Archive for Grand High Class in Greek and Roman Philosophy

14 Oct 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 14, 2013 by spinoza1111

First-thing 20 minute workout: 100 lowrise steps, 250 supine movements included some with weights.

Study of Johansen’s Ancient Philosophy moves apace and with profit into Roman philosophy which might well be summarized as Philosophy for Badasses with its emphasis on the backup role of women and the need for loyalty.

A day like a weekend for it’s a public holiday, this may have caused my “weekender” pain (10/10+) to explode earlier today altho now, with painkillahs at savage levels while earlier, “God’s vassals dropped and died” whilst the Sciatica river ran red with blood I prayed for and got surcease.

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5 Oct 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 5, 2013 by spinoza1111

20 minutes first thing: 300 movements supine including some weights, 150 low rise steps. Planning on a 30 minute walk later in the day; I originally typed “run” in a slip that was nameless, far older than Freud.

Added 3:12 PM: walked and did two sets of 10 steps apiece on midrise steps in stairwell for a 20 minute workout in midafternoon. Most pleasant in the sunshine, some pain: 7/10.

Study

Most important take-aways concerning Johansen’s Aristotle in his History of Ancient Philosophy: reality consists of form and content closely united in objects. An object (animal) that is “footed” (has feet) is not more perfect than a bipedal (two-footed) object/animal. Arguably the reverse is true: a bipedal creature is mo’ bettah than a creature with an unspecified number of feet; the later could be a Lovecraftian adept or follower of Yog’Sothoth with an uncountably many squishy feet, clearly inferior to a bipedal person in being a monster.

Altho “there is” substance (considered as it is spoken of in Genesis (“without form and void”)) post-Creation, substance has in all instances a form. The substance most “without form and void”, a sea at night (“and darkness lay on the face of the waters”) becomes “a sea at night” in which we can wait for “the light” at dawn. A mere sea-at-night becomes “a sea at night” or even if you prefer the reverse (a “sea at night” becomes a-sea-at-night) because the notation does not matter anymore, the important transition, is becoming aware of our ability to frame the situation in language: “in the beginning was the Word”. Our perception, in Kant’s terms, becomes as human perception mediated through language: we always know that an experience is ours and takes place in time, and this makes us morally responsible agents.

But there’s much more (Johansen p 363). In a key passage Aristotle answers the question “does the ‘first mover’ [God, the cause of all movement] itself move?

It does (of course for it is the source of movement in all other things, in all other objects) since it is the most perfect object of desire. We see God in inferior things and are drawn to these things, not as good in themselves but as pale imitations of the “Good”.

An unsolved problem in Platonism was whether the Idea of innately bad things (the “idea” of a cigarette) could be meaningfully spoken of as good or better than the reality. An answer might be that we seek in Cigarettes and intoxication, the Idea of a lost alertness and Joy which, perhaps, we last experienced in an athletic contest (whence the way the marketers of tobacco sought, when it was still legal to do so, a link between their product and athletic contests: whence the way the marketers of alcoholic drinks continue to seek a link between their product and again, sports).

And…why the hell do I have to even try to resolve these issues when a “critical philosophy of addiction” could of old have named the link between exploitation in the market and the vending of addiction? Why can Richard Klein pubish an entire book on smoking (“Cigarettes are Sublime”) while not having done his homework on this? Is it a “third rail”, like the one in the subway which we must not touch?

My head hurts, my butt hurts, and I have this new pain/strain in my chest to worry about along with that damned government shutdown; but in a previous post I wrote about the need to find the antithesis in setting a goal.

Johansen is saying that desire, this being-drawn-to-the-good, links the microcosm and its telos with the macrocosm: the planets move as they do in the macrocosm because they want to.

That is. Our individual worlds are continually threatened with extinction, the reversion to the formless void and rather than go along with that we have the choice to goal our way out of this mess, because “desire” if anything at all is expressed as “there must be someway out of this place.”

I’m quite aware that to use “goal” as a verb sounds like sports, sounds like a football coach. Can’t be helped, since sports as movement led me outa here a long time ago.

“There must be some kind of way out of here,” 
Said the joker to the thief, 
“There’s too much confusion, 
I can’t get no relief. 
Businessman they drink my wine, 
Plowman dig my earth 
None will level on the line, nobody offered his word, hey” 

“No reason to get excited,” 
The thief, he kindly spoke 
“There are many here among us 
Who feel that life is but a joke 
But you and I, we’ve been through that 
And this is not our fate 
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”

Bob Dylan, “All Along the Watchtower” Lyrics circa 1965

4 Oct 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 4, 2013 by spinoza1111

30 minutes first thing: 150 lowrise steps, 300 movements with and without weights, walk, 20 midrise steps.

