Friday, September 30, 2005

The Holy Communion of Politicians

I heard today on the radio (not Dave FM) that this weekend there is to be a conference at the Vatican. One of the topics for discussion will be whether Roman Catholic politicians should be barred from participating in Holy Communion if they espouse policies which contravene Church Doctrine.

Please note that I am now using capital letters because we are speaking of Important Things.

You may remember that a Bishop in Calgary threatened to do just that to Paul Martin for his support of same-sex marriages.

It’s an interesting and complex debate. I think the Catholic Church has the right to decide who gets to participate in the Sacraments. Ie. to decide who is Catholic and who is not. But just where does this intersect with public policy?

Politicians have a choice to make here. If they have strong religious beliefs, these should be known to the public, and voters should include this in their consideration of whom to vote for. I think it would speak to the strength of character of a politician who put his/her election on the line by standing up for the beliefs of their religion. This is what the Catholic Church is telling politicians they must do. If you want to be Catholic, you must be opposed to abortion. You must be opposed to same sex marriage.

Fine. On the other hand, any politician worth his salt must be able to represent and respond to all his constituents. Not everyone is Catholic. Not everyone is opposed to abortion or same sex marriage. If I were a Buddhist politician, I think I would not denounce the existence of Canadian armed forces. They have their purpose. (Now if that purpose were to engage in foreign aggression, that would be a different matter.)

Can a politician say, “Such and such are my beliefs. I hold them strongly and my personal preference is to have these values supported by public policy. However, neither I nor my religious institution has the right to impose these on the whole populace. Sorry, but the Church will just have to stay out of it.”?

Would that satisfy the Church?

This is not what Paul Martin did with same sex marriage. His government actively promoted the policy. His Church saw that. I wonder, did It also see that the government was simply acknowledging a legal fait accompli?

Dave FM Update

Well, you see what happens when you shoot off your mouth prematurely. You end up having to backtrack.

Lucia called today, enthusing enthusiastically about the job I performed for Dave FM. About how everyone was so impressed. What a great job I did. Gave them so much, Carlos the DJ who’s running the contest was (is) able to play teasers beforehand to get people prepared, will be able to play just a few notes, then give more notes, and more until the notebook is filled.

And Lucia asked if there was anything they could do for me! Like a few bucks? She actually did ask that.

(At this point I’m thinking: she must have read my bitchin on the Mental Blog. But it couldn’t have been that. She doesn’t have the address yet. She sent me an email, but I haven’t sent her one yet.)

So….now I’m somewhat mollified. (Did I say mortified?) I informed Lucia there was in fact something she could do for me. And I told her about Voin’s CD, which I hope will be ready in a couple of months. I asked her to consider playing some of it on the air. Of course, Lucia’s not the one who decides that because she’s in promotions, but she promised to pass it on to the music/program director, and I’m sure it doesn’t hurt to have her putting in a good word. I gave her a little history of it and told her about Voin and how the album came about and also that the music would be appropriate for Dave FM. And that’s no lie. There are a bunch of tunes that fit perfectly into Dave’s format. So with any luck, Voin’ll get his stuff played on at least one mainstream radio station.

I also tactfully pointed out the dilemma she had put me in. I can’t believe I was tactful. Tact is not my strongest point. Especially when I’ve been steaming for a couple days. But there I was. Mr. Tact. President of the Canadian Tactile Association. And Lucia did get it. Made her even more grateful, I think.

After all that, Lucia said if there was anything I wanted personally, just to let her know. I couldn’t really think of anything. I’m happy if Voin gets a shot.

And by the way, the name of the band will be 2 Cents Left.

Mr. Bacon, does this qualify as an über-posting?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Usin Werd fer Blogettes

Ah been usin werd ta make these yer poasts. Doan seem ta make much difrents cuz ah aint tried to do nuthin fancy er nuthin so far.

Lunchbucket Letdown at Dave FM

So, today I did this thing for Dave FM 107.5. Lucia, the promotions director called and asked if I could play portions of rock songs from the 80’s on my accordion for this little “guess the song being played on the accordion” contest they were running. I said, sure I could do that…when? Like, in two days? (This conversation took place on Monday.)

