Selected as the 2014 Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry, Herbie Hancock will be delivering six lectures at Harvard University on the “Ethics of Jazz.” Two have already been presented and may be viewed on YouTube. Find the first one here and the second here. They are MOST inspiring. A synopsis and more about Herbie’s contributions may be found on the website of the International Committee of Artists for Peace (ICAP). The board members of ICAP include Carlos Santana, Patrick Duffy, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and five other individuals. You will note that ICAP now is a featured link on the sidebar at left (or bottom if you are viewing this on your cell phone). You should check them out for some really amazing videos and for more information on how art can make an impact on creating a more peaceful world.
Vonnegut. Cat’s Cradle. 1963. In classic Vonnegut form, the character Crosby says,
“A pissant is somebody who thinks he’s so damn smart, he never can keep his mouth shut. No matter what anybody says, he’s got to argue with it. . . . No matter what you say, he knows better.”
A pissant, in the common parlance, is a small man–not so much in stature but in significance, import, perhaps in intellectual weight. In the midst of an international crisis, threatening the security and sovereignty of the nation of Ukraine, on Sunday’s State of the Union show, Lindsey Graham said that
President Obama “should stop going on television and trying to threaten thugs and dictators.” [like Putin] Whenever he does, “everybody’s eyes roll, including mine. We have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression.”
So, instead of considering the well-being, the safety of the citizens of the Ukraine, Graham plays the pissant, mocking Obama. Contrast that with the sensible, supportive and bipartisan approach from (of all people) House Majority Leader Eric Cantor who released a statement yesterday saying (see the Majority Leader Blog)
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine violates international law and its long-standing agreements. Russian aggression must cease, . . .
I have spoken to Administration officials to express our interest in working together to ensure that President Obama has the appropriate tools to impose real consequences on Russia for this aggression.”
So, take your pick, pissant or bipartisan patriot. There’s a reason no one expects Lindsey Graham ever to be Commander in Chief. This is the latest example. Facing four Tea Party primary opponents, he has his own small-minded interests at stake rather than international affairs. There are few who could underestimate the political astuteness of the Tea Party, but Graham may be one of them.
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So, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has had the good sense to veto legislated intended to provide legal cover for business owners to refuse to provide services to LGBT members based on the business owner’s “sincere religious beliefs.” But there are other states who are considering similar laws. To me, the news media are totally ignoring several things in their coverage of this issue: the historical antecedents, the cultural sea-change of LGBT acceptance in America and which businesses are really involved here. Continue reading
Coming soon to a web browser near you–as soon as you click on the links, are new and improved (finally) versions of Eagle Peak Press and Waiting for Westmoreland websites. Like Views from Eagle Peak, they are now be fully responsive, thanks to Bootstrap technology, that enables appropriate formatting and viewing on desktops, tablets and cell phones. The content will not be significantly changed on Waiting for Westmoreland, but it will look different. Much more substantial changes are coming to Eagle Peak Press–content, layout, functions, etc. Check them out when you have time.
“A great human revolution in just a single individual will enable a change in destiny of all humankind.” Daisaku Ikeda
On January 26, 2014, Soka Gakkai International (SGI) President Daisaku Ikeda set forth his annual peace proposal. Rather than attempting to go into even a synopsis of the 2014 proposal, I prefer to note that the need for an effective means to bring peace and understanding to the world continues unabated. Witness the UN report on unspeakable horrors committed by the current and former leaders of North Korea. Syria. Sudan. Countless countries in Africa, Asia, Latin and South America. Armed intervention seems justified in protecting innocent civilians, yet, how often is it successful? Should we then ignore it–feeling it does not concern us directly. No. Diplomatic solutions are often no more successful than wars. Yet they must be pursued. Unfortunately, the world’s ills did not materialize overnight and alleviating them will not happen quickly either. The hope in Buddhism is that a recognition of shared humanity, accompanied by a determination to exert oneself for good rather than evil through elevating one’s life condition will cause the change in the world which we all wish could happen. Continue reading
Ted Nugent’s latest rant (that President Obama is a “subhuman mongrel”) fairly takes one back to elementary school for a rejoinder: “It takes one to know one,” I know nothing of Nugent’s parentage, but if you saw and heard the two of them side by side, my bet would be that most observers would find Nugent is more aptly describing himself. His days as a successful rocker are far behind him, with nothing on the charts for decades; what he is renowned for now are right-wing rants. In April, 2012 Nugent said at an NRA conference, speaking of the 2012 election, “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year. We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November.” He had an interview with the Secret Service following that. Unfortunately for Greg Abbott, Republican candidate for governor of Texas, Nugent is neither dead nor in jail. Instead he is still around hurling insults at the President. To be insulted by a fool is no great disgrace–to be praised by one is. So it’s Abbott, for whom Nugent is making campaign appearances, that suffers the dishonor–not President Obama. It says something obvious about Abbott that he accepts Nugent’s campaign assistance.
If you look at some of the posts below the ones for 2014, you will see a comment count but no comments. That’s because many, but not ALL of them were spam–clogging up the site before I got a new and improved anti-spam plug-in. It didn’t help that I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to the site for a time. So, due to the volume of comment spam, I made the hard but right choice to bulk delete them rather than scour thousands of comments for real, meaningful ones. There really were genuine, worthwhile comments; I just didn’t have time to save them.
I used to be loyal to IE. Despite rumors it was losing market share among browsers, I stuck with it. In 2011 I began having problems with downloading activity from my MasterCard site. I faulted the IT staff for failing to correct the problem; while they said, “Try a different browser like Chrome, Safari or Firefox.” I resolved to dump the card as soon as I had another one functioning. Despite (or perhaps because of) having bought my first computer in 1984, I had become complacent with new and improved technology. IE has been steadily losing browser market share, so maybe the IT staff was right. Chrome now has five times as many users as IE! Microsoft apparently no longer cares or no longer has solutions to buggy new versions. Now, with the most recent updates to IE 11, my credit card site won’t work at all there. But it’s not just them–I have problems with other sites too. Then there is the odd message of IE stopping working after closing a tab–except it really doesn’t; it just gives an odd message. Then there is the message that a site has stopped responding because of a long running script. Click to stop the script and you might have to reload the page. Bye-bye, Internet Explorer, a relic of the past that has outlived its usefulness.
OK, that is not a very Buddhist or even humanistic perspective. It is, of course, a tad facetious. But with the Copenhagen Zoo having euthanized one giraffe and a second Danish zoo considering the same, it seems that the old saying “something is rotten in Denmark,” has proven itself. Were these zoo staff frequenting the marijuana clubs Denmark is renowned for? I know all too well how judgment can be clouded by the effects of dope. But more seriously, something is very wrong with the management of these zoos. While they have offered some supposed justifications for their actions–avoid inbreeding, crowding, etc., the bottom line is that these people should be replaced with more humane individuals that have brains and a conscience that match the demands of their jobs. If they didn’t want/need the giraffes, surely there were other zoos or better, refuge style habitats that would accept them. The laws of cause and effect are very strict, these people will suffer for their actions if not now, in a later lifetime. It’s what we Buddhists call karma.