Category Archives: speculations

You’ve Been Warned

problemofthefeminine

Kali

Kali was first manifested when the Goddess Parvati knitted her brows in fury when the demon, Daruka, threatened the Gods. It was then that the three-eyed Kali first sprang forth from Parvati, fully armed, and immediately putting an end to Daruka. It is for this reason that Kali is considered an aspect of Parvati.

Other stories tell of how Kali fought and killed two demons. It was then, celebrating Her victory, that She drained the blood from their bodies and, drunk from the slaughter, She began to dance. Kali became overjoyed with the feel of their dead flesh under Her feet, and She continued to keep dancing, more and more wildly, until She finally realized that Her husband, Shiva, was underneath Her, and that She was dancing him to death.

Realizing this, Kali’s wildness did slow down, but only for a short while; it is believed that She will eventually continue Her dance and that when she does, it will bring an end to the world. Yet, her followers still believe that once faced and understood, Kali has the ability to free Her worshippers from all their fears. Once this occurs, then Kali metamorphasizes into another aspect, that of a loving and comforting Mother.

There is yet another version of Kali’s manifestation. The Gods were not able to kill the demon, Raktabija. Each drop of his blood that touched the ground turned into another Raktabija. Thus, every time he was struck, millions of his duplicates appeared all over the battlefield.

At this point the Gods were totally desperate, and they then turned to Shiva for help. Shiva, though, was so deep in meditation that he could not be reached. The Gods then turned to Shiva’s consort Parvati for help. The Goddess Parvati immediately set out to do battle with the demon, and it was then that She took the form of Kali.

Kali then appeared, with Her red eyes, dark complexion, gaunt features, hair unbound, and Her teeth as sharp as fangs. She rode into the midst of the battle on a lion, and it was only then that the demon Raktabija first began to experience fear.

Kali then ordered the Gods to attack Raktabija, while She spread Her tongue over the battlefield, covering it completely, and preventing even one drop of the demon’s blood from falling. In doing this, Kali prevented Raktabija from reproducing himself again, and the Gods were then victorious. Dolls of India

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Degrees of Becoming

It is not down in any map; true places never are.

God keep me from ever completing anything.

Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!

(Herman Melville)

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Explorer 2

A portrait of Eliane Radigue, produced by the Austrian IMA (Institute for Media Archeology), which observes Eliane in her workspace, operating the ARP and talking about the process of composing and recording.

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Relativizing, Dancing Around Synthesis

Integra-Natura

Paul Kugler came up in a conversation about the problem incurred by supporters of Analytical Psychology as those same supporters age without, in effect and in actuality, having created a socio-cultural succession plan. This leads to a mild synchronicity when I search for Kugler’s ideas and run across very resonant materials; and I mean here personally resonant.

Haeckel

[Paul Kugler tells:] The story is set in a medieval village where the villagers are seated during meetings according to their social rank. The person who holds the highest rank rakes the highest seat. One day the villagers are gathering and the prime minister is setting in his seat when a beggar wanders into the village and takes the seat just above hem. He is, of course, very disturbed by this, and asks the beggar just “ who do think you are to take that seat? Do you think you are the prime minister?” The beggar thinks for a few minutes, and says “No”. So the prime minister asks, “Well, do you think you are the king to take that seat?” The beggar thinks again for a few minutes and replies again “No”. So the prime minister asks “Well then, do you thing you are the prophet to take that seat?” The beggar looked at him and replied, “No.” This time the prime minister asked if he thought he was God to sit there. And again the beggar replied “No.” At this point the prime minister was very upset and he exclaimed “But nothing sits above God”, to which the beggar replied. “Yes, and that nothing I am.”

Sufi meeting

(Note: Nothingness is equivalent to Non-duality.)

Here’s the larger context of the story, excerpted from the full interview.

Editor: What do you mean by ontological?

Kugler: One’s functioning definition of reality. If you change your working definition of reality you run the risk of precipitating a psychotic reaction. Psychosis, as you know, is a disturbance of reality. Psychotic episodes are often accompanied by religious conversions. I have known clinical cases where the patient has undergone multiple conversions during a single episode. Because of the profound psychic disturbances associated with shifts in our belief systems., the bedrock or our personality. Jung was very apprehensive about Westerners taking on Eastern belief systems. When you take on those patterns of thought, you alter your definition or reality

Editor: There is an experience that precedes the verbalization. An experience that is without verbal labels. I think that in attempts to construct that experience verbally, what’s happening is we are finding that the Eastern constructions fit the experience better than the Western constructions, although I think they’re the same. The experience is fundamental, the origin. The Eastern set of symbols, set of concepts, are a better expressions of experience.

Kugler: How do you determine what is “better”?

Editor: It’s the sense of a good fit. I have an experience of lucid dreaming, alright? This is an experiential reality. There’s a verbal element to it: I know I am dreaming, and that it is verbal. It’s quite verbal. It’s a sentence that is said in the dream. But, there’s an experience without verbal labels that is pervasive, deep, profound.

Kugler: I have a sense of what you are referring to, but I have a lot of questions as to how you are going to escape the bias imposed on our understanding by language. The nature of the relation between lived experience and its representations is very complicated. The representational level has a significant influence on how we construct and speak about “reality”. For example, in the nineteenth century the linguistic metaphors and narrative structures we used to construct our discourse were quite different from today. The master narratives of the past century were influenced by the Victorian novel, on the one hand, and the Newtonian fantasy of cause and effect on the other. Much of science is still modeled on these master narratives: begin with a problem or crime, casually follow the clues backward in time through a series of ups and downs in the plot, the parapetia, until you find the cause of the problem or the person “who done it”.

Hunt: Freud’s case histories?

Kugler: Yes, Freud’s case histories. This master narrative dominated 19th and early 20th century literature and science. And in some areas it still is in use today. At the turn of the century James Joyce, almost single handedly, introduced a new form of the novel and with it came a new master narrative. In writing Finnegan’s Wake and Ulysses, he created a novel that could not be read only once. The problem with the Victorian novel was once you know “who done it” the plot was not so engaging. Joyce constructed a novel in which the clues given at the end only made sense at the beginning during the second and third readings.

Editor: A good movie’s that way.

Kugler: Also, Joyce plays so extensively with the polysemic quality of language through endless puns, that every time you reread the text there are shifts in the meaning of the novel. The construction of the narrative is not casual, nor does it have a singular meaning of definite perspective. Joyce was beginning to develop what we now recognize as the post-modern novel. In the post-modern novel the narrative line is not characterized so much by causal connections and plot developments, as it is by ontological shifts. For example, the structure of a post-modern novel might be something like this: As the story goes, you are having dinner with Harry Hunt and Paul Kugler, interviewing them for a journal article. The interview focuses on dreams, question of lucidity, self-relativity, the problems associated with Westerners taking on Eastern belief systems and so on. Part way through the interview you suddenly realize that you are actually dreaming and that your interview with Dr. Kugler on lucidity in dreams is itself only a dream. At this point in the dream you are asked by Kugler the following questions: What will happen to your dream people, the little people as Jung called them, if through your meditation practices you succeed in emptying your dreams of all content? What will happen to this dream content? What will happen to this interview? You suddenly awaken, confused and uncertain as to whether you actually interviewed Kugler of whether it was only a dream. As you struggle with this question you suddenly realize that you are still dreaming…

Now, this type of narrative construction is characteristic of the post-modern novel. Ray Federman’s Double or Nothing and Two Fold Vibration are wonderful examples of this style of composition. The self-reflexive structure with its continuous ontological shifts is very different from the Victorian with its causal structure, stable meaning and singular reality. In many ways the post-modern novel is similar to Japanese movies with their de-emphasis on plot and subtle concern with differentiating the various levels of reality.

As we become more aware of the problems of ontology and the difficulties involved in differentiating levels of reality, we see a greater similarity between our lived experience and the philosophical narratives of the East. Whether we understand the lived experience of the Easterner is another question. There are many ground principles in the Eastern systems of thought that are alien to the Western mind.

Kugler: We, for example, tend to ground our systems of thought on something while the East tends to ground its belief systems on nothing. The idea of using “nothingness” as a first principle is extremely difficult for many Westerners to grasp.