I thought that I had the opportunity to do something meaningful with my life in a simple retirement, funded by Social Security but oops, comes now, right on schedule, Nemesis in the form of those God-damned idiot Know-Nothing Republicans…and the possibility (not the likelihood) of non-payment of Social Security benefits after 17 Oct. When I realized that Republican intransigence may force debt defaults on 17 Oct I was depressed, angry and fearful but then I “goaled-up”, that is, I simply asked myself, as I have about similar threats in the past, what goal results from the crisis: what actions I should take at this time.

The gesture is Hegelian. The Republican shutdown, and the potential loss of my social security in a US debt default, is the frightening thesis. One must then find some sort of antithesis.

Take a look at the illustration below. The thesis (yes, I will italicize thesis and antithesis as a snooty way of showing-off, that I know these words to be in actuality, Greek, and be-damned) is the scary predator eagle. The antithesis (take that, reactionary Fascistic business administration majors) is the magnanimous mouse:  “thou wilt be as valiant as the wrathful dove or most magnanimous mouse” (Shakespeare, Henry IV part 2).


Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 10.27.06 AM

For me in my situation, the antithesis, the “last great act of defiance” as above, is the written documentation of the goal-in-response which here is “make the plan to survive a debt default and the loss of Social Security”.

This will be to return to the workplace here in Hong Kong if that is necessary for survival. But as a first step, I checked my savings to realize that I have almost 7 months of savings on which to survive if there is an “economic” shutdown of government of 16 October, and the government walks away from debt obligations including Social Security payments.

In addition one of my old radical (SDS) pals suggested, on Facebook, a jobsite that looks like it has offerings that are perfect for my situation.

Most important I was able to stop worrying about the shutdown and the possibilities of default.

Furthermore, I realised that I needed to make a constructive antithesis as a condition of staying in good health, one that would acknowledge, and constructively act upon, my legitimate anger.

I once heard an otherwise forgettable motivational speaker say, “goals are magic” and they are.

4 Sep 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 4, 2013 by spinoza1111

30 minute workout first thing at 6:00 AM: warmup (100 motions), 250 lowrise steps, walk and 150 very-low-impact dance movements (the old soft shoe) which are getting aerobic but without impact, (note to self, increase the count and recharge the iPod for further advances on the dancing front), 50 supine weight movements. Will probably do 20 minutes physio later today, so that’s two workouts and a total of 50 minutes (five mile equivalent by my old metric in which 10 minutes of most exercises = one mile of running).

A Note on Stupid Errors!

On Facebook, WordPress, and other facilities I am very careful about proofreading for two reasons.

One is that the sheer volume of my postings mathematically increases the probability of stupid, foolish errors in spelling, grammar and even logic. These errors as made by an unknown person like me cause my credibility to drop to a negative range. Computers only seem to make many errors; the rate is low but perceived to be high because computers execute so many operations (for example, in a modern spreadsheet such as used by Harvard researchers to call for austerity in the infamous Rogoff/Reinhardt brouhaha).


Example: I wrote “One is that the sheer volume of my postings mathematically increase” which only sounds right. Logically and syntactically it’s very wrong: do you know why?

It’s an example of thinking that the closest noun to the left of the verb controls the “number” of the verb, and that because the closest noun is “postings” I must use “increase”.

But in fact the controlling noun is “volume” which is not in the scope of the preposition “of” as is “postings”, and “volume” is singular!

Explaining grammar is so much fun and I miss teaching ESL. I could do so on Skype or in my jammies from my Grantham hospital bed. I could be “bound in a nutshell, and count myself king of infinite space”.

But I miss work per se. I love watching the nurses do things right, and I love helping the sweepers sweep up the crap from under my bed. I miss The Great Chinese Fire Drill in which we all hustle to get to work on time and work hard once we get there.

These digressions are pretty obvious as italicized interjections but I also miss the ability one has in Word: to create light grey sidebars with marginalia, for marginalia usually contain your best work, such as “I have discovered a marvelous proof that for n>2, there’s no solution to x**n+y**n = z**n”. This ability may exist in WordPress and I will research WordPress to see if that is so.

