Bob Schwartz

Month: March, 2016

Dim Dusty Mirror

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12 (New Revised Standard Version)

Can you keep your crescent soul from wandering
can you make your breath as soft as a baby’s
can you wipe your dark mirror free of dust
can you serve and govern without effort
can you be the female at Heaven’s Gate
can you light the world without knowledge
can you give birth and nurture
but give birth without possessing
raise without controlling
this is Dark Virtue
Verse 10, Lao-tzu’s Taoteching
Translated by Red Pine

“Our spirit dwells in our eyes. When the eyes see something, the spirit chases it. When we close our eyes and look within, everything is dark. But within the dark, we still see something. There is still dust. Only by putting an end to delusions can we get rid of the dust.”
Commentary on Verse 10 by Wu Ch’eng (1249–1333)

The Goofy Digital Clock

Dali - Persistence of Memory

I have a digital clock that stays in touch with a smart satellite to keep exact time. One way I know this is that last night, when the time switched from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time, it automatically added an hour.

But here’s the thing. From the beginning, years ago, that digital clock has offered the slightly wrong time. It is slow by seven minutes. Not six or eight. Exactly seven minutes slow. I have pushed every button, slid every switch, plugged and unplugged. It is just plain wrong, in its own idiosyncratic way.

It is an excellent alarm clock otherwise, does a great job at that. Except that all wake up times have to be adjusted by seven minutes.

I could replace it easily and inexpensively. But I’m used to it. And I’ve actually grown fond of the clock’s tiny quirkiness.

There’s a life lesson here. Which you, as I have, can probably figure out.

TFZ (Trump-Free Zone)?

I intend and promise to make this blog a TFZ (Trump-Free Zone). Very soon. Maybe. For a while. I run away from my favorite news channels, sometimes for hours, while he is showcased. So I understand not to contribute to the overexposure.

But to torture the famous words of St. Augustine:

Lord make this blog a Trump-Free Zone. But not yet.

Thanks for your patience.

The Moral and Legal Responsibilities of Bringing a Wild and Dangerous Animal Into Your House

No one can force you to adopt a wild and dangerous animal as your pet. To bring it into your house. To make it your own. If you do go ahead, against all advice, know the responsibilities.

Some animals are so inherently dangerous that they are not even allowed to be adopted at all. In other cases, if the animal harms or looks like it might harm neighbors, or gets loose and does more widespread damage, you will be blamed. Here is a very rough statement of part of the general law on the subject:

The owner or keeper of a domestic animal has a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent injuries that are foreseeable because the animal belongs to a class of animals that is naturally inclined to cause such injuries, regardless of whether the animal had previously caused an injury or was roaming at large and, accordingly, the owner may be held liable for negligence if he or she fails to take such reasonable steps and an injury results.

Some will say, oh, but it’s so cute and exotic and interesting. It’s the talk of the town. It may seem relatively normal, even lovable, at times. It may even be featured on the local news.

But eventually, neighbors will say: stay away from that house. And will tell others to stay away from your house. And if it does the kind of serious damage you know it is capable of, how will you live with yourself?

Why We Should Teach and Learn Ancient History First

Children in America who attend some sort of religious school, even before going to secular school, may learn some limited sort of ancient history. Ancient in that it concerns purported people and events from millennia ago. Limited in that some number of those people and events, however instructional and enlightening, may be of some historical question.

There is other ancient history worth teaching our kids early, and catching up with ourselves, just in case we missed it in our own education. There are continuous civilizations all around the world that have been ongoing, in the same place, also for millennia.

China, for example. Or India. Or the native populations in the Americas. This is where education should start, before we start talking about admittedly important people arriving on these North American shores and establishing an admittedly important nation just a few centuries ago.