There’s a wonderful Sufi story that plays with the tension between the primacy of a known god-term and nothingness. The story is set in a medieval village where the villagers are seated during meetings according to their social rank. The person who holds the highest rank rakes the highest seat. One day the villagers are gathering and the prime minister is setting in his seat when a beggar wanders into the village and takes the seat just above hem. He is, of course, very disturbed by this, and asks the beggar just “ who do think you are to take that seat? Do you think you are the prime minister?” The beggar thinks for a few minutes, and says “No”. So the prime minister asks, “Well, do you think you are the king to take that seat?” The beggar thinks again for a few minutes and replies again for a few minutes and replies. “No”. So the prime minister asks “Well then, do you thing you are the prophet to take that seat?” The beggar looked at him and replied, “No.” This time the prime minister asked if he thought he was God to sit there. And again the beggar replied “No.” At this point the prime minister was very upset and he exclaimed “But nothing sits above God”, to which the beggar replied. “Yes, and that nothing I am.”

Editor: I love it.

Kugler: it’s a very complicated ending because you can sense how language catches us up in its internal tension between referentiality and significance.

Hunt: In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition I think they’re quite eager, at least now, to press on people the term openness for emptiness or nothing. In other words, if it has a referential sense, it’s a kind of openness. It’s the space that’s filled by structure. The difference, perhaps, between the Eastern relativism and the Western relativism in that in that oscillation between open possibility and the structure that are given birth to the Eastern oscillation would have you end up on the side of the bare awareness.

Kugler: The Eastern relativity ends up with the unknown, while Western relativity ends up with the known.

Hunt: So playing with structure, with the accent on structure, rather than the accent on detachment. Although both are necessary.

Kugler: I’ll tell you two stories which illustrate my point. The first story reflects more of the modernist attitude, which we might call the Western attitude towards relativity. And the second is closer to the post-modern and Buddhist attitude. The first story Jung was very fond of telling as an illustration of his concept of the Self. The story illustrates the function of a transcendental meaning (ref. morning lecture) in relation to relativity. The story is found in the 18th Book of the Koran and begins with Moses meeting Khidr (The “Green One”) in the desert. The two wander together for a while and Khidr expresses his fear Moses will not be able to witness his deeds without judgment and indignation. Khidr tells Moses that if he cannot trust and bear with him, then Khidr will have to leave him. Moses agrees.

After a short time they come upon a poor fishing village where Khidr sinks the fishing boats of the villagers. Moses is upset seeing this, but remembers his promise and says nothing. A short time later they arrive at a decaying house of two pious young men, just outside the wall of the city of non-believers. Khidr goes up to the city wall which is falling down and repairs the wall, rather than the house of the two believers. Again Moses is disturbed by Khidr’s actions, but says nothing. The story continues in this fashion until finally Moses sees something so intolerable that he can no longer hold back from making a comment. This causes Khidr to leave. But, before his departure, Khidr explains why he acted as he did. In the first instance, pirates were on their way to steal the fisherman’s boats and by sinking them, Khidr actually saved the boats from being stolen. In the second instance, by rebuilding the wall of the city of non-believers, Khidr actually saved the two young men from ruin, because their life fortune was hidden under the city wall and about to be revealed and stolen. As Khidr left, Moses realized that his moral judgement and indignation had been too hasty and that Khidr’s actions, which at first he interpreted as bad, were in fact, not.

The second story I would characterize as a narrative representing the Post-modern problematic. It’s an old Taoist story about a farmer who has a son and a horse. One day, the farmer goes outside to find that his only horse has run away. It’s a small town and the neighbors hear about it and come to visit that evening and tell him what a terrible thing it is that happened. The farmer listens to them, thinks for a while, and responds, “I don’t know.” The next week the horse runs up into the mountains and takes up with a herd of thirty wild horses. After running with them for a few weeks, the farmer’s horse leads the wild horses back to the corral. The farmer goes out and finds he now has thirty-one horses and closes the gate. Word gets out and the neighbors come to see him that evening and tell him how wonderful this is. The farmer thinks for a long time and says “I don’t know”. The following day his only son goes out to tame the wild horse. He climbs on the first horse and is thrown breaking his leg, so he can’t work. The neighbors hear about this and come over to the house that evening and tell him what a terrible thing this is. The farmer thinks for a while and responds “I don’t know”. The next day the country breaks out in a war and the man in charge of draft inscription arrives to draft the son to the front line where he probably will be killed. He finds he has a broken leg and tells him he does not have to go to war. And the neighbors hear about this and come over that night and tell the farmer how wonderful it is that his son does not have to go to war. And the farmer responds “ I don’t know”.

Both stories relativize through recontextualization, but where they differ is that the first story has a personification (Khidr) who “knows” the future, while in the second story there is only “not knowing”. There is only the farmer who questions the neighbors’ tendency to fix a specific interpretation to an event. The two stories present very different ways of relativizing.

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Rabbit Holes

Enactivist Grid - a form for a heuristic inquiry

Enactivist Grid – a form for a heuristic inquiry

I’ve been reviewing current so-called Integral literature over the last few weeks, but it was Ken who had much earlier got me going back toward that development dynamic when I toppled over ‘into it’ in the intellectual sense from our discussing Giegerich’s critique of classical Analytical Psychology.

I’m not an Integralist.  Understanding in a meta-systems sense that the best and the lesser are sometimes necessarily retained, and, transcend-and-include turns out to be an arbitrary imposition if it then, at times, results in the baby following promptly the bathwater, highlights the fundamental points of distinction between my messy/rigorous viewing site and the seemingly reductive AQAL territories.

I note as much when I peruse the neatly reductive diagrams that have been recently multiplying; and most strike me initially to be graphical, intellectual kitsch. But then I get out my scraper.

Vision-Logic

 

I’d be very interested in scratching beneath the surface of the presumably poetical ” ‘live eros,’ springing forth from chaos.”

What a human system apparently is (to a degree mediated by a, or several, or all domains,) is what he or she entails, and what he or she can possibly entertain, and, so, what I and you feel, and, that which I and you may create from the, my/your, our, current entailment, and, also, how future potentials are foresight worthy. In a nutshell, this is a (my own,) provisional perspective that, at least and as far as I do foresee, is able to encompass just about any ol’ additional perspective which could be tossed toward it, at it, into it, or, even land neatly and dynamically as a tangent, and with enough energy in such a circuit to cause further differentiation and a foundation for adaptation or sudden evolution.

Development is often non-linear.

Horizon is the root of horizontal.

We, you and I, are able to discuss the future. (Maybe this is among the most singular human features.)

The Map never gets close, and that it gets closer is an illusion provided by what I term the sunk perspective. In noting this, at the same time, all sorts of adventurous turns may tumble out of the dynamical interplay caused by being gripped and enthused by the current sunk perspective! Such perspectives then become relativized–and this is may be much different than being transcended and included.

Someday my squaring of radical empiricism and human (or social,) cybernetics will fall down the hole too.

If you should speak and try a hundred ways to express it,
‘Tis useless; the mystery becomes no clearer. …
A horse of wood is useless on dry land,
It is the special conveyance of voyagers by sea.
Silence is this horse of wood,
Silence is the guide and support of men at sea.
This Silence which causes you annoyance
Is uttering cries of love audible to the spiritual. (Rumi)

THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL FALLACY by Wolfgang Giegerich

One conception of the psyche that one can get from studying Jung’s work, above all the work of early Jung, is that the psyche has a clear- cut orderly structure that can be presented in the geometric forms of concentric circles (the ego as the center, surrounded first by the realm of consciousness, then of the personal unconscious and finally of the collective unconscious) or of a cone (with different layers, the deepest of which would be that of the collective unconscious whereas the tip would represent the ego) as well as in the imaginal form of personified figures (ego, persona, shadow, anima/animus, self). To this conception, Jung’s psychological typology with its compass-like representation of the four orientation functions fits very neatly. The crux of this conception is that it starts out from the human person. The human being is here the container or vessel of the soul and accordingly also the horizon of psychology A psychology based on this fantasy clearly operates with the division between man and world, subject and object, inner and outer, psychology and physics and feels competent for only half of this divided whole.