OK, so I wracked my brain…no I racked my brain, stretched it tortured it exorcised it interrogated it inquisitioned it until it blurted out several snippets of accordionized guitar riff. And today I went to the studio in Lunchbucket and blatted it out into digital recording heaven. Stairway to Heaven (OK, I know it’s not 80’s but it is classic…) Mony Mony Home For a Rest Don’t You Want Me Baby Shout Layla Rock Lobster Sweet Home Alabama…and more.

This is all very nice. Of course, I didn’t get paid to do this. I don’t know whether you know this, but radio stations are cheap. Let’s be charitable: they run on skinny budgets. Except CFRB. In any case, not paid. But that’s OK. Always happy to do a good turn and have a little fun.

Except here’s the kicker. The contest they’ll be running over the next few days (until Oktoberfest I guess) is to give away tickets to a Sam Roberts concert being held at Queensmount, where our old buddy Walter Ostanek plays!

So, dear Lucia had the nerve to ask me to do something for free to promote an event which competes with the venue my own band plays at!

Nice, eh?

(PS. Arlene! Are you there, Arlene?! Can you hear the accordion demons pounding the keys to the gates of hell?)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Jet Blue Emergency

Anybody happen to catch that emergency landing by the Jet Blue plane out of California? I don’t normally watch CNN but I happened to be over at Voin and Paulie’s the other night doing some recording on Voin’s album when this happened. (Do you still call them albums? CDs. Voin’s CD.)

Voin had CNN on while we were recording. Here’s this jet. Been flying around for a couple of hours. On takeoff, I think, its front landing gear had jammed. The wheels were twisted sideways, the gear couldn’t retract. It was going to have to land like that.

Well, we watched this plane land at LAX. A picture perfect landing. Pilot kept the nose up until the last possible second. Then it touched down. I was convinced the wheels would collapse, but they didn’t. They stayed solid. Started smoking, then burst into flames as they skidded down the runway.

But the amazing thing was this pilot. He kept that jet straight as an arrow down the centre of the runway. The front wheels, twisted and flaming as they were, never veered from the white line.

I don’t know what it was like on the jet, but on TV it seemed as if the plane came to a nice gentle stop. Everyone breathed.

Now, that’s the pilot I want the next time I fly.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Vajrasattva 3

Experiment failed. The picture appeared here, but I didn't get to do what I wanted to with it.

Larry Keiler: The Unauthorized Autobiography

I've added a link to Larry's autobiography. Can't say how often I'll be posting to this. The content of the autobio will be episodic, ie. not exactly structured. Just stories as they come to mind.

PS. You know that term biopic? The first time I read it I pronounced it the same as myopic.

PPS. The problem with novelizing in a blog is that the postings appear latest on top. So, for example, there will be an addition to my first posting there, a continuation of it in fact, but that will appear before the beginning on the blog page. Don't know if there's any way to remedy this. You'll just have to read from the bottom up.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Yoni School for Wayward Poets #4 (More Program Notes)

Two more possible characters: Malton McGuilty, a political pote and compulsive liar; George Slitherman, whose health is bad but remains combative whenever he gets the chance.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

God Speaks

Oddly, this particular sign looks familiar to me. As if I've seen it somewhere in Lunchbucket. (I mean the sign itself, not the message, which is old and well-worn, but then, after all, it is after midnight. I can't always think of blazingly original stuff.

On a lighter note...

A stray sentence from Thomas Wolfe: The packed stands of the stadium, the bleachers sweltering with their unshaded hordes, the faultless velvet of the diamond, unlike the clay-baked outfields down in Georgia.

Reminds me of why the bleachers at the baseball field are called what they are. Unshaded. Because the spectators are bleached by the August sun, the poor bums who can’t afford to sit in the grandstand, the poor bums whose bums are not bleached but compressed, numbed by hard slats of bleacher benches. And that, of course, is why they invented the seventh inning stretch.

What an evocative term, bleachers. How malleable the English language. And I wonder who first used that word to describe that mosh pit of the common man, that mecca of baseball lovers all across the continent. What happy inspiration, what circuitous synapse suggested the relation between bleach, sun and old bones of baseball bums athwart the fields of dreams?

