Sunday, August 30, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) is widely acclaimed for his paintings, the "Mona Lisa" and "Last Supper." He is also hailed as the archetype of the Renaissance man, as he was a polymath: a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer. What incredibly impresses me is the means by which Leonardo da Vinci became all of these things. Largely he was self-taught through observation and experimentation.


Study of Hydraulic Machines

Study of Man

Study of Gradations of Shadows on Spheres

Study of the Female Anatomy

Study of Water

Study of a Flying Machine

Although da Vinci studied painting with the renowned Florentine painter, Verrochio, his art, engineering and scientific inventions were greatly influenced by personal study, even though many of his inventions were largely unused in his day. If there is anything that is more damaging in our time it is the hampering of the young and old in the discovery and creative processes. Da Vinci lived to the ripe old age of 67 and never stopped inventing. One does not need to be licensed or learned at the university to discover new things. What one needs is an inquisitive mind and an environment to be, often one needs to create this for oneself oppositionally. But the many possibilities are worth it and inspiring indeed.

Being Helpful

If I Can Help Somebody

I can help somebody, as I pass along,
If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song,
If I can show somebody, how they're travelling wrong,
Then my living shall not be in vain.


My living shall not be in vain,
Then my living shall not be in vain
If I can help somebody, as I pass along,
Then my living shall not be in vain.

If I can do my duty, as a good man ought,
If I can bring back beauty, to a world up wrought,
If I can spread love's message, as the Master taught,
Then my living shall not be in vain.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Being Thankful

This image of George Thomas from Connecticut's Pequot tribe giving thanks to Senator Kennedy as he stood before the flag draped casket beside an honor guard was particularly moving for me. In our own way, through our various religious traditions, many of us thank God, I through Jesus Christ, for the life and work of Senator Edward Kennedy.

Rest in eternal peace, dear senator.

We thank you.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Being a Detroiter

My hometown, Detroit, has produced great industries and iconic artists for many years. But it has declined over the years and the latest financial crisis has nearly devastated the city. Detroit's unemployment rate tops 25%. This post features Kid Rock as an angel in his effort to bring employment to Detroit. Now, if we can only get the elected officials to do their job and the people of Detroit to believe in themselves again, a turnaround can indeed begin.

The decline of the auto industry has played a major role in the economic state of Detroit, but it cannot alone bear the responsibility. The people of Detroit and its elected officials, more than a few have been indicted and convicted of crimes, must also be held accountable for the city's decline. The small things, which aren't so small, like cleaning up the trash on your block and participating in community policing programs, are things that can be done in an economic downturn.

When did being without become being irresponsible and inactive?

Detroit, and many other cities throughout the country, can be great again, but it will take a partnership between the people, elected officials and business to turn things around. It will require ethical decisions and personal responsibility. It will take a major push to combat apathy and helplessness. A vision is needed that does not require being lead by elected officials, but leading. The people must lead in this partnership. After all, the services of the government and the success of business sales and services depend on the people.

Here is what Kid Rock is doing:

May God bless Kid Rock for his leadership, and the people of Detroit and other cities throughout the country who need hope and a vision to begin again. On some level we can all identify with the the challenges of starting over. But if we, individually and collectively, do what we can while keeping the faith, this is a good start.

Being Happy III

"Love is the condition in which the happiness
of another person is essential to your own."

--Robert Heinlein

Show love to someone today. Your own happiness depends on it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Being at Peace

"Peace be still." There is peace in the eye of the storm.

Perspective matters.

Being a Democracy II

"You can't have a democracy without an informed public."

--Helen Thomas, White House Press Correspondent for 57 years

In this sense, are we a democracy?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Being Senator Edward Kennedy

"Conscience is a man's compass."

--Vincent Van Gogh

We are most grateful for the conscience of Senator Kennedy, that 'true compass,' that led him to fight tirelessly for "the least of these" for over 40 years.

RIP, dear senator

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Being Nassim Nicholas Taleb XI

President Obama reappointed Ben Bernanke chairman of the Federal Reserve today. If you have read this blog, I have not been a great fan on President Obama's economic team, Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, along with Ben Bernanke, as they are largely the reason that we are currently in this economic mess.

Having written more than a few posts here on the financial crisis, it seems imperative that we hear and employ ideas from outside of the current system. Nassim Nicholas Taleb succintly outlines why he is no fan of "the triplets" as he calls them on a recent appearance on "Morning Meeting with Dylan Ratigan."

Let's look at them. They don't seem to understand risk. They have their models and were blinded by their models. The first person not to understand risk is Larry Summers ... [L]ook at Harvard's finances, all right? He is going to do to us what he did to Harvard?

Second one, look at Geithner. In the rare instance in which you have to look at someone's behavior, the gentleman's house, he couldn't understand the risk of the real estate market? That the house could drop in value? Look at him. He is stuck with his house. Look at the numbers. You can see a lot of jokes on the way with someone with these mortgages.

The third person is Bernanke. We're giving more power to the Fed, who got us here?
These are biting words, but true nonetheless. We need more voices out there like Nassim Nicholas Taleb who speak against the current failed system and ask simple questions that rally the people. The question is...are we listening? In order for our voices to be heard in Washington we have to first understand "what's going on."

Being Neither Left or Right

For most rational people there is no left or right really. There are only discerning thoughts. The problem is that politics play such a crucial role in getting such thoughts disseminated broadly that even thoughtful discerning people often get caught up in taking all sides against all others. But in the process we often lose all rationality. This mentality should be rejected outright.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Being Marvin Gaye

Here is my favorite singer, Marvin Gaye, in a live performance of "What's Going On." The lyrics to this song are great too. He asks a pertinent question that we should each be asking today: "What's going on right now, people?"

Here is 9:05 minutes of pure perfection.

"What's Going On"

Mother, mother
There's too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There's far too many of you dying
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today - Ya

Father, father
We don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today

Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what's going on
What's going on
Ya, what's going on
Ah, what's going on

In the mean time
Right on, baby
Right on
Right on

Father, father, everybody thinks we're wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Simply because our hair is long
Oh, you know we've got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today

Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
Talk to me
So you can see
What's going on
Ya, what's going on
Tell me what's going on
I'll tell you what's going on - Uh
Right on baby
Right on baby

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

"It is a great consolation for me to remember that the Lord, to whom I had drawn near in humble and child-like faith, has suffered and died for me, and that He will look on me in love and compassion."

--Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Many times our belief in God is not as assured as we might like or think. Crises often reveal this. Many times our belief is shaken. "Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief." Often times we deny Him by simply lacking faith in ourselves. "All things are possible to those who believe." But the beauty here is that God forever looks on us with "love and compassion" in spite of our belief.

God is love. "Ye are gods." You are love.

Being Arianna Huffington X

Arianna Huffington asked a very good question on her "Sunday Roundoff" that made me both laugh hysterically and think.

Bernie Madoff's mistress warmed the hearts of Freudians everywhere with her revelation that the famous felon "had a very small penis. Not only was it on the short side, it was small in circumference." Is that why he needed to sport the biggest Ponzi in history?
Hmm? Could this also be partially the reason for war and other kinds of male aggression? That's not the first time that's been asked.

To compensate so, this penis thing seems so very misguided, eh?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Being Anti-Semitic

My great-grandfather, who is also the grandfather of my mom's cousin, Richard Pryor, is Jewish and I must say that I am outraged at the anti-Semitic words and tone on display at these town halls. Even if my great-grandfather was an Irish Catholic I would be just as outraged. There are no words really to describe the woman who screamed "Heil Hitler" at an Israeli man who was discussing the health care system in his country.

