Sunday, March 15, 2020

p14, p39 Naw Ruz Eve Thoughts, from 16 Years Ago

Thoughts on Naw Ruz Eve; 20 March, 2004

I started this fast easy, even for a time laughing contemptuously at healthy people who complain how tough it is, "Just try it with the sword of a migraine hanging by a thin thread over your head, me hearties," Thought I, "Arrr!" I only missed the first day to a migraine. I was not much bothered since. Not by that, not that, only by a fast that weighs down a little more each day.

Not eating at first seems like the pain of nostalgia, the loss you feel when you visit an old school after years of absence. You attended this institution ... it was your whole life and all your friends were there and now you are gone and they are gone and every face is new and strange and unknown but walking the same footsteps with the same vain hopes, thoughts, illusions and fears as so long before. You hated every minute you were there but now it is gone and missing it is worse than having it ever was. You hate it all the more for doing this to you now, more now than ever then. And you try oh so hard not to but you have to wonder: what became of the personalities who tread these halls with you? Are they even more the aliens now than they were then? What becomes of old acquaintanceship, is there a heaven or hell for nodding knowledge, a sewer for likes and loves as for other effluent? They all seemed so alive and unique, as did you, and now they are dried out like my gut and even the memory is faded to ghostly incoherence, like the memory of your last meal.

Then it gets worse. Day by day the drought exacerbates until a wilderness is spread all over your world, a desert that makes your pure blue planet into a dead, brown wasteland. I feel it, ill in my skin, washing, excoriating, red throbbing rash whose dried out ouch lays every nerve exposed to the raw caress of unfeeling events. 

A long sere night of soullessness almost over with. There is no consolation in this ... strangulation grips your throat without touching you, dry retching of heart -- dry retching is when your body orders you to vomit and does not care that your stomach is long empty -- only this is a retching you cannot put your finger on, it is spiritual. Mental. You try to think a thought and there is no content or meaning to the thoughts but you must think them nonetheless. Mental retching.

My long unwholesome fast days drag on without content, discontented, wintering, disemboweled, lackluster, they lack not so much stomach content as guts ... the gumption to stumble on to the next step, the moxie to molt my "my," an emptiness that goes beyond body to all being, body, mind, soul. I stand, a sun-dried John. My entire nineteen months are dried tomatoes, all that fructified in the other eighteen are laid without juices in one span of nineteen.

"Does the wild donkey bray when he has grass? Or does the ox low over his fodder? Can that which has no flavor be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg? My soul refuses to touch them; They are as loathsome food to me." (Job 6:5-7, WEB)

I wander the streets in the afternoon like a zombie eating out its own brain, a cannibalistic ice cream cone without a single scoop of wholeness in it ... and you think, surely people will see the emptiness behind my eyes. But they overlook even the outside, the drying face, and care not what is within.

"Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." (Matt 6:16-18)

I don't know about washing the face, but this fast I have tried turning up the dental hygiene. When I brush, floss and swish around this special fluoride mouthwash my dentist recommended I take first thing in the morning, I find that I enter the fast day with a special lift that lasts about -- I don't know -- five minutes until that too is browned, dry and lifeless.

And now dawns the nineteenth day, Naw Ruz eve. Happy New Year's everybody! Let me wish you the open reward of our Father which art in heaven. In Him are spring and its green gardens with streams flowing underneath.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

p30, p06 Oligarchy's Squeeze Play

Oligarchy's Squeeze Play

by John Taylor, 2020 Mar 08

In 2011 economist Paul Krugman pointed out that calling the wealthy the "one percent" is quite inaccurate. They should be called the one in a thousand. Where does the money of this tiny elite come from? What do the powerful oligarchs do for a living? In view of how events over the past nine years have played out, Krugman's list is prescient.

"Who is in that top 0.1 percent? Are they heroic entrepreneurs creating jobs? No, for the most part, they are corporate executives. Recent research shows that around 60 percent of the top 0.1 percent either are executives in nonfinancial companies or make their money in finance, i.e., Wall Street broadly defined. Add in lawyers and people in real estate, and we are talking about more than 70 percent of the lucky one-thousandth." (Oligarchy, American Style, Paul Krugman, New York Times, November 3, 2011

Sound familiar? This one in a thousand are executives, lawyers and real estate tycoons. Worse, at the very top of this pyramid sit the heirs to even vaster fortunes who own it all, and who never had to earn money in the first place.

When so few rule, they have to know their job, because the one who satisfies the other members of the elite will surely rise above all others. This is done by keeping other oligarchs busy, and offering them hope of even greater fortunes. The one at the summit must provide the skilled and ambitious oligarchs just below with gainful employ and easy money.

Is it any wonder that Donald Trump rose above all others?

Counter-intuitively, his notoriety and incompetence gave him a decisive advantage over other, more placid heirs to mega-fortunes. It attracted Russian money to bail him out and compromise him, then, after his rise to power, laws designed to protect privilege from their rightful due, and bountiful government funding, protect him. Trump precariously surfs the wave of an ever toppling real estate empire perpetually on the brink of bankruptcy, eating up huge loans from the powerful financial sector. His criminal transgressions, even now, provide lucrative employment to an army of influential lawyers -- members in good standing of the oligarchy -- busy fending off lawsuits initiated by victims and opponents.

Why do other oligarchs tolerate him? Stupid question. Free tax cuts permanently transfer ever more money to the top of the heap, into the avid hands of inherited drones and corporate leaches.
And how do the keep the schmucks, the 999 out of a thousand, in line, especially in an age when communication technology displays their shenanigans on everyone's palm? The oldest play in the book, divide and conquer. Keep them scrabbling, stir up outrage about anything and everything; pump up the volume, remove their ability to think straight, delude them until even love and truth fail to move. The ancient Hindu book, the Panchatantra, expresses our vulnerability poetically.

 Until a mortal's belly pot is full,
 He does not care a jot
 For love or music, wit or shame,
 For body's care or scholar's name,
 For virtue or for social charm,
 For lightness or release from harm,
 For godlike wisdom, youthful beauty,
 For purity or anxious duty.
 (Panchatantra, p. 401)