One woman complained about my “frequent” spelling errors. She’d found one or two. They stick out, I believe, because of their rarity, as Homeric Nods. At the same time, despite having taught “its” versus “it’s” (neuter possessive versus a contraction of subject and the head of its predicate) I can make, in the heat of writing, that very confusion. When other strangers on the Internet make that error I think of them as rubes, Yahoos, and worse, for I have some really choice things to say when I get in a rage about the general degringolade. When I make it, it’s a case of “even good Homer nods”. Yeah, right.

The problem is, as I learned when I had the services of one of the most notable authors of computer books internationally (Dan Appleman) and subsequently of a less well known but brilliant man at Fawcette Technical Publications, nothing replaces a separate set of eyeballs connected to a giant brain and good heart. Dan is the reason why I had few errata in my computer book and the Fawcette guy helped me with a number of articles when I was living at the YMCA and desperate for cash, mostly to buy donuts and coffee and Bennison’s and Italian Beef at Gigio’s to be sure. I was willing to work all night to get away from Korean noodles in a styrofoam cup, fueled only by the remnants of that morning’s coffee, nursed until four AM.

Well, “name” celebrity bloggers like Paul Krugman (Princeton prof, courageous Keynesian) and Stanley Fish (slowly reforming neo-con, retired English professor, writer on language aspects of the law) have nameless editors such that, when unknown people with good qualifications (formerly tenured professors et al.) make stupid errors in the Comments zone, it makes them look bad…whereas Fish and Krugman (outside of Krugman’s personal blog as far as I can tell) sail on, looking good, lookin’ “fly”, because one doesn’t find stupid spelling, grammar and logic errors (“I have read Socrates’ and Homer’s writings” eewwwww you pompous SOB) in Fish or Krugman at all…their interns eradicate any similar howlers from Fish and Krugman’s own posts. People who recently went to college retain more, such as the use of the apostrophe in the neuter personal pronoun and who was Socrates, dammit. People including college professors retired or not forget what they learned in school. So an intern is nice to have as a proof-reader.

“Fly” – outdated African-American slang as in “you look so FLY in that suit” to mean you look good, eg., like SuperFly or John Shaft. Canya dig it. Not really because it’s really OLD slang.

I will find stupid errors months, even years after posting an entry in my blog, so I often reread old postings and make corrections, documenting them (as I learned to do when correcting software code) in a “Change Record” at the end of the posting.

Dan Appleman repeatedly encouraged me to “read your work aloud” because he didn’t have much spare time as it was yet he was up all hours finding stupid errors in my drafts: likewise some PhD types who tried to clean my essays on computer science up for an ACM conference in 2005 (they never were published because I could not financially attend the conference). It is especially important in writing poetry because poetry, even “free verse” (is there any such thing?) has to sound good, period, no exceptions, because as the brilliant editors of the Norton Anthology of English poetry assure us, poetry is writing meant to be read aloud. Very few exceptions exist to this.

Finally…that “red squiggle” you now see ubiquitously should be taken seriously. Correct red squiggles (sometimes they are a different color). What’s happening? An Open Source code has been developed to do really thorough spelling checks in all cases where you’re entering text. It even highlights unfamiliar given names (as opposed to surnames) which takes some non-trivial syntax analysis. Might as well pay attention to it although it does NOT avoid all errors (spelling checks never do, and never will).

Notes On Having an English Professor in the Family

My sister, an English professor, constantly beats me up, figuratively to be sure, over my careless writing. Makes her look bad once people make the connection.

On Nipping “Budding Writers” in the Bud

People who use the phrase “budding writer” as in “I yam a medical billing specialist and budding writer” are probably great medical billing specialists in a world that needs such specialists, especially when they can advocate for patients, tell us what we have coming under ObamaCare, and teach classes in their profession at community colleges. As a retired computer programmer I think that the sort of skills that are taught in community college build employability and hence self-esteem…not being an unpublished writer, or a writer like me, with a rather disappointing record of sales. That lowers self-esteem.

People who can drive trucks with 17 separate gearshift settings, program in object-oriented C++, and advise sick people about their rights under ObamaCare don’t live with their Mom and Dad after graduation. Their salaries pay the rent. They do not max out their credit. They make extra money by teaching and consulting on the side, becoming later on full-time consultants owning their own business. They get jobs that pay into their Social Security for their retirement.

Their salaries pay the rent and support Mom and Dad.