Psychology’s belonging to one side manifests for example in the concept of “extraversion” and in the “object-level” method of dream interpretation. Psychology is here what goes on inside the human person, which is why I speak of the anthropological fallacy. This fallacy is of course by no means a specialty of (the early) C. G. Jung. It is, and has been, the generally accepted, conventional idea about psychology ever since there has been a scientific discipline by this name, an idea that seemed so natural, so self-evident that it was not felt to be in need of any argumentative justification.

In depth psychology the anthropological fallacy had the practical consequence that the individual was urged to turn inwards and, in the case of Jungian analysis, to develop his or her self and to strive for his or her wholeness. Not only the “individuation process,” but Jung’s adamant emphasis on the individual as “the measure of all things” (CW 10, par.523) and “the makeweight that tips the scales” (par. 586) affirmed and highlighted this concentration on the person. It is true, Jung repeatedly insisted that “individuation” and his psychological stance in general does not exclude, but include, the world. But such a semantic statement does not undo the underlying structure or syntax of this thinking, namely that it irrevocably starts out from a human being who has the world (“external reality”) outside and vis-a?-vis himself. Even synchronicity as the meaningful coincidence of an inner and an outer event still has the anthropological conception of psychology as its background and precisely by trying to overcome the opposition of psychology and physics in the direction of the idea of unus mundus once more confirms the anthropological stance.

A serious consequence of this methodological standpoint is that the soul is logically relegated to second rank, as much as it may be prioritized, semantically and emotionally. The human being is here the substrate or actual substance and the psyche is merely one of the attributes of this substrate.

But the human being as the substrate personality is not itself the topic of psychology. It lies outside psychology’s field of vision. Psychology’s topic is the soul, is psychic life (which, however, often manifests in people). The moment psychic life is defined as being the life of the substrate personality, psychology has the task of exploring something (namely, psychic life), whose actual substantial reality (namely, the human being) is pre-supposed as lying outside (“pre-”) its own precincts of competence and responsibility…. The soul, not the person, is what I have to focus on.

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Rites of Spring

Roses 2013 Ohio

Rose burst-Spring 2013

Last spring, our first in our new house–built in 1915–provided a parade of flowers in our small and narrow back yard. I didn’t do anything but observe the upwelling pulchritude inherited from the previous owner. Yes, I knew we might get some roses blooming on the spindly, reedy unkempt five rose bushes. As it happened, it was a spectacular bloom.

Then came the major cuts this spring

roses cut back

Roses cut back, and mulched

Fortunately, although there are all sorts of bad things you can do to harm your roses, drastically cutting them back isn’t one of them.

closeup rose

Looking good!

staging pots

I learned a great deal last year. Our small lot faces north/south with a giant buckeye tree on the south end and a really large tulip and buckeye tree in the front. The neighbors have a stand of spruce, including a magnificent 100+ foot granddaddy. This results in partial-shade being the predominant condition. I love hanging pots, so Impatiens and fuschia are my go-to flowers.

But, I love petunias too, so these have to be staged in the only ‘full light’ patch of property I can deploy for their sake. My great experiment this years involves growing the super and wave petunias in the staging area, and then moving them to the front of the house into less-than-optimal conditions.

ilovespring

Sonny lovin’ spring’s sproing.

five spot

It’s a rare occurrence to get all the kids in the same frame, and the best bet to do so is when the window goes up for the first time after a long winter. (Sonny-Kippie-Sassy-Kizzy-Glori)

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The Strong Voice

Anne Baring The Dream of the Cosmos: online | Amazon

The Real Challenge of Our Times:
The Need for a New Worldview

Neither do men put new wine into old bottles; else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles and both are preserved. Matt. 9:17

To reclaim the sacred nature of the cosmos – and of planet Earth in particular – is one of the outstanding spiritual challenges of our time. Diarmuid O’Murchu, Quantum Theology

The threat of global warming, the urgent need to free ourselves from dependency on oil and the current financial crisis could be the triple catalyst that offers us the opportunity of bringing about a profound shift in our values, relinquishing an old story and defining a new one. Our lives and well-being depend upon the fertility and resources of the earth, yet in relation to the earth, it would seem that we have been autistic for centuries. Now, instead of treating our planetary home as the endless supplier of all our needs, without consideration for its needs, we could rethink beliefs and attitudes which have influenced our behaviour for millennia.
Because of those beliefs we have come to look upon nature as something separate from ourselves, something we could master, control and manipulate to obtain specific benefits for our species alone because ours, we were taught, has been given dominion over all others and over the earth itself. It has come as a bit of a shock to realise that our lives are intimately bound up with the fragile organism of planetary life and the inter-dependence of all species. If we destroy our habitat, whether inadvertently or deliberately by continuing on our present path, we may risk destroying ourselves. We have developed a formidable intellect, a formidable science, a formidable technology but all rest on the premise of our alienation from and mastery of nature, where nature was treated as object with ourselves as controlling subject.
Yet now, the foundation that seemed so secure is disintegrating: old structures and beliefs are breaking down. It is as if mortal danger is forcing us to take a great leap in our evolution that we might never have made were we not driven to it by the extremity of circumstance. Many people are defining a new kind of relationship with the earth, based not on dominance but on respect, responsibility and conscious service. Because our capacity for destruction, both military and ecological, is so much greater today than it was even fifty years ago, and will be still greater tomorrow, we have only decades in which to change our thinking and respond to the challenge of this evolutionary leap.
There is a second problematic legacy from the past: the image of God shared by the three Abrahamic religions. This has presented God as a transcendent creator, separate and distinct from the created order and from ourselves. Western civilisation, despite its phenomenal achievements, developed on the foundation of this fundamental split between spirit and nature—between creator and creation. Only now are we brought face to face with the disastrous effects of this split.
Once again, as in the early centuries of the Christian era, it seems as if new bottles are needed to hold the wine of a new revelation, a new understanding of reality which could heal this split. But how do we create the vessel which can assimilate the wine of a new vision of reality and a different image of God or Spirit? How do we relinquish the dogmatic beliefs and certainties which have, over the millennia of the patriarchal era, caused indescribable and quite unnecessary suffering and the sacrifice of so many millions of lives?
I cannot answer these questions. But I do know that as the new understanding, the new wine comes into being, we have to hold the balance and the tension between the old and the new without destroying the old or rejecting the new. It must have been like this two thousand years ago when the disciples of Jesus tried to assimilate what he was telling them, something so utterly different from the belief-system and the brutal values which governed the world of their time. Even today, the revolutionary teachings and the different values he taught have barely touched the consciousness that governs the world of our time, however much political and religious leaders proclaim allegiance to them. What would Jesus have thought of WMD, depleted uranium and cluster bombs, and the massacre of helpless civilians in war, let alone the destruction of vast swathes of the earth’s forests to supply crops for biofuels? What would he have thought of the fact that colossal sums of money are spent on the military when 17,000 children die every day from hunger and disease?.
The need for a more conscious relationship with both nature and spirit, bringing them closer together, is intrinsic to the creativity of the life-impulse itself—urging us to go beyond the boundaries of the known, to break through the concepts and beliefs, whether religious, scientific or political, which currently govern our culture and constrict the expansion of our understanding and our compassion.
What is the emerging vision of our time which could offer a template for a new civilization? the remainder of the essay

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Anti-Hayek

No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man is a peece of the continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions John Donne (1624), No. XVII

h/t Jerry Swatez

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Two Sided Coin

Then what are the most essential learnings from your 20 years of dealing with and researching change?

Michael Jarrett:Good question. Let me try to highlight them. First, external factors are often the driver for change, but how organizations respond is the critical factor. Then, too, the managerial capabilities of companies help determine organizational responses; so, the change leadership at the top, middle and bottom is something to be audited and bolstered.

I’d also note that organizations with greater levels of internal dynamic capabilities have a source of competitive advantage as they can adapt more easily. Again, the more locked into the status quo, the more cumbersome any company becomes when it tries to convert a desire to change into real action.

