Thursday, May 29, 2008

Calling Eliot Ness!

Sign on the back of Gary's Ultimate Fruit delivery truck, Cape Cod.

Buy from us and nobody gets hurt.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Message

Click on this link, The War Prayer, by Mark Twain, to read what should be a part of the opening statement of the prosecutors at the trials of Bush, Cheney and their lieutenants for crimes against humanity, war crimes.

If convicted the most appropriate punishment would be International Service, defined as required service in the US Army, as Private E-1, with a contract for eight years, but which specifically states that their time in both rank and service can be extended indefinitely by circumstances beyond their control, as arbitrarily declared legal according to their definition of what is legal, by the so-called Stop Loss provision.

Let me be clear. I am against the death penalty, with no exceptions, and I
am against physical torture, with no exceptions. I am also against any actions
physical, emotional and/or psychological to which the object of that action is essentially
rendered helpless to resist. To the claim that torture is a subjective term I say you will know it when you see it.

I am for the need and right of defendants to appeal their convictions and sentences, and their right to face their accusers.

My stance against the death penalty and torture is not based on any religious convictions, reasons, dictates, dogmas or commandments of any person verified to have actually lived or not, especially if the source of inspiration came from a burning bush. It is not based on dogmas and fatwas by those who dress up in gowns, tall hats, and parade like clowns among the people, swinging things that look like lanterns or small household appliances, but which emit at least the smoke part of their smoke and mirrors show. That behavior is pure propaganda and indoctrination in the guise of mysticism to capture the imagination of the vast numbers of humans who are willing to look to anyone and anything in their desperate attempt to explain and accept the lousy hand they've been dealt in this life.

It's because we are all condemned to die from birth that I believe we should treat others with compassion. As it is written in Desiderata, "Like the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here". What that wise and spiritual author didn't add was, for a time, for now.

The best I can contribute is that I believe that no human being has the right to take another life under any circumstance. That life will be taken, at some time and place, by the simple fact and reality that it is a part Nature.

If you've looked at and actually paid attention to Nature, you can't avoid observing all its many realities. For the most part it's male dominated which results in one male animal impregnating many females, which perpetuates his male dominance genes; for the most part it's the survival of the fittest, the stronger and faster kills and eats the weaker and the slower.

The female of the species nurtures the new lives which come into being as a result of a male of the species' physical attack, what we would call rape, of the female of the species.

The females of the species don't get off light either. They will do whatever they need to do to protect and defend their offspring, including violence and killing. You would have to have been in a coma since birth to not have seen examples of this behavior.

I think the word "Behavior" might be the most useful in our attempt, wish and hope to understand what is really going on on Earth, and particularly, what is going on in this, our life, and time on Earth.

It's not pretty, and it's not supposed to be.

We all fail in our attempts at decency, now and then, mostly by lousy and angry attitudes towards others. But killing and torturing are behaviors beyond the pale.

The War Prayer, by Mark Twain.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Obama and Connectivity

Here is an insightful piece by Roger Cohen in Monday's NY Times.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

When What is Superficially Legal is Basically Obscene

Please, please read the article found here.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post uses his biting wit to expose the hypocrisy and cynicism of the Princes of the Realm of Big Oil. The King of their Realm is Dick Cheney, who poses as the Vice President of the United States, a legal and moral disguise for his actual position as Don of the behind the scenes manipulations of what I call the elected mafia.

Sometimes I wonder if we need a Robespierre. But his French Revolution reign of terror was equal in its obscenity to the reign of oppression under Louis XIV of Versailles.

Today we have CEO's of oil companies who can't remember how much they were paid recently while ensconced in their plush world headquarters palaces.

The cynicism of the French King, Louis IV, who liked to look in the mirror and see himself shining bright as the sun(he called himself as the Sun King) is mirrored by all the
Big Oil Big Wigs.

Their behavior is obscene.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tribalism, a Human Species Instinct

Here are the results of a Zogby Poll. I am not an expert on polling but Zogby seems to be both respected and well known as a useful source of information.

It baffles me that more than a third of those polled still support McCain.

That has to be at bottom a response which can only be described as tribal; tribal in the sense of never defying the tribal chief, and pledging one's allegiance to the chief no matter what.

This is still a very human reaction to threats on our borders, borders being our own small place. We understand that there is strength in numbers, a survival instinct inherited genetically from those life forms which preceeded us.