The people living with Mom would be Princeton PhDs who know why Saul Kripke crashed and burned. This group needs to go to South Korea’s DMZ (that part that will get nuked if a war with North Korea breaks out) and use that Master’s degree that comes with the PhD to teach South Korean kids ESL. They are great kids, much less formal than China’s equally great-in-their-own-way kids, for PJ O’Rorke (the conservative humorist) was right: South Koreans are the Irish of Asia, and Pyongyang is its Belfast. Don’t worry, North Korea probably won’t nuke you, and if it does, it will all be over in a flash.

But the former group, of honest hard working skilled people, should not be writers, both because of the hackneyism “budding writer” which occurs too often in the corpus to be anything but lame (6 million hits on Google) and because “writer” is too abstract: the reader wants to know, about what?

Heck, I am a published writer of one book…a nerd book which is sad and lame when you think about it, and the smallness of my royalties: I try not to, it makes me weep.

30% international tax withholding and 13.00 USD charged by HSBC merely to credit 100.00 USD net to my account. Boo most assuredly hoo.

As a startup, not a budding, writer, you need to decide on your genre: if you love mysteries, crime and noir you need to decide what type you shall write about (Downton Abbey, Elmore Leonard, Dashiell Hammett ). Before you set pen to paper or switch electrons on in your computer, be prepared to write about whatchoo wanna write about. Eliminate mention of any other writer. If you write “I want to make millions and be a writer like that woman who wrote Harry Potter, whatsername CK Rowling”…boom, there’s the door, both because you are engaging in “me-too marketing” (“I sell the same product at a discount!”) and because no one will read it.

I mean: I love writing. It should be obvious, one never has seen such a flood of words since Edward Gibbon as one finds here. But I also love proof-reading. I love proofing my own work, it looks so nice (which means I don’t do a very good job on my own work). I also love editing and proofreading others’ work, it’s remarkably easy and avoids the commitments of writing. This love of the nitty gritty of writing helped me get published three years after starting to write (in 1976).

“Nitty gritty”…hackneyed phrase or Nod Homerique? You decide! My rule: if it’s something that would be said in a boring and vicious office, don’t use it. “Nitty gritty.” “We’re going to have to let you go.” “ring a bell?” “Productivity.” Don’t use these words and phrases.

Dream

…wandering around my home town (Evanston, Illinois) on the southern side near the lake, a neighborhood of big homes and flat blocks built in a false mediaeval style (with turrets and gargoyles) in the 1920s which have retained their value and are used as investments. I go to the Orthodox church there (in the dream: there is no such actual church), the one with very steep and missing stairs to its main entrance that must be negotiated by worshippers and wedding parties.

I am in my flat next to the library and hotel (Orrington) but the electricity is failing. Some things work, others do not. I had this experience in the waking world in China but never in America. You get confused: what is the ON setting on this thing? How long should I wait after turning the device on or off, that is, how long does this complex computer take to execute power down instructions in firmware?

At the end of the dream I had a whole room of Northwestern students trying to help me, switching various devices on and off.

In darkness, then, I seek the light. “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light”. I know more Scripture from good old Handel than actually reading the Bible. It is well known that just as Tea Baggers never read the Constitution (its reading level is pitched way above grade school) they cannot name the four Gospels whereas their Protestant ancestors could. But I seldom read the Bible, just listen to works including the Messiah and Bach’s St Matthew Passion.

But here I go spreading religious hatred. I need to stay away from that stick of shitfire with a wick on it, it’s ruined Belfast and Glasgow. I shall leave it here as an example of how religion so often becomes hate, and if I find myself becoming overly compulsively Catholic I will leave the Church again. I just find prayer calming given my situation.

Study

Grand High Re-read of Kant’s Critique: did a long review of PF Strawson’s Bounds of Sense (a reading of the Critique) with academic footnotes “and all”. It’s been bounced, I now realized by an automated scoring tool that measured its size and…the automated tool “was like, WTF”. In addition, an automated tool can detect one or more external Web addresses which might indicate spam and/or promotion. Finally, there may also be “bad language”. Good people, I feel, use bad language in a bad world.

Not really up to revising it, replied (like a silly man) to the automated tool saying back off: need instead to contact a Human Being at Amazon. May say heck with it. It’s published here on my blog. It’s really just part of my Kant study. I’m not even happy with its contents as opposed to its outside references. I never deeply read Strawson who is a great analytic philosopher. Perhaps I need to do a quick re-read and then rewrite the Strawson review.

“ESF Shocker??”

ESF stands for the English Schools Foundation whose charter seems to be “reserve places in good English medium-of-instruction schools for wealthy parents”.

