Atheism, Philosophy, Physics, poetry, Science

Of Quantum Things

I stopped and wondered at the unseen sight

Of quarks and other such subatomic delights

A marvel, the fact that stuff so small should indeed loom so large

A puzzling enough pattern to confuse the likes of Madame Defarge

Imagine a shawl of immeasurable length

Whose very fabric is constantly shaken, rent to test its fundamental strength

Waves of knots and jumbles leap across

First here now there, one moment I comprehend and the next I’m at a loss

And think now once more, and this will surely shake you to the core

Uncertainty is certain, so ambiguity I come to find has some allure

My subatomic essence is repelled

By the uncanny shivers and blinks of the fields in which these particles are held

The odd stuff that makes up everything from Yellow Dwarfs to old brick walls

Is all wrapped up in that unequivocally vexing shawl

But before your mind is captured by this textile notion

Remember that there is no way to certainly contemplate the locomotion

Of the neutrinos, electrons, gluons and other such quantum things

That makes matter matter and allows the silent cosmos to sing

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Ancient History, art, Atheism, Dionysus, Philosophy, poetry

Dionysus and his Detractors

Dangerous that watch the time the tick the tock the wind and the wind the clock and the coiling

What we see, sir, is a tree, sir, and the bee, sir, buzzes about me, sir, and the cherry blossoms bloom freshly, pinkly

Eating the little red fruit, kiss the lips that speak truth and poetry

Bulwarks rattled and riddles with casks of Cherry Wine

Ending a hegemony of sobriety and somnolence

Introducing a tired garrison to frivolity and merry making!

To wit, a triad of explorers and a coven of doubters

Cast about then for a grail or a clue of one

A blot from that, or a dusty echo of the same

Besotted glances brandished like well sharpened shame

But abstemious minds are wont to reach into a deepening bag of folly

And beguile the ecstatic mind with tricks and wisps of colorful airs

But forewarned oh ye of delightful intoxication

Those hands that slight the chance of truth for a so simple a substitute as easy imprudence

Those hands have no place around the flagon or the wineskin

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art, Congo, Philosophy, poetry, Politics, War

Les Effaceurs

Too many steps from here to there

I had too much time to think and to scream

Green about me like a choking cloud

Leafs likes eaves over my fearful head

Dripping drops of rain upon my naked chest

Vines and twigs flagellate me as I run

The burn of the thorny lash excruciating

Nothing more though then I deserved

And it distracted me from the horrors I had witnessed

No pain is greater than that of the mind

Forced to witness the pestiferous potential of human cruelty

Save the body forced against his will to take part in the same

I am inflicted and infected

I am a sore

A pustule

Between my bowls and heart a fistula

Clogged with a black pus

A sinister guilt

A horror and a shame

That I share with the disgusting fiends

I came upon

Whose crimes I witnessed

The crimes for which I became culpable for

By the sorrowful accident that is

My shared humanity with these villains

Oh how I loathe mankind

I bite my tongue to hold back the tears

The taste of my own blood on my teeth

Hides that of my erstwhile victim

Clearly

He was dead now, but not by my hand

But by the hands of the mad hunters

The ravenous fellows

Les Effaceurs

Oh but I did worse than kill

I partook of the spoils unknowingly of course

But does that really matter at all?

I took from the dead man once a living man

I took from him a resting place

I erased him

We did

Together and with a purpose

They hungered for the spirit to overwhelm their enemies

I sought a meal to sooth the torture inflicted upon me by

That dread spirit Famine

Regardless of the reason

We all ate plenty

Of that familiar flesh

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art, Fiction, history, Medieval, poetry

Death of a Liege Lord (And the Peasant Girl Did Not Notice but Instead Dreamt of Fireflies)

Welcome here then

To December

Waits a locust

And remember

what a corn fed

fitch of Forefield

Nodded off and remembered

Lords have always worn a caul

‘Fore their crown and ‘fore their fall

They humptyed and dumptyed

And spread their febrile fluid gospel cross the grass

Each night she saw the hills that marked her country

A town that every night still fell asleep
Too the sounds of livestock lolling softly

And the carefree fumblings of her brothers

With the neighbor girl

And once a blue moon wondering she did go

And found the fireflies cavorting silent in the meadow

And so she dreams of times when she was felt no filth

Little knowing these insects would be

The greatest light, aside from the hearth fire

She would ever see

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art, music, poetry

Variations on the Theme of Berlioz’s Overture of Benvenuto Cellini (A Poem)

Hector Berlioz

 

Westford gain and freckled flowers blown

By breezes bedecked with petals and romancing seeds

This is the essence of romance shown

By the tramp about of vines and violets and weeds

Which rose resides in thorn that will not prick to bleed?

