Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Indefensible Offense

Obama, radical leader of the Obamanations, has finally denounced his spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, because of assertions the reverend has made about the United States’ role in worldwide terror. The senator claims that such statements “rightly offend all Americans.” As a patriot not running for office, I disagree.

Why should anyone be offended by the truth? Our foreign policy lacks as much moral integrity as anyone else’s. Considering that that policy is based on an inability to examine the skeletons swinging from our own poplar trees, is it any wonder people hate us/the US? (Since I feel obliged to answer all rhetorical questions: no, it is no wonder.)

From what I can see, the only thing Wright is guilty of is taking liberation theology—that found in the “Old” Testament, not the all-too-easily digestible version popular nowadays—seriously. To understand his context, I suggest reading any of the Prophets, perhaps starting with Wright’s namesake himself: Jeremiah.

If the U.S. is seriously against terror, then it needs to not only refrain from terrorist activities but it also needs to stop creating terrorists as well. Chomsky knows this. Wright knows this. I and a couple of other people know this. Lao-Tzu knew it more than 2,500 years ago. Jesus knew it about half a century after him. (If you don’t believe me, take a look at Matthew 26:52.)

What I find despicable is Obama’s denunciation of Wright on purely political grounds. The politician finally shows himself. Now can we finally stop talking about race in America and get back to the task at hand: deciding who the next American Idol will be. (And I’m not even talking about that damned singing contest....)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ask me no more questions...

Here's an excerpt of an email I received from a friend a few weeks ago. (And yes, I do keep emails in my inbox for several weeks at a time: one never knows when one will actually take the time to respond.)
How did the gym go? Is your little ass worked off now? I hope not! I happen to adore your ass! (In a friendly way of course! I'm a Democrat, so I adore all asses....) Actually, have I ever told you that you have the coolest walk of anyone I know? Seriously you do.... It's like molten metal moving, like a Richard Serra being made right before your very eyes, and yet it's also graceful, but not so graceful that it doesn't suggest just a bit of "don't fuck with me." ...It's the best, really....

Of course, everything she wrote is absolutely true. In fact, Richard (as in Richard Serra) often designs his sculpture after watching hours of video of me just walking. It's true! I have an inspirational ass! An ass full of inspiration ... and a few other things as well: deflated soccer balls, lost Frisbees, an old box of Girl Scout cookies....

Now, of course, is the time for me to spend several more hours on my ass as I write and write and write all the necessary final projects for my classes as well as grade all those essays, quizzes, and exams. Thankfully I've been hitting the gym fairly faithfully for the past couple of weeks, just to give myself a much needed and deserved break from continual warfare (aka "my jobs"). And so my ass won't embiggen itself from all the sitting.

Note to self: buy a decent chair as soon as the semester ends. It's starting to kill my ass!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The New Empty of Graduate School

Here's a sample of some of the crazy shit I end up saying in class:
Just as the Skeptics refuse to rely on the senses, so too do the Buddhists. But in Buddhism, the mind (or mentality) is considered one of the six senses, so that every thought construction is as susceptible to error as every sense impression. In this way, prajñā too is empty (śūnyatā): it is not a knowing of a thing, or any thing; rather it is a way of knowing that all things are not things-in-themselves or things-as-such. Prajñā is a knowing that everything is beyond the conception of thingness; it is a knowledge void (śūnyatā) of content.

If it weren't for Andy's whispered admonitions and sometimes passed notes that read "Don't hate," I think my head would explode from frustration with my classmates, particularly the one who attempts to reduce (meant in the most derogatory manner possible) everything that is not Aristotelian metaphysics to Aristotelian metaphysics. For fuck sake: is that your frame of reference for everything? Including all those things that aren't really things at all?

Andy's right, of course. What's even more frustrating, however, is that I have no vested interest in Buddhism. No intention of being a Buddhist. No design to convert anyone. But if we're talking about Buddhism, should we not use terms and metaphors proper to it instead of imposing and superimposing our own sorry worldview, opposing a new thought or a new way of thinking, disposing of an opportunity for transformational thinking, hiding ourselves--what we conceive to be ourselves--from possible exposure to something wholly other? I suppose so. Otherwise, education becomes more of an unnecessary travesty and a waste of time.

Two days after my last class meeting, I still find myself seeking composure, a releasement toward letting-be. Away from any egoism or intentionality. À la Buddha himself. But there's still another class next week with the same sorry people. Thank G-d Andy will be there to remind me what I most need to learn.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Taxing Day

First off, I oppose all taxing situations. Secondly, read my lips: “No new taxes.” Finally, I’d like to modestly propose a revision to our investment scheme in the United States. Let’s rid ourselves of taxes altogether and instead make investments in our nation’s infrastructure as well as in our commonwealth.

A sensible percentage of all income and transactions—with exceptions for all persons below the age of 18, fulltime students, active military, and anyone who earns less than the arbitrary (but judiciously round figure of) $30,000—should be invested in ensuring
  • that roads do not have potholes,
  • that everyone has access to wireless and a computer,
  • that education and research facilities are properly equipped,
  • that drinking water is safe and clean,
  • that teachers are properly paid,
  • that the military is suitably outfitted,
  • that all citizens and visitors have access to healthcare,
  • that environmentally conscious technologies are developed and implemented,
  • that everyone on the planet has a decent meal every day,
  • that rehabilitation facilities exist and operate to help addicts recover so that prisons are not overpopulated, and
  • that accessible transportation exists for everyone in every community.
Things to cut altogether:
  • subsidies for farmers,
  • bailout funds for corporations,
  • tax-free status for “religious” institutions,
  • tax shelters for the extremely wealthy,
  • toll roads,
  • passport fees,
  • utility fees (yes, it’s time for water and electricity to be basic human rights!), and
  • education fees (yes, it’s time for education to be a basic human right!).
Oh, my lists could go on and on. Ultimately, we pay so little in taxes in the U.S., especially compared to more civilized and democratic societies like Sweden and Denmark. But if everyone were to pay her/his fair share, then there would be a surplus of investment monies to revitalize our economy as well as our society. Yet no American leader exists to do anything about it.

Unhappy Tax Day!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Anger (Under New) Management

I could login here almost daily and list a dozen or more complaints about bothersome conditions that invade my otherwise placid world, but I’m tired of bitching. Tired of being a bitch.

Yeah, that’s right: you read it here first. Being a grumpy, middle-aged, overworked adult—despite all justifications—just isn’t who I ever thought I’d be. Primarily because I’ve been saving that up for when I’m 80.

So in an effort to conserve, to preserve, to reserve all that is good about who I am, I hereby list the conditions of my life for which I have every cause to be thankful. Enjoy.

  • Two beautiful and delightful cats.
  • A partner who still adores me after almost 17 years of washing my clothes.
  • A handful of intelligent and beautiful friends spread over the globe who refuse to acknowledge my many flaws (or at least hold them against me).
  • My passport as well as my ticket to Istanbul.
  • Esteemed colleagues and mentors who challenge my intellect even when we’re drinking and laughing our asses off.
  • Enough money to pay the bills and then some.
  • A lifetime of experiences, loves, passions, and thrills both behind as well as ahead of me.
  • The good sense to know what I need to do not to lose my mind.
  • Stable (and relatively healthy) relationships with (what’s left of) my family.
  • Good manners and a sensible diet. Remarkable hygiene. Straight teeth. A wicked sense of humor.