Saturday, October 26, 2013

Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.

It's Buddhist. Get it?

To download the text in PDF form, go to:

Read from page 130 to about 139...

And WAKE UP (Neo).

It's as good as this

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Zen Highball

is nothing and tonic.

Some might choose Zen Tonic - it's really nothing!

Nothing and nothing... it just doesn't get any better than that.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The psychology of politics

"In psychology, an idiot has the least intelligence on the IQ scale; an imbecile is not quite as dumb as an idiot; a moron is then the highest level of intelligence among the mentally retarded, being now considered as 'mildly mentally retarded.' Specifically, those who have an IQ between 0 and 25 are idiots; IQs between 26 and 50 are considered imbeciles; and those who have an IQ between 51 and 70 are considered morons.

These terms were popular in psychology as associated with intelligence on an IQ test until around the 1960s. They were then replaced with the terms mild retardation (55-70), moderate retardation (40-55), severe retardation (25-40), and profound retardation (below 25). In addition to this, other factors besides IQ are now used in diagnosing these levels of mental deficiency."

Political affiliation comes to mind. Those who have an IQ between 0 and 25 are Fox News addicts; IQs between 26 and 50 are considered Tea Baggers; and those who have an IQ between 51 and 70 are just considered Republicans.

These two are NOT an opening hand at poker.

College bound High School students are above average. And the scoring of this elite group is found HERE.
Let's face it, the AVERAGE IQ in the USA is below the world average! (See #19)

Congressional IQs? Let's not go there!

RED states are usually below average!

The US Military uses Stanines or "Standard Nines" -- a forced ranking of 9 11% groupings. The bottom 11% are unfit, at any level, from serving the US Military Machine. The next 11% - in time of war - can stand guard outside a perimeter. They are the self-sacrificing monkeys of our genus (HOMO). The other new world monkey families are HERE.
This Mormon Cartoon adequately explains L.D.S.

And THIS BOOK collects some other folklore.

We might as well have some Xenu/Xemu Folklore.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Average and Median - don't confuse them!

Median: The middle number (in a sorted list of numbers).

To find the Median, place the numbers you are given in value order and find the middle number.

Example: find the Median income of $13,000, $23,000, $11,000, $16,000, $15,000, $10,000, and $26,000.

First, put the numbers in order: {10,000, 11,000, 13,000, 15,000, 16,000, 23,000, 26,000}

The middle number is 15,000, so the median is $15,000.

Average: A calculated "central" value of a set of numbers.

To calculate: add up all the numbers, then divide by how many numbers there are.

Example: what is the average income of workers making $13,000, $23,000, $11,000, $16,000, $15,000, $10,000, and $260,000?

Add up all of the numbers: 10,000 + 11,000 + 13,000 + 15,000 + 16,000 + 23,000 + 260,0000 = 348,000

Divide by how many numbers (i.e. we added 7 numbers): 348,000 ÷ 7 = 49,714

So the average income is $49,714.

Only one person in that ordered list makes more than an average income!

Another Example: Three men are riding up in an elevator.

One makes $25,000 one $50,000 and one $75,000.

The average income is $50,000. ($150,000 / 3)

Bill gates gets on the elevator, the average income immediately went up to almost $3 Billion!

The Tea-bagger in the group said: "See how much better off everyone now is?" (Their average income went WAY up!)

The MEDIAN income in the USA is... $51,017

The Average income in the USA is... closer to $114,000!

The top 1 percent is defined as households with incomes above $394,000 in 2012.

In fact, both wealth and income are super-concentrated in the top 0.1%, which is just one in a thousand.

The pay gap between the richest 1 percent and 'the rest of America' widened to a new record in 2012.

The top 1 percent of earners collected 19.3 percent of all household income in 2012, their largest share in Internal Revenue Service figures going back a century.

U.S. income inequality has been growing for almost three decades (Reaganomics). But until last year, the top 1 percent’s share of pre-tax income hadn’t surpassed the 18.7 percent it reached in 1927, according to an analysis of IRS figures dating to 1913 by economist Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and three colleagues.

Top 1% = $368,238
(20.9% of all household income)
Top 0.5% = $558,726
(16.8% of all household income)
Top 0.1% = $1,695,136
(10.3% of all household income)
Top 0.01% = $9,141,190
(5% of all household income)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Take only memories, leave only footprints...

"In a previous lecture, I compared zazen practice to usual everyday activity. In usual activity, as you know, our effort is directed to the outside, and our activity is concentrated on some particular thing. This particularized activity creates many things. But this kind of creativity can—at the same time-create fear. This creativity will result some feeling——a good or bad feeling we will carry forward."