This is exactly the kind of anti-Semitic racist tone that is being set at these town halls, killing two birds with one stone, defacing President Obama posters, depicting him as Hitler and thus degrading African Americans, and shouting inflammatory racists terms, degrading Jews. How insidious to transform such an evil one who murdered and nullified these same ones. Honestly, the ignorance is so pervasive at these town halls it may not have even been rationalized in this way. Nevertheless, the impact remains and it points to the insidiousness of racism.

What we are witnessing is the same racist spirit that was very present at the McCain/Palin rallies, epitomized by the blonde middle-aged woman in red who uttered that purposeful disdainful phrase, "He's a Muslim," to the tea parties to the town halls today. While we may have freedom of speech, such freedoms may also be our unraveling. By this I mean, if those of us who are rational thoughtful caring human beings do not outright condemn such language and posters we are condoning this kind of behavior.

When this woman yelled "Heil Hitler" at the Israeli the poor man couldn't believe it. He tried to express himself rationally by saying "I want to talk, not against Obama or for Obama. I want to talk about [health care]." She didn't care about what he had to say in the very least. She continued with her irrational racist babbling. If the Republicans do not come out in numbers and say that they condemn such language and posters, they are condoning this behavior and these actions. Silence sanctions.

Being an Irrational Gun-Toting Second Amendment Citizen

Bob Stone has written a great post, What's with all the guns??, regarding ethics and those who are carrying semi-automatic guns at presidential events. On his blog I asked a simple question that I would like to also ask here: If there was a group of law-abiding black men from Detroit in a suburban city who carried visible semi-automatic weapons in a public square because they had the right to do so when President Bush was in office, how would this have been viewed by law enforcement and by those in the crowd?

Might these black men have been arrested on the spot? Might they have dispersed the crowd automatically? (No pun intended.) The visibility of these semi-automatic weapons and all others is just so incredibly frightening no matter who's carrying them or who's in office. We're not even allowed to shout fire in a crowded theater, right? Perhaps we need some kind of law that would prohibit such guns within a certain proximity of presidential events.

Being Barney Frank

Monday, August 17, 2009

Being Gertude Stein

If I told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso

If I told him would he like it. Would he like it if I told him.
Would he like it would Napoleon would Napoleon would would he like it.
If Napoleon if I told him if I told him if Napoleon. Would he like it if I told him if I told him if Napoleon. Would he like it if Napoleon if Napoleon if I told him. If I told him if Napoleon if Napoleon if I told him. If I told him would he like it would he like it if I told him.
Not now.
And now.
Exactly as as kings.
Feeling full for it.
Exactitude as kings.
So to beseech you as full as for it.
Exactly or as kings.
Shutters shut and open so do queens. Shutters shut and shutters and so shutters shut and shutters and so and so shutters and so shutters shut and so shutters shut and shutters and so. And so shutters shut and so and also. And also and so and so and also.
Exact resemblance to exact resemblance the exact resemblance as exact as a resemblance, exactly as resembling, exactly resembling, exactly in resemblance exactly a resemblance, exactly and resemblance. For this is so. Because.
Now actively repeat at all, now actively repeat at all, now actively repeat at all.
Have hold and hear, actively repeat at all.
I judge judge.
As a resemblance to him.
Who comes first. Napoleon the first.
Who comes too coming coming too, who goes there, as they go they share, who shares all, all is as all as as yet or as yet.
Now to date now to date. Now and now and date and the date.
Who came first Napoleon at first. Who came first Napoleon the first. Who came first, Napoleon first.
Exactly do they do.
First exactly.
Exactly do they do too.
First exactly.
And first exactly.
Exactly do they do.
And first exactly and exactly.
And do they do.
At first exactly and First exactly and do they do.
The first exactly.
And do they do.
The first exactly.
At first exactly.
First as exactly.
At first as exactly.
As presently.
As as presently.
He he he he and he and he and and he and he and he and and as and as he and as he and he. He is and as he is, and as he is and he is, he is and as he and he and as he is and he and he and and he and he.
Can curls rob can curls quote, quotable.
As presently.
As exactitude.
As trains.
Has trains.
Has trains.
As trains.
As trains.
As proportions as presently.
Father and farther.
Was the king or room.
Farther and whether.
Was there was there was there what was there was there what was there was there there was there.
Whether and in there.
As even say so.
I land.Two.
I land.
The land.
The land.
The land.
I land.
I land.
I land.
I land.
As a so.
They cannot.
A note.
They cannot.
A float.
They cannot.
They dote.
They cannot.
They as denote.
Miracles play.
Play fairly.
Play fairly well.
A well.
As well.
As or as presently.
Let me recite what history teaches. History teaches.

--Gertude Stein

Being President Barack Obama X

There has been a lot of talk over the weekend about there not being a public option in the health care reform bill. If President Obama does not deliver on a public option for We the People when it is clear that most Americans want an option with the majority of Democrats in the House and Senate, will he not render himself ineffectual, incapable of leading effectively thereafter? After all, President Obama promised that he would not sign a bill that did not include a public option. According to Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services Secretary, a public option is "not the essential element." If this is President Obama's new position, I'm not feeling terribly good about his leadership today.

Being James Baldwin

"I love America more than any other country in this world and exactly for this reason I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually."

-- James Baldwin

Being a Treat

Watching a video of one of my favorite actors, Frances McDormand, and the Coen brothers something struck me profoundly at the end of the clip. When asking about Billy Bob Thornton, a main character in the Coen brothers' movie, "The Man Who Wasn't There," Ethan Coen, described him as "a treat." Even before any descriptive, a pleasurable laugh was made by all. I loved this.

The beauty for me here is the pure pleasure that was evoked through smiles and laughter at the mere mention of Thornton's name. McDormand even said that he felt like a "family member." How wonderful is that? McDormand also noted that even though Thornton himself is a writer and director that he never sought to usurp his role in this setting. He was an actor. There is a beautiful humility here and a great lesson. Thornton will undoubtedly work with the Coen brothers again. The atmosphere changed at the mention of his name.

Looking at the clip I could not help but to wonder if we are really conscious of the impression we are leaving whether at home or work. Do others enjoy our company? Would they like to work with us again? Here's another thought that came to me: Isn't it funny that Thornton is sometimes viewed in the media as complicated and uneasy? Yet, he is described in the clip as being "so easy" to work with. I never bought into that negative stereotype anyway. While Thornton undoubtedly has his ways, as we all do, I always viewed him as the consummate professional. His body of work proves this.

So, I had to ask myself after watching this video today: What impressions are you leaving?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

e.e. cummings

Being Expectant

"Everyday of your life should be filled with expectancy and expectancy should never be based on what seems probable."

--Rob Ellis

Expect much and think big!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Being a Profiteer of War

How is it that the economy has worsened during two major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when it benefited during WWI and WWII? While not being an advocate of an "industrial military complex," President Eishenhower warned of, or the lost of any life, I seek to know who benefits most economically. I'd like to know the history of profits from war. During the WWI and WWII the people benefited through production and industry. Now, it seems that individual benefits, as many jobs seem to have been outsourced and the people who are benefiting most are the corporate executives like those at Halliburton and Blackwater who pocket the wealth largely, hiring workers in developing countries such as India as contractors. In this sense, I'd like to know who is really "fighting" the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Would the death count be much higher if more Americans were indeed on the ground in these places in various capacities? Even our war efforts seem to be outsourced.

How clever is that--to put foreign nationals on the ground as contractors in war zones? Do we not have the stomach for the 318,274 men who died during WWII for wars today that no one except the profiteers of such really know why we are there and when we will leave? Who is counting the number of these contractors who are in support of the U.S. but are not citizens of it? Really, why did someone as knowledgeable as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld feel as if so few numbers of American could win a war in Iraq? The extraordinary thing about it is Americans do not seem to be benefiting en masse from our "military industrial complex." The beneficiaries seem to be corporate executives who profit from war, who pocket billions for themselves while the country benefits by far less if at all. Think Iraq. Think Afghanistan. The country has not benefited from industry in this war, individuals have. Is this the reason for the warmongering the former Vice-President Cheney propogated?

