Couldn’t Resist

I won my Denver vs. San Diego wager today which meant I could not resist betting on Indianapolis -7.5 home vs. Arizona tomorrow with my winnings.

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Published in: on December 31, 2005 at 8:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

An Austere Passion: 2005 Edition

Thirteen more hours and then it is the new year.

This past year, in addition to my normal reading, I read a lot of philosophy. Montaigne, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, Barthes, Derrida, Lyotard, and Zizek come immediately to mind. I read far more than a dabbler’s amount of them. The reading went quickly, not because I wanted it to, but because that is the way it happened. Plus, I had read many of these writers before, so I was not completely cast adrift. I will freely admit that I did not gain much in erudition from my reading. That wasn’t my goal. I did begin to satisfy an odd curiosity.

I really did not plan on reading this much philosophy. I sort of fell into it as I do most of my reading. Reading certain blogs this past year started me on the way. They are mentioned within my bloglines listing at the side of this blog.

I discovered blogging in the summer of 2004. On this day last year, I did not plan to keep this blog. As soon as I made that decision, it became a daily ritual. I’ve enjoyed writing it even though I have badly said a lot of stupid and contradictory things in it. I think it has made me less shy. I live alone, so being less shy is probably not of much value to me.

I have this feeling I will be reading a lot more philosophy in the new year. There are a lot of interesting bloggers I read everyday who keep arousing my curiosity.

I finished reading Capital over the holiday. I’m reading Moby Dick right now. I am embarrassed to say I’ve never read it.

For someone like me, for whom books are a passion, it has been a very good year.

P. S. I learned a little about the Riemann Hypothesis and did some other things in 2005 that I liked and enjoyed. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity.

The Planet on the Table

Ariel was glad he had written his poems.
They were of a remembered time
Or something seen that he liked.

Other makings of the sun
Were waste and welter
And the ripe shrub writhed.

His self and the sun were one
And his poems, although makings of his self,
Were no less makings of the sun.

It was not important that they survive.
What mattered was that they should bear
Some lineament or character,

Some afluence, if only half-perceived,
In the poverty of their words,
Of the planet of which they were part.

Wallace Stevens

Published in: on December 31, 2005 at 11:28 am  Leave a Comment  

The Material World

A cold rain is falling tonight. It’s warm for this time of year.

My new year’s resolution will be to appreciate the material world in which I live: the cold rain falling on a winter night, a smile, a soft comforting voice. Things like that.

Published in: on December 30, 2005 at 6:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

This Week’s Football Wagers

I had mentioned earlier this week that I might not bet on any football games this weekend. I changed my mind after looking at the spread today. Here they are.

* Denver +11 away vs. San Diego
* Chicago +4.5 away vs. Minnesota
* Seattle +5 away vs. Green Bay

* Iowa +1 vs. Florida in the Outback Bowl on January 2.

You have to be true to your school. At least according to the Beach Boys.

Published in: on December 30, 2005 at 6:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Super Sale

Lots of folks from out of town are in Chicago this week. That’s nice. It’s always fun to meet them. They will all be gone next week. I expect the recent mild weather won’t hold out much longer either. That will drive the city folks into their abodes too.

A week from now downtown Chicago will be cold and empty. I can go to Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue and have the whole place to myself. All the stuff will be on super sale. It’s better than shopping at Target or WalMart and just as cheap.

Happy January 5th!

Published in: on December 29, 2005 at 10:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Future Time; Past Time

I think I will go shopping for a pocket calendar tonight. Something very cheap. If I see a Rita Hayworth calendar though, I am buying that no matter what the price.

Published in: on December 29, 2005 at 5:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Form of Madness

The city is enveloped in fog as often happens at this time of year. I can only see the bottom floors of the Bloomingdale Building on Michigan Avenue a couple of blocks away.

I woke well before sunrise this morning, drank my coffee, and started writing my next novel. I wanted to begin writing it yesterday morning, but I was very tired after a poor night’s sleep.

So, this morning I blew the dust from the cover of the manual typewriter, rolled a fresh sheet of paper into it, stared at it for a good long spell, drank coffee, and thought about what to write. My shoeboxes full of postcard notes sat at my feet. The postcards scribbled with notes were supposed to help me start when I got around to it. So much for grand ideas.

I reminded myself to forget about all the things the how-to-write-a-novel books tell you to do. I reminded myself to not set any limits on time or length. A novel probably should have a beginning, middle, and end. I will know I am done with the first draft when I perceive it has those three elements.

