Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shakespeare knew it

How much more would Shakespeare have written if he had a typewriter? Thirty-seven, extant, credited plays, and the other poetry, of verbally dense work are studded with a myriad of gems. There are so many famous quotations, and beyond that many important insights of thought that are overlooked in the vast bounty.

In this one sentence, that has not been memorised by millions, Shakespeare destroys a baseline argument of the busheviks and the condoners of torture:
PORTIA: Ay, but I fear you speak upon the rack,
Where men enforced do speak anything. — The Merchant of Venice III. ii. 33-4.
Perhaps, every person literate in english should be familiar with about a dozen plays of Shakespeare. He is meant to be read out loud. Film adaptations of his plays are not all that common, but some of them are excellent, and can be viewed while having the text near by.

Some versions can compare to each other, film to film, film to print, and less at hand--live version to film, print or another live performance. As You Like It was filmed in 1936 and 2006. Elisabeth Bergner and Bryce Dallas Howard played Rosalind. Leon Quartermaine and Kevin Kline played Jacques. Bergner was a european german, and even though, she clearly pronounced each word, one could hear the teutonic tone from a distance, while Howard was brilliant and quite fetching. Quartermaine spoke the seven ages of man speech, in, virtually, the same tone, emotion and rhythm as I did off the page. It was almost unison, i was vainly impressed. Kline played the role far more lackadaisical.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1935 was a delight, and one highlight was the hilarity of James Cagney as Bottom turning into an ass. Kline played the part in 1999. There are several fine, and great, actors appeared on film in Shakespeare. The wonderful part is, that, one can see the performances again and again. Richard Burton’s live performances on stage are not so recoverable for another look and listen. Film on disc is a great service.

But, back to the rack, the elizabethan english employed the rack and other forms of torture, and Shakespeare was fully aware. He had relatives tortured and killed. He himself was occasionally imperiled. Come Rack! Come Rope! (1912), a novel by Robert Hugh Benson, was written concerning that late elizabethan and early stuart time. Men could be broken to say anything true, imagined or fantastic; or for the pleasure of the torturers.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

my name it don't matter

When I was at university, I really became a confirmed folk music enthusiast. I mentioned to schoolmates, that, Bob Dylan was worthy of a Nobel prise; they softly ridiculed me. A while back, I read, he was nominated. To many, his voice is an obstacle. Some enjoy his work when performed by others. I knew one, whom, thought All along the watchtower, by Jimi Hendrix, was the finest rock song. I loved the voices of Joan Baez and Judy Collins. Those of my acquaintance did not. Many hours I played, listened, and sang to the records I enjoyed.

Dylan was not the only poet/lyricist, I found brilliant. There have been very, few, serious poets of the last half century, in the country, whose verses either sing or sting. Springsteen, Simon, Young and some other musicians have written gems, whilst professors and aesthetes type leaden words. Billy Collins has several delightful poems, some Richard Wilbur, and not much else. Robert Frost was a giant, Sandburg nearly and since their deaths it has fell. I know the russians have Vladimir Semjenovič Vysockij, and I have little familiarity of others.

Some of Dylan's songs took ancient folk melodies, and wedded words that had the same feel. Some lyrics struck deeply.
Oh my name it is nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest...
Dylan was a young man, and some of the lines were weary and haggard. There is the knowing desperation, the weltschmerz of the observant powerless. I also knew, that, my name it don't matter, and the land i came from is called the midwest. I, most probably, will never be recognised; and though my name means something to me, it does not to others, but i can place myself in time.
...I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.
My youth was sharply earnest. I knew it then, and was not going to reject nor deny it, but with the passage of time, I have grown tired, if not wiser. I was older then, i am younger than that now. Sounds a paradox, but that which i would battle then with gusto and awareness, now still exists, and my sabre is not forged. The passage of time puts me unready for engagement, and i knew that then.

Certainly, there are other readings of Dylan, and he encourages an uncertainty as opposed to an understanding. The material after the early periods sings less to me.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sanford declares himself King David

"What I find interesting is the story of David, and the way in which he fell mightily, fell in very, very significant ways, but then picked up the pieces and built from there."