See more at: Suzuki roshi sfzc org/dharma-talks/ fear-of-death

So Zazen is not about creativity. It is about overcoming some of the baggage that creativity produces - intentionally or unintentionally.

Monastic living - in a formal or informal setting - is about avoiding the creation of unnecessary baggage.

Some shopping baggage is staged.

O.K. We do have better funnier things to watch...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pair of Dimes Shift

A pair of dimes shift (or paradigm shift if ya' had some fetchin' up) is the realization that, when casting lots, the dice are loaded!

Now mind you, whatever gods may be have NOTHING to do with loading the dice. It's the golden rule: he who has the gold, makes the rules.

In "rags to riches" mythology, by working hard one can achieve success. In other words, even if you are born on Sleazy Street (down the way from the Baptist Church) or near the open sewer behind Heavenly Splender Trailer Park, you can - with hard work alone - make it up to Easy Street.

People talk about rags-to-riches folks like Stanford Graduates or the son of a Seattle Banker. Well, good luck! (See? Casting lots.)

Now DO NOT get me wrong. I am the son of a mom & pop corner grocery store and I made it all the way up to Queezy Street - where those who should forever remain walking learn to drive.

And while I am not quite walking distance from easy street, we can drive up there a couple of times a year and pretend - for the weekend - that we have enough money to buy a dinner in that neighborhood.

How long must I dream?

And, American HICs on parade (BBC).
(This was the "other" Elvis.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Of course! (Baka, Aho, Shinde kudasai)

In "cult speak," the world without mankind (Homo sapiens sapiens) in unbelievable. I use a form of belief - unbelievable - because a form of think - unthinkable - does not apply to religious (e.g. believing) cults.

We have destroyed the environment in which we can live. But, thank whatever gods may be, we have done it before - on the scale of a minicosm. THAT was Easter Island.

"In the prevailing account of the island's past, the native inhabitants once had a large and thriving society, but they doomed themselves by degrading their environment. A small group of Polynesian settlers arrived around 800 to 900 A.D., and the island's population grew slowly at first. Around 1200 A.D., their growing numbers (overpopulation) and an obsession with building moai led to increased pressure on the environment. By the end of the 17th century, the Rapanui had deforested the island, triggering war, bringing famine, leading to a vast starvation, and completing the cycle with complete cultural collapse." Call it ecocide.

Or was it the rats?

At any rate, religion is a crime against the mind.

The world WILL survive very well, thank you. It will do so without the human population it once held.

Conspiracy? No, just fate.

Secret Conspiracy? No, corporate profits from corporate prophets.

Bill Gates, on Math.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It is obvious

When I learned that the most profitable year in the history of 'Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company, Inc' was in 1931 I thought:

"THAT was during the Great Depression following the crash of 1929."

Well, economic 'down turns' only effect the very little people (to paraphrase Leona Helmsley).

John Kenneth Galbraith wrote The Great Crash 1929, an economic history focused in part on the men of the market who brought on the crash, in graceful prose. In his last chapter, he tells us of five major weaknesses in the real economy that made it possible for the disaster to destroy a generation. At the top of his list is the badly unequal distribution of wealth.

He points out that the top 5% of the population earned about one third of all personal income in 1929*. Those figures comport well with the figures from Emanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, whose IRS data indicates that the top 5% earned about 37% of gross income in 1929. P. 194 (references are to the Penguin Books 1992 ed.). For a discussion of the 2006 figures, see this article.

Productivity increased steadily from 1920 to 1929, but wages and prices were stagnant. P. 192 Costs fell, and profits increased, but how were the wealthy to dispose of the money? The choices were consumption of luxuries (e.g. a Duesenberg) or capital investment. There is only so much that the rich can consume.

If anything happened to reduce the flow of money to capital expenditures, consumer spending could not increase to take its place, and the economy was headed down. There is insufficient evidence, according to Galbraith, to be certain that this was the central cause, but he thinks the explanation is consistent with the observed facts available to him in 1954.

He identifies four other factors:

1. Bad corporate structures. Although the business press praised the businessmen of that day, the fact (P. 195) was that American enterprise in the twenties had opened its hospitable arms to an exceptional number of swindlers, impostors, and frauds. This, in the long history of such activities, was a kind of flood tide of corporate larceny.

2. Bad banking structure. Galbraith doesn’t think bankers were any worse or better in the 20s than the 50s, but the structure of banks made runs on banks easier and more likely.

