Archive | July, 2016

Dallas mon amour

kilroy“And Friday morning, Gilstrap, who is black, woke up to news of the horror that had visited his hometown: at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest Thursday night over the killing of Castile and Sterling, a lone gunman opened fire, killing five Dallas police officers and wounding nine other people.” – Christopher Matthias, The Huntington Post, 7/10/16

Thursday? All this started three nights ago?

I’ve been trying to find out what happened in Dallas, I guess, since Friday morning. Feels more like a month. I couldn’t find a straight account of it until I saw the above online Sunday. Included in this article is a jpg of the front page of Friday’s New York Post, headlined in 72 point caps, “Civil War: Four cops killed in anti-police protest”. On line, the phrae after the coon is underlined. It links to a pop-up page headlined similarly. There, though, the phrase “anti-police protest” is replaced with “Dallas tragedy”.

Could you follow all that? Best as I can sort it out, these parties in this order grasped at headlines: the organizers of a “Black Lives Matter” rally; a psychopathic attendee of that rally; the New York Post, conveyor of whatever headline, grasping for more dollars in print and more confusion on screens.

Black lives matter? All lives matter.

The psychopath in question, the 25-year-old black Army veteran named Micah Xavier, is reported to have said he ‘wanted to kill white people’, particularly white policemen. The article said he was ‘upset about the recent deaths of two black men at the hands of law enforcement’. A neighbor said Xavier was preparing his assault before the deaths of Castile and Sterling, the events that reportedly triggered the rally.

As Charled Barklay has observed under different circumstances, every issue in America is a racial issue. Many issues – bridge tournaments and other sporting events, for example – have other aspects as well, but all have some racial component. This insistence that all humanity is to be treated equally under law is older than the nation, and was stated as a fundamental premise, part of the bedrock on which the nation was founded. Faith in God is not so stated. Get it? God has nothing to to with the fundaments of the USA. Equal justice under law does.

As I’m writing this, the movie “Splendor in the Grass” is playing. In 1961, it was considered too “raunchy” for teenagers, at least by my mother. Since then it’s been too prudish to bother with. So I never saw it. It deals with class discord in the 20’s. I mention it here because there’s no reference to racism in it at all. Probably, that owes to the de facto apartheid of the age. I mean, America, 1901 – 1965.

I mention it to point out that America can focus on issues other than race. Also, that class depends more on education, and education depends a lot on wealth, that is, inherited cash value. Class might also depend on literacy at an early age, and on some ability to learn in maturity.

The only prediction I have ever held with is, “The Future lies ahead.” If I ever see an exception to it, I will note such here.


Memes and The Mummy


mummyIt’s the third of July. I’m watching “Law&Order” reruns and checking my email when suddenly I am aware of a deep longing for a hot dog, with brown mustard and relish. Fine. It is after all the third of July. I immediately resolve to gorge myself on tube steaks the next day. But before resuming my mail duty, I look up at the screen.

There is an idiotic image of plenty of dachshunds wearing bun costumes and galloping across a pasture, ears aflop. My eyes glaze and I turn back to the computer screen on my lap, mildly dismayed by how easily the hot-dog-centered mass medium had manipulated my subconscious.

In the background, the hot dogs are replaced. I glance up. The screen now bears a commercial for the newest anti-depressant.  I am right where they want me. The next commercial, for Slomin Burglar Alarms, plays to my back. I must present a moving target from this point on for my own safety.

The reruns give way to “The Mummy Part IV”. The normal randomness of this programming restored my calm acceptance of our modern society’s discontinuous and congested environment, cluttered and filled with collisions of things and ideals stripped of their contexts as if they’d been strewn on the Moon.

This “Mummy” deals with the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, a thrilling saga of immortality and pseudo mysticism. Around 260 BCE, Qin Shi Huang, perhaps under a different name, was king of one of the six realms that comprised China. It seems to have occurred to all six kings that the kingdoms were all roughly the same size and in roughly the same shape, and he who was the king of one could just as easily be the emperor of all six if he picked his opponents carefully in the proper order.

Qin Shi Huang was a very careful man. Moreover, he was a very dedicated man, committed to being the Emperor of China. Also, he was obsessed with becoming immortal. To that end, he set his court physician to find the formula for the elixir of immortality as prescribed in the ancient texts. The court physician did exactly that. Ultimately, he created a potion that conformed in all respects to the ancient specifications, and he administered it to the Emperor as directed. The potion alas was mostly mercury and was of course fatally toxic, and the Emperor died in 210BC.

He was mummified and buried in a huge mausoleum complex in central China along with eight thousand terra-cotta warriors (no two alike) and numerous other artifacts and mummies, and forgotten and remembered for two thousand years.