Why? Because it would give us a sense of perspective on what we have, or have not, achieved so far. And because it would give us a missing sense of the scope of history, in that everything comes and goes. Which you could learn from the history of China. Or you could learn from reading the I Ching, the book about things changing, written in China millennia ago. Or if you prefer something more Western and familiar, from reading the Bible itself. A time for every purpose, it says. And so it goes.

(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding?

Coldplay Glastonbury

After watching the chaos surrounding the Trump rally in Chicago on TV, I surfed and came across a Coldplay concert, which served to cleanse my soul.

The huge crowd at Glastonbury looked very happy. I wondered if, when the political conventions are held this summer, we can magically replace them with music festivals.

Coldplay performed Wonderful World, and then that anthem of making things better, Fix You:

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

I thought about other positive music I love. Like Elvis Costello’s (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding? What is?

As I walk on through this wicked world,
Searching for light in the darkness of insanity,
I ask myself, is all hope lost?
Is there only pain, and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There’s one thing I wanna know,
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?

And as I walked on through troubled times,
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes,
So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony

‘Cause each time I feel it slipping away, just makes me wanna cry,
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?
What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?

Donald Trump, You’re No Barry Goldwater

Donald Trump is now being compared to Barry Goldwater in 1964, an unfavored Republican candidate for President who lost big yet did not destroy the party.

I wrote recently about how the Bernie Sanders phenomenon is like the Goldwater one: a philosophical wing that will eventually take over the whole party—as Goldwater conservatism took over the Republicans.

To compare Goldwater and Trump, following are excerpts from their literary masterworks: Goldwater’s erudite and principled The Conscience of a Conservative, which is for many still the Bible of the modern conservative movement, and Trump’s Trump: The Art of the Deal, which is still…something.


The root difference between the Conservatives and the Liberals of today is that Conservatives take account of the whole man, while the Liberals tend to look only at the material side of man’s nature. The Conservative believes that man is, in part, an economic, an animal creature; but that he is also a spiritual creature with spiritual needs and spiritual desires. What is more, these needs and desires reflect the superior side of man’s nature, and thus take precedence over his economic wants. Conservatism therefore looks upon the enhancement of man’s spiritual nature as the primary concern of political philosophy. Liberals, on the other hand,—in the name of a concern for “human beings”—regard the satisfaction of economic wants as the dominant mission of society. They are, moreover, in a hurry. So that their characteristic approach is to harness the society’s political and economic forces into a collective effort to compel “progress.” In this approach, I believe they fight against Nature.

Surely the first obligation of a political thinker is to understand the nature of man. The Conservative does not claim special powers of perception on this point, but he does claim a familiarity with the accumulated wisdom and experience of history, and he is not too proud to learn from the great minds of the past…

So it is that Conservatism, throughout history, has regarded man neither as a potential pawn of other men, nor as a part of a general collectivity in which the sacredness and the separate identity of individual human beings are ignored. Throughout history, true Conservatism has been at war equally with autocrats and with “democratic” Jacobins. The true Conservative was sympathetic with the plight of the hapless peasant under the tyranny of the French monarchy. And he was equally revolted at the attempt to solve that problem by a mob tyranny that paraded under the banner of egalitarianism. The conscience of the Conservative is pricked by anyone who would debase the dignity of the individual human being. Today, therefore, he is at odds with dictators who rule by terror, and equally with those gentler collectivists who ask our permission to play God with the human race.

With this view of the nature of man, it is understandable that the Conservative looks upon politics as the art of achieving the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of social order. The Conservative is the first to understand that the practice of freedom requires the establishment of order: it is impossible for one man to be free if another is able to deny him the exercise of his freedom. But the Conservative also recognizes that the political power on which order is based is a self-aggrandizing force; that its appetite grows with eating. He knows that the utmost vigilance and care are required to keep political power within its proper bounds.

The Conscience of a Conservative
Barry Goldwater


I don’t do it for the money. I’ve got enough, much more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it. Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.
Most people are surprised by the way I work. I play it very loose. I don’t carry a briefcase. I try not to schedule too many meetings. I leave my door open. You can’t be imaginative or entrepreneurial if you’ve got too much structure. I prefer to come to work each day and just see what develops.