"I remain committed to rebuilding the trust that has been committed to me over the next 18 months, and it is my hope that I am able to follow the example set by David in the Bible - who after his fall from grace humbly refocused on the work at hand. By doing so, I will ultimately better serve in every area of my life, and I am committed to doing so."
As I mentioned earlier, there is one standard for Republicans and another for Democrats. At first, I thought, there would not, even, be pressure for Mark Sanford to resign. Sanford is a smug Republican, who has been identified, and self identified, with “conservative family values”, fiscal conservatism and states rights. He voted for the impeachment of Bill Clinton on disguised counts of adultery. He has now admitted to being an adulterer, himself. After tearfully confessing in front of cameras, he has received some negative response. This must have been surprising, even though he is an anglican, he is still a southern Republican; and among that demographic electorate, it is expected after the formality of the public, ritual drama of confession of one’s own kind, to one’s own kind, to be forgiven and continue as before; thus making full peace with religious hypocrisy, and no one is to bring it up again. And conversely, one is still allowed to attack an opponent in the same manner as before, because that judgment always stands.

Apparently, he hit a snag, and has upped the ante. He is now like King David, God’s anointed and favorite. Before this proclamation, Nate Silver made the chart supra. I still think Sanford will be governor next month, and next year. Republicans do not resign, they get promoted.

And as a further aside: I have a couple of songs in my mind,
Don't cry for me Argentina
The truth is I never left you
All through my wild days
My mad existence
I kept my promise
Don't keep your distance

I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Postscriptum: I added this to the continuing list:
54. Mark Sanford - South Carolina. There used to be a television show called, Car 54. Where are you? Mark Sanford was missing, not on the Appalachian Trail, but in Argentina after tail. Being an arrogant, self-righteous, teabagger, and a hypocritical adulterer was not enough to add him to this list, that sort of thing is just par for Republicans. The self-aggrandisement to compare oneself, in biblical terms, to King David—the archetypal ruler is. - 27 June 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The baldest of lies

We have a dishonest government. The most dishonest portions of government are those dealing with security, military and police functions. Here is the sine qua non and ne plus ultra: the war department (renamed--department of defense) calls citizen protest, low level terrorism; conversely they call torture, enhanced interrogation. And for dishonest media--Fox television: to-day, Mark Sanford, the Republican governor of South Carolina admitted to a sexual scandal, and Fox labels him -- Mark Sanford (D). Again and again they identify embarrassed Republicans as (D). Just as another side note: with the Ensign affair, and now this, the Republican nominee is boiling down to Romney or Palin.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The apt question

Some friendly teachers, that I have had, make the statement, “There are no stupid questions”, a very broad statement, that may be true in spirit, but untrue in fact. Some questions are asinine, and that insults that beast, when they have no relation to the matter, or even worse, when they are provocatively dishonest. Yet, other questions are precisely perfect. Those go beyond clarification, they frame a resolution appropriately, or especially when they completely destroy the argument before it. Now, those questions that are provocatively dishonest, wish to be that which they are not.

Recently, a public television programme on episodes of indian history was shown. The particular episode was on cherokee resettlement. North Georgia was going to be ethnically cleansed of the red man. A discussion amongst the indians, themselves, was re-enacted. They were to be resettled on similar lands to the west of the Mississippi. One indian asked if those lands are as good as ours, why are they empty? He asked the vital question. There was no rationale, no evidence and no true argument to answer it. The question was devastatingly true.

This sort of question answered and ended the entire line of thought. I remember, hearing more than once, the argument that tries to defuse Jesus, when Jesus says:
Et íterum dico vobis : Facílius est cámelum per forámen acus transíre, quam dívitem intráre in regnum cælórum.
And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. — Matthew xix. 24.

Facílius est cámelum per forámen acus transíre, quam dívitem intráre in regnum Dei.
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. — Mark x. 25.

facílius est enim cámelum per forámen acus transíre quam dívitem intráre in regnum Dei.
For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. — Luke xviii. 25.
They tell of a gate in the wall called the camel’s eye, or the needle, or something. Yes, the existence of such a thing would change the OBVIOUS meaning of the word of Jesus. BUT, it would have to have existed at the time of Jesus’ speaking, and certainly it did not, nor did anyone mention such a ‘convenient gate for centuries (perhaps until the twentieth). Shakespeare makes an allusion in Richard II, but not in the way of a gospel revisionist of the american prosperity school of capital mammon. I have not found which writer, or speaker, invented this tale of the crawling camel, but in different versions the gate is in Damascus, or another syrian city, or Jerusalem, or Joffa. Sometimes an ancient, but only mediæval ancient, entrance is alluded to. Sometimes there is a statement that points to a late mediæval or early modern writer, but not that the writer is speaking to that interpretation. But, all in all, no real gate has ever existed that gives credence to the supposition, and the crawling camel is still more dubious.