But I should add a caveat or two. Radical change is not the answer for everyone. It’s important to gauge how much change is needed. Incremental and process changes work in relatively stable environments. The invention of the transistor shook the entire electronics industry. The kind of change your own company is facing may not be that profound, and so you must not overreact to change. High-change organizations do better in volatile environments than their lower-change counterparts. In stable environments, the differences are not as significant. Over 20 years, I have seen some organizations face change and succeed; and I have seen some organizations confront change and remain inert. Those who banked on inertia to propel themselves into the future are no longer around. [src pdf]

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Virgin Galactic Shot No. 3

Meanwhile…”NASA-funded R&D engineers are working on plans for future spaceships to enter orbit around Mars using a doughnut shaped, steerable balloon-chute to slow down by flying through the Red Planet’s atmosphere.”

DoughnutSpaceship

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American Oyster

education

 

2012 Presidential election. Thank you foxbusiness.com.

Of course: lies and damn statistics — ignorance may exist anywhere and obviously a college degree isn’t an arbiter. For example, we have persons educated as medical doctors serving in the US Congress who believe in young earth creationism. Sure, they represent red states, still. . .

Alan Keyes, graduate of Cornell and Harvard: When they came to lead, the children of the generation that fought World War II allowed the focus of American education to shift decisively away from a serious regard for the seminal documents that convey the logic of America’s liberty. This is the key to the elitist apostasy from America’s creed. On account of this apostasy, a more and more organized, self-consciously elitist faction has matured. It rejects the moral egalitarianism that undergirds America’s creed of liberty. Therefore, it works to overthrow the form of constitutional self-government that respects the sovereignty of the people. Informed by socialist totalitarian ideologies, this elitist clique is endowed by the materialist, authoritarian corporatism of the money powers now largely in control of America’s financial institutions, its so-called mainstream media and both the Democrat and Republican parties.

In political terms, these elitist faction forces come against the U.S. Constitution from left and right. Whatever the rhetoric of their verbal professions, in their actions they unanimously reject the premise that there is one benevolent and superintendent Deity whose spirit, will and judgment created human nature and ultimately rule over human affairs. This rejection of God’s authority is the daily proven fact that belies the specious opposition that is supposed to divide one of the elitist faction’s wings from the other. Whatever they say, the resultant of their supposedly adversarial interaction has for more than a lifetime consistently undermined this central pillar of American self-government, without which its other supports are like branches of a tree, forced to bear a weight they cannot stand. [excerpt] Defending the American Way, WorldNetDaily, June 2013

Slavery and sexism in the founder’s era kills your point concerning ‘moral egalitarianism that undergirds America’s creed of liberty,’ Dr. Keyes. Kill as I use it here is unqualified, so obviously and plain as day there was no moral egalitarianism back in the olden, golden, and beloved day.

The ignorance Keyes is apparently proud of did not come from his lack of education. But, from the perspective of my own being badly educated–in the normative-institutional sense–does his scree exemplify ignorance? What is ignorance and is it valid to assert that ignorance is supported by a particular individual nature–in the sense of finding what causes it?

The escape claus goes like this: what one knows is not such a big deal, what is a big deal is whether or not one ever got the message cum transmission.

If Remi Brague is correct in saying that it is the Judeo-Christian faith in a transcendent God, not only separate from the life of a particular tribe or political community but outside human history, that ultimately grounds the classical culture of emulation; and if Benedict XVI is correct in discerning that, at least in comparison with Europe, America remains a profoundly Christian nation with a strong tradition of independent, church-supported liberal education; what are we to make of the mainlines of the history of American higher education? That story as it has been told for two hundred years, whether in celebration or in lamentation, has been the story of unremitting secularization.

Even Henry Adams’s Education, his great memoir-style protest against the secularization of the American university in his life-time and thus the loss of the very character of university–despite being a protest–seemed only to further establish the main storyline ofthe field. “If Harvard or Yale had been less foolish in their origins and had held onto the Church, we should have probably kept a base on which to build some real scholarship; but when our ancestors cutoff the limb that made us a part ofthe tree, we naturally tumbled off. I do not suppose we ever produced a graduate who would have known how to sacrifice a bull to Jupiter.”‘(10) He argues that powerful as the literary and political tradition was in America, in the Boston of his youth, at Harvard, it was devoid of any religious underpinnings:

“Of all the conditions of his youth which afterwards puzzled the grown-up man, this disappearance of religion puzzled him most. The boy went to church twice every Sunday; he was taught to read his Bible, and he learned religious poetry by heart; he believed in a mild deism; he prayed; he went through all the forms; but neither to him nor to his brothers or sisters was religion real. Even the mild discipline of the Unitarian Church was so irksome that they all threw it off at the first possible moment, and never afterwards entered a church. The religious instinct had vanished, and could not be revived, although one made in later life many efforts to recover it. That the most powerful emotion of man, next to the sexual, should disappear, might be a personal defect of his own; but that the most intelligent society, led by the most intelligent clergy, in the most moral conditions he ever knew, should have solved all the problems of the universe so thoroughly as to have quite ceased making itself anxious about past or future, and should have persuaded itself that all the problems which had convulsed human thought from earliest recorded time, were not worth discussing, seemed to him the most curious social phenomenon he had to account for in a long life.”

His memoir of his later years, after his wife’s suicide, and the insanity and death of his close friend Clarence King who he had once thought represented the perfection of the frontier American, becomes an agonized, strained search for faith–he spends his final years touring the French countryside in his new motor car, trying to catch some whiff of faith from the power of the Virgin, which he acknowledges still retains its force at Lourdes. But his own failure and the triumph of secularization was never Henry Adams’ point–rather, as he argues repeatedly, “eccentricity is strength,” and American history, like human history, gives up its prophetic ghost to those who are willing to read it in silence, to those who will listen rather than forever reciting their own variety of pseudo-religious experiences. Adams is a believer. He believes that Americans who flew into the wilderness in 1620, in 1776, in 1845, in 1892–who knew that the only way to save their nation was to leave it behind–carrying their household gods on their backs, have not been defeated. Henry Adams realized that the restraints of a fixed religious, cultural, familial, or political tradition were only superficially a “handicap.” He repeatedly compared himself, “American of Americans, with Heaven knew how many Puritans and Patriots behind him and an education that had cost a civil war,” with a sort of pride and arrogant relish, to a “Polish Jew fresh from Warsaw or Cracow . . . a furtive Yacoob or Ysaac still reeking of the ghetto, snarling in weird Yiddish.” In tl1e “races of the twentieth-century,” the race to abandon all restraints of past or nature, to strip oneself of all prejudicial identity and submit oneself, the naked servant and worshipper of the dynamo, he asserted (strangely enough!) that the American cultural tradition would prove as resistant to the worship of the twentieth-century Alexanders, Pharaohs, and Caesars, as the Jewish cultural tradition had ever proven. It is a breath-taking claim-the claim that American eccentricity can survive 600-pages worth of experiential learning and never lose its old illusions about liberty, virtue, or wisdom!

What then are we to make of this narrative of the liberationist effects of the American frontier on the old-world traditions imported from Europe; what are we to make of the story of the tabula rasa, the erasure, the secularization, the oblivion of the past and its lessons, prejudices and constraints? Henry Adams’s assertion invites us to look again at the meaning of the history of American higher education:

“Harvard was founded to help the Puritans escape Anglican Oxford and Cambridge, and Yale appeared in 1701 when a group of New Haven ministers, influenced in part by distrust of the liberal heresies that were to dominate Harvard, established a competing college to preserve the old social and religious order in Connecticut. Again, the Congregationalists who founded Amherst were in part moved by the objections to the Unitarianism that shook Harvard in the early l9th century, and the Yankee Methodists who set up Boston University at the time of the Civil War felt that Harvard’s classical curriculum and aristocratic values were destroying the ethos of pious dissent. The same era also saw the Jesuits establish Boston College, to help the new Boston-Irish community maintain its religious and social integrity. (Riesman in Sanford, 89)

From this history can we say that it is secularization or the perennial escape to eccentric orthodoxy that is the core “American” dynamic of the history higher education in this country? Is the declension of Harvard from Puritan seminary to Unitarian classical college to secular multiversity the inner dynamic of American higher education, or has the original eccentric dynamic of Harvard’s Christian orthodoxy simply metastasized in hundreds of small Bible colleges and Christian liberal arts colleges across the country? Are not these small Christian liberal arts colleges the truly American-the most distinctively American-contribution to the idea of the university in the modern world?(11) Whatever one thinks of such quaint neo-medieval, neo-classical flora and fauna sprouting in the American frontier–whether one considers them the hope for the future of Westem Civilization or embarrassing windows into the reactionary mind of middle America, it can hardly be denied that they, and not the anonymous, mega-state-universities of the great cities, are the peculiarly American features of the modern educational landscape.