I was sitting next to a couple from New York City in Pippin’s, my local bar, earlier this year and reading the manuscript of the first draft of the last novel I wrote. The woman, slightly drunk, sitting next to me asked me what I was reading. I made the mistake of telling her. She wanted to know what my novel was about. I told her I did not know since it was not finished. She did not accept my answer. She wanted to situate it with the other novels she had read. I tried to explain to her that I had just finished making up a bunch of stuff and writing it down. What would survive after that I did not know. I could tell she was insulted and did not believe me. She finally gave up and told me about a song she had written in the middle of the night. I asked her what it was about. She never got around to telling me. She was just pleased that she had written a song once. Good for her.

I would never have taken the manuscript to the local bar except I needed to be slightly tipsy and away from sharp objects while reading it.

Early this morning, I reminded myself that I should never tell what I am writing about. It breaks the spell. Writing a novel is a form of madness. Breaking the spell means you have to start anew.

I started typing.

All I can tell you is that I will wake up early every morning and write a little of my next novel. After that, I do not know. I don’t know if I even care anymore.

Corporal Potter lets the match burn down to his fingers.

Corporal Potter: It bloody well hurts. What’s the trick?

Lawrence of Arabia: The trick is not minding that it hurts.

Lawrence of Arabia

Published in: on December 28, 2005 at 11:45 am  Comments (2)  

Last Weekend’s Football Results

I lost 1 and tied 1 against the spread. That leaves me at 14 wins, 13 losses, and 2 ties against the spread for the season. I have won 1 and lost none against the moneyline.

I might not bet the pros this weekend.

My beloved Iowa Hawkeyes play the Florida Gators Monday morning in the Outback Bowl. Iowa is a 2.5 point underdog right now. I think I’ll bet on the Hawkeyes just to give the game that extra little kick.

Published in: on December 28, 2005 at 10:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Roy

I started listening to rock ‘n roll in 1957. I never thought much of Roy Orbison when he first became popular.

One day, many years later, I cleaned the shit out of my ears and realized that he had one of the best voices and styles in all of rock ‘n roll history.

Better late than never.

Published in: on December 27, 2005 at 12:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Haul

Here is what I got for Christmas.

* A mega-awesome Columbia Iowa Hawkeye hooded pull over
* A Best of Roy Orbison CD
* Two DVD’s: Crash and October Sky
* A really nifty Sony armband radio
* A pair of Levi button fly blue jeans
* A Barnes & Noble gift certificate
* A pizza baking stone and rack

And five tons of excellent food at my sister’s.

Published in: on December 27, 2005 at 12:31 pm  Comments (2)  

Corporate Reform

Fred Block has an interesting paper at Longview Institute called A Strategy for Corporate Reform. He recommends implementing the Ethical Corporation to replace the Me-first Corporation.

During the past twenty-five years we have seen the return and rise of laissez-faire Market Fundamentalism. The implementation of Market Fundamentalism has been through the creation of the Me-first Corporation. The Me-first Corporation is built upon the extravagant rewarding of executives so as to motivate them to achieve good financial results in a Market Fundamentalist economy. The failures of Market Fundamentalism and the Me-first Corporation become more apparent each day.

The modern corporation is led by executives who have grown accustomed to outsized rewards and those who hope one day to take their place as leaders. The executives of these corporations view their companies as portfolios of assets to be bought and sold to generate value that translates into higher executive rewards at the expense of all other considerations such as the welfare of workers in these companies. This leads to short term thinking and a me-first attitude that excludes consideration of long term growth and denies the inclusion of other stakeholders such as employees, customers, shareholders, and the general welfare of citizens.

Block is a proponent of the Moral Economy. The Moral Economy takes into consideration the economic rights of all citizens, the rewarding of labor, protection of the environment and consumers, etc. The Ethical Corporation is part of the implementation strategy for the Moral Economy. The Ethical Corporation would be created by new state charters for corporations whose features would include these provisions:

* Executive compensation: restrict and control executive compensation
* Corporate governance: Boards would represent all stakeholders
* Corporate free speech: Employees could campaign for Board membership
* Employee rights: fair labor practices and negotiation
* Environment policies: corporate green plans
* Public health: high standards
* Global practices: extending best practices to all global operations
* Disclosure: high standards of reporting
* Enforcement: state attorney and third party enforcers

Block admits that it will be difficult to create the Ethical Corporation as a replacement for the Me-first Corporation.

One of the interesting questions is whether progressive reform is possible for the economy or whether it will take a radical type revolution to reform the economy.

There is no longer any doubt in my mind that one or the other will take place given the nature and excesses of the Fundamentalist Market/Me-first corporation approach to the economy.

Published in: on December 27, 2005 at 9:33 am  Comments (2)  

Christmas 1967

It was Christmas 1967 in Vietnam. Being an fng (fucking new guy) I was assigned to guard duty during the month of December.