Now, such a supposition would be devastating, but challenging that supposition by devastating fact, totally negates it. Now, there is another view, which states, in aramaic the word for rope was similar to camel, and even that does not change the meaning. There are other semitic sources (talmud, koran, proverbs) that have a camel, or elephant, travel the needle that are similar to the example given by Christ. Perhaps, Jesus meant what he said.

So, when such a false story is given, there is not often, allowed or allotted, the response so as to suggest the statement stands. So a teacher, or presenter, can be opened to be steered to the truth, or resistant, so as to continue course. There are good questions, there are stupid questions and there are bad questions.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ensign, Hoekstra, Palin: A study of the Republican

Now, I contend that nearly, every committed, partisan Republican is demented. This is a severe judgment, the only other judgment, that, the evidence suggests is that they’re hypocritical, duplicitous, miscreants. I wanted to rest these arguments, but this week three ugly heads arose Cerberus like, to remind us all of the unending tonnage of crazy there exists in their store of barrels.

Sarah Palin does not want to be out of the headlines. She began a campaign to blacklist David Letterman. She is an opportunist, a thin skinned hypocrite, and a true bitch. Letterman told an unpleasant joke. Palin has one unmarried daughter, with a bastard child of an athlete, Letterman was referring to her. Palin mounted a campaign, that Letterman, referred to another, younger daughter.

Letterman is employed by CBS. The Bushes had Dan Rather’s scalp in continuous site, and eventually got that scalp from CBS. Palin would enjoy that sort of coup, and so would her rabid admirers. Now, here is part of the hypocrisy: both Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, each, made more than twice as many jokes about Palin’s daughter’s randiness, and there was no outrage. Saturday Night Live made a comment suggesting incest and Palin performed on that show. Palin has a history of vendettas, and a penchant to be filmed.

John Ensign is a senator from Nevada. He has admitted to an extra-marital, sexual affair. When Bill Clinton committed an infidelity, Ensign demanded Clinton’s scalp. These three facts, and actions, he shares in common with Larry Craig, and David Vitter. Craig retired after his term ended. Not one of the three resigned. Is this sort of hypocrisy a requirement to be a Republican senator?

Cornelius Peter Hoekstra is a Republican congressman from Michigan. On June 17th, he sent out an electronique mass communique:

Iranian twitter activity similar to what we did in House last year when Republicans were shut down in the House.

A website, http://petehisameme.wordpress.com/, formerly HoekstraIsAMeme.com., has collected new examples of his rhetorical device, perhaps the best are:
  • I burned my finger this morning on a hot plate, now I know how Joan of Arc felt.
  • My softball game was rained out today. Now I know what Hurricane Katrina felt like.
This rhetorical device, they define thusly:
To Hoekstra is to whine using grandiose exaggerations and comparisons.
Pete has said other stupid things. He, also, promised to serve no more than twelve years as a congressman; he passed that mark over four years ago. He had replaced the bloviating Guy Vander Jagt who spent twenty-six years. Hoekstra, three years ago, discovered five hundred, imaginary, chemical weapons in Iraq. Two years ago, Pete found imaginary, nuclear weapons in Iran.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Corpus Christi Procession

Corpus Christi existed before the city in Tejas. Corpus Christi is the body of Christ, it is the Sacrament. Holy Thursday, the day of the Last Supper, was the initiation of Corpus Christ and the Sacrament.

It's introduction as a feast was initiated by the urging of St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon and Liège, whom impressed Robert de Thorete, then Bishop of Liège. At that time, bishops could initiate feasts within their diocese. Robert did so in 1246, he died soon thereafter, before the first celebration. Jacques Pantaléon was, at that time, Archdeacon of Liège.