Here is a report about something that defies being understood by any description based on here and now or there and then. Time and place are the parameters with which we do our best to place ourselves in our world. Place and time are constructs of the apparent three dimensional Universe which our brains can comprehend at this stage in our evolution.

I feel blessed by having lived in a time when scientists have teamed up with engineers to explore such things. On the one hand it's frustrating to be able to get just so far in understanding, but on the other hand, it's the quest for understanding that keeps us going; us being the living species with the brain power large enough for some of our number to take us to the edge. I can imagine saying such things had I lived in the time of Copernicus or Galelio.

I admit to jealousy of those who will live during future times and places of more discovery.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Fallacy of the Mars/Venus Simplistic Model

Please check this out.

Last night Jon Lester, a 24 year old pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, threw a no hitter.

He allowed only two walks, allowed no runs, and pitched his first complete game as a major league pitcher. Those are facts which athletes depend on to back their claim for more lucrative contracts.

Though I continue to be appalled by the over the top, and obscene compensation of those whose contributions and appeal depend on their physical attributes, sometimes it's just not that obvious, that objective, that logical, that impersonal.

Last night we got to see the personal feelings of a wealthy player and a wealthy manager hugging, with tears of joy, following an exceptional performance by an athlete who had worked his way back from a life threatening illness. Manager Terry Francona hugged and held onto his pitcher Jon Lester for a time which by its length made us aware that it was not just a perfunctory expression of congratulation.

So much for the Mars/Venus simplistic model of behavior.

Senator Kennedy's health diagnosis has been greeted by most people with concern, worry and compassion. His history is well known. He has his admirers and his detractors, as we all do; his being far more public than most.

Recent accounts of the health challenges of these two human beings are public knowledge. One is of a young man and another is of a senior citizen; one is of a talented athlete and another is of a talented politician, and to be sure the value of their impacts in our society and culture are debatable.

Ironically the senior citizen might have received the accolades of his generation as a young man, and the young man might come to receive the accolades of his generation years from now.

What is in common in our culture, as exemplified by the stories of these two men, is that, to our everlasting credit, mostly without caring a wit for our own salvation and survival, we tend to rally around and support those who learn that they have life threatening illnesses, which only the most cynical of observers would claim they deserve.

Some stories are more well known, publicized, than others. The stories of Jon Lester and Ted Kennedy share the limelight this week. Next week there will be other stories, with a more or less impact on the public.

But next week the stories of others stricken by undeserved illnesses, but which are not followed by the media, will continue to unfold, play out as they must and will.

"None of us gets out of this life alive", said my wise pastor years ago.

He was an advocate for the idea that each of us figures out a way to bequeath something of value to those who will follow us in life, beyond financial assets.

Pitcher and manager showed us an example of that.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

The Hacks and the Hypocrites

Here is yet another important column by Bob Herbert of the NYTimes.

He argues for a Be Serious general election campaign. Perhaps, let's hope, this time the voters get it.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, May 19, 2008

On Tides and Storms

We often hear the maxim that rising tides lift all boats. But what about lowering tides? We don't hear about that as a maxim. Surely lowering tides must also affect all boats, though in an equal but opposite manner.

Not in the waters I know.

The so-called economic expansion of the past four or so years has not been a tide which raised all boats; just the yachts, not the row boats.

And the housing bubble has not grounded all boats, just the row boats, not the yachts.

My wish is that the upcoming general election be a bloodless revolution of the row boats, a kind of perfect storm, sending the yachts scurrying to any port in the storm.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Live, From Cape Cod, IT'S SUNDAY AFTERNOON!!!

This afternoon, at the Orleans, MA Middle School, the Outer Cape Chorale performed Shubert's Mass In G, and Faure's Requiem. If you have to ask the price you cant't afford it.

From the opening stroke of the hand and arm of director Jon Arterton, the sound lepted off the stage with a power and emotionally grabbing expression which the composers must have felt and imagined.

Sometimes it's said, "You had to be there". Sorry for you if you weren't.

There are times when I don't want to be associated with the human race. This afternoon was not one of those times.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

I Know, I Believe, I Don't Know, What Was the Question?

Here is a report about the sale of an Einstein letter. I care not for the dollar value put on it, but I care a great deal that Richard Dawkins, an avowed atheist was a bidder.

Aside from my belief that some things cannot and should not be owned, I wonder why Dawkins wanted to own it. The content of the letter is well known. Did he want to own it to take it out of circulation?

