumstances, wrong. 

It’s been a long day, and I don’t feel like rebutting each of Rand’s four statements about Objectivism.  I wouldn’t actually feel like doing it even if the day hadn’t already been long.  In an incredibly complex and confusing world, objectivism isn’t a philosophy that will guide me to a good end... even for myself... to say nothing of those people for whom I care... whom I love.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Don Quixote... Confusion...The Nature of Reality 

This election season, indeed the current political climate in America, reminds me of Cervantes' very serious work that tells the story of a man unable to accept the realities of a new age.  El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panze, to be his squire... I don’t have to go on with the analogy except to suggest that Don Romney and Squire Ryan are tilting mostly at windmills while there are serious problems to be addressed which they seem to misunderstand.  My grandmother would have said about them, “They mean well, but they are misguided.”

Paul Ryan is being hailed as the intellectual energizer for the Republican Party. It’s not a surprise that Ryan is considered an intellectual by Tea Party folks and others who are positioned to the right of wiser moderate Republicans and far to the right of many young people who have grown up in Republican families but are coming of age in an America that their elders refuse to acknowledge.  Ryan has enough cheerleader energy and down-home likability to excite the aging Republican base in the heartland.  He is even exciting news for some members of the Young Republican organizations in American colleges; but most bright young Americans coming to university from conservative, moderately affluent, often religious families are not eager to join young Republican groups... especially if they have studied under intellectually challenging high school teachers who taught them to look for logic in everything, even in religion and in politics.  Many younger Republicans are less likely to be bothered by the idea of two adult persons of the same gender committed to each other in ways that their parents or their church communities still find repugnant. They find absurd the suggestion that a woman who has been raped should not be allowed to have an abortion.  They are less likely to accept their parents belief that the Bible or any other “sacred” book must be accepted as the literal word of God. They are less likely than their parents to ignore the plight of students they have known in school who come from desperately poor families or to blame the poverty of impoverished families on the poor people themselves.  Young Republicans in college, individually or clustered in organized groups have seldom been considered to be the intellectuals of a university. In the past they have been a social club that plans parties and introduces its members to the possibilities of careers in government (which ironically they have been taught to distrust). Times are changing.  Young Republicans are changing.

However the election goes in November, the Republican party of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, will not last much longer.  It will change dramatically in the next few years.  If it doesn’t change, it will cease to exist at all.  America needs both parties to be alive and well (with integrity)... at the same time.  The nation needs two parties for the serious dialogue that two parties make possible in government.  The Golden Age of Republicanism will not exist for many more years. It was tarnished from the start. A few years from now the nation will look back on the Tea Party phenomenon with embarrassment... But in this present election cycle, the country is in jeopardy.  Don Romney and Sancho Ryan would be a disaster for the country.  They seem not to know they are tilting at windmills.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


How it all happened
at the beginning,
and how it happens now
is mystery enough
to revive my sense of wonder.

Blue flowers can’t be explained!
or music...
or how love gets started.
A baby’s smile.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

is big
and as gentle
that comes
after a rain

Friday, August 24, 2012

I want everything 
to mean something
some things don’t

Thursday, August 23, 2012

(That’s not the title that I’m resisting the impulse to use for this writing) 

The latest absurd story about how wrong a religious majority can go comes out of Pakistan.  Eleven-year old Rimsha Masih, who is known to be developmentally disabled from birth, has been arrested and imprisoned in Islamabad on charges of blasphemy.  If she is found guilty, this poor terrified little girl will almost certainly face a death sentence. In prison now, undoubted lonely and very scared, she awaits trial by the end of this month. One of her devout Muslim neighbors accused her of burning a few pages of a religious text, which she apparently did accidentally.   The outraged devout neighbor instigated a mob reaction against the little girl.  If police hadn’t come to her rescue she almost certainly would have been stoned or burned on the spot. Earlier this year an enraged mob forcibly pulled out a man from a police lock-up in Punjab and burned him alive on the road because he had allegedly disrespected the Muslim holy book, the Quran.  

We Americans watch with alarm these and other incidents in areas of the world controlled politically by fundamentalist Muslims. We are appalled that such outrage can be done in the name of religion... to honor God. For later reference remember that the two significant words in that last sentence are honor and god.  How could any civilized, reasonable, ethically responsible person respond with anything but outrage to a true story about a man being dragged from his car and set on fire and burned to death because he says something uncomplimentary about God?

What the #%$$ is going on in a world where a whole bunch of people, enough to make up a mob, perhaps even a majority of citizens in a big country, could possibly think that kind of retributive punishment is right and appropriate action? 