The Bull, Transiturus, was issued in 1264 by Pope Urban IV, whom had been previously Jacques Pantaléon; he died soon thereafter. The feast was extended to the whole latin church. Urban had St. Thomas Aquinas compose a new office for the feast. The songs, Lauda Sion, Sacris Solemniis (which includes, Panis angelicus), Pange lingua gloriosi (which inludes, Tantum ergo) are from Thomas for this day. Another communion hymn of his is Adoro Te Devote.

Even before the changes in celebrations, of the last generation, the US moved this celebration to the Sunday next. It is a public holiday in several lands. It is one of those catholic holidays that disturb the convenience of tourists and commerce.

Soon after introduction, outdoor, theophoric processions became common, and spread to many countries. Of course, with the suppression that came with the triumph of the protestant rebellions, and the imposition of state heresy, such public demonstrations in regard to the faith were absent in several lands. But, to-day with societal apathy being the more pronounced, such public, outdoor processions are an opportunity of evangelisation. People may notice, “Oh, the catholics are having some sort of parade, or something.”

Traditionally the feast is on a thursday, but the procession does not have to be. Since it is a movable holiday, it can fall about 13 June, Saint Anthony of Padua and Lisbon. Saint Anthony is a rightly, popular figure. It has so happened that, adjacent parishes have had, both processions on the same day. What does the bewildered stranger, or unbeliever think?
noto bene: last year, I had another essay.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bling and Ferguson

‘Bling bling’ [or ‘bling’ for short] was a term used in a ‘rap’ number by the Cash Money Millionaires (Christopher Dorsey, aka, BG), in 1999, and perhaps, previously by the Silvertones, from Jamaica . It quickly joined the national lexicon, and international lexicon (OED in 2003). At first it was familiar to a certain youth culture, but since it so aptly described an actuality it spread, to the snarky disdain of the clued-in hip.

Bling refers to the shine and clink of ostentatious, extravagant and garish jewelry and ornamentation of the ‘gangsta’ culture and its imitators. Once seen, easily remembered. Perhaps, it is the most well known, and understandingly used, and transferred term of that subculture. Bling is ugly, loud and expensive; well serving its raison d’être.

Its perfection in portrayal of absurd reality strikingly came to me in response to two pieces of filming: in the film, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, about Saint Francis, there is a scene, in church, where the rich citizens wear expensive, colorful, and for the most part, beautiful costumes, but about there necks hang huge, bejewelled squares, and away from them―the poor in rags. This bling is the sign of station, without any practical use BUT identification; the other one: Craig Ferguson and crew in lip synchronisation to Fatboy Slim’s, It’s a wonderful night, had a chorus of animal hand puppets wearing bling about their necks. Bling is an advertisement of ugly and unnecessary wealth. This is easily seen by saints and jesters, but not by the ambitious, or those desirous of society’s acceptance.

To diverge on a tangent: Ferguson is in a public niche of his own. He can barely, at times, conceal his knowledge behind buffoonery. In his comedic monologue he once, self-consciously, mentioned reformation history. On one show he mentioned, knowingly, Aristotle and, then later, Picasso. In interview he brought up Aquinas, and in another, Augustine, for questions. I do not know what his past schooling and reading has been, but at least some of it was academically significant. On american, commercial, network broadcasting such references might be unique. These are topics, occasionally, mentioned on public radio and television, and are, therefore, anathema to many.

He needs to fill airtime. He has been employing puppets for humor, and they are funny. Ed Sullivan had Topo Gigo act in a similar rôle, and Señor Wences.

Ferguson reuses several set lines and pieces for familar comic effect: he will remind you, that, “your cat will eat you when you die”; that all dogs speak like Scooby Doo and George Jetson’s Astro; on maps Narnia always borders the place in question; that the glorious land of Scotland is on the northern part of an island, that has the insignificant England beneath her; that all non-anglo, teutonic peoples speak vit dah zame accent, und haf a schared fetisch; Craig portrays himself as sexually ambiguous; and it’s a great day for America, everybody (as he hits the camera).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A police attack

There was the Rodney King incident in California where four cops had batting practice. The officers escaped court justice and a brutal riot took place in Los Angeles. Rodney King was a troubled character, none-the-less he was brutalised by police. The anger and frustration exploded in senseless group criminal action. Some primarily, remember the reaction, the riot, and forget the action, police license unconditional to attack. King was fleeing and had a previous record. The possible existence of police brutality was not considered, by the american public, for some time. The jury involved, effectively, denied it. Some people believed, that oh yes, it existed, and there was no penalty.