Alasdair Maclntyre, in the now famous final paragraph of his work After Virtue, prescribed another round of that excellent habit of running away:

“It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman empire declined into the Dark Ages. Nonetheless certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman Imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that Imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead–often not realizing what fully what they were doing–was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct, we ought also to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time, however, the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another–doubtless quite different–St. Benedict.”

‘Tis sure to be an immortal paragraph. But (dare I say that) Alasdair Maclntyre, like Christopher Dawson, indeed like Edward Gibbon, imagines that this “construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral lite can be sustained” is a “turning aside from the task of shoring up the Roman Imperium.” Yet these Britishers never fully grasp that this English, Scottish, Irish, Jewish, Polish, Italian habit of running away with their traditions on their backs is actual pietas to the founders of the imperium. Eccentricity is a very American virtue.

Indeed George Washington himself knew the value of a strategic retreat that might keep one’s ragtag army intact–to fight another day . . _ or at any rate to hold out until one can find an ally with a navy.” (12) [excerpted from Chapter 5, Eccentric Education - The American Way, Susan E. Hanssen, The Idea of the American University (Bradley C.S. Watson, editor)]

[full chapter-pdf] See also Ms. Hanssen’s “‘English in spirit’: G. K. Chesterton and the debate over church and state in the 1906 Education Act,” The Catholic Social Science Review (2007).

Whatever are the virtues of institutionalizing orthodox centralities in the periphery, I tend to view the eccentricity–that (unbeknownst to Keyes) could still smartly inform his own argument–to itself cast off further eccentricities so that, eventually, the operating quality is, as Ms. Hanssen puts it, institutional peculiarity-more than any other quality. 

To weigh the gross generalization, secularizing and neo-liberal and post-modern Blue does correlate with degree of education and everyman traditionalism does correlate with deficits of learning and Red. For both Blue and Red, there is a lot of sub-set or sub-cultural eccentricity, and, let’s call, ‘eccentrification.’

American religiosity is extremely variable with respect to the straightened ordinates of classic Christian commitment, and, it would seem the employees of the governed are nowadays so energetically variable that the straightest Constitutionalism is spun away off to some radical precinct.

There’s no reason to refuse the challenge of orbiting cloisters. The neo-liberal order wants able workers to be ejected from schools. This represents another turn on the secularizing gyre, following from Taylorite pieces and Fordist machinists, and, now (and newly minted,) inchoate collections of human post-capital detritus. Denouement!

This is where both Mr. Keyes’ ideological ‘eccentrics’ and Ms. Hanssen’s historically minded supposition roll back to the natural law tree and beg for me a question about personality and the nature of personality and cognition. Surely it matters how the societal and spiritual conditionals work to instantiate particular human ends. Intentionality is not subsumed in the mystic chord even if it comes to be modified. There haven’t been, nor are there any utopian Natural Law states or political entities that have escaped doing lots of harm.

Certain rearguard’s aspirations–and eccentricity is presumably also defined to be a rearguard–are cast outward in comprehensive, oft times in totalizing terms, with there being no room to quibble over either ‘their being no God, but God alone,’ or the actualities of a Thomist heaven and hell,  or the cosmos set in place necessary to the Pauline ‘only possible true church.’ This latter eccentricity is such that its closing circle (and argument) encompasses the entire universe. This is the same presumption naming eventuations happening “outside human history.”

Keyes is arch and forthright in framing his eliminativist perspective. As much as he could have padded its bluntness with a portion of Henry Adamsian ‘depressive,’ his position isn’t for him able to be cast off, and, it takes no prisoners, and, its educational precepts are staked to analytic compliance. What’s true for him is to be true for you.

St. Benedictine?

Of the Virtuous Zeal Which the Monks Ought to Have

As there is a harsh and evil zeal which separateth from God and leadeth to hell, so there is a virtuous zeal which separateth from vice and leadeth to God and life everlasting.

Let the monks, therefore, practice this zeal with most ardent love; namely, that in honor they forerun one another (cf Rom 12:10). Let them bear their infirmities, whether of body or mind, with the utmost patience; let them vie with one another in obedience. Let no one follow what he thinketh useful to himself, but rather to another. Let them practice fraternal charity with a chaste love.

Let them fear God and love their Abbot with sincere and humble affection; let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and my He lead us all together to life everlasting.

In America, that the above is voluntary with no other respect otherwise given, might be the simple phenomenal element forceful enough to cast the sturdy outward and into eccentricity. What isn’t voluntary is attainment within the eccentric order. I doubt theocratic designs will bring forth any pearls.

 

 

 

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Mandorla: Trailer

Mandorla – working trailer – CA from Roberto Miller on Vimeo.

Mandorla Movement

>>via Robert Rich Facebook; Robert is doing the music.

comment:

Life is a system of ‘now you see it,’ and ‘now you don’t.” Alan Watts

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Interesting Times

MArginal

“Buying and Selling is an Art, whereby people endeavour to cheat one another of the Land…….and true Religion is, To let every one enjoy it.”
Gerrard Winstanley A New-yeers Gift for the Parliament and Armie 1650

(I’d be a Bernie Sanders Democrat if Bernie was a member of the Democratic Party. So, I’m a Winstanley Democrat, because the triangulation of George Fox, Eugene Debs and Thomas Paine somehow incarnated by Winstanley in the late 17th century is about right.)

Charles S. Pierce: In the year of our Lord 2010, the voters of the United States elected the worst Congress in the history of the Republic. There have been Congresses more dilatory. There have been Congresses more irresponsible, though not many of them. There have been lazier Congresses, more vicious Congresses, and Congresses less capable of seeing forests for trees. But there has never been in a single Congress — or, more precisely, in a single House of the Congress — a more lethal combination of political ambition, political stupidity, and political vainglory than exists in this one, which has arranged to shut down the federal government because it disapproves of a law passed by a previous Congress, signed by the president, and upheld by the Supreme Court, a law that does nothing more than extend the possibility of health insurance to the millions of Americans who do not presently have it, a law based on a proposal from a conservative think-tank and taken out on the test track in Massachusetts by a Republican governor who also happens to have been the party’s 2012 nominee for president of the United States. (Charles S. Pierce blogs at Esquire, in a devastating manner about politics–so I don’t have to do so myself, as much.)

plutoPledgeofAllegiance1

President Barack Obama:”They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.”

I find Conservatism in its Reaganesque revision to be abject and might as well throw into the compactor the Tea Party and Libertarianism* and everything to do with the whiny ethos of the “Makers;’ itself a position of bathos first scribbled out in post-Burkean form in the, alas, enduring circular banalities of Ayn Rand.

In the last week I wandered through comment threads expressly etched to pry apart the paradox of Ted Cruz’s high IQ and ivy league credentials and his having before the Supreme Court. (Clarence Thomas!!!)

(But I wasn’t doing so to contribute or be a voyeur. I did so because the problem posed by a public personage triggering a public inquiry about his or her ‘intelligence’ provides a great portal through which to witness the sweep of folk sociology and folk psychology as-practice in discussion about the nature of intelligence. This particular topic happens to interest me a great deal.)

Cruz apparently was indoctrinated into his father’s belief system as a teenager and has used his great mind for purposes other than shifting away a half iota or more from that 25+ year old teenage belief system. Speaking to David Gregory this weekend, Senator Cruz made a number of comments that indicate he has forgotten, or is unaware of very large, important chunks of the U.S. Constitution. Oh, well, I guess that part of his reputation is undeserved and is now in the toilet!

