Bob Schwartz

Category: Animals

Alternating Current

Alternating Current

Edison said
Man was not meant
To ride a wave
To alternate between
In out
Give receive
To breathe.
The vessel will not hold
He said
If you fill and pour
Fill and pour.

Joshu’s dog
Nansen’s cat
Might still be alive
If he were not so stubborn.

Poor master Edison
Could see so far
But only in one direction.

Crow and heron, goose and crow. And fish.

“Now, about what it means to realize conclusively that what is unborn and marvelously illuminating is truly the Buddha Mind: Suppose ten million people got together and unanimously declared that a crow was a heron. A crow is black, without having to be dyed that way, just as a heron is white—that’s something we always see for ourselves and know for a fact. So even if, not only ten million people, but everyone in the land were to get together and tell you a crow was a heron, you still wouldn’t be fooled, but remain absolutely sure of yourself. That’s what it means to have a conclusive realization. Conclusively realize that what is unborn is the Buddha Mind and that the Buddha Mind is truly unborn and marvelously illuminating, and everything will be perfectly managed with the Unborn, so that, whatever people try to tell you, you won’t let yourself be fooled by them. You won’t accept other people’s delusions.”
Bankei Zen

“You, Sir, if you want to stop everything below Heaven losing its original simplicity, you must travel with the wind and stand firm in Virtue. Why do you exert yourself so much, banging a big drum and hunting for a lost child? The snow goose doesn’t need a daily bath to stay white, nor does the crow need to be stained every day to stay black. Black and white comes from natural simplicity, not from argument. Fame and fortune, though sought after, do not make people greater than they actually are. When the waters dry up and the fish are stranded on the dry land, they huddle together and try to keep each other moist by spitting and wetting each other. But wouldn’t it be even better if they could just forget each other, safe in their lakes and rivers?”
Book of Chuang Tzu

Republicans Need the Eggs

A great classic joke, told by Woody Allen in Annie Hall:

“It reminds me of that old joke—you know, a guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office and says, hey doc, my brother’s crazy! He thinks he’s a chicken. Then the doc says, why don’t you turn him in? Then the guy says, I would but I need the eggs.”

Trump and Triumph: The Insult Comics

Triumph

Donald Trump said Wednesday that derogatory statements he has made toward women were all for the sake of “entertainment” and did not reflect his true feelings. “A lot of that was done for the purpose of entertainment; there’s nobody that has more respect for women than I do,” the real estate mogul told Las Vegas’ KSNV-TV.

Or, as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog would say: “I keed. I keed.”

The first thought—the only rational thought—is that Trump considers himself a sort of insult comic. In his day, Don Rickles entertained millions by unmercifully insulting celebrities. In real life, it is reported that Rickles was actually a sweet guy.

Today, if you think of insult comics, the one that comes to mind is Triumph. Triumph is outrageously entertaining, because he is funny, he speaks with a Russian accent, he knows no limits, he is a dog, he is a puppet, and he smokes a cigar. And because his catchphrase is the perfect exclamation for any insult: “I poop on you.”

And now here’s the really weird thing about thinking of Trump as Triumph: they share the same letters in their name. Seriously. T-R-U-M-P is found in both Trump and Triumph.

Is it possible that somebody is trying to tell us something? I would like to think that this is absurd, but given the way things are going with the campaign, is anything really absurd?

Poem, Joke, Etc.: Confused Birds

Confused Birds

These birds are confused
Not angry
Wondering where
The cold winds are.
Exulting in
Extended summer.
What’s time to a bird
Or me?

The line “What’s time to a bird” is borrowed from a favorite joke with a surprisingly philosophical punch line. It goes something like this:

A guy is driving along a country road. He sees a farmer under an oak tree, holding up a pig so the pig can eat acorns. The guy stops. “You know,” the guy says, “it would be a lot easier and take a lot less time if you just shook the tree and let the acorns fall to the ground.” “Maybe,” says the farmer, “but what’s time to a pig?”

More about birds:

In the sky a bird was heard to cry.
Misty morning whisperings and gentle stirring sounds
Belied a deathly silence that lay all around.
Hear the lark and harken to the barking of the dog fox gone to ground.
See the splashing of the kingfisher flashing to the water.
Grantchester Meadow, Pink Floyd

“Well, then, just what does it mean that everybody has the Buddha Mind?…in the course of listening to my talk, if a dog barks outside the temple, you recognize it as the voice of a dog; if a crow caws, you know it’s a crow…you didn’t come with any preconceived idea that if, while I was talking, there were sounds of dogs and birds, children or grown-ups somewhere outside, you were deliberately going to try to hear them. Yet here in the meeting you recognize the noises of dogs and crows outside and the sounds of people talking… the fact that you recognize these things you didn’t expect to see or hear shows you’re seeing and hearing with the Unborn Buddha Mind.”
From Bankei Zen: Translations from the Record of Bankei

Books: It’s Ramadan, Curious George

It's Ramadan, Curious George

Something can be significant and cute. It’s Ramadan, Curious George is that.

Published this past May, the book is a way to introduce little ones to the possibility that others believe differently, that there are other religious and cultural traditions than their own. In this case, a Muslim holiday is introduced through the antics of that famous playful monkey. (George distracts his hungry friend by playing checkers with him.)

Day of Fasting

H.A. and Margret Rey, the creators of Curious George, were German Jews living in Paris when the Nazis invaded in 1940:

Knowing that they must escape before the Nazis took power, Hans cobbled together two bicycles out of spare parts. Early in the morning of June 14, 1940, the Reys set off on their bicycles. They brought very little with them on their predawn flight — only warm coats, a bit of food, and five manuscripts, one of which was Curious George.