In Passaic, New Jersey, a man, described as mentally defective and peaceful, was assaulted by a thug, on 29 May 2009. The thug was a uniformed, on duty, member of the local police force, Joseph R. Rios III. Now, we live in a society that has surveillance cameras in abundance. After some time of beating, passerbys witness the action. Often, such future testimony is suppressed, and an active search is not done, unless to scare off witnesses. The camera cannot be pressured, destroyed yes, lost yes. But, since the camera was visible, and assumingly within the repeated path of the police, one would think there was cognition of its existence and function.

Ronnie Holloway, aged 49, is standing on the curb of an intersection. A police car stops. A female cop tells/instructs/orders/commands/asks? him to zip up his jacket. As he does so, the other cop, comes up from behind and begins the attack. Now, at this point one should stop and think. Why does the first cop tell Holloway to adjust his clothing? Is there any known dress code that is enforceable, in New Jersey? One is often reminded that in strict moslem societies there are. Are police free to invent laws? Or is it meant to occupy and distract Holloway, so as the other cop has a clear and free shot to pummel Holloway?

Holloway was thrown into a cell for the night to heal. He was charged with resisting arrest. The surveillance camera shows no resistance of any kind, there has not been noted a word, that, Holloway may have said. Clearly, it is the routine and nonsensical charge that blankets false arrests. The auxiliary charge of disorderly conduct is similar, and was tagged on. The victim was also charged with the even vaguer, and mind reading, charge of wandering for the purpose of obtaining controlled dangerous substances.” Does Passaic not have an ordinance of failing to comply with a lawful order? Oh, he was zipping up his jacket.

Mister Holloway’s defense is that walking is his chief pastime. Oh, what these wild youth do for kicks. This has been reported to be Holloway’s first legal trouble. The police do not want to talk to the press, or the world about this.

There are always people to defend the most outrageous, stupid and vicious police actions. Many of these people will decry the laxness of punishment for criminals. One standard for one group, another standard for another is not equal justice for all.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Trinity Sunday, First after Pentecost

Domenico Fetti. Parable of the Mote and the Beam. 1619. New York City.
Estote ergo misericordes sicut et Pater vester misericors est. Nolite judicare, et non judicabimini: nolite condemnare, et non condemnabimini. Dimitte, et dimittemini. Date, et dabitur vobis: mensuram bonam, et confertam, et coagitatam, et supereffluentem dabunt in sinum vestrum. Eadem quippe mensura, qua mensi fueritis, remetietur vobis. Dicebat autem illis et similitudinem: Numquid potest cæcus cæcum ducere? nonne ambo in foveam cadunt? Non est discipulus super magistrum: perfectus autem omnis erit, si sit sicut magister ejus. Quid autem vides festucam in oculo fratris tui, trabem autem, quæ in oculo tuo est, non consideras? aut quomodo potes dicere fratri tuo: Frater, sine ejiciam festucam de oculo tuo: ipse in oculo tuo trabem non videns? Hypocrita, ejice primum trabem de oculo tuo: et tunc perspicies ut educas festucam de oculo fratris tui.

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not: and you shall not be judged. Condemn not: and you shall not be condemned. Forgive: and you shall be forgiven.Give: and it shall be given to you: good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over shall they give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again. And he spoke also to them a similitude: Can the blind lead the blind? Do they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one shall be perfect, if he be as his master. And why seest thou the mote in thy brother's eye: but the beam that is in thy own eye thou considerest not? Or how canst thou say to thy brother: Brother, let me pull the mote out of thy eye, when thou thyself seest not the beam in thy own eye? Hypocrite, cast first the beam out of thy own eye: and then shalt thou see clearly to take out the mote from thy brother's eye. — Luke vi. 36-42. DRC
Now, the first three Gospels are called synoptic, in being similarly comprehensive. A gospel reading from to-day, and the week, in the old rite, is from Luke; compare the beginning, of the third part, of the sermon on the mount from Matthew’s Gospel vii. 1-5:
Judge not, that you may not be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye; and seest not the beam that is in thy own eye? Or how sayest thou to thy brother: Let me cast the mote out of thy eye; and behold a beam is in thy own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
The Mote and the Beam would be a cute name for a public house (saloon) somewhere. Vision and perception can be disturbed after drinking. Tunnel vision is a form of myopia. Selectively criticising is also myopic, and hypocritical, as it employs discrepant standards, or as kids in the schoolyard have it--rubber and glue.

