Offerings of a Prize-Winning Poet, Aging Jock,and Recovering Lawyer

Archive for January, 2012

Some Provocative Posts to Facebook

by Art on January 16th, 2012

Since these garnered a response of overwhelming indifference on Facebook, I thought I’d post them here.  If by chance you DO want to respond, please e-mail me.  Don’t respond here, as 99% of all responses on this BLAWG have been spam and thus trashed in bulk each time I police the site.  Cheers!  Art

■ Re social classes, have you ever noticed (1) how aristocrats seem to live in the past because that’s where their ancestors established the family? (2) how the middle-class live in the future because that’s where they’ve placed all their hopes? And (3) how the poor live in the present because that’s all they’ve got?  (Posted on Facebook’s Notes ca 30 Aug 2011)

 ■ Re insanity, have you ever noticed how rare it is to encounter an insane individual but how common it is to encounter the insanity of an entire culture? (Posted on Facebook’s Notes on 3 Sept 2011)

■ Re having to run in the “rat race,” in the end doesn’t that just produce more rats? (Posted 8 Oct 2011)

 ■ Re two ends of the political spectrum, I see two ends of the political spectrum. Do you arrange them this way? (1) At one end reside fanatics in general and fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Muslims in particular, i.e., people who need social organizations to be run by father-figures, believe single causes control all complex events, are afraid of change and differences, and transform their fears into hate? (2) At the other end assemble liberals in general and academics, pacifists, and socialists in particular, those who need social organizations to run their lives, believe events are so complex that individual action is futile, are afraid of conspiracies from the opposite end of the spectrum, and transform those conspirators into “them”? So where are we– the political independents– whose vote has elected the last half-dozen presidents of the USA? I say it’s time WE stand up and shout, not wait for our fellow Americans to see how stupid and dangerous both extremes are, how they’re only seeking POWER, not SOLUTIONS to increasingly crucial problems like jobs, pollution, wars. Join me in deciding not to smugly grouse our observations over martinis and beers but SPEAK UP for what now could be called the “Militant Middle” of the world. (Posted on Facebook, 4 Sept 2011)

 ● Re mass media’s curious omission:  Have you noticed how the mass (news)media focus obsessively on good and evil (moreso on the latter b/c blood and havoc video so well), but seldom even acknowledge the existence of what lies beyond good and evil? Is that b/c what lies beyond doesn’t seem plentiful (it is) or visible (it is) or isn’t powerful (it surely is)? Are the media and other folks insane for pretending this huge mass of reality doesn’t exist? Or are we insane for believing it exists? An Old Curmudgeon wants to know. (Posted on Facebook, 14 Oct  2011)

 ■ Re mental “framing” (as per recent neuro-science studies), have you observed how we don’t simply pour a particular bucket of facts into our minds, sort through them, and come out with a viewpoint or solution?  Instead, have you experienced how our conditioning has created “frames” by which we select which facts we’ll consider?  What’s most surprising to me is how studies show we won’t even “see” certain facts that don’t fall inside our frames.  If you have any doubt about the way our minds operate, try persuading someone with strong political or religious convictions to change her viewpoint by simply “giving her some new facts.”  Unless she’s already been taught a conditioned response to your viewpoint, it’s not that she’ll rearrange, reprioritize, or account for the new facts.  Her mind honestly will not even “see” them.  Can this observation switch the calloused buttocks of belly-button fingerers who otherwise spend life’s precious moments clinging to Facebook’s digital onanism?!  (Posted on Facebook, 12 Nov 2011)

 ■ Re constructive dialogue across the political spectrum.  Given the conditioned brain’s inability to “see” facts that don’t fit inside one’s mental “frame” (please see prior post), how do we (or our elected representatives) engage in any meaningful dialogue and solve the pressing problems of our country and planet? (Posted on Facebook on 16 Nov 2011)

 ■ Re the middle of the political spectrum (mentioned in a prior post), isn’t 99% of earth’s population somewhere between the two extremes of Right and Left?  Why do news media and political blogs focus on that narrow 1% and tell us it’s “world news”?  Why do so many of us believe it?  (Posted on Facebook, 26 Nov 2011.)

 ■ OK, how about THIS way to frame extremists the political spectrum?  Can’t you liken them all—both left and right— to children?  I mean, doesn’t the extreme right fear change and differences?  Doesn’t the extreme left fear power and alienation from the herd?  And doesn’t the extreme middle (of which I’m a member) seem to have a hypnotic fixation on their own powerlessness?  (Posted 26 Dec 2011)

 ● Is one test for concrete, practical, down-to-earth intelligence the ability to understand that reality can be DESCRIBED differently at different LEVELS?  That is, can two arguably opposite views be seen as equally valid depictions of life from points of view?  To take two current hot-button issues: (1) Can’t abortion be “bad” at the level of the unborn fetus but “good” at the level of the woman who doesn’t want to be saddled with raising an unwanted child? (2) Can’t capital punishment be “bad” at the level of the death-sentenced person (especially an innocent one) but “good” at the level of those who believe retribution and vengeance strengthen social bonds?  Doesn’t this ability mean many apparently “unsolvable” problems are really just failures to realize the problems themselves are being described from different levels?  Bottom Line: Once each level is given legitimacy, can’t their proponents strive to find ANOTHER LEVEL at which they share the SAME VALUES— and then craft solutions based on these?  (Posted 5 Jan 2012)

 ■ Re being a “radical moderate,” is that a contradiction in terms?  I call myself one― among many still in the closet and others who refuse to soil themselves in political discourse– and I see no inconsistency.  Moderates are those who don’t cling to either end of the political spectrum and don’t believe either end has a monopoly on truth.  So moderates blend or borrow ideas from the left and the right.  Seen from the standpoint of mental “frames,” moderates try to look at the world’s problems as they really exist, that is, outside frames shaped by ideology.  Ironically in a country that was born and formed in pragmatism, currently being a moderate triggers two consequences: We’re assailed by both political extremes and we’re ignored by the press.  “Radical moderates” add another feature to the non-frame game: we try digging to the root (Latin “radix” from which “radical” derives) of problems.  “Radical moderates” trigger an additional consequence: Not only are we dumped on by both ends of the political spectrum and ignored by the press, our solutions seem too innovative (read “scary”) to garner conventional support.  But can you guess who came up with the 40-hour work week, television, and the internet? (Posted 16 January 2012)

Zarahas Gets T-boned in Polo

by Art on January 15th, 2012

Yesterday Zarahas and I survived the most dangerous collision in polo: a T-bone, where one horse at full gallop hits another one turned broadside.  I was umpiring on Zarahas when I saw the ball get whacked in our direction and the hitter (my trainer, Rik Crane) looking only at the ball.  I turned Raa and squeezed him hard to leap out of the way.  But Mr. Casual didn’t leap.  The next sensation was like being tumbled by an ocean wave you’d just been were riding— all I could do was relax and wait for things to come to a halt. Dru was watching and said it looked horrible. When the rolling explosion stopped, I clambered to my feet to check Raa, who had already gotten to his.  Only after standing did I realize, miraculously, I hadn’t broken anything.  Apparently Raa hadn’t either as he walked off the field with me and didn’t wheeze or limp. The guy who hit us split his lip deeply inside his mouth, but otherwise it seems he and his horse weren’t injured either.  I’m not sure I’ll ever get Zarahas on the field to umpire again, but if I do I’ll damn-sure carry a do-it-now persuader, a.k.a. whip. Now, of course, soreness has set in for both of us but, at least for me, it’s nothing a Jacuzzi and drugs can’t handle.  Chalk it up to another near-death experience for that charmed Arab Zarahas.