It must be abundantly clear that I am not in favor of a "military industrial complex." What I seek to do here is mainly ask questions as to whether our "military industrial complex" has become an "outsourced industrial complex" where corporate executives benefit most and unnamed unaccounted "soldiers" die by thousands. The non-benefit to the economy has gotten me wondering how much of war is outsourced. Without the support of non-nationals, could a war even began to be fought or won? It seems like there remains a "military industrial complex" but one that limits industry in the US, increases the wealth of individuals, and causes the deaths of countless of foreign contractors without which the US soldiers could not effectively operate.

Have we become profiteers of war?

Being Santioned by Silence

The Republican leadership is sanctioning the "death panel" lies and racist and facist posters of President Obama by their silence. A few in Congress have come out and spoken against these tactics, but by far more need to step up and condemn them. Silence sanctions.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Being Ayn Rand II

In thinking of Ayn Rand I am reminded that we are all products of our environment. Let me say outright, as I have already said here in more than a few posts, that I am a big fan of Rand's towering intellect and literary capacity. How can anyone not be? Think Fountainhead. Think Atlas Shrugged. But our past often shapes the here and now and our futures. Rand's past included some harrowing inequities associated with tyranny seems to have affected her outlook. This is obvious in her writing.

Rand's philosophy of rugged individualism, laissez-faire capitalism and her fierce ideas of freedom can probably be associated with the tyranny of the Bolsheviks. Her absolute unequivocal support of free markets is probably due to her past. Okay. That was her reality which came to bear on some great thoughts and actions. But why must we take the whole of the past and forever associate it with the here and now and build a future on it? We perhaps do this more readily as a mere philosophy, an ideology which may or may not affect actuality.

The wise thing seems to be to make adjustments along the way. People and systems are imperfect. We can go to the extreme in one way or another for great lengths of time to the detriment of many. Ego and protectionism probably play unyielding roles here. We can go on ad infinitum doing things that are detrimental for fear of change, unwillingness to back down, or admit wrong. We all understand this on very personal levels. What were those seven deadly sins again: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride? Balance is needed; regulation is needed too of the personal and professional kind, of the individual and collective.

There is no problem with Rand's grand philosophy, especially considering the particular time in history and the perspective from which she writes. The surprising thing, however, is our inability to see what a thing has become anytime in history and make needed adjustments along the way. All systems are the outgrowth of natural inclinations in need of regulations and constant adjustments. All systems come from us, our histories, our impulses, our environments. The market is us. Society is us. Communion is us.

The Wealth of Nations seems akin to the natural self-driven impulses of man. These impulses can be seen in every system, capitalism socialism or communism. The question is how should we continue in ways that are equitable for all while not hampering freedom? There's nothing new here. What perhaps needs to be new is how we look at changing times with the backdrop of history and forward thinking of the whole—which is now much more global.

How was the The Wealth of Nations built? It seems that it was literally built on the backs of others. Whatever the system, the people's back was bent while a few others largely prospered, even when industry benefitted a nation. Think China and India now. Think Persia, Russia, England, Rome, America then. The question becomes what will get us to understand the golden rule of loving our neighbors, those who are near us, as ourselves? And with technology and globalism our neighbors are increasingly nearer. No system seems to have embraced this rule consistently. This rule requires individual and collective checks and balances constantly. The question is how do we do this? A good start is small consistent advances personally and professionally, aided by regulation and law and an even stronger sense of ethics.

Being Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Mrs. Kennedy Shriver swims with young mentally challenged children in 1964 in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. The founder of the Special Olympics did not hear the outside noise discriminating against the mentally challenged or ethnic minority. She went directly to the heart of these matters and made a change. May God continue to bless her work and may God bless her children as they continue her great legacy. R.I.P

Being an Islamic Youth in War

Watching Christine Amanpour's special, "Generation Islam," on Muslim youth in Iraq and Afghanistan early in the wee hours of the morning, I wept in sorrow intermittently for the lost of innocence. I wept in anger intermittently for our role in such destruction. Who will protect these? Who will love these? God is love.

Being Amid Darkness

"When it is dark enough, you can see the stars."

--Charles Austin Beard

In dark times look up and be encouraged!

Being Outside of Ourselves

Wholly stepping outside of ourselves is questionable. I am not sure if we ever really do this, though we like to think that this is possible and that we are able to do so effectively--you know, that walking in the shoes of others thing. But what I know for sure is that in merely pracitising stepping outside of ourselves we hear others better and through this hearing we ourselves are challenged and changed and are made better. I am humbled when I hear others in this way and in so doing hear myself.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Being Divisive

The health care debates are not debates, but divisive disturbances. The organizers and attendees seem to seek to polarize the country more and return politics to the Willie Horton days where a single ad depicting a black man represents the whole of black men who will come into white neighborhoods and wreak unspeakable crimes. It worked. George H. Bush, the moderate conservative, was elected in 1988. But what the ad did was by far worse than the debate of the death penalty or the election of any one president. It caused divisiveness.

Here is the brilliant Noam Chomsky being interviewed by the brilliant William F. Buckley in a rational debate. The beauty here is that although both men are at two ideological spectrums there is a decorum and rationality present. There is a certain respect for difference. A beautiful point that Chomsky makes is that if we do not stand up and call what is obviously wrong wrong we are co-conspirators in unjust acts and are even worse for allowing such to take root.

Listening to Chomsky's words, I could not help but to think of the Republican leaders in Washington that have passively sanctioned the lies and racist images being propagated by conservative radio talk show hosts and conservative fringe groups at town halls by not speaking out against them. Where there is no condemnation of such outrages lies, misconceptions and images, there is a tacit acceptance and agreement of such. This is what has been the most shameful for me in this health care "debate." The tactics of the Republican party for getting elected and defeating bills have been very shameful. Stoking the worse fears seems to be their modus operandi.

In this health care debate I find it particularly interesting that those at town halls the attendees are calling President Obama a fascist and caring posters of the president as Hitler. But it is their actions that refuse to allow others to be heard that is aligned with fascism as well as their outright lies and scare tactics in order to mobilize an irrational mob following to defeat a bill that they could not rationally explain if you gave them a million dollars. This is not debate, but divisive disturbances that does not aide democracy.

Being Passionate about Busting Loose

What are you passionate about? Do you feel like Busting Loose? You can do it! Do your thing whatever it is. But the lyrics offer wise advice in its opening: "Keep what you got until you get what you need y'all." Bustin' loose effectively requires both wisdom and passion. Although, sometimes straight up busting loose from hindering restraints is also necessary. Whatever you do bust loose!