Charity and humility are called for, and this will bring mercy to you. How does God behave? How do you, or I, behave?

Fetti was employed by the cardinal, and later Duke of Mantua, Fernando Gonzaga. For him he painted thirteen illustrations of parables, for his studiola (cabinet room), for contemplation. In the one supra, both men are pointing to the other’s eye. The series proved popular, Fetti
’s workshop made several copies as did others. Several of Fetti’s parable paintings are together in Dresden, along with some Fetti’s Old Testament scenes.
last year's essay on the first Gospel reading

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A second Sysack sign

To-day I see that Harry (Russell Sysack) has another sign. Sometimes one is surprised at his chosen targets. He gives his opinion on "conservative talk radio & the liberal tv news media". On a few he splits the arrow. He is scatologically correct on Bennett, Hannity and Limbaugh.

Friday, June 5, 2009

An incident in Collinwood:

A lesson in urban geography and sociology:
It has been reported, yesterday evening, in the local Cleveland news, the ending of a crime campaign in a Collinwood neighborhood. Seventeen houses were broken into, and seemingly all done by a thirteen year old, eighth grader. All the houses targeted were between the tracks of the old New York Central (now Amtrak and Conrail) and the Norfolk and Western railroads, from Saranac to Mandalay Avenues. The northeast terminus was Spellacy junior high school. St. Clair Avenue splits the territory in half. The northerly half is about Saint Mary's, and the southerly about Holy Reedemer, churches. The two areas had been pre-dominately slovene, and pre-dominately italian. It was a rough, working class neighborhood in its vibrant days, and not particularly welcoming to anyone.

Now, it must be understood that Cleveland had been very segmented by turf, very much the Chicago model in patterns of settlement distribution. Before the first world war, there was very few negroes in the city. During the second world war matters changed. In the 1950s and ’60s black migration from the southern states became very significant. From an area around Central Avenue black population expanded on the east side. Formerly white neighborhoods became black quickly.

There was resentment, and there still is. The general sociological, economic, and political events that took place in the US, and especially what happened to the industrial, now rust belt, was quite true for Cleveland.

Banks, and the normal mortgage companies, did not want to deal with the blacks. They had to have some quarters. Previously, for the negroes who worked on the trains, the railroad owned houses, and this was prior the big migration. So other than tenamentised apartments owned by landlords, there came housing contracts, in which the new owners, and the old neighbors were badly treated. Blacks would ‘buy’ houses at, even, a multiple of their old worth. To keep these houses, they often, had to make each payment on time, or the house would be forfeit. So, in response the houses would often be overcrowded, and not kept in repair. These unscrupulous blockbusters, made much money as they, destroyed neighborhoods. They would buy low, after the initial entrance, and sell high and collect, and often recollect. Sometimes they would double as lawyers, accountants and realtors, not always transparently.

It became apparent to white residents, that, blacks would ruin a neighborhood. At the current time, there are twenty one wards in Cleveland; wards one to ten have been (virtually) all black for most of this time. Ward 11, in the northeast corner of the city, is most of Collinwood. Wards 1 through 10 have always had black councilmen.* Ward 11 has a white councilmen, Mike Polensek. He has been a councilman for nearly a generation†. For a short time the barrier to black settlement was at East 140th Street, it fell as did others. East 152nd Street held as a barrier, it also fell; but the area west of 152nd has been virtually all black for a generation, the area east still has some white residents.

Two summers ago it came public, that Polensek had been writing angry letters to black, juvenile, criminals, whom were engaging in crime in Collinwood, and lived outside of Collinwood. For a couple of days he was called a racist. Well, all these break-ins happened in Ward 11, in the area bounded by East 152nd, Spellacy (that is another tale of urban geography and politics within itself), and the two railroads. The burglar has not been publicly identified. He is a resident in Polensek’s ward.