The last three paragraphs previous are not only the movie plot, they are also a swift summary of history. Swear to god.

For dramatic reasons, and to fill in an otherwise vacant love-interest, the film’s writers made the “court physician” into the most knowledgeable babe-witch in the world, already immortal.

At this point, though, we abandon history and latch on to the movie plot exclusively. Imagery re-ascends its archaic pedestal, and we sway off down paths lighted only by flickering torches and the spill light from bonfires.

O, the iron horses that come to life in this post-Harryausen world. The Emperor’s mummy bursts his bonds and breathes fire, and drives his demummified four-horse chariot out, through the gates and into the streets, magically careening through 20th Century Beijing traffic. Amazingly, the Emperor, who’s been asleep precisely 2162 years and never encountered an autonomously mobile vehicle, nor ever had anywhere near this many people in his entire realm, is celebrating paved roads, benignly unfazed. I know exactly how he feels.

We are all mummified in inorganic substances overlaid unconsciously either by ourselves or others at our insistence. They are more or less precise images of ourselves. They allow our selves to lie in repose in soothing darkness within them. Most of us reanimate, sooner or later, but many of us remain, asleep or sleepless, in isolation forever.

Meanwhile, your mummycase establishes your status as something or another. By the time it’s finished you’ll be somewhere. You might wonder, what have you qualified for already?

Ah. Lotsa firewerks now. Lots and lots and lots of fireworks, ignited by the laser guns during The Chariot Chase. More fireworks than movie memes quoted in the scene.

Via the glory of CGI, anybody can be Yakima Canutt. Brendan Frasier and even some other guy do death-defying stunts on the chariot’s harness (Mesalla’s chariot, by the way) as the fireworks glare off noir-wet streets…

There are no seatbelts on the DC3 that crash-lands at the gates of Shangri-La.

At long last, I may have found that for which I’ve searched an entire eternity: the value of time. If all there is is Now, that value is, What can I do Now?

I shake off my idea of Self, the sheath I made with my portable forge in my precise form as verified by acclaim in the congress within me. I locate the minority in that chamber that expects me to be what I want and go with it. Knowing that I’m gonna face a shitfight, I plunge ahead into the already sworling gusts.



Dwarf Planets, Midget Moons

Makemake w. moonNature World News reported this week the discovery of an “alien” moon orbiting the dwarf planet Makemake. The moon, 100 miles in diameter,is also 1300 times dimmer than the planet it circles. An “alien” moon is one that is not detected immediately on the discovery of the primary planet. Considering that Makemake is in the Kuiper Belt, fifty times further from the Earth than the Earth is from the Sun, and is sheathed in methane ice, making it extremely bright, perhaps it is understandable that it took four years after the planet was discovered to be found.

The moon has yet to be named something more characteristic than “MK2”, probably because the tradition in which it is to be named has to be researched. Makemake, discovered in 2006, is named for the god of fertility of Easter Island. It is one of four dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt. Haumea, discovered the year before Makemake, is named for the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth and has two moons. Eris, the third dwarf planet, is named for a Greek deity, a companion of Ares who specialized in chaos and excessive blood-letting in battle. Discovered in 2005, it has one moon.

The fourth dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt is Pluto. Discovered in 1930 and once believed to be the ninth planet in the Solar System, it has its own orbital path around the Sun However, its path exits the Kuiper Belt and crosses the orbit of Neptune. Also, its size is more in keeping with the other dwarfs, being in fact smaller than Earth’s Moon both in dimension and mass. So, when the classification of “dwarf planet” was established in 2006, Pluto was assigned that designation. Pluto has five moons.

The Fifth dwarf planet in our System is Ceres. It was actually discovered first, in 1801, in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter, and was considered the largest asteroid until the new classification was developed. It has no moons.

The presence of moons circling these planets allows for calculations regarding the planets’ mass and density, said Mark Hammergren, an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. “Knowing the size of the orbit, and its rotation period, we can calculate the mass and density of both the planet and the moon,” he said. “This in turn will give us information about the internal composition, how much of its volume is ice. And that will contribute to our knowledge of how our solar system was formed.”

“The darkness of the moon’s surface indicates far less ice than coats the planet,” said Dean Regas, of the Cincinnati Observatory. “A spectral analysis of the light reflected from the moon will also give us data” as to the composition of the moon, and how it was formed. We know so little of the history of our Solar System that whatever we can gain here materially increases our knowledge of the whole System and the far-off Kuiper Belt, Regas said.

Other resident objects in the Kuiper Belt are mostly icy comets that follow extremely narrow oval orbits to whip around the Sun inside the orbit of Mercury.