Busting Loose

Keep what you got
Until you get what
You need y'all

You got to give a lot
Just to get what
You need sometimes y'all

Gimme the bridge now

I feel like busting loose
Busting loose
Gimme the bridge now

I feel like busting loose
Busting loose now

Busting loose in the evening
Busting loose can be pleasing
Talking bout busting loose

Busting loose in the meantime
Busting loose makes you feel fine
Talking bout busting loose

Busting loose to my love jones
Busting loose to each his own
Talking bout busting loose y'all

Busting loose to my love jones
Busting loose to each his own
Gimme the bridge y'all

I feel like busting loose
Busting loose now
Log on to kill this message.
Gimme the bridge y'all

I feel like busting loose
Gimme the bridge now
Gimme the bridge now

I feel like busting loose
Busting loose

I said sha la, come on
Y'all said (put your money down)
I said, sha la, get it
Y'all said (put your money down)
I said sha la, come on
Y'all said (put your money down)
I said sha la, hit it
Y'all said (put your money down)
Gimme the bridge now

Now I feel like busting loose
Give me the bridge, y'all
Give me the bridge, y'all now

Now I feel like busting loose
Busting loose now

Busting loose when you want to deal
Busting loose doing what you feel
Talking bout busting loose, girl

Busting loose when you want to deal
Busting loose doing what you feel
Talking bout busting loose now

Busting loose when you want to sing
Busting loose, baby, do your thing
Talking bout busting loose, girl

Busting loose when you want to sing
Busting loose, baby, do your thing
Give me the bridge, y'all

Give me the bridge, y'all
Give me the bridge now now

I feel like busting loose
Busting loose now

Get, get, get, get, get, get on down
(Get, get, get, get, get, get on down)
Get, get, get, get, get, get on down
(Get, get, get, get, get, get on down)
Get, get, get, get, get, get on up, y'all
(Get, get, get, get, get, get on down)

Get, get, get, get, get, get on down
(Get, get, get, get, get, get on down)
Get, get, get, get, get, get on up, y'all
(Get, get, get, get, get, get on down)
Get, get, get, get, get, get on down
(Get, get, get, get, get, get on down)

Get, get, get, get, get, get on up, y'all
(Get, get, get, get, get, get on down)
Get, get, get, get, geton down, down, down
Get, get, get, get, get, get on down)

Get, get, get, get, get, get on up, y'all
(Get, get, get, get, get, get on down)
Get, get, get, get, get, get on down
(Get, get, get, get, get, get on down)

I feel like busting loose
Give me the bridge now
Give me the bridge now now

I feel like busting loose
Busting loose now

I feel like busting loose
Busting loose, y'all

Freak, freak-a-deek (5x)
Ah, freak, y'all
Freak, freak-a-deek (2x)
Ah, freak now
Freak, freak-a-deek (3x)
Ah, freak now
Freak, freak-a-deek (6x)
Oh, I like that part there now

Freak, freak-a-deek (4x)
What's that new dance
Y'all doing there
Freak, freak-a-deek (10x)
God Almighty

Freak, freak-a-deek (4x)
Oh, go on now
Freak, freak-a-deek
Freak, freak-a-deek

Hey, Leroy, give me some
Of that horn right here
Sound a little horn
Well, well

Got to do it again
So you got to do it again
Hey, hey
Give me some of that
Good Lord, hit it

-- Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers

Gotta love that funky beat, eh?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Being Senator Grassley

Senator Grassley proves himself to be a hypocrite and a liar. It is apparent why he is propagating a lie that the government wants to "pull the plug on grandma." After receiving 2 million dollars from the insurance industry, it is clear whose side he's on.

Arianna Huffington suggested that Senator Grassley be censored by the Senate for this lie. After all, he is a sitting senator, not merely a crazed town hall wingnut or the former governor of Alaska.

Being Autistic

When my beautiful niece, Soma, was just a wee one, I noticed right away that she was not as observant and responsive as she might have been. I mentioned it to my mother. For a little while my sister seemed somewhat in denial and I could not speak with her about it. But eventually she accepted the fact that Soma was not like the rest of her children and needed particular attention. She began taking steps to see that Soma had the best education possible. Because Soma is in the best school district in her area she is mainstreamed and gets the best one on one attention in each class.
It's amazing how well Soma has improved over the years. Soma's now 14. Like her sister, Delores, she is lean and tall. Delores wants to go into the performing arts. She wants to be an actor and model. The extraordinary thing is that Delores has to work twice as hard as Soma to remember her lines for school plays. Soma can listen to a movie once and memorize all the parts of the entire movie. Delores thinks that this is unfair. But I have reminded Delores that everybody doesn't get everything. It was a great example in the diversity of gifts of which all should be respected and appreciated.

Being Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus' Grameen Bank has changed the lives of many poor people of Bangladesh through micro-financing. Today he will receive the highest civilian honor, The Presidential Medal of Freedom. The White House released this announcement:

Dr. Muhammad Yunus is a global leader in anti-poverty efforts, and has pioneered the use of "micro-loans" to provide credit to poor individuals without collateral. Dr. Yunus, an economist by training, founded the Grameen Bank in 1983 in his native Bangladesh to provide small, low-interest loans to the poor to help better their livelihood and communities. Despite its low interest rates and lending to poor individuals, Grameen Bank is sustainable and 98% percent of its loans are repaid – higher than other banking systems. It has spread its successful model throughout the world. Dr. Yunus received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work.
With such sustainability and 98% of loans being repaid, maybe Wall Street should take notice. Of course, Yunus' model is not only profitable but serves its borrowers. Can Wall Street ever serve its borrowers when its modus operandi is essentially themselves?

Being Stephen Hawking

One of the persons that I admire most is the physicist, Stephen Hawking. Tonight Dr. Hawking will receive the highest civilian award in the US, The Presidential Medal of Freedom. When he was informed that he would be presented with the award, he responded:

I am delighted and honoured to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is a great privilege to be awarded the Medal, especially by President Obama, whom I admire deeply. I am very much looking forward to travelling to Washington to meet this remarkable man and to receive the Medal of Freedom on behalf of myself, my family, my friends and my colleagues in science worldwide.
Another recipient could not be found more worthy. Congratulations, Dr. Hawking, and continued blessings!

Being Blackwater

Something seems amiss with Blackwater, known now as XE--pronounced zee, the military government contractor with some $800 million dollars in government contracts. Today The New York Times reports that "Iraqi officials have long complained about what they have called indiscriminate gunfire by private security forces hired by Americans. The Iraqi government sought to revoke Blackwater's license to operate in the country in September 2007, after gunfire from a convoy killed 17 people, most of them civilians...Iraqi officials were adamant that private contractors no longer have immunity for their actions...In January 2009, the Iraqi government indicated it would not renew Blackwater’s operating license. The Iraqi government has sought in the past to expel Blackwater over concerns of inappropriate use of force."

Listening to Congresswoman Schakowsky, I was amazed. How is it that military contracts are given to any organization and it is not known what they are doing and how they are doing it? While the who (Blackwater) of the contract is important, what and how they are operating is equally as important. There have even been reports of unauthorized weapons being used. Are there any responsible governments or corporations who would allow free reign of any organization, contract or not? In "January 2009, the Iraqi government indicated it would not renew Blackwater’s operating license. The Iraqi government has sought in the past to expel Blackwater over concerns of inappropriate use of force."

According to The Nation "a former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."

The reports by these men seem plausible, especially if consideration is given to his Christian right conservative rearing. NPR, reports that "Prince, the heir to a Michigan auto-parts fortune, has close ties to the Republican Party and conservative Christian groups. He began his career with a stint as an officer in the U.S. Navy SEALs, and co-founded Blackwater in 1997 with other former commandos. His family's wealth made it possible for the then 27-year-old Prince to fund the Blackwater start-up with his own money...Prince grew up in Holland, Mich., where his father, Edgar Prince, built Prince Corporation, an auto-parts company that based its success on novel products, such as the lighted vanity mirror for car window visors. The elder Prince was a close friend and supporter of Christian evangelists, such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family, as well as a contributor to the Republican Party. He was an early benefactor of the Family Research Council." Erik Prince is the brother-in-law of Richard Devos, heir to the Amway fortune, another Christian right conservative

The change of a name does not change a thing. We should want to know more about Blackwater, aka Xe, and demand that our government officials know what and how military government contractors are fulfilling their contractual agreement.