I marched out to my post in the rain and cold and fog on Christmas Eve. I spent the night shivering and looking from the slit in my bunker for potential attackers. I actually thought that my post might be attacked in that abysmal weather.

A month later, I would learn that the preferred method of killing me was to launch a mortar shell or rocket straight at me.

After that, I learned the meaning of fuck it.

Published in: on December 26, 2005 at 9:54 pm  Comments (1)  

Competence

David Hume in the first paragraph of his essay, That politics may be reduced to a science, says this.

It is a question with several, whether there be any essential difference between one form of government and another and, whether any form may not become good or bad, according as it is well or ill administered? Were it once admitted, that all governments are alike, and that the only difference consists in the character and conduct of the governors, most political disputes would be at an end, and all Zeal for one constitution above another, must be esteemed mere bigotry or folly. But, though a friend to moderation, I cannot forbear condemning this sentiment, and should be sorry to think, that human affairs admit no greater stability, than what they receive from casual humours and characters of particular men.

When you criticize the competence of government officials, you skate on thin ice. Those who idolize the people in power will grasp at any straw to prove you wrong. Those who exalt principles think you have missed the point no matter whose side you are on.

What we have in the United States is a combination of bad administration chasing bad principles. That makes it difficult to know where to start.

However, I don’t think it is entirely wrong to concentrate on the competence of the governors every now and then.

Published in: on December 26, 2005 at 9:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Silly People

The bill of rights were ratified on December 7, 1791.

The fourth amendment to the Constitution goes like this.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, paper, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

What a wonderful sentence. Almost like poetry. But what were they thinking? How could they have been so naive?

You would almost think they were not acquainted with war.

Published in: on December 26, 2005 at 8:26 pm  Comments (2)  

The 26th

What’s the matter with me,
I don’t have much to say,
Daylight sneakin’ through the window
And I’m still in this all-night cafe.
Walkin’ to and fro beneath the moon
Out to where the trucks are rollin’ slow,
To sit down on this bank of sand
And watch the river flow.

Wish I was back in the city
Instead of this old bank of sand,
With the sun beating down over the chimney tops
And the one I love so close at hand.
If I had wings and I could fly,
I know where I would go.
But right now I’ll just sit here so contentedly
And watch the river flow.

Watching the River Flow, Bob Dylan

It’s almost to go home. But first, coffee and donuts.

Published in: on December 26, 2005 at 6:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Another Good Thing

Calling it your job don’t make it right, Boss.

Cool Hand Luke

President Bush believes he has the right to tap my phone, read my e-mail, and monitor my Internet usage without a warrant. He could not have been more plain spoken about it during the past week.

I don’t think that is right. I hope others feel the same way.

Just as President Bush was wrong about separation of church and state, he is wrong about the guarantee and need for civil liberties.

Civil liberties are a good thing.

Published in: on December 25, 2005 at 4:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Go Figure

Dear Everybody,

I decided to go to Iowa this afternoon instead of tomorrow morning. I get so confused.

Have a good holiday!

Sincerely,

Lynn

Published in: on December 24, 2005 at 10:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Come On. Let’s Play Some Baseball

Cuba says they will donate any money they make from playing in the the World Baseball Classic tournament in March to a relief fund for hurricane Katrina victims.

Major League Baseball has reapplied to the Treasury Department for another license allowing the Cuban baseball team to compete. I can’t wait to hear the explanation coming from the Treasury Department should they deny another license.

Millions of dollars have already been invested in the tournament. The participation of Cuba, one of the best baseball teams in the world, would certainly make the tournament more attractive from a competitive and commercial viewpoint.

Lynn’s prediction. Money will talk and win the day. Welcome Cuba baseball players.

Now, let’s play some baseball.

Published in: on December 24, 2005 at 10:07 am  Leave a Comment  

A Naive Reaction

I read the following quotation this morning.

Reason is itself a matter faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.

G. K. Chesterton

I live in a material world both physically and socially. I am alive because I know how to negotiate the world by using my reason in its various forms.

Faith has nothing to do with my belief in reason. The utility of reason is so apparent and valuable that it is almost trivial to remark upon it.

Published in: on December 24, 2005 at 8:59 am  Leave a Comment  

This Week’s Football Wagers

Here we go.

* Chicago -7 away vs. Green Bay
* Cincinatti -14 home vs. Buffalo

May the best man win. Me.

Published in: on December 23, 2005 at 10:01 am  Leave a Comment  

I will own the highway

I don’t know when I will travel to Iowa for the Christmas celebration. All I know is that if I wait until Monday it will be too late.