A thorny issue cast about like dice inside an oak-wood cup

Forged and filched from nature’s purest deeds

Betoken the wind and the journey all around and up

Needs abound like flower stems digging deep in hope to sup

Winters cruel deeds forgotten in the whimsy of the vernal sun

Each quince drunk on its own succulent pulp

Each peach a gesture by the trees, a hint that all that is cold is done

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Civil rights, Constitution, Democracy, economy, extremism, Free Market, history, Liberty, News, opinion, Philosophy, Politics

On Libertarianism (Part II)

It is easy to be a Libertarian when one has already achieved or can easily achieve the goals set down as necessary for being a “success” in modern society: wealth through capital acquisition, comfort in a system designed by your kind for the betterment of your kind, power over the lives of others, and the ability to spread your philosophy. That is why we see so many ambitious young white male individuals take up the mantel of Rand or one of her disciples like Ron Paul or Alan Greenspan. Many who have ever been in an academic milieu have at least one story of their Libertarian classmate, hopped up on raw and uncritical readings of basic Objectivist and laissez-faire tracts. He had an argument for everything and an explanation for nearly every seeming contradiction of his chosen philosophy. The fact that many of these arguments were self-serving and circular in nature, or un-provable writ large, did not seem to bother the Libertarian. He was drunk on his own potential read back to him admiringly by a set of philosophers who wanted nothing more than to draw ambitious and self-centered young men into their spheres of influence. Rand in particular got off on manipulating and seducing young intellectuals. There was often no point in arguing with individuals like the Libertarian Classmate. Every outcome or eventuality would confirm the underlying principles inculcated through years of uncritical reading and un-falsifiable philosophical and scientific observations.

The heady environment of college is often the boneyard of intellectual folly and experiments in foolish philosophical certainties. I know this from personal experiences as a former Communist who came to realize the futility of a system that takes for granted the perfectibility of humans and human agency. Any philosophy whose results are predicated upon human beings becoming more or less than what is essentially human (imperfectability, natural skepticism, orientation towards personal beliefs and actions incongruent with larger societal or larger human needs and concerns) is doomed to failure as an anti-human pursuit. Karl Popper, no friend of absolutist ideologies but a fair and intelligent scholar of and gadfly to the same, had this to say about absolutism and ultimate historical certainty in philosophical dogmas: “the habit of confusing trends with laws, together with the intuitive observation of trends such as technical progress, inspired the central doctrines of … historicism.”

Popper was in this case addressing the untenable repercussions of perhaps the ultimate example of unprincipled historicism and philosophical absolutism in post-Trotskyite Soviet Communism. But the central point of Popper’s statement, that the various trends and progresses and innovations of human beings and their societies are not proof of an absolutely discernible trend towards perfection in human beings, is not enlightening only in relation totalitarian ideologies. Randian Libertarianism in particular, and therefore the current strain of American economic Libertarianism by default, makes enormous assumptions about individual actions in relation to a greater truth.

Principally Libertarianism would have us conflate the instances of some individuals striving towards societal perfection and personal advancement through uninhibited individual actions with an overall and absolute ethic of selfishness as the only way that human beings and society can advance. Extraordinary individuals act the way they do towards the goals they do not because of their own personal circumstances or the influences upon them as human beings, but because they are meant to move towards creating a world where man will exist as only an animal that lives for itself. We return to the state of nature, only this time there is no kindly Rousseau-ian veneer over it all; the state of nature is the goal of the Randian Libertarian, it is the ultimate ideal, and the morality of the realm is eternal and infallible self-interest. It is through this self-interest that somehow the greater good of all humanity will be achieved. We succeed when the successful are allowed to succeed. Those who fall behind have the facts of history to answer to above all else.

Popper would have laughed at such hubris. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has this to say about Popper’s view of self-assured applied political philosophies: “[…T]he open society can be brought about only if it is possible for the individual citizen to evaluate critically the consequences of the implementation of government policies, which can then be abandoned or modified in the light of such critical scrutiny.” Neither historicist/revolutionary Communism nor self-righteously certain Libertarianism are beliefs that are tenable in a free society where the insidious inequality of circumstance is paired with the innate potential of all those born into a society governed by a Social Contract necessitated by the very fluidity of human imagination, ability, and discourse. All are equal on paper, but on occasion some who are victim to the inextricable realities of our lowly origins in the state of nature, to the inherent prejudices and self-aggrandizing impulses of the individual and the undemocratic systems that buffer inequality, must be assisted by those who have found the way easier, or at least less blocked-off to themselves personally.