The Reys made it to New York with the manuscript. The first Curious George book was published in 1941 (this is the 75th anniversary). The rest is history, and a part of the lives of millions of kids (and their parents).

It is possible to help make the world better one book, and one monkey, at a time.

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?

New Hampshire Primary: Chinese New Year Quiz Edition

Pig Snake

It is the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Monkey. Time to guess what the Chinese lunar calendar tells us about the two Democratic candidates.

Following are descriptions of the two astrological animals representing the dates on which Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were born. The game is to guess which is which.

For those not obsessively interested in the often ridiculous and disheartening zoo/farm of this silly season, good for you.

Note: It is good fortune to wear red for the Chinese New Year, especially red underwear. You likely don’t know me well enough to know it, but I have no red underwear. I do have red ties and am wearing one today. If you are someone who does have red underwear, wear it and good luck.

And now the quiz. Which is Hillary and which is Bernie?

Democratic Candidate 1:

Born in the Year of the Pig

Elemental type of Pig based on a 60-year cycle: Fire Pig
Ambitious, persevering, but impatient.

Pigs are diligent, compassionate, and generous. They have great concentration: once they set a goal, they will devote all their energy to achieving it. Though Pigs rarely seek help from others, they will not refuse to give others a hand. Pigs never suspect trickery, so they are easily fooled.

General speaking, Pigs are relatively calm when facing trouble. No matter how difficult the problems are Pigs encounter, they can handle things properly and carefully. They have a great sense of responsibility to finish what they are engaged in.

People born in a Year of the Pig will encounter so many disruptions in their career that they will work under great pressure. It will not be suitable for them to carry out new plans or new measures.

Democratic Candidate 2:

Born in the Year of the Snake

Elemental sign based on a 60-year cycle: Gold Snake
Determined, courageous, confident, and able. A born leader.

In Chinese culture, the Snake is the most enigmatic animal among the twelve zodiac animals. People born in a year of the Snake are supposed to be the most intuitive.

Snakes tend to act according to their own judgments, even while remaining the most private and reticent. They are determined to accomplish their goals and hate to fail.

Snakes represent the symbol of wisdom. They are intelligent and wise. They are good at communication but say little. Snakes are usually regarded as great thinkers.

Snakes are materialistic and love keeping up with the Joneses. They love to possess the best of everything, but they have no patience for shopping.

Snake people prefer to work alone, therefore they are easily stressed. If they seem unusually stressed, it is best to allow them their own space and time to return to normal.

Snakes will have a smooth career after overcoming hardships in 2016. They will be hampered by unscrupulous people at the beginning of the year, but the situation will change in the middle of the year, and it will turn out smoothly at the end of the year. They will not achieve anything if they give up halfway; therefore, they must be confident about their future.

Best Cartoon Ever

Two Guys on an Elephant

Following is the best cartoon I have ever seen. Excuse the low quality, because it is a scan of an old and precious magazine clipping.

You could write a doctoral dissertation on how these four panels work their magic and represent the art and mechanics of humor. Or you could just laugh.

Black and White Prints from the British Museum

 

Winnie-the-Pooh

winnie-the-pooh

Winnie-the-Pooh is not only a children’s book, not exactly, though it should be read to and by every child. It wasn’t read to or by me as a child, but I found it later anyway, and have never let go of it since.

Pooh, as you know or might have heard, is a bear formally known as Edward Bear, but nicknamed by his friend Christopher Robin. He lives with his other friends Rabbit, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga and her baby Roo in the Hundred Acre Wood.

In this bit from Chapter 7, Pooh and friends are trying to distract Kanga so that they can capture her baby. Pooh recites some spontaneous poetry:

“Talking of Poetry,” said Pooh, “I made up a little piece as I was coming along. It went like this. Er–now let me see–“

“Fancy!” said Kanga. “Now Roo, dear–“

“You’ll like this piece of poetry,” said Rabbit

“You’ll love it,” said Piglet.

“You must listen very carefully,” said Rabbit.

“So as not to miss any of it,” said Piglet.

“Oh, yes,” said Kanga, but she still looked at Baby Roo.

“How did it go, Pooh?” said Rabbit.

Pooh gave a little cough and began.

LINES WRITTEN BY A BEAR OF VERY LITTLE BRAIN

On Monday, when the sun is hot
I wonder to myself a lot:
“Now is it true, or is it not,”
“That what is which and which is what?”

On Tuesday, when it hails and snows,
The feeling on me grows and grows
That hardly anybody knows
If those are these or these are those.

On Wednesday, when the sky is blue,
And I have nothing else to do,
I sometimes wonder if it’s true
That who is what and what is who.

On Thursday, when it starts to freeze
And hoar-frost twinkles on the trees,
How very readily one sees
That these are whose–but whose are these?

On Friday—-

“Yes, it is, isn’t it?” said Kanga, not waiting to hear what happened on Friday. “Just one more jump, Roo, dear, and then we really must be going.”

Note to English and philosophy professors: Shakespeare is great, but if you are not including A.A. Milne and his Pooh books in your syllabus, you are shortchanging your students. As for philosophy, “what is which and which is what?” and “who is what and what is who?” are questions that could take up a full semester, if not a lifetime.

Note to parents and children of all ages: If you are not reading Pooh to your kids or you haven’t read the book yourself, just do it.

Note to lovers: This may not seem like very romantic literature. But it contains the sort of sweet nonsensical silliness that love, stripped down to its unserious basics, is all about.

WARNING TO ALL: The Disney version of Pooh is known and beloved by many, maybe including you. Sweet Christopher Robin and Pooh would never say unkind or harsh things, such as saying that the Disney version completely misses everything wonderful about the Pooh books and characters, and that it might be deemed a creative desecration. They would never say anything like that.