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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sick and Brutal

Philosophers have been gassing for millennia about the meaning, purpose, and design of both humanity and the universe. Unable to face the evidence that logic, morality, and culture are human-made creations, proclamations of divine will and fate have been posited to justify our perpetually disfunctional civilizations and near-constant slaughter. The most honest, albeit still extremely flawed, explanation of our self-destructive historical cycles rely on the Darwinian proposition of survival of the fittest, which includes the concept of thinning the herd to ensure continuation of the species. Revolution, genocide, civil war, and imperial conquest are the more obvious facets of this process of "Natural Selection," granting debate points to the Napoleanic and neoconservative argument that God loves a strong military.
Leaving aside for a moment the fact that this attitude is based on the dogma of limited resources and lowered expectations, there is a more subtle and civilized form of this territorial sadomasochism that is a dominant theme in the most affluent and self-indulgent societies. The petty and frivolous beauty and popularity contests that give rise to celebrity worship are the heart and soul of the democratic process. Intelligence, pragmatism, and benign intentions will never be common among our leaders, not because there are no strong leaders with these qualities but simply because such qualities are essentially egalitarian. While the fact that equality is forever doomed to be unpopular may seem paradoxical, this is only because the vast majority of people never reach (much less acknowledge) their full potential. If we did, we would all be gods and goddesses. As it is, hero worship is much easier.
The other side of this is a devout refusal to see beyond preconceived notions of the worth of anyone else. We all exist in a soft pink fog of hormonally and environmentally defined aesthetics that severely limits both individual as well as international relationships. Who doesn't prefer a pretty face to talent? Who sees beyond their own lust to other's need for affection? Who doesn't put their own pride ahead of grace and humility? Sure, everyone has their moments. Nonetheless, the sad fact is that we carry at the level of our collective unconscious the eternal myth that nice guys finish last. It is as much a part of us as the pretense to righteousness.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Random Notes From The Sidelines

As I enter the 11th day of life in my 40's, I have these observations to share:

  • With "conventional wisdom" putting Hillary Clinton at the top of the Democratic ticket, and our appointed president quoted today as saying his brother Jeb would make a "great president", I am struck by the fact that we had a revolution way back in the 1700's to avoid this kind of familial dynastic leadership. I am backing Russ Feingold for president. If Jesse Ventura runs, he gets my vote instead.
  • I hate Spring. I have seasonal allergies and a pathological fear of all things bug. If the Arctic Circle wasn't quickly becoming a freshwater ocean due to global warming, I'd gladly move there. As it stands, I am now in a holding pattern until next Autumn.
  • "American Idol" is nothing but Karaoke with vocal acrobatics. The best singers ever? In my opinion, Tony Bennett, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Cass Elliot, Karen Carpenter, Tim Buckley, Van Morrison, Sandy Denny, Spanky Macfarlane and Janis Joplin, and not one of them had to hit 20 different notes on one word. They were passionate and honest, the two elements that are lacking from every contestant on "American Idol". I only watch "American Idol" at the beginning of each season, when they jettison the awful singers to the netherworld of obscurity. This is a public service. The rest of the show and its contestants are completely disposable.
  • Keith Olbermann is the closest thing we have to a real journalist on television these days, proving my belief that all sportswriters should change places with all news writers immediately. I've never known a sportswriter who's been afraid to call someone on their bullshit. One can only hope that more sportswriters follow the lead of Olbermann and cross over to hard news.
  • Howard Stern has never sounded better than he does now on Sirius Satellite Radio, far away from the Puritanical witch hunters of the FCC, Clear Channel and CBS radio. We all scrathed our heads at this weird thing called Home Box Office way back in the late 1970's. Sirius is at the same point right now that HBO was back then. In 25 years, we'll have a good laugh at what is left on terrestrial radio, and I'll still be happy to pay the subscription fee.
  • My wife and I are now exactly two months away from the due date for our son. We finished the childbirth classes this past Monday (at last; no more talk about the cervix) and the baby's room and furniture are set up. Now, we need a baby, reliable day care and a car seat and we'll be set.
  • I suddenly find myself rooting for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, now up 3 games to 0 on the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Semifinals in the NHL. This team is more balanced than I suspected, and they boast the best defenseman left in the playoffs in Scott Niedermayer. Besides all that, their coach, Randy Carlyle, played in the NHL without a helmet. I love those tough old guys.
  • A lot has been made about MySpace being Ground Zero for sexual predators. What the hell is the matter with parents today? Know your kid's passwords, know his/her online friends, watch over their shoulders and learn how to use a search engine to see what personal info is out there on your kids. The world is full of people who think nothing of perversion. The parents can spot these people a mile away. They should learn how to do it online as well. Still, I find it funny that Rupert Murdoch now owns MySpace. Mr. Fox News now runs a pedophile shopping mall. How ironic.
  • I have a show tonight in Milwaukee. I'll be sharing the stage with Craig Stoneman, one of my compatriots in the Milwaukee Area Songwriters Alliance. We'll hit the stage at The Art Bar - Riverwest at 9 PM. It should be a fun evening. Come on out if you can.

I have no other relevant observations to share at this point in time. I'm too busy trying to get my voice in shape for tonight. Let's see what happens tomorrow in this weird and wonderful world of ours.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Resolving the Problem of Evil

I spent some time
Looking for the Problem of Evil,
Only to find that there was
No enemy anywhere to blame.
The belief in evil creates evil
And it exists nowhere else.
This is because All is One,
And there are no mistakes.
In fact, the universe is not only
A hologram, with each smaller
Aspect within it containing
All the intelligence
Of the whole system:
It is also fractal, which is to say
That no matter how small
The pieces get ad infinitum,
They always maintain the integrity
Of the whole system.
There is an undeniable
Universal intelligence
That contains all opposites
Including the lack of itself,
Or nothingness.
The drives for bliss, sex, power,
Love, communication, insight,
Even the drive for higher intelligence
Are all a lusting
For what we already have
And can never lose,
Not even in death.