Being Bank of America and Merrill Lynch

Kenneth Lewis, CEO of Bank of America, and John Thain, former CEO of Merrill Lynch, are not new to this blog. I have written of both of them here before. Perhaps now justice will be served for the apparent unethical dealings that both of these men seemed to have been engaged in. According to the New York Times federal judge, Jed. S. Rakoff, "on Monday sharply criticized the bonuses that Merrill Lynch hurriedly paid out before it was acquired by Bank of America last year and pointedly questioned a federal settlement that had seemed to put the issue to rest."

Is it not high time that Wall Street be held accountable for its unethical business practices with the money taxpayers gave them which was used to pay out big executive bonuses of $3.6 billion? Obviously Judge Rakoff thought so. He "was scathing about the settlement, in which the S.E.C. accused Bank of America of misleading its shareholders...Bank of America and Merrill Lynch...'effectively lied to their shareholders.' The $3.6 billion in bonuses paid by Merrill as the ailing brokerage giant was taken over by the bank was effectively 'from Uncle Sam.'"

Congress and the American people spoke out against the bonuses. But is Congress not culpable? Why didn't they restrict these bonuses before a bailout was given or the acquisition by Bank of America allowed? Merrill Lynch "lost $27 billion dollars" the year before the bonuses and bailout were given. By the way, Bank of America made off like bandits with two portions instead of one of the multi-billion dollar bailout at low government interest rate while not changing the interest rates of its customers. The yield curve is great.

Instead of limiting bonuses, we heard a lot about the important of maintaining previous contracts, as if as without a bailout and merger Merrill Lynch such contracts would have even been significant. With such loses, Merrill Lynch would have been no more. Plus, who gets a bonus in the real world for bankrupting their company? Judge Rakoff asked a very pertinent question. "Do Wall Street people expect to be paid large bonuses in years when their company lost $27 billion?"

Being Greedy

This seems very surreal, doesn't it? But is this really the way many of us have been living our lives daily? Or, is it just a few?

Perhaps this is the reason for the name of the movie, "Wall Street."

Ya think?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Being a Daddy

Dear Daddy,

You and me, we’ve shared so many memories and even more laughs.
How about we take a second and think a little bit about the

You’ve been right by my side, from little problems to big mistakes
from silly little crushes to tear dropping heartbreaks.

You’ve watched me make new friends, and ditch some old,
No matter what I’ve been through your hands have always been there to hold.

You’ve told me no, but not as often as you tell me yes,
you’ve always taught me and Julian to give our best.

From daddy daughter dances to my senior prom
you’ve held your composure with a little help from mom.

Somehow you’ve dealt with the sleepovers full of giggling girls,
to me hogging the bathroom on Sunday mornings because I need the perfect curl.

You’ve always taught me to be strong,
and face my problem head on.

You tell me to never give in,
because on you and God I can always depend.

When I was little you’d come in my room at night and we’d get on our knees and pray
and even though I’m in college now you still remind me that prayer is the only way to end my day.

I remember when I was younger and baked cookies using just flour and water,
even though it was disgusting you ate them for your daughter.

How about the time you came to help out in my second grade class and because of your tall height (compared to us) and your short hair
everybody thought you were Michael Jordan, the basketball player.

One thing I love about you is that you’ve always been the best dad you could ever be, and I also love how you let me off punishment when I shed a few tears and gave a pouty plea.

I’m a Daddy’s girl, yes its true. But I wouldn’t want to be the daughter, of anybody but you.

I love you Daddy,


(This is a poem that my niece, Raven, recently wrote for her dad, my brother, Reuben.)

Being in Afghanistan

Can someone please tell me why we are in Afghanistan? If the answer is essentially the former president's response of taking a "just" war to them so they won't bring their "holy" war to us, can someone please tell me like I'm a two-year old what is the plan and exit strategy? Doesn't war just seem unjust and unholy?

Being Democratic

When has not allowing others to express their opinions democratic? What is occurring at these town hall meetings is not democratic and it's frankly un-patriotic. Democracy requires discussion and patriotism that considers diverse opinions. Is this not a democratic country? Why not have a democratic discussion on health care instead of uproarious irrationality?

Being a Wise Woman or Old Fool

Early this morning watching C-Span I thought that I was in a time capsule. Phyllis Schlafly, the 84 year-old conservative and founder of the Eagle Forum, who was against the Equal Rights Amendment, spewed lies about the health care bill, including the death of elderly people and abortion on demand, and about President Obama. "Everything that Obama is supporting in the health care bill is bad," Schlafly said. "He never had a job. He was a community organizer." As I listened to her, I wondered if she had ever listened to President Obama's vast knowledge on so many issues during press conferences. She probably doesn't even care and prefers to believe lies. Mrs. Schlafly was being given lifetime award.

I find it very difficult that Mrs. Schlafly does not know that the so called "death panel" provision in the health care bill that would kill seniors is lie. It is actually giving end of life decision to the families and others and reducing ineffeciencies and waste. Surely she chooses to believe that President Obama was a constitutional scholar at the University of Chicago, civil rights lawyer, and senator, chosen by the People, before he became the President of the United States in a landslide victory. I remember my mother saying to us growing up, "honor the hoary head." Mrs. Schlafly's head is indeed hoary but I must admit that it is very difficult to honor such a one.

As I listened to the hate being spewed, I was deeply saddened by the young college women in the audience. I wondered if they really believed Mrs. Schlafly's words. Many shook their heads in agreement. Seniors should be wise, right? They should be credible, right? "Age should teach wisdom," right? The conditional clause here is important here. "Don't waste your time on women study courses," she told this audience of young women. She ended with rousing words about Ronald Reagan's refusal to bow to the Soviet Union, making a parallel to the Republican Party. "We win. They lose," she exclaimed.

What do you think? Are these the words of a wise woman or old fool? If Mrs. Schlafly was not influencing the lives of young women and was retiring somewhere, I would not even be writing about her today and I would wish her good health. But while I sincerely wish her good health and happiness, I do not wish her well in her efforts. Being passionate about young people, I am not only alarmed by Mrs. Schalfy's words but saddened by them because of their possible influence on impressionable minds.

Being Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods has been fined for making a rather supportive statement about the game of his competition during the Bridgestone Invitational. He broke the rules by speaking publicly against a call made by the referee in support of his competitor, even though he had won the tournament.

According to an article by the Associated Press after Woods and Paddington were timed by the chief European referee, John Paramor, Woods "was bothered after his four-shot victory Sunday because he and Padraig Harrington were put on the clock at the par-5 16th. He said that caused Harrington to rush three difficult shots, leading to triple bogey."

Woods told Harrington after the match, "I'm sorry that John got in the way of a great battle." Woods, the winner, wanted a fair match. He said, "I don't think that Paddy would have hit the pitch shot that way if he was able to take his time, look at it, analyze it. But he was on the clock, had to get up there quickly and hit it.
Harrington conceded he was rushed. Because Woods made this last statement publicly the PGA fined him.

According to the rules of the GPA players handbook, you can't criticize an official publicly. I must say that if I had to be fined, this is one way that would be acceptable. Woods may have broken the rules, but he did not do so out of some egotistical romp or in defense of himself. He did so rather gentlemanly in defense of his opponent. Wood is not known as a rabble-rouser or for breaking rules. But I guess this is why it is said that rules are meant to be broken.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

Reverend Wright worships in the story-telling tradition that my siblings and I grew up in on Sunday morning. The annual convention of churches throughout the US and the world, which included many thousands, is also reminiscent of my childhood. Our church alone had 10,000 members. The gatherings were spiritual, communal and affirming.

Such stories reminded us that no matter the situation that everything was going to be all right. Such stories reminded us that we were not alone. Such stories reminded us that there for the grace of God went each of us. Such stories reminded us of the importance of faith. Keep the faith!