Maybe it was a touch of the sun.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Paying to Die

I drove past a crash on the 407 today. Must have been about five or ten minutes after it happened. At least two vehicles were involved – a minivan and an oil tanker truck, not an 18-wheeler, but a smaller one. There were quite a few vehicles stopped along the side of the road both ways as well.

The tanker truck was on its side in the median, smashed up pretty bad. Very bad. The driver’s compartment was flattened. I saw the driver of the minivan sitting in his vehicle, someone talking to him. He seemed all right.

But as I  drove up alongside where the tanker lay, I saw a man and a woman on their knees, obviously tending to the driver of the truck. I had a rather sick feeling when I saw that. It wasn’t good, judging by the condition of the truck.

A minute later an ambulance came roaring along the shoulder from the other direction. But I heard later on the radio that an air ambulance had been dispatched.

I also heard later that the driver of the truck died. He hadn’t been wearing his seat belt and was thrown from the vehicle. I don’t think it would have mattered. Break every bone in your body being thrown out, or get squashed in the cab of your truck.

The 407 is a toll road. Imagine paying to die.

I spend so much time on the road. See quite a few crashes. Sometimes, driving, I get flashes of me in one of them. Hope I’m not psychic.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Blogger fer Werd

Damn! I fergot to use the Blogger fer Werd program to do those last 2 posts.

It has one disadvantage. As far as I can tell, you have to open a new Werd file every time you post. You can’t just have one continuous file and only post sections of it.

Oh, yeah, Sharia law...

By the way, personally I'm glad that the McGuinty decided to nix the introduction of Muslim-based "arbitration" into the legal system of good ole Ontari-ari-o. And to level the playing field with all them other religions too. Why?

I remember the days when ecclesiastical law and civil law were identical. (I don't really remember them. Only in the historical sense.) Western society struggled for hundreds of years to throw off the inquisitorial shackles of ecclesiastical law. Would we really want to go back there?

Nukes if Necessary: Pentagon

That's the headline I noticed in the National Toast this morning. And if you click on the title, it's the link that leads to the document of which it speaks. You'll find it in the top right corner of the web page, titled jp3_12fc2. The actual title of the document is Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations.

I downloaded it. It's about 70 pages long. I'll probably find time to read it in the next ten years. (Hope the Pentagon doesn't find it necesssary to nuke in the meantime.)

Bush, more than any other president I can think of in recent years, has really led the push to redefine the US nuclear and pre-emptive strike policy. This document is a step in that direction. It basically says the US reserves the right to use nuclear weapons first if a hostile nation (or some other entity, like a terrorist group) is planning an attack. It primarily refers to nuclear attack, but also includes conventional attack which the US thinks might be overwhelming.

Basically, it says, "We'll nuke first if we get really nervous."

A lot of people over the years have tried to get the US to enunciate a "no first strike" policy. But come on...really...the US has never had that. The atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a pre-emptive strike. Japan was working on a nuclear bomb. USSR too. And Germany, of course, but the US was heir to German expertise after VE day.

The problem with pre-emptive strikes is, you can always manufacture reasons why it's necessary. You don't have to look any farther than Iraq to see how that works. Conventional weapons are bad enough. A pre-emptive nuclear strike is a nightmare in the making. The implications are much vaster than they were at the end of WWII. (Which suggests to me that the US would only use it against a much weaker power that it was sure didn't have nukes or friends with nukes.)

I think this is only part of what I think....?

The other part of what I think I think relates to the simple fact that you can download this document from the Internet. In fact, it was originally on a DoD website. Anybody can get it. It suggests two things to me:

1. In a certain sense, the US is a remarkably open nation. Strategic, military, policy, memos, minutes of meetings....all fairly readily available for those who care to look. Don't you think that's amazing?.........or.........

2. All of this publicly available stuff is nothing more than blowing smoke up our asses to make us think we can have some influence when, really, they'll blow nukes up our asses whether we like it or not...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold

I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold
Charles Demuth 1928

A fairly famous painting, apparently, inspired by this pome from William Carlos Williams, one of my favourite potes:

The Great Figure

Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
fire truck
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city

It Worked

There you go. Microsoft and Google have found another way to tighten their grip on the computers of the world.