(Meanwhile, Cruz’s father reminds us all, Obama is a Muslim!)

Still, I can inhabit the devil’s advocate enough to understand that as far as ‘getting one’s way,’ politics is a hard ball game played by more than a few crusty white men and, so, right at the beginning of the day, many such men understand that, for example, ‘the Constitution isn’t a suicide pact,’ and ‘one’s deepest beliefs shouldn’t be sacrificed in the a pyre fueled by the anti-royalist dreams of the founding fathers.’ At the end of the day, for those men, taking an entire economy of the USA hostage for the sake of rolling back the healthcare of many African-Americans is just a day’s labor in the second Civil War.

Although it does take a mountain of chutzpah to then blame the hostage’s family for killing the hostage, after the kidnappers’ insane demands weren’t met. 

It is a historical fact that at times corporate collectivists and plutocrats both ensnare populist resentment, and, re-deploy it for purposes dreamed up in 1% fan club think tanks. But, if, like Paul Ryan, you deeply adhere to the entwined ideas that it is (#1) government that makes it impossible for the one percenters to (#2) exhale and fill the sails of the fleet of swamped middle class dinghies, then you, I’m afraid are stupid about economics, as is Paul Ryan. and, just as evidently, as are the entirety of Tea Party reactionaries, Ron/Rand Paultards, and the other hand children to the upper echelon of the corporate and financial classes–you know, the one’s who think “Tea Party” on their way to their offshore bank’s web site, and guffaw, ‘what suckers!.’

GOP is said now to be run by their nihilistic wing. Better: they’re being run by a mob of autistic teenagers.

absurd capitalism


Falsification of Libertarianism: I enjoy both liberty and freedom today in portions that exceed anything that would be possible were you to give the world over to any persons and to any ideology supposed to be libertarian. This is true despite any argument you could devise to try to prove my statement of fact to be not true.  (And, I mean: little ol’ me is free.)

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Bayesian Aesthetics, oh, and Play

Action Shot

On Sunday we enjoyed an iconic Free Play Softball League contest. Perfect weather greeted us. The home team won on what surely was the first walk-off two run, two RBI sacrifice fly. It was hit by John. He was making his first appearance in a Free Play game. I later learned what brought him to our game for the first time.

The game was iconic because it obtained almost all the implicit goals of our weekly softball games: the game was well played, very close, included some absurdist theatre, and showcased several individual feats. The photo below captures a bit of our happy collective mood in the game’s aftermath.

Free Play August 11

Given the “case” this particular game presented, I, with my researcher’s beanie set a kilter on my head, found the morning’s affair to be especially wondrous. We’ve been doing three experiments, one started last season, one started at the beginning of this season, and one started six weeks ago. Collective informal, ad hoc, social experiments aimed to identify possible avenues of change interest me a great deal. This past Sunday offered up a good, let us call it, ‘experimental circumstance.’

Experiment No. 1. Set in motion last season, and implemented by virtue of a voice vote, we began to call balls and strikes using a nifty affordance, a mat placed over the rubber home plate. It delineates a strike zone determined entirely as a matter of a pitch striking it on the fly. At the time it was a daring experiment because it attended to a problem only a few people felt was a problem: batters waiting for the perfect pitch under the old regimen, under which balls or strikes weren’t called. We have stuck with the experiment, having the catcher call the ball or strike. We have also gone back to the old routine under specific extreme circumstances having to do with wind velocity!

Experiment No. 2. Set in motion at the beginning of this season, and implemented willfully by me and several others, this experiment had a singular hypothesis. Should we actively promote the entertainment and sporting opportunity to our personal networks and on local bulletin boards, our numbers will increase. New players have arrived and stuck with us. We’ll see if our numbers stay robust as the weather becomes less attractive in the fall.

Experiment No. 3. Set in motion six weeks ago, and implemented without any input from the group, we have moved from having me determine the line-ups–a role I had for nine seasons–to me picking up teams school-yard style with Mark Jr. There were two basic goals, the primary one being to spread the talent around more equally, and, secondarily, to offset the advantage Mark jr. himself offers to the team he is placed on. This latter goal follows from his own tracking of the performance of his weekly, temporary team. By doing so he quantifies our results and certifies that his team wins 75% of the time.

(I’m tempted to say we’ve also been doing a meta or over-arching experiment that has something to do with giving me such a hand in the proceedings! As I mentioned to Kurt on Sunday, if I’m bossy, it’s the only day of the week I’m like a boss. Oddly, my imperial authority is partly rooted in the fact that I carry the collective equipment in the trunk of my Civic, and store all of it over the winter. He who trucks the crown and throne and battle gear. . .)

Because of this secondary goal of picking two teams, offsetting Mark Jr.’s track record, he and I have figured out a rough formula. My team is always the home team, and, I get the first pick, and, I start with longtime player Francis, and, in the fourth round Mark Jr. makes up for my extra player, and, finally, we may haggle over the last few picks.

Francis is the key gimme because he plays shortstop. Mark Jr. brings his own performative edge to his own team because he is a lock-down shortstop on our bumpy grassy infield. Others among us have tried their hand at shortstop, yet is has come down to Mark Jr. and plucky Francis.

This approach held until last week. Experiment No. 3 constitutes a series matching one person’s picks against a second person’s picks. In the experiment MArk and I determine our own line-ups, figure out in which slot players bat.

14-13

The 15-8 game was the only game where some players thought the distribution of players at the outset determined the outcome of the game. Mark Jr. has won 50% of his games. So far this experiment is progressing. Its most positive effect so far is twofold. First, players no longer feel my solitary, inept picking is ruining their chance to win. Second, when players express displeasure with the line-up, the blame is distributed to two possible culprits. The experiment has dramatically dampened second guessing about weekly competitive balance.

An Epic Fly

We play on a diamond with a screened backstop and no other fences. (Our field reminds me of the country fields I played on in Vermont decades ago.) As far as I know, this is different than the set-up for most of the (higher-than-our-modest level) slow pitch softball played year in and year out in our region. Next door to our favored wide open field #8 are four manicured, fenced, typical fields. On those fields, hard hit drives and flies can leave the field in classic home run fashion. On our field the hitter probably has to run out a home run. Outfielders, especially when the field is dry and hard play to prevent balls from skittering past them.

State Road Park


Parma’s State Road Park, one of upper level softball’s most storied diamonds

Sunday, John, a friend of Carman, shows up to play with us for the first time. He goes out to shortstop for our batting rounds. He looks experienced. He’s wearing actual baseball/softball jersey pants. He’s big. Then he takes a few practice swings, and the ball just soars off his bat.

I think to myself, “He’s pro.” This is my way of stating what was obvious to me, this is a high level player, one whose hitting approach is to launch the pitch over the fence. And, then I thought, here’s a guy who offsets Mark Jr.. And, this meant we might just do a straight back and forth choosing of players for the first time ever.

So we did. Francis got to play with Mark jr. and happily showed his mettle and versatility with one of the season’s most stellar outfield catches, a running chase-down of a falling bullet.

It came down to the last inning. The visitors took a 13-9 lead in the top half of the inning. In the bottom half, the home team grabbed three runs and John, the brawny newcomer stepped up to the dish with the bases juiced. Francis, in left field, was something like 350+ feet away. In a fenced-in softball field he would have been standing on the other side of the leftfield fence.

I don’t know squat about elite softball but I suspect top level players who come to the plate with the game on the line, one run behind, bases loaded, knowing any hit wins the game, nevertheless want to send the ball into a definitive orbit.

Mark Jr., for whatever reason, commanded his pitcher move to short, and he took the ball and stepped to the mound. Okay, he stepped to not a mound but, rather, to a rugged gash where a mound never existed. He threw some practice pitches. He took some grief from the home team. Tom, our elder was catching and warned Mark Jr. about “too much arc.”

Standing on the sideline, I understood this was a case of mano-y-mano, taking the game literally in one’s own hand, live by the sword or die by the sword, gamesmanship. Ha! Absurd! Crazed! It was a beautiful distillation of everything our free play game isn’t ordinarily about–yet our game can be about anything.