3. The balance of trade. The US was a creditor to most of the world. As the decade wore on, that status increased every year. High US tariffs made it difficult for other nations to balance their imports from the US with exports to the US, so accounts were settled in transfers of gold, or in shaky loans, like the loans made by National City Bank (predecessor, somehow, of CitiGroup) to Peru. P. 198-9. As this became more difficult, other countries had to reduce imports from the US, which caused strains in the economy, particularly agriculture.

4. Incompetent economic advice. From p. 200: The economic advisors of the day had both the unanimity and authority to force the leaders of both political parties to disavow all the available steps to check deflation and depression.

Two and three seem unlikely culprits this time. It looks to me like a good case can be made for one, with all the money lost by the great geniuses of Wall Street and their counterparts in the banking and other businesses. What kind of country did our corporate masters think would be left when they exported all the decent jobs to other nations? Actually, it doesn’t affect them at the top. They just whine that they are being put upon by the great unwashed, and have to pretend they aren’t really all that different from you and me. When Newsweek notices it, it must be obvious.

As to four, judging competence isn’t easy. What do you think about the economic crowd? If you liked them pulling the strings for Bush, you’ll love them in their shape-shifted form manipulating Obama, including their supporters in the money party (e.g. the top 0.1%), the Blue Dogs and the rump of the Republican party. John Kenneth Galbraith would recognize these people too.
after an article published HERE
In today's 'world economy,' the top 5% of the population earn about 93% of all personal income! 95% of the population grovels over 5% of the wealth - the trickle down crumbs. To be fair, within the U.S.A., 5% earn 47% of all personal income! And that excludes many of the entitlement crowd* who live on investments alone (and your money specifically).

There are solid economic arguments for the bad consequences of unequal distribution of the wealth (which the USA has been consistently moving toward since Reagan).

*the entitlement crowd* consists of the ultra rich who find ways - like the story of home ownership in America - to make the poorer classes subsidize their vast wealth.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

when I was young

you could buy a "big" candy bar for ten cents:

and a nickle for five cents

Monday, August 19, 2013

the most unimaginable devastation

Today the scientific community is in almost total agreement that the earth’s climate is changing as a result of human activity, and that this represents a huge threat to the planet and to us. According to a Pew survey conducted in March, however, only 1 in 4 Americans see global warming as a major threat.

If it’s not a data deficit that’s preventing people from doing more on global warming, what is it? Blame our brains. Renee Lertzman, an applied researcher who focuses on the psychological dimensions of sustainability, explains that the kind of systemic threat that climate change poses to humans is “unique both psychologically and socially.” We face a minefield of mental barriers and issues that prevent us from confronting the threat.

Gifford lists factors such as limited cognition or ignorance of the problem, ideologies or worldviews that may prevent action, social comparisons with other people and perceived inequity (the “Why should we change if X corporation or Y country won’t?”) and the perceived risks of changing our behavior.

Lertzman has come to the conclusion that this is not because of apathy — a lack of feeling — but because of the simple fact that we care an overwhelming amount about both the planet and our way of life, and we find that conflict too painful to bear. Our apparent apathy is just a defense mechanism in the face of this psychic pain.

“We’re reluctant to come to terms with the fact that what we love and enjoy and what gives us a sense of who we are is also now bound up with the most unimaginable devastation,” says Lertzman. Read more:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Concours de Flop

Well, as you well know, this weekend is the Pebble Beach Concours.

The "Buzz" on the street is the Castle 601. If you don't know what that means, google it!

The Xtians went to Hawaii to do good and they did well. Very well.

The 1921 Duesenberg Straight 8 Model A #601 sold to - that's right - a former Xtian missionary. Who else could buy a $7,500 'running chasis' and have a Cinderella Royal Coach wanna-be added to it?

Oh, to be frank, it wasn't just Xtians, the JWs were into it also.

I could go on... Richard Baker has a white "7 series" BMW.

"In 1979 the abbot acquired a $25,000 white BMW. Followers dutifully bowed their shaved heads when he motored past. Though Tassajara was earning more than $100,000 a year and Greens was operating in the black, annual deficits climbed to $155,000."

BTW, $25,000 was more than I earned during the entire 1979 tax year working full-time in a union job at top scale!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Secong Coming of...

Take a look at these 1920s cartoons and see if you notice a familiar theme...

Friday, July 19, 2013

It's an old, old, old joke...

Q: Why did the priest turn down the relocation to a distant parish?

A: Because he refused to leave his favorite altar boys behind.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Guts and the Glue

"Even with a broader definition of church attendance, classifying a regular attendee as someone who shows up at least three out of every eight Sundays, only 23–25% of Americans would fit this category. Olson notes that an additional million church attendees would increase the percentage from 17.7% to only 18%. "You"d have to find 80 million more people that churches forgot to count to get to 40%."