Here’s another outrage... one closer to home.  All of my life I have known, up close and personally, hundreds of Christians, real persons, good people actually, who are not subjects of international news stories or even local news stories who act on a belief that at the end of life an unbeliever goes to an eternity of burning in indescribably awful, painful, never-ending hell fire. Even now I attend church regularly with people who say they believe that “unsaved” people go to hell, a hell of eternal torment.  How can I not be horrified by that belief, that attitude, that declaration by people who are real... people whom I know and love?  What’s the difference between what the fundamentalist Muslim does and what the fundamentalist Christian believes his god will do?  A mob of fundamentalist Muslims take action for whoever or whatever they believe is their god, sending the offender on his way to hell as soon as possible, either with burning or stoning immediately.  The fundamentalist Christian is content with letting his god do the dirty work. There is that small, small percentage of fundamentalist Christians who actually do take it upon themselves to deliver divine retribution by shooting to death or blowing up to death someone who is thought to have offended God; but by and large, Christians let the offenders go on offending, believing, or saying they believe, God will get them in the long run.  Oh, I almost forgot... The majority of voters in the state where I live reinstated the death penalty as punishment for capital murder. Remember that irreverent bumper sticker that stuck around for awhile:  JESUS IS COMING, AND IS HE PISSED! 

So my point is this: What’s the difference?  How is the fundamentalist Christian who believes his unrepentant neighbors and family members and all the “unsaved” of the world are going to burning hell when they die... how different from the fundamentalist Muslim who believes God rewards the Jihadist martyr with a jolly good time with a bevy of eager virgins and expects all truly good Muslims to stone or burn the offender to send him post haste to the place of eternal suffering?  What’s the difference?

Many years ago I read Morality and Beyond, a little book by theologian Paul Tillich.  The subtitle is “Religious Perspectives.”  I have that book still.  Yesterday I began rereading it for the umpteenth time, and it makes even more sense to me now that I am what is euphemistically called a senior citizen than when I was a young whipper-snapper.  I am reading slowly Tillich’s second chapter.  It’s challenging. It may take a week or two. He calls it “The Religious Source of the Moral Demands.”  Last night I stopped with Tillich’s question early on in the first paragraph:  “Undoubtedly the question of the ethical content (or moral law)--the question of what one must do-- has already and persistently arisen in the minds of many readers... the answer...that we must become what we essentially are, persons--is so formal that it does not offer any concrete advice.  Yet such advice is necessary for the life of man.  So also are principles, which are at the same time abstract and concrete, so that support for moral decisions can be derived from them.  Are there such principles of moral action?  If so, how can they be related to the ever changing conditions of existence?  Is not ethical relativism the only possible answer, even in view of the unconditional character of the moral imperative?”  

Can we possibly ever get back to considering, searching for, a moral imperative...

I closed the evening’s reading with a question of my own.  Can anything be more absurd than the creation of a formal religion around the life and teachings of a kind, gentle, person and imbed in it the caveat that if a person believes in the teachings of some other religion, he/she is damned to hell?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

North Park
Across the street from Fatboy’s... well, not directly across the street, and it’s not just any street... it’s the famous, the notorious University Avenue... the street that runs all the way from Mission Hills to La Mesa. The place I’m trying to call your attention to is catty-corner across and down University to the east from Fatboy’s.  It’s called Splash... down the street from Wangs which is around the corner from a whimsical mural.  You can't miss it.  Splash is a wine bar.  They make a good sangria... But that’s not the reason I went there this afternoon.  I went there because my artist friend Clyde Yoshida’s paintings are hanging all over the place. I probably should say that the very nice young woman at Splash says it’s not a bar but a lounge.  Splash Wine Lounge.  The category is “wine bars” if you search Google for it, but they insist it's not a bar.  It’s between Ohio Street and Grim Avenue.  I have no idea... and I don’t even want to know... why it’s called Grim Avenue... There’s nothing grim about it... The question that came to mind as I looked at the street signs this afternoon was why Ohio is a street and Grim and University are avenues... And why not boulevard?  Why can’t Grim be a boulevard and Ohio an avenue? ... and why isn't Splash a bar? Is it a size thing? Does size matter in this part of San Diego? I don’t think so... there’s no appreciable difference in the sizes of Ohio Street and Grim Avenue. Whatever!  You can see Clyde’s paintings at 3043 University Avenue.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Patrick, Jeremy and I did the thirty-eight mile bike ride
around San Diego Bay... Beginning at my house
we got to the Ferry Landing in time
to catch the 8:15 boat to Coronado. 
It's Tuesday, and I was reminded the whole way
that the world is kept going by people who work.

The South Bay Salt Works

A paycheck is important.
A good boss is nice.
Benefits... Yes!

That’s not all there is to it.
Pity the person who
Doesn’t know

The honor of work...

Monday, August 20, 2012

And in the Davids' Back Yard...

Over the pool one flitted...
...flirting, I guess...
Soon the other came
and they did a dance
in air...

And then...
Well, what can I say!
I caught them doing it.

Okay, Okay... I admit it...
I’m caught...
It’s confirmed...
I’m a voyeur.

I didn’t turn away.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I remember, not just vaguely, but very well
a place in the woods where I went as a boy...
a secret place, of course, known to anybody
who had the inclination to walk among ticks
and chiggers and the possibility of snakes...

But nobody ever ventured there unless invited...
It was my secret spot... a sacred still retreat
beneath the trees beside a murmuring brook.
I did not know then what I know now...that God
is known to children who learn what sacred is

When they discover in themselves a being
rare that can’t be shared... that stays hidden...
that connects with something beyond itself...
that self eternal without regard to time or space,
recognized then and now as who it really is.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Troy's Birthday

Chris and Kyla