Describing a State of Nature and a Social Contract society does not take into account the vagaries of our own historical and cultural situation as a nation. We are a large country with huge disparities in income between the poor and the unimaginably rich. We have a shrinking middle class and a growing over-qualified working class based around an ever expanding service and retail sector and an economic system that esteems wealth and capital acquisition over stable and healthy communities and families. There are huge inequities in opportunity and economic and social advancement for those who are not white, male, middle or upper class, straight, and traditionally Christian. There is a token philosophy in place that leads us to believe that anyone can reach the pinnacle of economic and social power and security, but this is largely an excuse to pursue unhealthy and overly-risky economic, tax, and monetary systems. To paraphrase John Steinbeck, if everyone believes he can become a millionaire, real social change is through economic justice is nearly impossible. These are the early fruits of an economic and political system that was largely converted over to a form of Objectivism.

Take for example the simplistic and over utilized political trope known as “The American Dream”. This started as a sort of dream of domesticity and relative comfort for a generation of [largely male, largely white] returning soldiers from the theaters of the Second World War and the intervention in Korea. They wanted a job, a house, a pension, insurance and an automobile, and quite a few of them achieved this arbitrary measure of success. Many, many more did not. But for the purposes of cementing in the popular conscience a mythological construct such as “The American Dream” quite a few was quite enough. Never mind that this “dream” was unavailable or unrealizable to many if not most African Americans, poor men, women, Latinos, rural workers, and homosexuals.

This was, of course, only one view of what Americans should strive for as individuals and as a society. Many saw as a true dream a better, safer, healthier and more fair nation, communities and an economic system whose chief aim was not enrichment of those who abused that system with the most cunning. This new vision began ever so slowly to emerge with the various Civil and Economic Rights movements and the laws and court rulings that came from them. These expansions of the Social Contract were opposed at every turn by white southern conservatives, Capitalists, Libertarians, and conservative religious institutions. The Libertarian threat became particularly insidious as the other threats to the Social Contract lost favor and power over time.

The attitude  that any change in government policy in favor of greater economic regulation and social justice was a bridge too far, even when this government action was ostensibly undertaken in furtherance of Constitutional principles. Even the Constitution must come second to the Libertarian view that total liberty by and for those best able to exercise that liberty was the ultimate ideal. The words of Ron Paul 40 years after the fact some up this view of law and social science: The Act was “a massive violation of the rights of private property and contract, which are the bedrocks of free society…The Civil Rights Act of 1964 not only violated the Constitution and reduced individual liberty; it also failed to achieve its stated goals of promoting racial harmony and a color-blind society.” If this does not prove many Libertarians value an absolutist definition of individual liberty over democracy and a social justice and the Social Contract then I cannot conceive of a better example.

This leads me to account for another factor that motivates many into the comforting embrace of Libertariansm: fear.

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Civil rights, Constitution, Democracy, economy, history, Liberty, News, opinion, Philosophy, Politics

A Proposal for a New Bill of Rights

In a continually evolving democratic republic there often comes a point when innovations in technology, law, philosophy, economics and culture compel us to reexamine the foundational documents and systems that make us who we are as a nation and as a society. That is not to say that by proposing changes to the Constitution or to our national laws we are admitting an inherent flaw in the original crafting of our nation by the various founders. On the contrary, it is a testament to the enduring power and brilliance of the original ideas and documents formulated by these men that we can take their creation and build upon it to create a more free, just, and fair society. The pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness cannot be achieved through inertia or inaction. We must forge forward using the past as a prologue to our new endeavors while not denying that there has been a monumental amount of progress made in areas of thought and technology that could have scarcely been imagined by the founders of our national system. The United States and its founding philosophy were born out of the heady and imaginative Enlightenment era. Voltaire, Rousseau, Locke, Diderot and many others influenced how our founders thought about law and governmental procedures as well as philosophy and theology. We must acknowledge this debt we owe to the geniuses of this era without trapping ourselves in a mute and inactive reverence of the past.