Being Hillary Rodham Clinton III

How cool is this? The Secretary of State getting down with the locals! Do you see how low this 60 year-old gets?

Waaay cool, eh? But do you remember this? I couldn't help but to include it. It's a favorite.

Get down, Mr. President!

Being Favored

"Being favored is an act of investment."

--Rob Ellis

Having been infinitely invested into by those who believed in me my entire life, returning the favor to others is essential. In fact, the way to be favored is to show favor to others. Let's show favor to others. Favor breeds favor. It's an act of investment, an act of love.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Being a Senate Ethics Committee Member

Senator Chris Dodd (D) and Senator Kent Conrad (D) will not be investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee for going to some effort to get refinancing from Countrywide while they were a part of the committee that was handling the negotiations for this embattled lending institution that was so involved in the subprime mess. Many believe that Senators Dodd and Conrad were involved in a quid pro quo.

For me, I don't know if Senators Dodd and Conrad behaved unethically or not. I don't have all the facts. The point, however, arises if we can expect senators to judge other senators justly. I cannot help but to wonder that in a near all-boys club that it might be difficult to charge and indict your colleagues. Should we have independent committees for such grievances?

The Senate Ethics Committee's bar seems to be quite low. Senator David Vitter (R) had his ethics inquiry "dismissed without prejudice" even though he admitted to meeting with a prostitute while he was a congressman. Senator Larry Craig (R) got a public admonition after pleading guilty to bad behavior in a Minnesota airport bathroom. To solicit prostitute is criminal.

Can we expect the Senate Ethics Committee to be ethical towards its own members?

Being Outraged II

Reuters reports, according to the Wall Street Journal, that with the bailout of AIG "Wall Street banks and lawyers could collect nearly $1 billion in fees from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and American International Group Inc to help manage and break apart the insurer."

Is this simply outrageous in a company where the government, you and me, has an ownership stake of 80%, having already received some $180 billion dollars from taxpayers? Among those who could collect these big fees (people, in banking, in case you didn't know, it's all about the fees)...
"Morgan Stanley could collect as much as $250 million, the newspaper said, citing banking experts and documents released by the New York Fed. Bank of America Corp, private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, accounting firm Ernst & Young, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co are among others that have or could get big paydays for helping dismantle AIG."
Call me a conspiracy theorist if you want, but once you have been head of the New York Fed as, Timothy Geithner has, developing close relationships with these bankers and allowing poor oversight of the same, I wonder if there is a conflict of interest as the chief spokesperson on behalf of the People as the Treasury Secretary.

Not only did Timothy Geithner allow these banks to fly below the radar while engaging in activities that by any standard outside of Wall Street would be bogus as the head of the New York Fed, but with the breakup up AIG the fees that will be given are doubled than any other breakup in our history--this at a time where the country has been at the brink of financial collapse and in serious debt.

AIG seems to have been the distribution center for Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citibank, and Banks of America. All have gotten assignment to assist in the dismantling of AIG, not to mention that many of these have already gotten bailout money having been insured by AIG. The Wall Street journal reports that the AIG breakup will be four times the fees paid to break up AT&T Corp. in 1996, and nearly double those paid for Visa USA's 2008 initial public offering, the largest U.S. IPO ever. Is this not outrageous?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Being Known

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

--Jeremiah 1:5

During the most difficult times, I held on to this scripture, knowing that someone knew my name, that someone knew my purpose. Press forever forward.

After disappointments and failures and in the midst of seemingly loneliness, somebody knows you. Your purpose is being revealed every day. Press!

Being Ayn Rand

Earlier this week an astute young lady wrote a piece on Ayn Rand, "Tribute to the American Businessman", that was very thoughtful. I have long been a reader of Rand and very much appreciate her solid steal-trap mind. As with with all of us, our history weighs on our outlook. The fact that Rand grew up in Russia during the oppressive Bolshevik regime has undoubtedly influenced her lone voice of individualism and objectivism. Each person is responsible for his or her actions and the objectivity is sought after. This I understand. But the question is who's doing the objectifying? Usually a subjective being.

Besides individual responsibilities, there are collective responsibilities as well. There is individualism and collectivism. There is objectivism and subjectivism. There are those that encourage and enable us to do the right thing, that change or subjective sense. Others are important even in if they are examples of what not to do. Rand does acknowledge this. But it is always the case with such a one, even with Jesus Christ himself, that interpretations often prevail. Rand, though, without a doubt, has written enough so we can get a clear picture of what it meant by ojectivism.

It is indeed very difficult to be totally objective. Rand's philosophy itself points to this, even to the apparent destruction of her personal life. She had isolated so many people, even those who really cared for her. Having read more than a few biographies on her, it appears as if her individualism and intense objectivism perhaps caused her to objectify others. This is always a great danger. The danger is that is that objectivism or subjectivism relies on both us and others outside of ourselves to even be crystallized or understood. Other matter confirm or reject our understanding, whether they are present or absent, in the mind or actual, and how this is crystallized is how others receive it. Rand seemed to sometimes miss this very basic knowing.

Rand's work is appreciated very much, neither do I stand in judgment of her personal journey either. But it is important to consider sometimes the whole writer, especially in matters of philosophy. While Rand is an icon in the business world, former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan, was a friend and devotee, it is important to always consider that she was basically a philosopher and was not herself a businesswoman. Sometimes it's far easier to philosophize than to actualize. There is no disrespect intended here at all.

Most of us, philosophize instead of actualize often on a whole host of things. We are hearers and speakers and not doers. This, however, does not necessarily negate the truth of words if the words are spoken and not done. But it most certainly can negatively affect others, especially impressionable minds, and these are not merely kids and young people. Our existence here is not merely about us, but about others. So, in our speaking it is important that we seek to live out our words. But there is no ill-judgement from me, as I am well aware that we are on this journey at different places.

The desire to distinguish between philosophizing and actualizing is very important in business. It is not about whether one can have good ideas as I see it, but about whether these good ideas can be actualized in real settings where human relations matter most, even if all else is essential. For example, I can sit in my office day after day and think of brilliant ideas. If I never put those ideas to action, if I never test them which usually include other matter, what is the efficacy of the ideas? People matter. Other people and the philosophy by which we integrate our ideas are very important. But without action they are words words words. Faith (belief) without works (action) is dead."

If the mind alone is actualization, as Rand has been purported to believe, it can be a great detriment to business. The mind can be a debilitating crippling thing, even with, especially with a philosophy. The mind itself does not necessarily propel action. On a physiological level, if this was so paraplegics would be able to move their arms and legs and walk, as their mind alone would propel them to do so. They are certainly thoughtful.

While there are missing signals to the brain, paraplegics often say that they can walk, but they cannot. I am now thinking of the brilliant physicist, Stephen Hawking. He cannot even talk on his own, but his mind is more sharp and active than most. I am incredibly in awe of him. Hmm? I guess what he does would be most certainly considered action. He is also not a businessman, producing products or services in trade. His ideas, however, propel others into action, i.e., into space etc.

The immobility of our actions, yet the constant contemplating of our minds, often brings about a malaise in business. Thinking is never enough for anything. When considering children, if we do not teach them through our daily reinforcement of words and actions propelled by conscious thought, they would never be taught. They would not evolve beyond infancy even though their bodies will develop. The integration that Rand speaks of is one of the mind but requires action beyond it. As paraplegics there are many missing signals without action. The mind alone is not enough and it is often other matter that propels us to actualization. We are helpers one to another and this include matter of all kind. I learn from trees. "I see trees as men."

Here is Rand on objectivism:
You have no choice about the necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, your knowledge into abstract ideas, i.e., into principles. Your only choice is whether these principles are true or false, whether they represent your conscious, rational convictions – or a grab bag of notions snatched at random, whose sources, validity, context and consequences you do not know, notions which, more often than not, you would drop like a hot potato if you knew.