The “shocker” is that the fee merely for applying for your child to an ESF school has gone from 150.00 to two thousand Hong Kong dollars. The fee doesn’t guarantee admission and is not refunded if your kid doesn’t get in. Whereas the parents of the kids that I teach balk at paying much more than one hundred fifty per hour of my teaching.

This unconscionable charge, together with the facts found by the BBC about millionaire “super star” English and test prep tutors, primarily young and sexy Chinese with English names who dress fashionably, alarm me.

See the BBC documentary here.

I have these questions.

Why is such an important social task, the preparation of children for life, such a sordid, almost gangsta affair and what sort of message does it send kids when they and their future are bought and sold…on dat ole cross of gold?

Why does the millionaire star tutor of the BBC documentary get away with merely feeding kids, whose parents pay him thousands, lists of words he thinks will appear on the exam merely because they appear on past papers available on the Internet to his students?

Why does he use Cantonese as his medium of instruction when we know that learning a new language demands that that unfamiliar language, in this case English, be the medium of instruction from day one?

Why does he fail to teach grammar, for all I can tell, and then smirk when the student tracked by the BBC fails the trial examination because he doesn’t know grammar???.

And finally, why is it that I am retiring on US Social Security and an MPF balance where MPF is Hong Komg’s limited retirement savings scheme, also known as Mandatory Provident Fund, whereas this clown Lam, the so-called “tiger tutor” is a millionaire? I hammered the Oxford Reference Grammar cover to cover, I created charts for verb phrase analysis using my knowledge of formal grammars in computing …

I used YouTube movies to get the students’ attention: at several schools I reversed deep alienation by taking the risk of showing kids bored to tears by the pap they were being fed, the film I Not Stupid about the system in Singapore, which is very similar in intensity and cruelty to Hong Kong’s system …

… and, as I have said, I am on Queer Street financially …

… Why? Am I just a wanker, or does the system manufacture wankerdom when you don’t choose to be a shark? When you’re not an American Psycho of any nationality? Just askin’. …

… BTW, “Queer Street” doesn’t have anything to do with homosexuality: it is a British English phrase that means “the poor house” …

The rest is silence …

Change Record

7 Sep 2013 Correct “nuked if a war with North Korea”

2 Sep 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 2, 2013 by spinoza1111

30 minute workout at 5:45 AM: 2.5 minutes warmup, supine with hand weights, 200 low-rise steps with one hand free to prepare for adding weights, walking and 150 dance moves with walking stick (the old soft shoe). Goal as regards steps is to get to 300 with one arm weights in one hand then the other in the second half of the workout, for a complete full bodied burn in about 30 minutes. Don’t yet have the balance to hold weights simultaneously in both hands, and not stabilize with one hand on the wall socket.

During The Old Soft Shoe, I discovered a more aerobic effect if I lifted alternate legs while not jumping in a sort of Karate Kid or Tai-Chi pose. With my missing muscle function on top of my left foot I am searching for any kind of anaerobic or aerobic effect. Swimmimg daily would be perfection but it’s not on here.

No physio. Was going to but got a visit from my lovely and talented costar in the 2010 Glengarry, Nicole Garbellini. Realized I need to return to theater despite my cancer pain and other symptoms (see below) and attend all or most rehearsals, and, all performances no matter what even if I’m dead.. I cannot so casually let go of theater. Far from harming my health, such an activity will help, for it is an activity with duende and telos, magic and a goal. Such activities are a direct confrontation with the dark magick of cancer and its own self-reproducing telos. So, if I pass the audition then the show must go on.

De Pain, Boss! De Pain!

(Fantasy Island: de Plane, boss? O never mind). Actually, it’s surprising how these Pop culture memes survive. Many people too young for Charley’s Angels still recognize a Farrah Fawcette shag cut perhaps because Mom still sports one and has the complete Charley’s Angels episodes on DVD. So hopefully most people will think my header, above, funny.

Intense butt pain on opening my eyes: painkillahs before and after the workout as has often been the case. Pain flows out now, bye bye. Marx’s carbuncle.

No. Damn. It returns, intensely, after breakfast (the yummy white congee that’s a bit more liquid and filled with tasty chunks) so I take a THIRD painkillah. Need to speak to doctor about this and get with others in the dayroom to avoid focus on “de pain, boss! de pain!”

(An hour or so later). Now it’s gone. Don’t focus on it and it won’t return. Try to “tough it out” if it does return.