New Addition

I’ve just downloaded some software that lets me use Microsoft Word and post directly from that program. I’m testing it now.
If it works, this is very good, I think. Word has more functionality than the Blogger wordprocessor.

Shaving My Head

I didn't make it to the day with a 9 in it. Shaved my head this morning. (Yesterday morning now...) Looks like I'm going to want to do this every couple of days...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

He's Down on His Uppers

Everybody knows that phrase, right? It means, more or less, he's down and out, had a run of bad luck, looking for a job, lost his house, his business, whatever.

Last month I read Dos Passos' USA, a massive novel that covers the history of the US from about 1900 to 1930. Dos Passos uses that phrase frequently in the book.

Now I'm reading Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again. He uses the phrase, or a variation, as well.

It took me a long time to realize what the phrase actually refers to. When you're on your uppers, it means you've worn the soles off your shoes. All that's left are the uppers.

That's getting poor.

Don't Forget to Log In Goddammit

I've just been reminded, in an expensive way, that I really must log in to the blog before trying to post. If I'm not logged in when I try to post, I get sent to the log-in page and then the post disappears. There's a recovery button, but I just lost about half an hour's work because the recovery button didn't recover the entire post. And it was an interesting bit, too. It'll just have to wait now. I haven't got time to reconstruct it.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Yoni School for Wayward Poets #3 (Program Notes)

Characters are accumulating at the school: Suzy Homemaker, of course. Larry. LaLaLeo who thinks he's a dog and sleeps most of the day. Cosmicat who thinks she's a cat and sleeps most of the day. And Mr. Perfect Always-Right, possibly a British hyphen who thinks he knows what everyone else is thinking.

White Trash & Niggers

white trash & niggers
better learn how to swim
when paperthin freedom meets
Mississippi mud

and moonshine over Pontchartrain
is pie in the sky
and pie in yer face
shoo-fly pie
shoo shoo
sho'nuff get outta town
unless you fixin to drown

white trash & arabs
niggers too
can't eat bullets or drink blood
for survival
can't read the constitution
from homemade gondolas
can't swing from the tree of
intelligent design
noway nohow nomo'
cuz when the levee breaks
they got no place to go

white trash & niggers
can pray
for the national guard
death to suicide bombers
the dawn of the rainbow
new homes on higher ground

Yoni School for Wayward Poets #2

Oh look! There's Suzy Homemaker with her fabulous EasyBake oven.

"Whatcha doin' Suzy?'

"I'm baking bread. See...flour yeast water hotter close the lid go round and round rise the dough you know tiptoe through tulips timer watch don't watch the watched pot never boils but bread bakes automat ickly prickly heat in the summer chillblains in winter gotta go the dough is rising the roe is dying."

"Umm, OK."

"Yes, I'm baking bread breaking beds pillow feathers in the air sneezy dopey wheezy grumpy lumpy knead the dough need dough though I can't remember why oy vy oh yes knead the dough and lumpy mattresses better get a water bed hotter bed for baking bread."

"What kind of bread you baking?"

"Don't know can't say won't go, I'm experimenting with flowers wry and spelt I miss spelt butterfly plants flutter by and hostas held hostage by crickets down in the hallway halfway to the rising sun the rising dough do you think I should put in some sunflower seeds?"

"Whatever you kneed, Suzy..."

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Emailing Posts

As of a couple minutes ago, you can now email my eternal posts to anybody whose email address you know. Click on the envelope next to comments.

Not to be used for "excessive self-promotion" the disclaimer says. Which leads to the question, "How much is too much?"

Spam Comments

Believe it or not, the Mental Blog has been victimized twice by spam in the comments section! How the hell does that work? Hardly anybody reads it, but some idiot in LaLaLand manages to send spam to it.

Yoni School for Wayward Poets #1

People ask me, "What's it like at the Yoni School for Wayward Poets?"

"Fruit flys," I say.

"Fruit flies?" they ask.


Text Message

I've posted a lot of photo type things lately, so here's some text to chew on.