But the principles you accept (consciously or unconsciously) may clash with or contradict one another; they too have to be integrated. What integrates them? Philosophy. A philosophic system is an integrated view of existence. As a human being, you have no choice about the fact that you need a philosophy. Your only choice is whether you define your philosophy by a conscious, rational, disciplined process of thought and scrupulously logical deliberation, or let your subconscious accumulate a junk heap of unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined contradictions, undigested slogans, unidentified wishes, doubts and fears, thrown together by chance, but integrated by your subconscious into a kind of mongrel philosophy and fused into a single, solid weight: self doubt, like a ball and chain in the place where your mind’s wings should have grown.
- -Ayn Rand, 1974 "Philosophy: Who Needs It?"

Statements like these are the reasons I so admire Rand. She is a powerful thinker. It is clear that she understands the necessity of what Hegel wrote of and Sartre later determined as being in the world for oneself and being in the world for others. It is always a constant integration, often both known and unknown. It seems that Rand’s interest is lining up the subconscious so that action is better directed. The "ball and chain" about which she spoke is an undisciplined mind. But I know very many disciplined people who are a far cry from great entrepreneurs. In fact, many of my business friends who really are very successful in business did not even go to college. This may simply mean that there are various forms of discipline which in one sense undermines objectivism. If there are many objectivities, are these not subjectivities?

Rand's notion that the basics of capitalism is trade, instead of a coercion, is readily acknowledged. But to leave it up to the State or the markets, without regulation is to essentially have coercion. At the best of capitalism is freedom. This is the core of her philosophy that I so appreciate and this is what I was most referring to when I spoke of her history influencing her philosophy. From my very basic spiritual base there is no better system than capitalism, as choice is even the basics of my faith. But capitalism without restraint and a moral compass is destructive as we have seen. "Money answers all things."

Being Michael Jackson

Perfect Vocals
"Performer for All Time."

Here is perfection in a 10 year-old wearing a pretty purple hat.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Being Reunited

Laura Ling and Euna Lee have been returned to their families after spending 5 months in a North Korean prison. Thank God!

Has anybody heard about the return of Cynthia McKinney, former Congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate, who sits in an Israeli prison? She and other humanitarians were seeking to deliver goods to the Palestinians during the most recent Gaza conflict where 683 Palestinians were killed and some 3085 injured.

Here is a press release issued by McKinney:

We were in international waters on a boat delivering humanitarian aid to people in Gaza when the Israeli Navy ships surrounded us and illegally threatened us, dismantled our navigation equipment, boarded and confiscated the ship."

Immigration officials in Israel said they did not want to keep us, but we remain imprisoned.

State Department and White House officials have not effected our release or taken a strong public stance to condemn the illegal actions of the Israeli Navy of enforcing a blockade of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians of Gaza, a blockade that has been condemned by President Obama.
Perhaps President Clinton should be dispatched to Israel.

Here is McKinney on CNN after the incident. I think it might be clear why she still sits in prison. But should she remain in an Israeli prision because of her ideas?

If we sanction such, how will we ever grow as a nation? How will we ever grow as a community of nation states?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Being Eva Cassidy

Here is one of my very favorite singers for reasons that will undoubtedly be obvious to all. She touches the core. I have loved her from the moment I heard her voice and wept when I heard that she died at such a young age.

The honesty of her expression is heartfelt and heartwrenching; her tone is eternal. I have heard many renditions of this song and this is one of my favorites.

What do you think about it?

For me, it is like none of the others. She requires that you wait and feel. You can't be in a hurry. But if you wait, there is a reward. You hear yourself in stillness.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Being Outraged

Paul Krugman has a great article in the New York Times, "Rewarding Bad Actors" which begins with...

Americans are angry at Wall Street, and rightly so. First the financial industry plunged us into economic crisis, then it was bailed out at taxpayer expense. And now, with the economy still deeply depressed, the industry is paying itself gigantic bonuses. If you aren’t outraged, you haven’t been paying attention.
Are you outraged? I am! So, what are we going to do about it? Do read the whole article. I'd like to read your comments on it.

Being an Aunt II

Having written here more than a few times about the joy of being an aunt, I was delighted when my Aunt Hilda, who is the spitting image of my dad, sent me a beautiful picture of her and my Buddhist practising cousin, Sibyl, who has spent the last two years teaching in Ghana and before that in Japan and India, with her niece, Ehren. Sibyl is so proud to be an aunt and equally as proud that her very multi-cultural diverse religious experiences have merged in her beautiful niece who is half Jewish and will undoubtedly travel the world as we all have, valuing and respecting diverse cultures. We think Ehren is beautiful. We're glad she's here.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

The house that I live in is one that my beloved brother, Peter, bought when he was a young man. He passed four years ago and I have lived in the house for about two years. It is in a solid middle class suburban city just north of Detroit that's lined with massive oak trees that could tell many stories of the neighbors who have lived there for a very long time and those like my beautiful brother who have now gone on. Both of my neighbors have lived in their homes for the past 35 plus years and have raised their kids there. I have known their children for years.

I knew both neighbors quite well before I moved in, as I would visit my brother who was determined to stay in the house that he loved in spite of his much increased income. He worried not about keeping up with the Joneses or the Ellis's for that matter. (I think I have this same gene.) My siblings had all bought much larger homes that were further out in the suburbs. Peter always scoffed at moving and simply smiled at his siblings. He did not need a larger space; his space included a very large heart.

Both neighbors are seniors. They often tell me how wonderful Peter was. He shoveled their snow, took their trash out, and was their handyman whenever they needed one. Their eyes still moisten with tears and the few lines in their forehead increase a bit more when they speak of him. On Thursdays I take out their trash and recycling bins and collect them too. Mrs. Berber's recycling bin, the neighbor on the left, is often full of clanking wine bottles and because I knew Peter loved her and supported her especially, I pop over there more often to make sure everything is alright. Her husband passed 10 years ago.

Sometimes Mrs. Berber calls for me in the wee hours of the morning after she has fallen. (My numbers are on her refrigerator so she can find them readily.) I rush right over. During the day she is quite the elegant functioning alcoholic and her Sunday go-to-meeting getups are spectacular. Most would probably not even recognize her at night. She leaves all of her shades on my side up on purpose and I watch and listen for her. I visit the other neighbor less often but I still pop in. I am very careful not to mention one to the other.

My neighbors are fierce rivals who were once best friends. I gather from both of them that what happened between them cannot be forgiven. As with most long-held grudges, they're made of silly stuff. But as they are my elders I do not mention this. Earlier on I tried to interject the goodness of each. Both of them were simply not hearing it. Each was wicked and untrustworthy if I only really knew the other. But I find them both rather nice, even though both have their ways. Everybody does. I wondered how Peter dealt with this situation. Being quite wise, I'm sure he probably said absolutely nothing to one about the other. I decided to do what he might have done and refused to be dragged into their dispute. It has served me well.