From Pain to Grand-Daughters, Morning Thoughts

Cannot go back to USA if pharmacists are going to treat me like a common addict: cf. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOzRt1x2FPk: these crude, misogynist and hate-filled little “movies” are made with a tool called xtraNormal, a movie creation template. The “movies” are uniformly bad. The maker of this series of “cute little animals speaking” is probably a pharmacist who hates his job, and most of his customers, who has chosen “cute little animals” more or less randomly.

To this pharmacist, painkillers have become another “entitlement”, like enough money to live on, where “entitlement” is pronounced by right-wing pundits with the same contempt that Latin American dictators pronounced “intellectuals”.

Pharmacists hate doctors because (in my experience) doctors are more fully human and able to communicate better with patients, whereas at mega-pharmacies like CVS everything is so rule-driven that categories (such as “junkie”) are imposed in a manner free of any real equity or sensitivity, those words “equity” and “sensitivity” having been expunged from consciousness below a certain social level. Sure, some doctors, especially in the now distant past, abusively prescribed. But today the pressures are in the opposite direction and people with cancer pain like mine are given Tylenol. Last year I was prescribed humane if opioide painkillers by my doctor, who’s also Mick Jagger’s physician. Grantham Hospital doctors are giving me pain control that’s mostly effective. Today’s a bad day but I obviously can think and function.

Equity and sensitivity to the humanity of people without a lot of money has been expunged, I’d say, by a little known aspect of the 1960s, almost discovered by Susan Jacoby and described in her book “The Age of American Unreason”. The “left” degringolade (departure from standards) was mirrored as in the fun-house by a permanent, self-destructive and self-hating rightward shift in working and lower-middle class attitudes, that resulted in “white backlash” to civil rights, the assassination of Dr King and finally the election of Reagan by blue collar “Reagan democrats”.

According to Jacoby the “right” degringolade was in a massive tu quoque: the justification of unreason on the right because it existed on the left in the “you’re another” narrative of right-wing thought leaders like William F. Buckley (who in the long term was almost liberal, and resented by the rest of the right as an elitist because of his erudition and mannerisms). The final upshot is the heart-breaking scenes at Tea Party rallies where physically unfit adults (barely able to walk, or spell words on signs correctly) crawl out of the ruins of the Dream to babble nonsense.

Not only that, the whole merciless farce of insurance creates unbearable scenes like that which I saw at a Walgreen’s in the cruel state of Indiana while picking up my father’s medications: a little old lady in obvious pain etched on her thin face presents a prescription, doesn’t have the money, is turned away.

Am I a junkie now? I don’t know. I’m researching Medicaid to see if my presumptions about it are correct. But it’s clear; to go back to the USA would be to expose myself to the ongoing ceremony of hatred of one’s own weakness and of psychological transfer of that weakness to others. Are Medicare’s costs more manageable by the patient? I wish I had an apartment at Memorial Sloan Kettering but I’m pretty certain that “I got nothing coming” to paraphrase something prison guards like to say to inmates.

The guy(s?) who use the xtraNormal tool to dramatize their frustrations as pharmacists or community college adjunct professors don’t seem to realize how consistent they are in using the tool. The tool allows one to select from an absurdly limited stock of precoded characters (with, in all probability, the rarely used ability to create new templates) and to transform all text into dull and choppy “speech”.

A stunning majority of the xtraNormal-based YouTube movies set a beleaguered male authority figure (pharmacist or adjunct) against a woman, often of color or sexy or both, who is consistently “clueless” and at the same time pushy and all too post-Sixties…all too aware of her rights, and unwilling to acknowledge the pharmacist’s or adjunct’s authority.

She’s often impatient because she’s gotta go that afternoon to Yourup on her new line of credit, or wants to study “philosophy” meaning, for her, “Derrida and Foucault” whereas the beleaguered male authority believes that D and F belong in the English department, and a sterile, choppy debate ensues with zero light being shed.

I waited in line at the Evanston, Illinois CVS (which has long replaced the family pharmacy Hoos Drugs where I would buy poor Eddie’s asthma medicine). But I saw no scenes like the McPharmacy exchanges, or what I saw in Indiana. People were treated with dignity and respect, perhaps because Evanston has long been a racially integrated city whereas Indiana is still plagued by de facto socioeconomic segregation of the sort that creates a global suspicion and mistrust even of white strangers.