In that letter Einstein called himself an agnostic. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition, ,an agnostic is, "One who holds the view that ultimate reality(as God) is unknown and probably unknowable".

Dawkins , in his most recent book, The God Delusion, calls that view wishy -washy, and those who hold it fence sitters.

Dawkins is a brilliant scientist who has added much to what science can instruct us. His 1970's book, The Selfish Gene, is an important contribution to the the layman's store of knowledge in the area of genetics. His more recent work, The God Delusion, expresses total disdain for anyone and anything religious. It's power is that he makes his points with apparent logic tight analysis, but with tunnel vision.

Dawkins is as fervent in his belief, which he calls non-belief, as those whom he ridicules for their own fervent beliefs. The atheist scientist and the believer theologian, both promote a position which can only be described as what they believe. Each is essentially a religious position, in the sense that religion is the practice of what one believes, whether defended by logical thinking, or hoped for enlightenment.

Einstein has not lost his position as having the greatest known brain ever, and using that gift to analyse the cosmo. Having done that he shared what was on his mind about ultimate reality(as God); He said he was an agnostic, confessing that he didn't know.

Some years ago, I came to understand, from having embarrassed myself too many times, that "I don't know" is likely the most intelligent response one can make.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Defense Secretary Gates, an Appeaser?

Here is a piece from the Daily Kos on the "appeasement" thing.

I wonder if Gates wants to spend more time with his family.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Friday, May 16, 2008

The" News" Hour

I just watched tonight 's PBS reincarnation of Friday Night Fights. It's called The News Hour with Jim Leher.

As a program called The News Hour it's dishonest. At best it's a program which summarizes the news of the day for a few minutes, followed by space and face time for individuals to express their opinions and make their arguments about today's problems.

A more legimate and honest title would be The Opinion Hour.

I state this opinon as one who, more often than not, agrees with the implied opinions of The News Hour.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

As Good As It Gets

I just watched John Edwards endorse Barack Obama.

I just watched the most beautiful of Baltimore Orioles dig into the half orange which Betsy put out on the deck railing.

As good as it gets.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, May 12, 2008

Burma, Darfur and NeoCons for Starters

How does one reconcile acknowlegement of the fact of being of a species, but often wanting to distance oneself from that species?

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Render Unto Darwin

Here is a link to an excellent review of the recent works of atheists; Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, et al.

Chris Hedges has written a rebuttal to the arguments of these writers. I commend it to you.

I am currently reading Dawkins' book, The God Delusion, and was happy to find this essay by Hedges. Dawkins is, if anything, logical and promotes his beliefs in a most credible way. Having Hedges arguments at hand will help keep me questioning Dawkins' arguments.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Everything Died

What to believe? Here is just one report on the topic of climate. This one is important because it questions the viability of life on Earth.

The best way to decide anything is to accumulate facts, look for patterns in those facts, analyze those patterns as objectively as one can, that is to say, logically which requires a temporary setting aside of one's personal point of view, then subject that logic to one's values, personal point of view.

Too often we jump from facts to values, passing over the use of looking for patterns and trends inherent in those facts and unwilling to analyze those possible patterns to objective, logical analysis along the way. The best use of our so-called large brains is to follow the process I outlined above.

On the climate question, personal feelings seem to trump facts and patterns as well as logic.
Tribal response at its worst.

At some point observers from another world will write, "The biosphere " exhibited a one hundred percent mortality response. In other words everything died. Including the tribes.

Not in our lifetime, and that's the problem. No urgency and therefore no motivation on the part of those who don't want to be inconvenience by anything so far out and far off as loss of a habitable planet.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Bible's Supremely Important Value: The Word

Disclosure: Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper, the author of this blog, is a self declared agnostic, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of that word; "One who holds the view that ultimate reality, as God, is unknown and probably unknowable".

It's often said that fiction contains elements of truth, and that art imitates life.

If the Bible could be accepted that way it might have far more impact, appeal and many more readers.

As a work of fiction it likely would win numerous awards, surely a Nobel prize among them. The prize would have to be awarded posthumously to The Unknowns.

The humans who wrote the Bible are many, and they should be honored for telling stories with important messages. The Book of Genesis includes two creation stories, each tells a truth, but are contradict each other in the details. That's only a problem when one wants to believe the Bible literally. It's not a problem when one looks to stories for larger meanings. Stories contain details, but they don't need to accepted as historical facts, just details which the author made up to seem like facts in order to make the story interesting enough to make a point.