As I pulled up in my driveway last week, the neighbor on my right, Mrs. Barnes, calls for me. I had just been to the gym so I was really sweaty.
"Judith, come here" she says in her thick Jamaican authoritative accent. She is quite bossy.
"Hey, can I come over in a minute," I ask, gently. With her you never want to match her energy. Plus, most times she just wants to talk and I listen. You can barely get a word in edge wise usually. "I'm just in from the gym and I'm pretty funky."
"Yeah, I noticed your ass has gotten a little bigger." She laughs a loud hearty laugh. There is nothing gentle about her. "That's fine. Just come."
I don't laugh, but I go over. She can be more than a bit aggravating and wearisome. She yells to the neighbor across the street who has also lived in the neighborhood for many years. When I moved in he came to introduce himself to me. He also loved my brother.
"Hey, are you going to come and see Charles, she asked the neighbor? "He's up now but we don't know how much longer he's gonna last."
"How are things," I ask? I'm not expecting anything really bad. She's so dramatic.
"Charles is dying."
"He's dying," she responds impatiently. "They can't do anything else for him. It could be tomorrow, next week or next year. He's on hospice."
"Dying?" I had been over just last week; she had not mentioned anything to me. I knew he had some health problems but he seemed fine. He was just out walking about in the garden a few days ago. He is soft spoken and kind. I have always liked him and he has always looked after me, interjecting when his wife said things inappropriately. He would wink at me and I would bite my tongue.
"YES! You heard me!"
"Where is he?"
"Right there," she said loudly, pointing into the guest room where the hospital bed had been brought in. I had not noticed such being brought in.
"Shh. He can hear you."
"He knows he's dying," she says, not lowering her annoying voice in the very least.
"Whether he knows it or not, you should not say it." I kiss her on the face and go in to see him. He smiles and I rub his bald head and kiss it. He seems happy to see me.
"Hi Mr. Barnes. How are you feeling?"
"I feel real good."
"You look real good."
"Looks can be deceiving," she interjects.

I do not acknowledge her words. I do not take my eyes off of him. I rub his clean shiny bald head. He has a beautiful complexion. He's 85 and his brown skin has very few wrinkles. His head is tight and perfectly round. We talk a bit. I see that he's getting tired so I kiss him again on the head and leave, gently grabbing his wife by the arm, leading her outside into the garden. She grabs the machete and starts working. I gently take it from her. Everything with her has to be done gently. "Please listen...I don't care if Mr. Barnes is dying or not promise me you will not say so aloud." Her face changes immediately. A knowing is revealed. There is no sarcasm. She loves him dearly. Looking into her eyes, I see a deep sadness. I hug her for a long time, forgetting how sweaty I am and give her a kiss. "I'll be back later."

I visit Mrs. Barnes more often now in spite of her rudeness, dividing my time between him and her. She needs to talk about how bad he's doing so I do not talk to her about this in his presence. We walk into her beautiful garden. He, on the other hand, just wants to smile and be happy so we talk about small stuff, the stuff he remembers when he lived in Jamaica. He too has retained his very thick accent. As there is a steady stream of hospice workers coming in and out as of late, there isn't much that I can do. But I go over anyway and ask if I can do anything. "Yes, you can go to Walgreens. This medicine that I paid for I should not have. I have a letter here from Beaumont Hospital that says that I should be reimbursed. Take this letter along with these receipts and get my money back," she ordered. "OK."

There is no line at the pharmacy. I'm happy that I'm helped right away. But as the pharmacist talks to the insurance company there seems to be a problem. Others appear in the line and they seem to be getting impatient with the wait. She notices this and asks if I could wait while she takes care of these others. What? Why should I wait? More people are now in line. I simply step aside saying nothing. She does not tell me what's going on with the insurance company. After she takes care of three others in the line, I speak up.
"Excuse me. Can you please tell me what's happening with the insurance company?"
"I'm still on hold."
"How do you know that?"
"The light is still blinking."
But it didn't seem like she was on hold when those who were in line began grumbling. She seemed to have been having a conversation with the insurance company.
"Please take a seat. Your issue will take a while."

I'm getting annoyed. I thought that I would be in and out, especially since there was not a wait and after Mrs. Barnes read the letter from the hospital to me aloud. All I needed was the letter, the receipts and she would be reimbursed. It was only $30 dollars. Sitting there I thought that maybe Mrs. Barnes could just accept the $30 bucks from me. But I knew that this would not work. The problem would undoubtedly come up again if not resolved. I determined that I would calm down and take a seat as suggested. Shortly after I sat down I noticed that the light had stopped blinking. But the pharmacist continued helping others, one after another. Out of sight out of mind. I still do not say anything. It's good to practice patience I tell myself. Just as I was thinking this I noticed a tall slender woman who must have been in her late 70's or early 80's whose skin was beautiful and bright, the color of the darkest smooth chocolate. Her eyes are gentle and her face knowledgeable. She smiles my way. I smile back.

"Dear, the Lord knows those who are His," she says walking towards me and touching my face gently with a harsh rugged hand.
I smile.
"You are sitting here so patiently. The love of Jesus is just all over you, dear."
I was happy that I hadn't gone off on the pharmacist. This is what I wanted to do moments before I noticed her.
"Listen, I want to tell you something. There is nothing that you can do that He does not know. There is no road that you take that He is not walking along with you. You have all that you need to do exceedingly abundantly more than you can ever ask or think."
I continue smiling.
"You didn't think I noticed you, did you? Oh, honey, I see you. Even in difficult seasons be encouraged. Even when business opportunities fail know that there will be others."
I still say nothing. I have been having good success lately. But I listen anyway, knowing that a good word should never be rejected but stored.
"I know that things are going smoothly for you now and that in the past you have had difficulties, but the Lord knows those who are his."
Who is this lady? Tears began to roll down my cheeks. I'm not particularly feeling one way or the other but tears flow anyway. Her way is familiar.
"All of your hard work will pay off. All of your desire to do good will be recognized. After all, I see you and your years of patience are appreciated."
Ah, the familiar voice was like that of my mother's who often spoke to me when she knew that I was struggling with a thing. Mom always spoke encouraging words especially when she sensed an inner struggle. She often spoke not of what I was at any given time but who I could yet be. She had confidence in me. I wondered if my impatience was showing indeed.
"You have an inner calmness and knowing that draws. You drew me. Yes, I know you can be impatient, especially with ignorance. But I saw you immediately. Don't worry about all of the outer noise. The Lord knows those who are his. I see you and you, dear one, you are his."
"Mrs. Barnes. Mrs. Barnes," said the voice of the pharmacist.
"Oh, that's me." I forgot that I was there for my neighbor. I excuse myself.

The pharmacist explains the problem to me. But she needed to talk with Mrs. Barnes directly. She wouldn't be reimbursed, as there were only certain number of pills that were covered and she got more than the allotted number. I called Mrs. Barnes on my BlackBerry.
"Mrs. Barnes there is a problem with the number of pills. So, I'll let you talk to the pharmacist directly." Lord knows I didn't want to explain it to her at home while Mr. Barnes was just in the other room. And, frankly, I didn't feel like being yelled at.
"What are you talking about," she yells into the phone?! I guess I couldn't avoid it completely. "You got the letter!"
"Calm down please, Mrs. Barnes. I'll let you talk to the pharmacist."
I pass the phone to the pharmacist and she starts right out of the gate yelling at her. I could hear her through the phone. She's being abusive.

After 5 minutes or so the situation is resolved and I apologize to the pharmacist for the abuse received from Mrs. Barnes. She is my neighbor and is under stress. I look for the beautiful lady. She is no longer in the waiting area. I briefly look down each aisle. She is nowhere to be found. I look in the parking lot. Still, I do not see her. I want to thank her. I wish her Godspeed anyway and get into my car.

On my way home I wondered what the lessons were that I had just received. The first thing I thought of is that it's always very important to be aware of our behavior and attitude because there are always people watching, even people who you are not even aware of are often watching. This lady was obviously watching me. Also, I thought of how important it is to go beyond ourselves to do something good for others. In doing something good for my neighbor I received very inspiring and encouraging word from a perfect stranger. All is well. If I had not done a good deed, I would not have received a good word.

Being Acceptable

"Let the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer."

--Psalms 19:14

This is my heart's desire. Many times I am successful; other times I fail miserably. But I try again and again nevertheless, for He is "my strength and my redeemer."