It is time to improve the processes that will help aid in our pursuit of a more prosperous and humane nation. Our nation is still a place where many can achieve their wildest dreams and achieve what few others in the world could ever hope to imagine. That being said there are major fissures forming in our national edifice. The free market that has been in the past a wonderful, albeit imperfect, system for allowing for the growth of prosperity and expression by the citizens of this nation has now begun to reek havoc on our very system of government. Once coupled with strong and progressive minded federal government that believed in national civil investment and national improvement the unregulated market has now become the chief architect of our national atrophy. The government has largely abdicated its responsibility as the protector of the commonwealth and welfare if its people and as a firm yet fair hold against the amoral potential of unregulated market forces. An entire political party is now devoted to the wholesale dismantling of the entire Federal system envisioned by our founders and crafted and honed by decades of protest, war, civil action, community organizing and intellectual striving. The founding was not the end of our national democratic republican experiment, it was an auspicious but limited beginning. We cannot read the minds of those men and women who shaped our original national character, nor should we try, but we can learn from their ideas, successes and especially from their mistakes.

The past decade has taught us a painful but essential lesson about our nation and ourselves as a people. Our military power has proven to be no longer a guarantee of our success and influence on the international stage. Our ability to reinvent and revitalize ourselves and our national institutions has waned as inequality in the areas of income, liberty and essential human decency has reached a level that is no longer tenable if we wish to continue to be respected as a nation of freedom and modernity. When many working class men and woman can no longer hope to feed, house, or keep healthy care of a family without submitting to a job market that dehumanizes and devalues workers, there is something wrong with our national system and our collective sense of right and wrong. The color of our skin, along with our sexual orientation, health, age and gender still have much more to say about about our individual and societal destinies then does the inestimably rich content of our character. This is not what our founders envisioned for us. This is not where we are supposed to be as a society.

It is in the spirit of those founders along with people who made up the civil war generation, the labor rights movement, the woman’s rights movement and the various Civil Rights movements of the 20th century, that we take up once more the torch of liberty and attempt to light our way forward into a more perfect union. We have come to realize through centuries of tragic and profound exploration and experimentation that there is no one answer to our national woes. There is no perfect philosophical solution to human problems, no matter how much we wish the opposite were true. Too many have suffered and died throughout history in the pursuit of perfect systems of governance and societal progress. We are not a perfectible species, but we are an improvable one.

Below are a few proposals I have come up with in an effort to improve our systems and laws from within. These do not aim to overturn the established Constitutional order as we now understand it. They merely seek to recognize our progress in the area of essential human rights and to codify in law the enlightened pursuit of societal betterment and governmental maintenance. We are not a people who will accept the continual erosion of our national systems and ideals. We are a people who innovate, invent, imagine and at our best inspire others to better themselves. It is in that spirit that I introduce these draft proposals of Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America.

Amendment 28 Proposal: No citizen or permanent legal resident shall be denied the right to vote in the United States.

Amendment 29 Proposal: No worker in the United States shall be denied the right to unionize or otherwise organize to petition and        protest for their rights as workers.

Amendment 30 Proposal: All Amendments to the United States Constitution shall be construed as applying fully to the various states and shall supercede any and all laws that may be in opposition to the principles enshrined in the Constitution and its Amendments

Amendment 31 Proposal: The right to complete personal discretion in matters of life, death, and health shall not be abridged or constrained by the Federal Government or by the various states.

Amendment 32 Proposal: The right to healthcare is absolute and the Congress shall pass laws or statutes that respect this fact. Healthcare is not the exclusive or primary province of the for profit free market.

Amendment 33 Proposal: No Corporation or non-individual non-government entity shall be considered a “person” in regards to rights derived from this constitution and the bill of rights thereof. The rights of a citizen of the United States shall be considered to supersede any rights claimed by a corporation, union, political organization or any other non-individual non-government entity.

Amendment 34 Proposal: The United States hereby declares that it will abide by every article of the Geneva Conventions Governing the conduct of War and the treatment of the victims and participants thereof in every military action it undertakes, and also hereby ratifies the treaty creating the International Criminal Court and subjects itself to its jurisdiction

Amendment 35 Proposal: The people do not have the right to bear arms. The bearing of arms shall be considered a privilege. Federal, State, and Local jurisdiction shall have the right and responsibility to prohibit, limit, or abridge this privilege as seems appropriate.

Amendment 36 Proposal: Every worker in the United States shall be guaranteed a living wage that shall be adjusted for inflation and economic growth and the prices of basic goods.

Amendment 37 Proposal: The citizens of Puerto Rico, The Federal District of Columbia, The US Virgin Islands, Guam, American Somoa  and all other United States territories shall enjoy all the rights afforded to citzens of the United States as outlined in the Constitution and  its Amendments

Amendment 38 Proposal: The death penalty and mandatory minimum sentences shall be abolished as examples of cruel and unusual punishment.

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