This is emblematic of a lot of the resentment white people, here often white ethnic groups, have for black people, and especially black juveniles. Here it has not been stated, his race or name, which, by past practice, highly suggests his race. The remaining, often elderly, some immigrants from the old country, have felt besieged and endangered for decades; for when the neighborhood changes, the new residents, especially, the young have no respect for the old. Blacks often find this as fuel for their resentments.

This is part of the scenery, along with declining job opportunities for all residents in the area, the demographics, the family patterns, racial attitudes, the busing and desegregation of the public schools in 1975, the riots in 1966 and 1968. Both, black and white, have been victims of bad economics. Blacks have suffered from their american experience in totality, and white clevelanders (and others) have suffered from the resultant black sociology.
*prior to 1982 there were 33 wards, soon there will be 19
†a generation is 33 years, three in a century. Polensek has been in council since 1977.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Value of olive boughs

We live in the now, the Bible was written in the then. I propose, and not alone, that, time flows from the past to the now, and not vice versa. It is extremely irksome, when someone interprets biblical passages backwards from modern understandings, and then uses that as premise to a conclusion. This is dishonest and logically false. This is a principle (past→now) that should hold! [not: ∵now→past∴now] Now, to use a biblical passage as a prologue to a current situation, I propose, is fair. Concentrating on two phrases, “portans ramum olívæ”* and “non succídes arbores”† (carrying an olive branch, and by no means cut down trees), I will apply, to current situations.

At a meeting, last night, one of the participants said, “Let’s offer an olive branch.”. In agreement, I responded, “Olive branches are cheap”, meaning as a gesture, and action, it is both easy, and if successful, efficacious. Now, Noë knew, this meant that God was appeased, sufficiently, so that man could return to the land. After this God sealed the peace with the appearance of the rainbow. The dove with the bough of olive, and the rainbow have been signs of peace.

Not being familiar with semitic languages, I will continue none-the-less, the equivalent of ‘non succídes’ is bal tashchit (do not destroy). For some, this takes on an environmental stewardship command. Truly, in many respects: pollution, desertification, urban sprawl, climate change..., this is an operant, and valid concept.

This biblical passage from the Books of Moses, prohibits military destruction of fruitful trees. The trees are non-combatants. Also, after the battles are done, and presumably peace arrives, the destruction lasts for many years, continuing the aggression into the supposed peace.

Still to-day in occupied Palestine, agriculture is a goodly portion of the economic base. Olives are the second highest export. Olive wood carvings are sold the world around, often with the buyers sentimentality in being connected with the Holy Land. Olive trees live in poor soil, and dry climate, and take many years to produce a good crop, and can live for centuries—a very good plant. They provide oil for soap, for fuel, for cooking, for church purposes. Olives as food are preserved for later use.

In the current troubles stemming from the Intifada, the destruction of the olive tree has been policy by the Israeli military and bandits. The first year, 2000, 374,030 trees‡ were destroyed. This has continued. The creation of the apartheid walls, serpenting Palestine, destroy groves, and deny access to remaining trees. It is ongoing. “Jewish settlers ”, amongst other acts, cut and burned olive trees at the beginning of this week.

As the lebanese have had the cedar as a national symbol and attachment, so have the palestinian arabs the olive. As in the 19th century american plains buffalo (bison) were slaughtered by army and settlers, so as to starve and destroy the indians, this is premeditated policy.

*At illa venit ad eum ad vésperam, portans ramum olívæ viréntibus fóliis in ore suo: intelléxit ergo Noë quod cessássent aquæ super terram.
And she came to him in the evening, carrying a bough of an olive tree, with green leaves, in her mouth. Noe therefore understood that the waters were ceased upon the earth. — Genesis viii. 11.
†Quando obséderis civitátem multo témpore, et munitiónibus circumdéderis ut expúgnes eam, non succídes árbores, de quibus vesci potest, nec secúribus per circúitum debes vastáre regiónem : quóniam lignum est, et non homo, nec potest bellántium contra te áugere númerum.
When thou hast besieged a city a long time, and hath compassed it with bulwarks to take it, thou shalt not cut down the trees that may be eaten of, neither shalt thou spoil the country round about with axes: for it is a tree, and not a man, neither can it increase the number of them that fight against thee. — Deuteronomy xx. 19.
‡Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture figures

Monday, June 1, 2009

what is a talent?