A week ago I shaved my head. Since then the back of my neck has been cold. My sinuses are stuffy. Any connection? No idea. Well, not true exactly. I'm sure the back of my neck is cold because there's no fur there anymore. The sinuses are another question.

I look at myself in the mirror and think, "Why did I not do this a long time ago?" On the other hand, keeping the pate pristine is a pain. But at least I don't have to do it every day. My friend Windsor says the Zen monks in Japan have a system (there's a Japanese word for it which translates into something like "4 & 9") by which they shave on days that have a 4 and a 9 in them. So this morning, it being the 4th, I got out the razor.

Too bad I don't have a digital camera. I'd post a photo.

But then, that would defeat the purpose of concentrating on text...

Sunday Morning Coming Down

A Second Possible Epitaph

Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Orleans is Sinking 2

Here are some images I borrowed from the Net. We've all seen them or ones like them. I hope the owners of the pictures don't least I give credit...

Over the last couple of days the chatterboxes on talk radio have been spouting off about how the military and the police should shoot to kill looters...(I didn't have an opportunity to listen to Rush Limbaugh this week, but I suspect he would have been one of the loudest...)

I can't make much of a comment about looting...most of these people were simply looking for food and water.

What I'm wondering is: given that everybody knew a major hurricane was going to hit; given that people were warned to leave New Orleans; why did the National Guard (or whoever) not arrive before the storm and evacuate all those people they must have known would be stranded in the city because they were too poor to own cars or buy a plane ticket or even a bus ticket? Why did the authorities just leave them there? Before the storm would have been the time to show up with guns and herd everybody out of town.

2 Quotes on Interdependence

Everything is interdependent. This friendly statement just begins to skim the surface. What Buddhist contemplatives are saying is that in the whole universe right down to the subatomic level, nothing exists purely objectively or purely subjectively. We can say, "Oh, it's mere appearance. I get it." We can focus in and observe that nothing exists in the mind purely subjectively or objectively, that there is profound interdependence. But when we really experience this, our perception of the world as a whole is profoundly altered.

-- from Buddhism with an Attitude: The Tibetan Seven-Point Mind-Training by B. Alan Wallace, edited by Lynn Quirolo, published by Snow Lion Publications

All events and incidents in life are so intimately linked with the fate of others that a single person on his or her own cannot even begin to act. Many ordinary human activities, both positive and negative, cannot even be conceived of apart from the existence of other people. Even the committing of harmful actions depends on the existence of others. Because of others, we have the opportunity to earn money if that is what we desire in life. Similarly, in reliance upon the existence of others it becomes possible for the media to create fame or disrepute for someone. On your own you cannot create any fame or disrepute no matter how loud you might shout. The closest you can get is to create an echo of your own voice.

Thus interdependence is a fundamental law of nature. Not only higher forms of life but also many of the smallest insects are social beings who, without any religion, law, or education, survive by mutual cooperation based on an innate recognition of their interconnectedness. The most subtle level of material phenomena is also governed by interdependence. All phenomena, from the planet we inhabit to the oceans, clouds, forests, and flowers that surround us, arise in dependence upon subtle patterns of energy. Without their proper interaction, they dissolve and decay.

-- by Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, from The Compassionate Life

Yes, and I've had it said to me that the moment you "realize" emptiness, or interdependence, which amounts to the same thing, nothing ever appears the way you thought it did.

Here's what the thought of interdependence does to me: it is a goad to action. When I see the images of New Orleans, just as an example, I am aware that there is a connection between myself and the people there. Even my previous posting proves this...gas prices. It moves me to think, there must be something I can do...

At the deepest level, this impulse to action is the bodhisattva do whatever one can to alleviate suffering...This points unmistakably to the central Buddhist teaching that wisdom (realization of emptiness, profound interdependence) is identical with compassion. Tsong Khapa says at some point these two come together. When you stop wavering back and forth between the two, you've got it...

Problem is, for me at least, the sense of interdependence, the impulse to action, is not yet strong enough. Overwhelmed perhaps by the anguish of it all, not able to see the benefits of all-embracing compassion...

Oh, blah blah blah...maybe I'm just too self-centred and lazy.

Mental Blog Repair 1

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