I think I will wake at three AM on Christmas morning, drink a big mug of coffee, and leave promptly after that. It will still be dark when I turn onto Highway 30 and cross the Mississippi. The houses in the little towns along the highway will still be slumbering.

The best thing about traveling early Christmas morning is that I have the roads all to myself as if I owned them. I even have the Mississippi all my own for a few moments. It is a sort of Christmas present to myself.

After all, I am worth it.

Published in: on December 22, 2005 at 11:37 am  Comments (3)  

City Snow

The snow in the city is already gray and soiled from the city atmosphere. It’s better for it to melt now and spare us its ugliness.

Published in: on December 22, 2005 at 9:26 am  Leave a Comment  

Time to Wrestle

I am a fan of amateur wrestling. When I lived in Iowa I had season tickets to all the home matches of the University of Iowa wrestling team that dominated the college wrestling scene at the time under the leadership of the legendary wrestler and coach Dan Gable. I used to travel to the College Wrestling Championships each year no matter where they were held.

I recall a match during the Saturday night championship finals at the National Championships one year. The start of a wrestling match is supposed to go like this. The referee calls both wrestlers to the center of the mat. They shake hands. The referee blows his whistle and signals with his hand to start wrestling.

During one match a wrestler stopped at the edge of the mat and proceeded to pray for a spell instead of going to the center of the mat. After a few seconds the referee motioned the wrestler to go to the center of the mat which the wrestler promptly did.

A man, who had been sitting next to me for all three days of the tournament and who had wrestled in the National Championships at heavyweight back in the Sixties, turned to me and said, “He should have prayed before he got to the mat.” I replied, “Amen, brother.”

The said wrestler got beat rather badly even though he put up a good fight against a superior opponent.

I turned to the guy sitting next to me after the match and said, “You were right. He should have prayed before he got to the mat.” He replied, “Amen, brother.”

I loved going to those wrestling tournaments. I really should start doing it again.

Published in: on December 21, 2005 at 9:32 am  Leave a Comment  

The Hell With Love

You take your poetry where you find it. Such is the case with the small anthology called The Hell With Love: poems to mend a broken heart edited by Mary D. Esselman & Elizabeth Ash Velez. From the back cover:

Passionate, edgy, funny, and profound. The Hell With Love is for anyone who has ever suffered the pain of breaking up–and everyone who believes in the unique power of poetry to console and transform.

We’ve all been there…probably more often than we’d care to admit. Interpreted by a pair of wise and witty editors, these poems make up a one-of-a-kind collection that helps you through the classic stages of heartbreak. From John Donne to Margaret Atwood, from Pablo Neruda to Gwendolyn Brooks, here are poems that dig into the hurt and anger, poems that bring comfort and perspective, and poems that encourage you to get over your ex and move on.

That last short phrase ‘move on’ grates. Other than that it’s a book of good poems. I won’t comment on the commentary supplied to each section of the book. Some will adore them and others won’t.

Here are a couple of poems from the first section called Rage.

wishes for sons

i wish them cramps.
i wish them a strange town
and the last tampon.
i wish them no 7-11.

i wish them one week early
and wearing a white skirt.
i wish them one week late.

later i wish them hot flashes
and clots like you
wouldn’t believe. let the
flashes come when they
meet someone special.
let the clots come
when they want to.

let them think they have accepted
arrogance in the universe,
then bring them to gynecologists
not unlike themselves.

Lucille Clifton

Or this nice one.

Hatred

I shall hate you
Like a dart of singing steel
Shot through still air
At even-tide.
Or solemnly
As pines are sober
When they stand etched
Against the sky.
Hating you shall be a game
Played with cool hands
And slim fingers.
Your heart will yearn
For the lonely splendor
Of the pine tree;
While rekindled fires
In my eyes
Shall wound you like swift arrows.
Memory will lay its hands
Upon your breast
And you will understand
My hatred.

Gwendolyn Bennett

The selections mellow a bit after the poems from the first section. Pity.

Published in: on December 21, 2005 at 1:40 am  Comments (2)  

Some Folks are Having a Bad Week

The President is spending a lot of time expaining his high controversial stance on wiretapping U. S. citizens.

The hardball no comprimise approach to extending certain provisions in the Patriot Act has backfired.

The preliminary results from the Iraq Election indicate that conservative Shia coalitions friendly to Iran will control the government. Chilabi looks like he’ll get shut out. Allawi looks like he won’t be the player the U. S. expected him to be.

There are charges that the Iraq election was rigged by the apparent losers in the election. No surprise there though.

ID gets shredded in Dover, PA.

What’s next? What will Pat Robertson have to say?

Published in: on December 20, 2005 at 4:07 pm  Leave a Comment