I also noticed, during my last trip home to Evanston to be at my poor son’s funeral, that the hatred and mistrust was producing its dialectical opposite. Everybody seemed pretty cool and everybody seemed to want to give Obama another term. I’m pulling that feeling/fact out of my hat: it was based on talking to my friends. Also, some of the new shops along Diversey and in Evanston were coops and charities almost as if we’d gone back to the 1930s when commercial real estate was so cheap it could be occupied by charities and left-wing political organizations; even in the 1960s, the Socialist Workers had an office next to Union Station.

Additionally, almost all cars with political bumper stickers about the upcoming election were pro-Obama.

Remnants of the 1930s were still present in the early 1950s, remnants I could sense as a kid: co-ops and pharmacies (like Hoos Drugs) more interested in helping people (letting them pay later and get the needed drug now) than turning a constant profit.

Mom could take us to doctors who’d treat us for free as a professional courtesy because she was a nurse, Dad a doctor.

We thought this world of Free Stuff was the real world and would last.

Of course, subsequently and starting even in the late 1950s, the great big middle class rip-off (of the future of their own descendants) started as a result of Jacoby’s right-wing degringolade. By the 1970s my coworkers were advising me to overclaim and underpay because by then and in contrast to actually making useful things, insurance had become the license to print money…which money was then grabbed by policy holders whenever possible.

Doctors advised patients to overclaim and were victimized in turn by unconscionable rates for malpractice insurance…unconscionable, that is, if one was a doctor.

Truth became the car you owned, truth became the house you churned, truth became a bank balance and “winning thru intimidation”.

By the 1980s, this cynical gamesmanship triggered an inexorable rise in premiums across the board for all sorts of everyday insurance including medical insurance. Something I took for granted at my company in the 1980s (the last decade in which I had decent dental coverage in addition to gold plated medical insurance) had become “the impossible dream” ten years later, when companies would offer you temporary work as a gateway to permanent employment, an ever more unattainable prize.

I thought that I’d become stupid as a result of giving up smoking; I actually thought I was not “productive” enough to maintain my previous status and salary because I couldn’t “concentrate”. Damnable foolishness but this is how bourgeois people think. It wasn’t until I studied social theory that I realized that it wasn’t about me. It was instead a vast, Gothic spectacle of what the right wing pundits call “creative destruction” but we experience as job loss, unpayable deductibles, errors on tax returns, 16 hours a day, working remote from one’s family, and, in my case, the Biblical death of my firstborn from clinical depression…triggered and fostered in large measure by the way he was treated on the job.

But das ist ein Anders, and I digress (“yeah, you digress” – Dan Appleman 2003).

To return then to my main theme…not only are profits to be made today on insurance, a fearsome number of jobs are dependent on the Byzantine mess of insurance. You can now get community college degrees in medical insurance and billing and in my direct experience, the software in control is huge in scale, to the point of being completely unverifiable from the standpoint of correctness or reliability.

Which is why HilaryCare failed and ObamaCare may yet be destroyed. Many of the Marching Morons of the Tea Party are people whose current or prospective employment is in medical billing and insurance software or its use, at the low level of maintaining the current mess, who claim a false expertise in the technology. They have no Hope for Change; quite the opposite; their employers tell them that ObamaCare will destroy their jobs. This is true if all they know is the current model and they are unwilling or unable to migrate to a new and slightly more communitarian model.

IBM’s pensions and retiree medical insurance plan software was continuously if incrementally modified by computer programmers, many of whom were members of the very plan they were destroying. Their fathers fought for decency in the form of what, by mid-century, was identified by Peter Drucker as a hybrid government/corporate socialism, in which the companies I worked for gave us dignity on the IBM model.

We mocked our fathers’ IBM, with its white shirts, its ties and its IBM fight song; but not until Mad Men has the story of our fathers’ search for dignity been told. I realized too late that I wanted to work for IBM in which my manager would protect me from outside questions about “that guy who wrote this smartass code” or “the guy in the beret” and it was accordingly taken from me, making my kids’ lives much harder.

Well, we’re all retired now. The “smart” ones retired with gold-plated “entitlements” from IBM and Microsoft; the “dumb” ones like me retired with surprisingly generous Social Security awards because we were “dumb”, and we worked so long and hard for a salary, contributing only to our SS plan because that’s a no-brainer and we can’t figure out how not to do it.

By heaven, methinks it were an easy leap,
To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon,
Or dive into the bottom of the deep,
Where fathom-line could never touch the ground,
And pluck up drowned honour by the locks…

Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 1

Using the government Web site to check my amount due based on what information Social Security had on file and discovering in 2009 that this was enough to live on was like two things.