Lewis Carroll made up details, disguised as facts, for his powerful, in terms of important truths, Alice In Wonderland. I don't know of anyone who accepts those details as historical facts.

I suspect that the authors of the Bible would be amused that many of their readers took their stories literally. In fact, I think they might be rather disappointed that the truths they were trying to convey were lost in the need of many to find factual meaning in their reading. And who knows what else was lost in translation?

Perhaps God, whatever one believes that to mean, inspired humans to use their words to reveal The Word. In the little Protestant church where I sing in the choir, above and behind the pulpit is a beautiful stained glass window with the words, "The Word of Our God Stands Forever."

That has great meaning for me as an agnostic. It appeals to and connects with my willingness to accept that God, though not an anthropomorphic being, is a Presence contained in a Mystery.

I have had some experiences in life which I cannot explain scientifically, and which seemed to be responses to certain questions and pleas I admitted to in prayer.

I ascribe to the American Indian concept of The Great Spirit. What I make of that belief system is that a Great Spirit was acknowledged to exist in all things. The buffalo, for example, was thanked for his sacrifcie so that, by eating of his flesh and blood, and using his hide for security and protection, they would not die. Sound familiar? The Last Supper story in the Bible is strikingly similar in meaning, though not in detail.

Jesus is reported to have said something like, "The Spirit of God is within you", and I will not leave you comfortless, but will send you the Holy Spirit".

The importance of the Bible is its conveyance of ultimate truths, morals and mysteries through the words of stories which are far more useful and valuable when accepted metaphorically. The stories are not factual but are truthful. To believe them to be accurate factually obscures the truth in them.

There are some realities which I think must be accepted.

In a party atmosphere as kids many of us learned a great truth. In a lineup of us kids, someone whispered a story in the ear of a person on one end of the line, and was told to pass it on. After it was passed along to the several others in the line, the last to hear it was asked to tell the story. The story at the end of the line bore virtually no resemblance to the original story.

In The Beginning, the stories of the Bible, especially those of The Old Testament, were orally transmitted from one human being to another, and thus passed along.

The stories of the Bible, when written down were done so in the local language and dialect, and subsequently translated for the benefit of those people who spoke another language.

Things are lost in translation, and the most tragic loss can be the embedded meaning of the story.

The Bible available to us today, and in it's many modern translations, is the product of those who thought of themselves as authoritities on what is should contain. Biblical Scholars and authorites have uncovered many examples of editorial decisions made by those in the positions of power, the hierarchy as it were, to exclude parts of the earlier texts, and include those written later, often decades later.

How to account for what has come down to us as The Bible?

Should we ascribe to God, The Great Spirit, The Holy Spirit the power to bring to us The Word?

Should we ascribe to the views of those who have human and personal agendas the power to filter what was written over centuries?

Should we ascribe to the views of the translators, first from the oral stories and then from language to language?

As children we're taught, In God We Trust. As adults it's on our currency. Jesus is reported to have said, about currency and taxes, render unto Ceasar what is Ceaar's. Render unto God what is God's.

I don't have any more answers than the next guy, but I have questions I'm not shy about asking, in spite of my expectation that many might vilifiy me, including those of my own flesh and blood.

I guess that's what the Last Supper and other pagan observances have been all about; the Ultimate Communion Observance.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Perhaps that's just the problem which exposes its limitations. When one cries, "Author, author"

there is no one there to respond. There is no single agent to hype it, though thousands of preachers and rabiis try to do so at least once a week. There is no single author to accept the accolades of the readers. And many of the authors would likely sue over having been left out of what is today's book by editors with an axe to grind. And many of the authors used or were given pen names, which, over time obscured their human identities.

Perhaps in time Samuel Clemmons' human name will be lost in the obscurity of history, and only Mark Twain will survive. What were the human names of those who wrote chapters in the Bible called Mathew, Mark, Luke and John?

What were the names of the humans who wrote Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, etc.? Who were their editors and publishers?

(Disclosure: I have read the Bible from front to back, from first written word to last written word, twice. I majored in English in college where I took a course in Humanities which included a study of the Bible as a work of literature.)

Enough with cynicism and sarcasm. I employ these devices only to make the point that the Bible cannot possibly stand up to literary scrutiny as an accurate historical record. That would require of the reader a total suspension of common sense and/or a preference for living in a land of make believe, like Dorothy's Land of Oz, Alice's Wonderland and Disney's Magic Kingdom.