Clearly, a disconnect between what Americans say and what they actually do has created a sense of a resilient church culture when, in fact, it may not exist."



What is the answer? (There is an answer to every problem, but is is rarely simple - and ofter plural [e.g. what are the answers?].)

Churches continue to feel the effects of "the Great [Bush] Recession" of 2007 as contributions dropped $1.2 billion [for the year], according to the National Council of Churches' 2012 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches.

Membership trends in denominations reporting remain the same [e.g. declining attendance across-the-board], with [a few] growing churches still growing and [the majority of] declining churches still declining..."


A lot more empty churches are for sale these days - with no takers.

A Virginia church for sale.


Price reduced $100,000

Re-purposed churches too!

White Elephants!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Just when you thought you could take a week off...

A new read appears on the horizon.

Rather than cut-and-paste, I will LINK to a review.

You know God loves Assholes. S/he (they) made so MANY of them!

Image source

Saturday, June 15, 2013

So God exists but what is existence?

Brad's new book is out and my sister, who was visiting for a few days, read it. She reads very quickly but she thought this book needed to be read twice so she packed it up and took it up to Reno! She rates it 5 stars (out of 5).

So far (I am a slow reader), I get that Brad ponders the same questions as Herman Melville and a lot of other folks. I ponder the same questions from a different perspective. The physical world clicks on and off like light through a shutter in an old-fashioned movie projector (you know, before electronic cinema). Physicists call it "quantum" meaning there are increments but no half-increments or fractional increments.

When we 'click off,' we are nothing and yet when we click back on, we are almost the same - just a little older. There is no past - it is gone forever. There is no future (it has yet to click on). There is just THIS.

And then there is the TRINITY. I don't mean the father, son, ghost bundle. I mean the time, space, mass trinity. Energy and mass are one and the same thing - like ice and water. Time exists only in the context of space and space exists only in the context of time. The longer (in time) we have been away from the recent big bang, the farther away we are from the origin. So time and space are two manifestations of the same thing - gravity. So, as they say, you have the strong force and the weak force - and (perhaps) nothing else!

But that is NOT what Brad writes about. He is talking about that 'other' thing. That gate keeper not born of a woman who is outside of mass and energy, space and time. Illogical. Me, not Brad.

So, I have NOT talked about the contents of Brad's book. You have to read it for yourself. It's very very close to 5 stars IMO.

I remain seriously retired.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Herman Melville's Religious Journey

"Moby Dick was the Da Vinci Code of Melville's time."


And Melville, it seems, was a Unitarian.

Unitarians are Trinitarians without the trinity (father, son, holy ghost bundle). It's not the father, it's not the son, and it's not the holy ghost. It's almost Buddhist! What do Unitarians do at Xmas and Easter? Do they 'do' Holly and Lilies? I wonder...

Unitarianism is a reaction to Calvinism in the same way Buddhism is a reaction to Brahmanism. There is that nasty Michael Servetus affair for Calvinists to deal with. It was SO 12th century to behave in this way. I am not JUDGING Calvin - his sadistic actions speak louder than his feeble words. Calvin had chronic pulmonary tuberculosis. It was, in his view, predestined by god. He was not the kind of guy you would invite over for coffee - or a hot bottle of sake.

And THAT makes "Herman Melville's Religious Journey" worth reading!

Melville's mother was a Calvinist (Dutch Reformed Church). And his dad was a Unitarian.

From his writings, it was obvious that Melville was poking fun at FUNDIES.

The American Revolution was as much 'against the church' as it was 'against royalty.' And this brief book describes the turf of Melville's day.

Melville's life followed the doubt, analysis, reflection, awareness path that is so rare in the west.

This book is quite remarkable in pointing out this little detail - call it the satori** of Herman Melville.

The novelette 'Billy Budd, Sailor' is the first book by Melville that you should read (even before Moby Dick). Billy Budd is about more than law and ethics. Billy Budd is not merely about good and evil in the microcosm of a ship but rather about Melville himself - not understood by the general public because he - in the perception of the unwashed masses - was tongue tied. Therefore Melville was a commercial failure in his own day. What he wanted to say, he could not say. What his readers gathered from his works was NOT the message he was trying to convey! Yet, today he is generally recognized - because of the three-dimensional depth of Moby Dick - as the greatest author in the history of American English literature. It is unfair to think the average high school student can gain much from Moby Dick. Indeed, only the able among the college crowd gain much.

*Five United States presidents were Unitarians