There is no typical week in my life. I wake up most mornings very early, around six, and spend the first hour or so of each day reading the morning newspapers. I usually arrive at my office by nine, and I get on the phone. There’s rarely a day with fewer than fifty calls, and often it runs to over a hundred. In between, I have at least a dozen meetings. The majority occur on the spur of the moment, and few of them last longer than fifteen minutes. I rarely stop for lunch. I leave my office by six-thirty, but I frequently make calls from home until midnight, and all weekend long.

It never stops, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present. That’s where the fun is. And if it can’t be fun, what’s the point?

Trump: The Art of the Deal
Donald J. Trump

Save, Don’t Save, Cancel

If you write on a computer, as most of us do, you face a dilemma.

When you wrote hand to paper (and still may)—on legal pads, notebooks, single sheets, scrap paper—you could instantly crumble and toss or eventually discard. As in throw away. Forever. Whether you did or not depended on lots of factors. Not the least of which was storage space. Because those drawers and shelves and manila folders and file cabinets and boxes, they do fill up.

Now your writing rests on a hard drive, flash drive, or in the cloud, just waiting for you to wake it up from a nap or from a long Rip Van Winkle sleep. It takes up virtually no space. So when you jot something down, or create a paragraph or page of text, the answer to this choice question should be easy:

Save
Don’t Save
Cancel

Why not Save?

I look at that Word choice box maybe a dozen times a day. Save would seem automatic. What if those words are the best formed and most important you have ever composed? Why not keep it, just in case?

But sometimes, even if some time and effort has gone into the work, I let it go. Not that I need the storage space available, which is now measured in terabytes (that’s a million million bytes of data). It’s the self-awareness that however good and important I momentarily think those notes/thoughts might be, many are not. And the realization that by letting them go, I am helping myself along the rocky path of humility, which in the end is really much more valuable than whatever would be in that file. No matter how much I might wish otherwise.

Trump Protester Sucker-punched at Rally in North Carolina: Update

Update:

‘We might have to kill him,’ says man who punched Trump protester
Josh Hafner, USA TODAY 6:38 p.m. EST March 10, 2016

The man who punched a protester at a Donald Trump event Wednesday suggested the protester may have to be killed if seen again.

John McGraw, 78, was charged Thursday with assault and disorderly conduct after sucker-punching a man who was being led out of the Fayetteville, N.C., event by security.

After the event ended but before he was charged, McGraw told Inside Edition that he liked “knocking the hell out of that big mouth.”

“The next time we see him, we might have to kill him,” McGraw said. “We don’t know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization”

McGraw told Inside Edition that the protester, Rakeem Jones, deserved to be hit.

“We don’t know who he is, but we know that he’s not acting like an American,” McGraw said.

Video from Wednesday’s event show Jones, a black man, being led out as McGraw walks over and quickly strikes Jones in the face.

At least one officer in the video watches Jones get hit before authorities went on to detain Jones on the ground, apparently letting McGraw walk away.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office later announced it was investigating why Jones was detained but not his assailant, The Wall Street Journal reported.


 

The story shared here about events yesterday has just begun getting covered nationally this afternoon. It is a developing story, as the assailant has just been arrested and charged.

But that still leaves a couple of questions:

Why wasn’t this the biggest story of the campaign this morning, even with the other events of last night? It’s not like this regularly happens during every major party campaign every presidential year. Maybe the media thinks it is the new normal.

Why, at this point almost a day later, does this story have only about 130 articles showing on Google News? That’s about the same number of articles right now about Lindsay Lohan’s current dating habits. Again, is the hateful and bizarre now the new normal in major party politics? Or are some in the media actually scared, not of Donald Trump, but of prematurely killing the orange goose, with so many months of golden eggs still to be laid?

Trump protester sucker-punched at rally in North Carolina
Josh Hafner, USA TODAY 12:02 p.m. EST March 10, 2016

A protester was being led out of a Donald Trump event Wednesday night when a man attending the rally sucker-punched the protester in the face, videos show.

The incident, captured from multiple angles, involved security leading the protester, a black man, out of Trump’s Fayetville, N.C. event when an apparently white man sporting a ponytail walks over and quickly punches the protester in the face as at least one member of security watched, recordings show.

The Washington Post interviewed the protester, Rakeem Jones, who said the punch blindsided him.

“After I get it, before I could even gain my thoughts, I’m on the ground getting escorted out,” Jones said, adding, “I was basically in police custody and got hit.”

Shortly after the punch, men in uniforms that read “Sherrif’s Office” detained Rakeem on the ground. It’s not clear whether the man who assaulted him was detained.

Jones attend the rally with friends including a Muslim, a gay man and a white woman, he told The Post. He said “no one in our group attempted to get physical,” but said the woman with him began shouting after Trump’s speech began.

Other event attendees shouted back.

Ronnie Rouse, who was at the event with Jones, told The Post the audience members shouted “Go home n—–s” and “You need to get the f— out of there!”

Both the Sheriff’s Office of Cumberland County, where Fayetteville is located, and the city’s police denied detaining Jones, who was not arrested.

The altercation marks the latest violent incident between Trump supporters and protesters at the candidate’s events.

Earlier this month, video captured several white men shoving and yelling at a young black woman who protested a Trump event in Kentucky.

One of the men involved was identified as a white nationalist named Matthew Heimbach. Another, a young recruit slated to join the Marines, was later discharged by the Marine Corps for taking part in what it called a “racially charged” event.

Shaun King, an activist who helped identify the young Marine recruit, is now seeking to identify the ponytailed man who punched Jones.

A Visual Vacation in Fun and Relevant History: WPA Posters

WPA - Shall the Artist Survive

In case you think that government has no positive role to play in our lives, society or culture, especially in times of national stress, please have a look at the WPA posters from 1936 to 1943.

The Library of Congress has the largest collection:

The Work Projects Administration (WPA) Poster Collection consists of 907 posters produced from 1936 to 1943 by various branches of the WPA. Of the 2,000 WPA posters known to exist, the Library of Congress’s collection of more than 900 is the largest. The posters were designed to publicize exhibits, community activities, theatrical productions, and health and educational programs in seventeen states and the District of Columbia, with the strongest representation from California, Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The results of one of the first U.S. Government programs to support the arts, the posters were added to the Library’s holdings in the 1940s.

Here is a description of the WPA:

Of all of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) is the most famous, because it affected so many people’s lives. Roosevelt’s vision of a work-relief program employed more than 8.5 million people. For an average salary of $41.57 a month, WPA employees built bridges, roads, public buildings, public parks and airports.

Under the direction of Harry Hopkins, an enthusiastic ex-social worker who had come from modest means, the WPA would spend more than $11 million in employment relief before it was canceled in 1943. The work relief program was more expensive than direct relief payments, but worth the added cost, Hopkins believed. “Give a man a dole,” he observed, “and you save his body and destroy his spirit. Give him a job and you save both body and spirit”….

When federal support of artists was questioned, Hopkins answered, “Hell! They’ve got to eat just like other people.” The WPA supported tens of thousands of artists, by funding creation of 2,566 murals and 17,744 pieces of sculpture that decorate public buildings nationwide. The federal art, theater, music, and writing programs, while not changing American culture as much as their adherents had hoped, did bring more art to more Americans than ever before or since.

It would be lovely to include dozens of the posters here. Instead, here are just a few more. Please visit and enjoy the entire collection.

WPA - Yellowstone

WPA - Mural Studies

WPA - Letter Writing

WPA - Music Project

WPA - Lack of Funds