Then John blasted a 3-2 pitch in the direction of heaven itself. There’s no fence! I half expected the fly ball to sprout a parachute on the way down. The outfielder catches the ball and three runners tag up. It wasn’t even close. The tying run scores and the next, winning, run scores and would have beat any throw.

Game, but not match. John, you da man. (It turns out John is visiting us to get reps before autumn’s league and tournament league action.

 

 

 

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Scrappers Edge Freeplayers 6-5!

Babe Ruth

April 28. Day Two of season twenty-seven. 9:45am, Field #8, Forest Hills Park, Cleveland Heights, Ohio? Drizzling.

Then a busload of 9-11 year old boys and their minders unload and inform us they have a permit for the hallowed field for this day.

We count our numbers and seems their are eight, and we will commence to practice the game of softball. We make our way over the the fenced in softball fields. Another team is practicing on the northwest diamond–no doubt for the opening week of league play–and Dave asks of them if they will engage us in a friendly game.

“No.”

Later, with a light rain falling, a second inquiry is made and this other team agrees to a game. As it turns out, our spontaneous opponent is a co-ed team in the co-ed league. (We’d be co-ed too; alas…) They inform us in the league they are in the men bat on their ‘off batting side.’ However, for the purpose of what amounts to a scrimmage-type game, they decide not to do so.

We play four innings, and the line score looks like this at the end:

Scrappers score

What fun was had! After the game, the two teams collided in gratitude and high fives and hand shakes. We mentioned anybody is welcome to join us on Sunday mornings. We told the Scrappers,

We’ve been playing pick up games for decades here on Sunday mornings.

April 21. Opening day and we have eleven, then Pete shows up and we’re twelve. It was a crisp day. The metal bats could transfer quite a pointed zing at times.


Freeplay Softball league

Sunday mornings 9:30; game time 10:00am
Open to participants 16-116 years of age; any gender; any background

We try to keep an accurate score.

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Gods of the Abstract Social

Hydra

Several years ago I heard an introductory presentation by a retired sociologist. He spent a half hour presenting basics so he could frame a further argument about politics in a small city. The problem of introducing sociology is impressive to me–there was no mention of problems in this introductory presentation. Sociology sets off to abstract social functionalities in various ways and the ‘meta’ in relation to each such way is abstracted too; conundrums of self-reference and subjectivity and multiple subjectivities,  are abstracted, so forth, on and on, etcetera.

The sociological project often ventures away from the sensible matter of considering and studying the practical sociological experience and learned informal social means of the (so-called) folk. What of a field of inquiry termed Folk Sociology? I will need to google it!

Excerpt via N+1.

Too Much Sociology N+1 Magazine – The Editors – This spread of sociological thinking has led to sociological living?—?ways of thinking and seeing that are constructed in order to carry out, yet somehow escape, the relentless demystification sociology requires. Seeing art as a product, mere stuff, rather than a work, has become a sign of a good liberal (as opposed to bad elitist) state of mind. This is why you must support upper-middlebrow Terrence Malick one day, and the next spuriously shock everyone with a loud defense of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Too often, being on the left tasks you with a vigilant daily quest to avoid being tagged with snobbery. In sociological living, we place value on those works or groups that seem most likely to force a reevaluation of an exclusive or oppressive order, or an order felt to be oppressive simply because exclusive. And yet despite this perpetual reevaluation of all values, the underlying social order seems unchanged; the sense of it all being a game not only persists, but hardens.

The initial demystifying shock of the sociology of culture in the academy partly accounts for its popularity. Thanks to the dead ends of certain kinds of European hermeneutics the realization that repeated analyses of Balzac novellas might not shake the foundations of the subject, let alone those of capitalism?—?it became more promising to ask why certain classes of people might be interested (and other classes not interested) in Balzac at all. No more appeals to the inexplicable nature of genius. Seen from the longue durée of social change, individual authors or works were less important than collectives or status groups, cities or systems. Like latter-day Northrop Fryes, armed with data, the critic-sociologists converted writers back into “literature” as a system, and from there into refractions of codes, institutions, and classes.

The effect on a sector of the professoriat, at least, has been liberating. It has led to a new wave of semi-sociological studies of institutions instead of works. Many of these, such as The Economy of Prestige or The World Republic of Letters, are, if we permit ourselves a value judgment, among the best works of criticism in our time. The overpowering influence of sociology outside its own disciplinary borders was recently verified in a list of “most-cited” intellectuals in the humanities.

“Most-cited intellectuals” is etched here without irony!

Personally, I’m curious about folk sociology*, and glad, Hans-Georg Moeller wrote Luhmann Explained From Souls to Systems. The opening leaf in Moeller’s book offers up Niklas Luhmann this way:

It has always been clear to me that a thoroughly constructed conceptual theory of society would be much more radical and much more discomforting in its effects than focused criticisms–criticisms of capitalism for instance–could ever imagine.

…a fine Batesonian insight methinks.

* (Speculation;) First order question of folk sociology: What do you know about your being an agent and actor? embeds a second order problem of reflexivity.

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Rep ‘n’ learnin’

Folk Psychology

Dependency relations between phenomena can be very complex. In much of life, dependencies are conditional and probabilistic: If I put a fresh worm on the hook, and if it is early afternoon, then very probably I will catch a trout here. As we learn more about the complexities of the world, we ‘upgrade’ our representations of dependency relations;10 we learn, for example, that trout are more likely to be caught when the water is cool, that shadowy pools are more promising fish havens than sunny pools, and that talking to the worm, entreating the trout, or wearing a ‘lucky’ hat makes no difference. Part of what we call intelligence in humans and other animals is the capacity to acquire an increasingly complex understanding of dependency relations. This allows us to distinguish fortuitous correlations that are not genuinely predictive in the long run (e.g., breaking a tooth on Friday the thirteenth) from causal correlations that are (e.g., breaking a tooth and chewing hard candy). This means that we can replace superstitious hypotheses with those that pass empirical muster.

Patricia Smith Churchland (Wikipedia) How Do Neurons Know?

Presentation: Philosophy In the Age of Neuroscience

Paul Churchland

Rep&Learning

I’m agnostic in so many ways! I’m not an advocate for the proposal that states: Brain = Mind. Still, I am really pleased the Churchland’s convictions have cascaded–as it would be–into the field of ‘The Mind.’ I remain suitably impressed by the evidence which certifies if the physical system of the brain is shockingly altered, the mind is altered too.

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Gerrymander and the GOP’s Worldliness Conundrum

gerrymander

 

I didn’t expect the schadenfruede to be so long-lasting.

GOP study calls for changes to halt presidential losing streak

By Paul West
March 18, 2013, 4:00 a.m.
WASHINGTON — A smug, uncaring, ideologically rigid national Republican Party is turning off the majority of American voters, with stale policies that have changed little in 30 years and an image that alienates minorities and the young, according to an internal GOP study.

That blunt assessment on the state of Republicanism at the national level comes from a major new report, out Monday, that will likely shake up an already battered party. It was commissioned by the head of the Republican National Committee in the wake of Mitt Romney’s defeat last year.

Without offering detailed policy prescriptions, the 98-page report calls on the party to “smartly change course,” modernize itself and develop “a more welcoming brand of conservatism that invites and inspires new people to visit us.”

There are extensive lists of proposals, many of them technological and procedural, designed to help the GOP better engage voters, especially women, minorities and the young, and reverse a losing pattern in five of the last six popular votes for president.

“Unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future,” the report concludes.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, in remarks in Washington on the release of the study by the party’s “Growth and Opportunity Project,” is unsparing in his analysis of the 2012 election setback.

“Our message was weak. Our ground game was insufficient. We weren’t inclusive. We were behind in both data and digital. Our primary and debate process needed improvement,” he says, according to an advance text of his remarks.

“We know we have problems. We’ve identified them, and we’re implementing the solutions to fix them,” he says.

Most of the criticisms are familiar to those, both inside and outside the GOP, who have watched the party fail to come to grips with changing demographics and, instead, try to rely on older, white voters who represent a shrinking part of the electorate.

“Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us,” the report says. Young voters, it says, see the party as “old and detached from pop culture.”

In calling for the GOP to develop “a more welcoming conservatism,” the report rebukes those who remain in denial about the seriousness of the problem and those who are unwilling to broaden the party’s appeal.

A just-concluded gathering of conservatives in Washington cheered speaker after speaker who urged the GOP to stick to its guns and, instead, largely blamed the 2012 defeat on Romney or the way he ran his campaign.

“The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself,” the study says. “We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.”

The report calls on Republicans to counter the party’s image as an arm of business. It says Republicans should “blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.”

Beyond that, however, there are no policy details. Indeed, the authors point out that they are not a policy committee, in a section calling on the GOP to “embrace and champion” comprehensive immigration reform without further specifics.

In addition, an extensive set of “inclusion” proposals for minority groups, including Latinos, Asians and African Americans, appears to mimic similar, failed outreach efforts by various RNC chairs over the last 30 years.

The report notes the party’s problems with women voters, especially unmarried women. But its 10-point plan for appealing to women makes no mention of the GOP stance on any social issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, that have turned off many of the voters in question.

In a section on campaign mechanics, Republicans are advised to make “a critical cultural shift” on early, absentee, and online voting, trends that the report notes are “here to stay.” The report fails to note, however, that Republican elected officials fought to block and even reverse that trend at the state level in 2012.

Although the RNC study spares Romney any direct criticism, it includes tacit criticism of GOP polling that seems directed at his campaign. Research conducted for the study report found that 70% of Republican pollsters surveyed said that Democratic polling in 2012 “was better than our own. Fully 22% felt the Democrats did ‘much better’ than the Republicans when it came to accuracy and reliability.”

In a section on party primaries, there are thinly veiled attacks on efforts by outside groups, such as those tied to former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove and organizations like the Club for Growth, that seek to apply litmus tests or weed out candidates considered unelectable.

“It would be a mistake for any one organization to think it can circumvent GOP voters and hand-pick our nominees,” the report says. “Third-party groups that promote purity are hurting our electoral prospects.”

There are also calls for fewer candidate debates during the presidential primaries, a shorter nomination calendar and an earlier national convention.

The report is the product of a committee headed by Priebus’ allies and supporters, including Henry Barbour of Mississippi, the nephew of former governor and RNC chairman Haley Barbour; former George W. Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer; and Sally Bradshaw, a longtime advisor to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

If this problem of the GOP–losing national popular votes–interests you, you’ll be moved to follow the various scenes of crashing perceptions and the subsequent wreckage.

If somebody asked me what the chief deficit of the GOP is, I would answer that the Red States provide generous amount of evidence about what the Grand Old Party hopes to accomplish. So, from this, my short answer would be,

The GOP wants to race to the bottom. This desire strikes many people as being the equivalent of asking voters to punch themselves in the face–and be better off for it!

The bottom is many ‘bottoms’ and each such bottom can be well defined by the data. If you aspire to obtain the median education or household income or physical health of the average citizen of Mississippi or Tennessee or Alabama, then I have a political party that aims to support your goals.

What is the predicated goal enabled to head downward? Cheap Labor.

There you have it. The strategic handwringing is marvelous yet the actual situation isn’t very dire. The GOP is in fine shape when you look at what the nature of their actual success is all about.

Its libertarian “Chamber of Commerce” wing is fabulously fat and happy. The libertarian wing requires frightened, racist, aging, married, white people to lock in political advantages in Red States and so it has gone famously for four-plus decades. Fueling non-economic resentments of such people and then also gaming as much as possible the available, gritty mechanics of elections has proven to be a marvelous trick.

This strategy has worked out well. The political directors have leveraged resentment and cheap labor to a commanding political lead in the Red states. Has the bottom come into view? Not yet; ‘call the Texas textbook folks.’

(Cheap labor figures into the ability of state level oligarchs to put their money to work on political projects without many monied opponents standing in their way.) The GOP’s success is etched by the various state-level measures. Hurray for Kansas!

Losing national and statewide elections in blue states is the price exacted by the Red State strategy. The GOP protests too much. There is no chance of the GOP winning substantially more votes of young, or single, or minority, or, highly educated voters, as long as the GOP wants to play this hard ball strategic and tactical game on any Purple-to-Blue state’s territory.

For example, it should be completely obvious that the GOP, if it is hoping to make it harder for minorities to vote, is not going to make the party attractive to those same minorities. Having leaders in some states assert the state’s interest in penetrating and raping a woman’s vagina prior to the woman undergoing a medical procedure is not going to make your party attractive to most women.  Supporting the teaching of intelligent design and/or young earth creationism; denying climate change; and, (recently we learn,) spinning slaveowners as benefactors of slaves, is not going to make your party more attractive to college kids and the educated classes.

Over the long term of the GOP, the paradox inherent betwixt its ruthless plutocratic libertarian ideology and its core voters’ theocratic fantasy is resolved by the GOP’s inability to accomplish the task of replacing its aging white core voter. Who knew paranoia and fearfulness and resentment has a shelf life?

Until then, I fully expect GOP directors to continue to follow the overt marching orders of Rush and Rand, and be obedient to the tactical orders of ALEC and the Koch Brothers, et al.. In doing so, at least, its power players will continue to enjoy big paydays. I get it: the principle grifters, the Makers, are laughing all the way to the bank. The GOP’s success is not fragile as long as there are, in the Red states, resentful and fearful old white social conservatives for the rightward Makers to shake down and manipulate.

Conservative Order

Sociological meta-order-a reduction showing the gulf between economic and social GOP conservatives–roughly this depicts the difference at the extremes between voters who are sure ‘Satan eventually loses to Jesus,’ with, political directors who are willing to play very pointed electoral hard ball to lock-in their political-economic advantages–the former remain unappreciative of the worldliness of the latter!

The key requirement of continued GOP success supposes the “Libertarian directors” understand the grievances of the social conservative hoi polloi are never to be resolved.

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A Knotty Issue of Development

men and women iconized into bias

If you were asked, ‘How do you reduce prejudice, prejudicial behavior, bias?’ how would you respond?

Just the other day I was asked this same question by a good friend who has been charged with teaching college sophomores something useful about how to, as she put it, think, feel and behave, in a diverse social environment.

It strikes me as a difficult and complex problem, and, also, one that is itself prone to being addressed in unreasonable and biased folk-psychological estimations of how, in effect, prejudice and bias can be said to operate.

Is the mitigation of prejudice against the opposite gender simply a matter of unlearning a pattern of response, or simply a matter of replacing this same pattern with a new behavior? My friend and I discussed empathy in terms of being the kind of ‘simulation’ that could serve this simple ‘replacement’ formula.

Stereotypes

We moved onto consider bias being partly a consequence of inaccurate evaluation; with this possibly being a crucial aspect of a biased learned response. This seems, to me, closer to the developmental knot of bias, in that inaccuracies of evaluation often are straight-forward threads of such a knot.

This also allows for experiential approaches to revealing the evaluative aspects of how people experience different, other persons.

The following formula summarizes our intuition.

presence + ignorance + humility
= (more accurate evaluation)
increased potential to reduce biases in evaluation

 

detail

presence: intentional focusing of external (object) awareness, while also being reflective and introspectively sensitive to emergent internal content (Note-Presence constitutes an active, vigilant behavior with respect to sub-conscious and automatic, or otherwise habitual, upwellings of inaccurate evaluation.)

ignorance: knowing ahead of time what you don’t know (Note-Ignorance contextualized by: knowing how one might both choicelessly and choicefully fill in the blanks with: prior knowledge; stereotypical knowledge; ad hoc knowledge; sub-conscious intuitions: prejudicial knowledge

humility: willing submission to being attentive without prior knowledge (Note-Submission is equivalent to also being willing and able to entertain an experiment through which one closely observes the nature of their own participation in their own experience of instantiating inaccurate evaluation.)

 

 

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CIA Goes Social

Twitter Blue Birds

I much prefer the international party / creep show by design that is Google Plus (G+) over both The Facebook and The Twitter. Alas, hardly anyone I know shares this view as of the end of 2012.

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