It was holding my breath in suspense and diving like Hotspur to the bottom of the sea to pluck up my pension amount by the locks.

And after seeing the amount and checking it out repeatedly, realizing that it was enough to live on was like not dying.

Furthermore it was only last month that I excavated my MPF (Hong Kong Mandatory Provident Fund) balance using one of those misnamed HSBC “help” lines. This was like diving into an oil slick to the bottom of the sea. I had to ask repeatedly for the information until the operator understood and I was also pleasantly surprised.

I suffer from that crippling lower middle class anxiety that hounds Willy Loman; it is a little noticed detail, pointed out by smart Bernard the successful lawyer, that all Biff needed to do when he failed math was take a class for the credit.

This is exactly what I needed to do when I flunked French spectacularly in 1967 and wasn’t, big dealski, allowed to graduate with my class: I took one of the best art classes I’d ever had at James B. Conant High School in Schaumburg and learned perspective from a great teacher and got my HS diploma.

With that crippling anxiety we worry about conforming to authority so that Authority will love us. We fantasize that our tax bills will beggar us because that’s what right-wing pundits and the vendors of tax books tell us, but in my experience, when I sat down and cranked the math, I’d get…a fat refund. Using only tax software and IRS information available for free.

In cranking tax returns and now checking my Social Security income I felt like Hotspur, diving into the sea to pick up, not Honour, but enough resources to live because in searching on the Internet and waiting for account balances always feels to me like I am underwater…and in terms of overall debt I am underwater.

I am very thrifty when I pay the least attention to my savings, whether US Social Security or Hong Kong “MPF”. Thomas Jefferson brought his full mental resources to his budget; he wrote down all of his spending and income in little account books. With the result that Jefferson went bankrupt at the end of his life, whereas I may be on the road to financial recovery courtesy of my “fiduciary friend”.

He also keeps the cards that read, have mercy on his soul.

– Bob Dylan, Desolation Row

My FF keeps on saving me money and he holds my ATM card since he does the footwork to pay my bills. I have end of month credit balances that I can save or use to help others; this is great. I have to discuss foolish purchases in advance with the FF and his rather phlegmatic, English responses dampen such ideas as “buy the Apple Store prepaid purchase card at 1000,00 to Buy Things Online”. They make me sound like that foolish woman in Shopaholic, so I don’t ask for funds for such purposes.

Apart from de pain and my cancer, life is good (“other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”). I find the cancer and de pain surprisingly bearable and quietly enlightening. And when I express my anxieties over a future of Hunger Games for my grand-daughters my son replies with the quiet optimism of a young fit man in his prime, in his thirties as I was a long time ago. He can and will take care of his children just as I went to Silicon Valley to support him many years ago. No Hunger Games for them if he has any say in it, with me to backstop him as best I can. He is Good.

The babies look out from framed photographs (I will not put their images online on the public Web altho I put them on Facebook).

Esme Sesame is in her bouncy little seat with brain-building attachments as if to say, “I got dese junglee widdle bouncing things which wiggle and hit me in da nose”. They help her to get from Kant’s sensation to Kant’s Begriff, or Concept. Begriffmagesundtheit!

Esme looks wisely out from under her birdie owl hood as if to say, “be wise like me, Grandfather”.

Tessa America is the Saliva Teething Nook Monster approaching Tokyo as millions flee!!

Tessa in a gesture I’ve seen twice, offers the cameraman and the world her favorite toy, a colored set of interlocking rings.

Study

Finished the pre-Socratic sections of Johansen’s History of Ancient Philosophy as well as his introduction to Pericles’ Athens of the fifth century BC. I am never quite clear on the dating of historical events of the ancient world because the numbers go backward. It is time to get clear. After the birth of Christ my mental picture is clear, before then it’s murky.

The pre-Socratic section may help if I return to trying to decode Heidegger’s monstrous tome Being and Time. People who resent his “confusing” style need to realize that if you’re steeped in the history of philosophy your world-view and style will be radically different from that of the ordinary slob. But this is a theme I have often returned to.

Change Record

5 Sep 2013 The “election” of Dr King ===> The ASSASSINATION of Dr King:
WTF: these dreamlike errors are not acceptable!

5 Sep 2013 Improvements to the “dream” paragraph: the American dreamers crawl out of the ruins, physically unfit, unable to spell and talking rot

5 Sep 2013 Various changes and improvements