The history of the Bible as a work of literature is remarkable. It tops the best seller lists pretty much all the time. I can only speculate on it's popularity.

Here are some of my speculations.

Parents of all three Abrahamic Monotheistic faiths expose their children at a very early age to the stories of the Bible. Raised as child of nominal Christian parents, I know about Sunday School. I have no knowledge of how this plays out in Jewish and Muslim homes at that early age.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Legal Criminals

Here is a NY Times editorial about US Companies using offshore shell companies to duck paying millions in taxes.

So far it's legal, but Congress could and should change that.

One of most egregious examples is KBR, a former Halliburton firm with continuing close ties to Cheney.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What's the Difference?

What's the difference between the Katrina/Bush tragedy and the recent Myanmar Cyclone/Myanmar government tragedy?

Not much if any, as defined by the level of quick and effective response. Both regimes demonstrate that they really don't care.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper


Sean Gonsalves is a columnist for the Cape Cod Times, and is syndicated columnist for other news organization. Read here his thoughts about the Bush administrations embrace of secrecy,
typical of countries whose so-called leaders are tyrants.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Church and State, a Promising Development

Read here a report of a promising development within the Evangelical church.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

The President, the Pentagon and the People

Read here Scott Ritter's excellent piece on how the Pentagon's mission has been co-opted by a president who thinks of himself as king of the realm which he now must protect against threats from his own subjects.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Who are the Patriots? Check this Out

Please click here to read today's post on the blog Minstrel Boy.

The author and his wife lost a son in Iraq. He uses his blog today to quote some named sources who expose the shameful, if not criminal, behavior of Rumsfeld and Bush.

This man has a right if anybody does.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, May 3, 2008

You Don't See This Everyday

Here is a column by Bob Herbert in today's NY Times which is the most sensible I've read on the Rev Wright travesty to this point.

Herbert is a black journalist calling a black pastor "loony". You don't see this everyday. More importantly he chastised the Main Stream Media for making this election "tragic and absurd", in the face of hugely important issues which are being trivialized.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Three Foolish Men

Vast numbers of Obama supporters had hoped that Reverend Wright would come to understand how damaging to Obama were his comments in the public media.

I for one was worried by the prospect of Bill Moyers choosing to give Wright even more public stage exposure. Something, a hunch maybe, informed me that Wright should have been given the hook by the stage manager, rather than the stage lights. Though he came across as intelligent in his Moyers interview, that exposure resulted in an unfortunate example of unintended consequences.

Moyers is one of the most well known and respected figures in the public media, especially in a segment of the media which appeals to people who take in information, analyse it, think about it and deal with it in accord with personal values. Unfortunately such programs, like most programs on PBS, are watched by only a small slice of voters.

Disclosure: Bill Moyers is a member of the United Church of Christ(UCC) who addressed a New England gathering of United Church of Christ congregations in the summer of 2007 in Connecticut. Barack Obama also spoke at that gathering. Reverend Wright is the former pastor of the Trinity Church in Chicago, a UCC church. My life partner Betsy is a member of the Federated Church of Orleans, MA, a UCC congregation. I sing in the choir of that church.

Trinity Church in South Chicago is essentially an all black congregation in the UCC. Our Orleans church is essentially an all white congregation. Other demographics also describe very different cultures and memes.

However Barack Obama has the support of a very large number of our congregation, if not a majority. Those of us in that group are horrified by how Wright seems to delight in cutting Barack off at the knees.

Bob Herbert, a black journalist, wrote the best piece I've read on this earlier in the week in the NYTimes. He exposes Wright as a narcissist, only interested in his own agenda hoping to become famous, like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson as black racists disguised as men of God.

I am a Barack Obama supporter and feel that the country and the globe need him in the White House. Wright is a racist who hopes to capitalize on a black man in the White House for racist purposes.

Ironically, should we be wise enough as a country to elect Barack Obama, the Wrights, Jacksons and Sharptons of this world would have their approach to race jerked out from under them. That approach has never been more observable than in Wright's recent speeches. One of his most bizarre utterances was that he, Wright, would be coming after him, Obama; should Obama be elected and take the oath of office. Care to speculate about that message?

Obama has been, is and still will be about bringing people together, exactly the opposite of the goals of the Three Foolish Men.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper