Bob Schwartz

Month: February, 2018

Clouds Without Words

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Explorers and Wanderers

Explorers and Wanderers

Honor the explorers
(whole continents by name)
Disdain the wanderers
Destination nowhere
Leaving nothing

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Cadet Bone Spurs: “I’d Run in There Even If I Didn’t Have a Weapon”

“Trump says he would have run into Florida school without a weapon”:

President Donald Trump said Monday that he would have charged into a Florida school during the shooting there earlier this month even if he were unarmed.

“I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon,” Trump told governors meeting at the White House to discuss school safety.

Trump slammed as “frankly, disgusting” the armed school guard who remained outside the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 students and teachers dead. The president also criticized several other deputies who failed to immediately enter the school, telling the governors that the law enforcement officers “weren’t exactly Medal of Honor winners.”

“The way they performed was really a disgrace,” he said.

Trump compared the skill involved in shooting guns to that required for the game of golf, where “some people can make a four-foot putt every time, and some people can’t even take the club back.”

Note that Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs in combat, now refers to him as “Cadet Bone Spurs” for the multiple deferments from Vietnam service he got because of supposed bone spurs in his heels. Those bone spurs are gone now, which is why he would now be able to run in to save those students.

As for arming teachers with golf clubs, who knows?

The Wandering

The Wandering

Close your eyes
Through the forest
Wade the river
To the canyon’s edge
Open
Fly or fall?

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Is American Gun Policy the Slavery Issue of 2018?

America is frequently sharply politically divided over many high-profile issues with social, cultural, economic, moral and legal components. It is always a mix of citizens, politicians and special interests—and that mix can be combustible. Think immigration, abortion, marijuana and, just recently, the mistreatment of women. Not to mention deep divisions over Trump.

Gun violence is suddenly on that list, in a way it hasn’t been before. Past mass killings of students, of music fans, of club patrons, of all kinds of once-living Americans, weren’t enough. Until now.

The greatest example of this in American history is the issue of slavery. Arguments about morality and the rejection of the practice in much of the world were met with fierce defense of the practice on legal and economic grounds—in essence, being against slavery was deemed un-American. That worked for quite a while. But at some point, the opponents could no longer listen to one more argument defending slavery, just as its supporters felt cornered by what was becoming the majority view of other Americans.

There is no proposal to take all guns away from Americans, or to unduly burden their owning those guns. All that is being asked for is to condition ownership on universal background checks (supported, according to a just-released poll, by 97% of Americans) and to stop the civilian trade in AR-15 semi-automatic rifles and the like.

Thankfully, this issue will not be settled by an actual civil war. But it will also not be settled by citizens electing gutless NRA politicians so that nothing gets done. The people who thought it made American sense to stop slavery did not walk away, and thanks to them, and despite the unfortunate attendant carnage, we don’t have to be ashamed of continuing to endorse an obvious evil. These young people are not walking away either, not this time, not ever.

Donald Trump Jr. and the Happy Smiling Poor of India

“The poor know all about poverty and only the morbid rich would find the topic glamorous.”
Sullivan’s Travels

Washington Post:

Donald Trump Jr. says he admires India’s poor people because of their spirit and smiles

Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, is in India this week to promote his family’s real estate empire and more than $1 billion worth of luxury Trump Tower projects in four cities, but he still had time to praise India’s poor for their smiles.

“I don’t mean to be glib about it, but you can see the poorest of the poor and there is still a smile on a face. It’s a different spirit that you don’t see in other parts of the world … and I think there’s something unique about that. I know some of the most successful people in the world, and some of them are the most miserable people in the world.”

You can draw your own conclusions about what this says about Don Jr. and others in the Trump family and circle. You can guess who the miserable successful people might be.

As for the happy smiling poor he admires, I quote from the movie Sullivan’s Travels  by Preston Sturges. A successful Hollywood director of nonsensical comedies, John L. Sullivan, wants to confront the grim reality of the Great Depression, and so plans to travel in disguise as a tramp. His butler Burrows sets him straight:

Burrows: I have never been sympathetic to the caricaturing of the poor and needy, sir.

John L. Sullivan: Who’s caricaturing? I’m going out on the road to find out what it’s like to be poor and needy and then I’m going to make a picture about it.

Burrows: If you’ll permit me to say so, sir, the subject is not an interesting one. The poor know all about poverty and only the morbid rich would find the topic glamorous.

John L. Sullivan: But I’m doing it for the poor. Don’t you understand?

Burrows: I doubt if they would appreciate it, sir.

And:

Burrows: You see, sir, rich people and theorists – who are usually rich people – think of poverty in the negative, as the lack of riches – as disease might be called the lack of health. But it isn’t, sir. Poverty is not the lack of anything, but a positive plague, virulent in itself, contagious as cholera, with filth, criminality, vice and despair as only a few of its symptoms.

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye Hourglass! Lucky Charms Adds Magical Unicorns!

Timeless magic that’s cosmically delicious!

From General Mills:

For the first time in 10 years, Lucky Charms is introducing a new and permanent marshmallow – the magical unicorn! The magically delicious brand tapped into the imagination and creativity of young minds to hand select the newest charm and the decision was unanimous.

“Our goal is to not only create a cereal that families and cereal fans will love and enjoy, but to inspire magical possibilities and help spark imagination and fun no matter what the age,” said Josh DeWitt, marketing manager of Lucky Charms. “That’s why, after 10 years, we decided to introduce a new charm with the help of the keepers of magic themselves – kids. They spoke, and after hearing their love for the magical unicorn, we listened.”

From magical and lucky to cool and colorful, both boys and girls agreed that these mythical creatures had timeless magic that was the perfect fit for the only truly magical marshmallow cereal. The new unicorn charm, which features hues of bright purples and blues, is the first-ever marshmallow to be inspired and created by kids.

With the entrance of the new magical charm, consumers will have to say goodbye to the hourglass marshmallow, which has been a staple in the magical line up for more than a decade. Lucky Charms marshmallow blend will continue to feature eight lucky charms including hearts, stars, horseshoes, clovers, blue moons, rainbows, red balloons and now magical unicorns.

The cosmic significance of this change can’t be overstated. The hourglass is the symbol of time, in all of its inevitably and finitude. That’s gone. The unicorn represents “timeless magic” and will “inspire magical possibilities and help spark imagination and fun.”

If there was ever a time for unicorns, at breakfast or whenever, this is it. Thanks General Mills!

Is Peace Enough?

Is Peace Enough?

The birds are busy
Round the yard
I listen lulled
Sorting strands of song
The birds don’t think
They are peaceful
They are just busy
Being birds

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Chinese New Year: Tao Te Ching Chapter 39

The root of the noble is in the common,
the high stands on what’s below.
Princes and kings call themselves
“orphans, widowers, beggars,”
to get themselves rooted in the dirt.
A multiplicity of riches
is poverty.
Jade is praised as precious,
but its strength is being stone.
Ursula Le Guin, Tao Te Ching 39

Playing one’s part
in accordance with the universe
is true humility
So whether you’re a gem in the royal court
or a stone on the common path
If you accept your part with humility
the glory of the universe will be yours
Sam Hamill, Tao Te Ching 39

Therefore, the honored uses the lowly as basis
The higher uses the lower as foundation
Thus the rulers call themselves alone, bereft, and unworthy
Is this not using the lowly as basis? Is it not so?
Therefore, the ultimate honor is no honor
Do not wish to be shiny like jade
Be dull like rocks
Derek Lin, Tao Te Ching 39

It is the Chinese New Year. Here is something randomly selected from the Chinese classic Tao Te Ching—the seminal text of Taoism, one that has served as the first step for many on the path to Asian wisdom.

The selection is Chapter 39 of the 81 chapters. Following are just a few of the countless translations, interpretations and commentaries.

Chapter 39 may be a bit more obscure and less straightforward than some others. The closing theme is humility, particularly the humility of sages and leaders.


Ursula K. Le Guin, Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way

39
Integrity

Those who of old got to be whole:

Heaven through its wholeness is pure;
earth through its wholeness is steady;
spirit through its wholeness is potent;
the valley through its wholeness flows with rivers;
the ten thousand things through their wholeness live;
rulers through their wholeness have authority.
Their wholeness makes them what they are.

Without what makes it pure, heaven would disintegrate;
without what steadies it, earth would crack apart;
without what makes it potent, spirit would fail;
without what fills it, the valley would run dry;
without what quickens them, the ten thousand things would die;
without what authorizes them, rulers would fall.

The root of the noble is in the common,
the high stands on what’s below.
Princes and kings call themselves
“orphans, widowers, beggars,”
to get themselves rooted in the dirt.

A multiplicity of riches
is poverty.
Jade is praised as precious,
but its strength is being stone.


Red Pine, Lao-tzu’s Taoteching

39

Of those that became one in the past
Heaven became one and was clear
Earth became one and was still
spirits became one and were active
valleys became one and were full
kings became one and ruled the world
but from this we can infer
Heaven would crack if it were always clear
Earth would crumble if it were always still
spirits would dissipate if they were always active
valleys would dry up if they were always full
kings would fall if they were always high and noble
for the noble is based on the humble
and the high is founded on the low
thus do kings refer to themselves
as orphaned widowed and destitute
but this isn’t the basis of humility
counting a carriage as no carriage at all
not wanting to clink like jade
they clunk like rocks


William Scott Wilson, Tao Te Ching: A New Translation

39

Of those who obtained
the One along the way in ancient times:
Heaven obtained the One, and became transparent;
Earth obtained the One, and became pacified;
The spirits obtained the One, and
were imbued with the essential mystery of things;
The valleys obtained the One, and were filled to the brim;
The Ten Thousand Things obtained the One,
and sprouted with life;
Lords and kings obtained the One,
and divined how to make the world correct.
It was the One that guided them along.

If Heaven were not transparent,
I’m afraid it would soon be rent like cloth.
If Earth were not pacified,
I’m afraid it would soon begin to shake.
If the spirits were not imbued with
the essential mystery of things,
I’m afraid they would soon not bother to exert themselves.
If the valleys were not filled to the brim,
I’m afraid they would soon be dried up.
If the Ten Thousand Things did not sprout with life,
I’m afraid they would soon become parched and wither.
If lords and kings were not respected and on high,
I’m afraid they would soon stumble and fall.
Thus, that which is of little value creates
the foundation for that which is treasured,
And that which is low creates
a bedrock for that which is high.
Therefore, lords and kings call
themselves orphans, widowers, and menials.
Is this not making what is of little value the foundation?
Is this not so?
Thus, though you may often be awarded words of praise,
you will have no honor.
Do not wish to jangle like jewels;
Rather, resonate like rocks and stones.


Jonathan Star, Tao Te Ching: The New Translation

Verse 39

From ancient times till now
the One has been the source of all attainments
By realizing the One
Heaven becomes clear, Earth becomes still
spirits gain power and hearts fill up with joy
By realizing the One
kings and lords become instruments of peace
and all creatures live joyfully upon this earth
Without the One
Heaven has no clarity and would crack
Earth has no peace and would crumble
spirits have no power and would lose their charm
Without the One
hearts would dry up, empires would fall,
all things would go lifelessly upon this earth

Long ago kings and lords called themselves
“orphaned,” “lonely,” and “unworthy”
What honor can there be without humility?
What heights can be reached without being low?
The pieces of a chariot are useless
unless they work in accordance with the whole
A man’s life brings nothing
unless he lives in accordance with the whole universe
Playing one’s part
in accordance with the universe
is true humility
So whether you’re a gem in the royal court
or a stone on the common path
If you accept your part with humility
the glory of the universe will be yours


Sam Hamill, Tao Te Ching: A New Translation

39

Since ancient days, these attained oneness:
heaven attained unity and grew clear;
earth attained unity and grew tranquil;
souls attained unity and grew powerful;
valleys attained unity and produced abundance;
all beings became one and gave life;
rulers attained oneness and rule grew virtuous.
If heaven were not clear,
it would crumble;
earth without tranquility
would shatter.
Souls without power
would soon dissipate.
Valleys without abundance
are quickly exhausted.
Rulers without esteem
can be toppled.
Thus the noble is rooted in the humble,
the high founded upon the low.
Rulers call themselves orphans, widowers, destitute.
Isn’t humility at the root?
Hence they count many carriages
while disdaining their prestige.
Not wanting to tinkle and chime like jade,
they clatter, falling like stones.


Derek Lin, Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained

39

Those that attained oneness since ancient times:
The sky attained oneness and thus clarity
The earth attained oneness and thus tranquility
The gods attained oneness and thus divinity
The valley attained oneness and thus abundance
The myriad things attained oneness and thus life
The rulers attained oneness and became the standard for the world
These all emerged from oneness

The sky, lacking clarity, would break apart
The earth, lacking tranquility, would erupt
The gods, lacking divinity, would vanish
The valley, lacking abundance, would wither
Myriad things, lacking life, would be extinct
The rulers, lacking standard, would be toppled

Therefore, the honored uses the lowly as basis
The higher uses the lower as foundation
Thus the rulers call themselves alone, bereft, and unworthy
Is this not using the lowly as basis? Is it not so?
Therefore, the ultimate honor is no honor

Do not wish to be shiny like jade
Be dull like rocks

“A semi-auto changed my life” says an AR-15 hunter

From  Why hunters are trading in traditional hunting rifles for the AR-15 on Guns.com:

Hunters traipsing through fields in unrestricted states are also afforded the luxury of 30 round magazines which increase the number of shots a hunter can fire in a given time period while decreasing follow-up shot time. This can often mean the difference between taking a trophy and going home empty handed.

“I believe in one well-placed shot,” coyote hunter Greg Sodergren told Time Magazine of the AR-15. “(But) if you’ve got multiple animals or you miss, you’ve got a quick follow-up shot.”

In addition, the speed in which the AR cycles its bolt as compared to the manual cycling of a bolt-action means more potential shots on target or multiple shots effortlessly carried out on multiple targets.

“A semi-auto changed my life,” Eric Mayer, who runs AR15hunter.com, told Time Magazine. “I’m able to make the (shot) because I don’t have to run the bolt (and) lose the target in my scope.”

“If you miss you’ve got a quick follow-up shot.” A semi-automatic AR-15 rifle changed lots of lives at a Florida high school yesterday. Only they weren’t coyotes or deer.