Now, I can think of ten parables without thumbing books. I would say about four everyone would list (The Good Shepherd, The Good Samaritan, The Prodigal Son, Poor Lazarus [or as the english say, Dives and Lazarus]). There is a parable of the ten talents. What does it mean? The first logical question is--what is a talent? [if you have followed this journal, you may notice there is no illustration]

Now, the way we understand 'talent' is that of aptitude of ability, or gift. That meaning has been interpolated from a parable of Jesus. At that time it had no such meaning. A thousand years later, it still did not. What meaning it did have for centuries before, was that of mass and weight [of money]. There was no one coin, and the exact number and composition of coin changed. There is ambiguity.

The minimum is three thousand shekels, at times--six thousand. These shekels could be silver, or they could be gold. Gold is worth more than silver. (The US used to have silver dollars, a comparable sized gold coin, was a double eagle, twenty dollars [both about 90% true]. At the end of the 19th century, a major political issue was the failed demand to return to the old ratio, between silver and gold, at 16:1.) Saint Jerome understood a talent to be ten thousand gold shekels.

Now, what was a shekel? One shekel was a tetradrachma (four drachmas). One drachma was equal to one denarius. One denarius or drachma was a day's wage.*

There are 365 days in a year. There is no work to be done on the sabbath, there are 52 sabbaths a year. There are some holidays where no work is done. Roughly three hundred work days a year for the fully employed. How many days did the average non slave work?

The maximum a laborer would make per annum would be 300 denarii. A roman soldier's salary was less than 300 denarii. The smallest talent is 12,000 denarii silver (the largest 40,000). It would take 40 years of full employment, to equal wages, of one talent. The average life expectancy was less than 40 years. The probability of a servant (read slave) or laborer to have created a talent approached zero.

Jesus' audience were the poor. They would never see a talent, certainly not have one. A talent was a fortune, because of what a talent means to-day, the operative word would be akin to fortune, or a million (or a bazillion) dollars. What master would trust a servant with that, while he was away, for an unspecified time? What servant would stay?
But he that had received the one talent, came and said: Lord, I know that thou art a hard man; thou reapest where thou hast not sown, and gatherest where thou hast not strewed. And being afraid I went and hid thy talent in the earth: behold here thou hast that which is thine. And his lord answering, said to him: Wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sow not, and gather where I have not strewed: Thou oughtest therefore to have committed my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received my own with usury. -- Matthew xxv. 24-27.
The servant accuses, and the man admits, that he is a 'hard man'. This hard man 'reaps and gathers' where he neither 'sown nor strewed'. He takes profits where he never worked, is that not a damning statement? He then abuses his fearful servant. The servant is told, that he, should have engaged in usury. Usury was forbidden by religious law.

Now, we know of some current american exegeses of this passage, and now, there are four legitimate gospels. The prosperity gospel, the gospel according to Milton Friedman, the gospel of Adam Smith, and the gospel of Harvard Business School are not them. What those, who, heard Jesus spake knew this 'lord' could not be G*d. To suggest that would have been blasphemy. Perhaps, the parable is one of the hard sayings of Jesus. He did want people to think, consider and ruminate. Or perhaps some, people of to-day, form their ideas into their interpretations. Perhaps one ought to read the fathers and doctors of the church, and not parrot the charlatans on television, or the mouthfoamers on the radio.

Under the old rite this parable, there are some 33, was not read at mass. To-day it is in cycle A, the 33rd week of ordinary time, and in the shorter form the portion quoted is not read.
*And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
conventione autem facta cum operariis ex denario diurno misit eos in vineam suam -- Matthew xx. 2.
confer: the householder, here who, hired labourers for the vineyard, with this 'hard man'.
noto bene: a shekel was multi-thousand, also legion was
multi-thousand. In the roman army, a legion was four to six thousand.
And he asked him: What is thy name? And he saith to him: My name is Legion, for we are many.--Mark v. 9.
And Jesus asked him, saying: What is thy name? But he said: Legion. Because many devils were entered into him.--Luke viii. 30.