Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Understand, Now

I had a high school physics course; actually two semester-long ones.  I didn't get much out of it/them.  That was in the 1970s.  In the 1990s I bought Stephen Hawkings' A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes.  I started it, couldn't finish.  Only read about 15 pages.  It was a combination of too 'dry' and a bit over my head.  I hadn't been exposed to any of the concepts in any but the most superficial way and it was easy to just toss it aside.

Last night I picked it up again.  (I found it on top of a stack in a box in my storage locker and brought it upstairs, earlier in the week.)  I opened to the table of contents.  Chapter 4: The Uncertainty Principle.  I remembered we had talked about that in my Physics 107 class, Fall semester, 2008.  And that I didn't really get it, then, or remember anything about it now, other than the name Heisenberg goes with it.  (I guess you could say I was uncertain.)

So I flipped to page 53 and started reading.  OMG!  I understand it now!  And I only read three pages!  WTF?  Not only that, it shed new light on something else that had mystified me when I heard it referred to, at least three times over the years, that being the idea that the observer has an effect on the observed.

Obviously that idea makes sense if we think about humans behaving in a certain way if they feel 'unobserved' and a different way if they know they ARE being observed.  But sub-atomic particles?  How could they know they were being observed?  They can't possibly, right?  So what gives? 

I see the rest of the chapter includes the 'two-slit experiment.'  I have never understood that, either, and I hear that it isn't actually explainable, yet.  But I think I'll read Hawkings' explanation.  Do you think, maybe ... ? 


Wednesday, October 26, 2011


So, what about this "Occupy" movement?  Good, bad, silly, crazy, harmless, criminal?  Who are the occupiers?  Who are their leaders?

Usually when I start out with questions I attempt to answer them in the rest of the post.  Not today.  Those are all "good" questions but as nearly as I can tell none of them has a definite answer.  In any case, I have no definitive answers.  Maybe you can tell me. 

Which doesn't mean I have nothing to say.  So, what follows is what I would do if I was pulling their strings, starting ... now.

First off, any and all violence is forbidden.  Self-defense, OK, but self-defense is not violence.  And, there will be no need to defend yourselves from the police because starting NOW, all laws will be obeyed.  If your group is told that it's time to move along then MOVE ALONG.  Pick anther spot, go on home for a couple days, whatever.  But clear the area. 

I saw a bit of an interview with a young woman tonight, from Oakland.  The question I remember being asked of her was, "So, what should the cops have done?"  Her answer: "I think using (tactics such as rubber bullets and tear gas, I forget the details) was hugely inappropriate."

Well thanks, honey, for nothing, though.  The question WAS, what should the police have DONE?  Not, please give us your opinion of the appropriateness of what they did.  Bit of a difference, don't you know.

I understand that sometimes pushing the police to respond with, arguably, excessive force is a tactic.  In MY opinion (as the new boss) it is a tactic that ill-suits our purpose.  Hamas uses that tactic, to get Israel to respond with massive force.  Are we Hamas?  No!  Are our objectives similar to those of Hamas?  No!  This is an assymetric warfare tactic and we are NOT AT WAR!  We are angry but, as some of us are fond of saying, or attaching to our bumpers, War Is Not The Answer!  Let's keep that in mind.

(When she was asked if what the police alleged was true, that they had thrown, I believe, rocks and bricks at the officers as they moved in she said yes, but since the police were wearing riot gear that wasn't so bad and the police response was out of proportion.)

So people, listen up!  We are NOT going to be forcing confrontation.  That is NOT what this is about.  We aren't  the Civil Rights Movement.  We're pissed about the way big money interests have stolen our democracy from us and turned capitalism into corporatism, borderline fascism.  And there is a way to redress that. 

We needed to raise awareness.  We have done so.  Reliable polls show that America is aware of us and largely on our side.  WE CANNOT AFFORD TO LOSE THAT!  And the more we look like a lawless bunch of radicals the more we lose whatever hard-won respect we DO have.  So ...

... we move on to the next phase.  Coordinated political activity.  It's the only way any progress has ever been achieved in America, and that's something to be proud of because America has achieved some great, progressive goals (yes, we're skipping the Civil War, here).  The Democratic Party will hereby be put on notice.  WE are your base.  THIS is what we insist upon.  ECONOMIC JUSTICE.  We don't give a FUCK if Glenn Beck wants to call us Socialists, because who the fuck is GlennBeck, anyway?  Ditto for Rush Limbaugh.  Let him howl.  It's what he does.  Democratic Party, you WILL represent us or we WILL desert you.  We can do it.  We WILL do it.  We will start a third party.  We are strong.  We will not win in 2012 but we WILL NOT GO AWAY.  We will only grow STRONGER!

This is our message.  Everyone go home, unless you have a permit for your occupation, as needed.  We can mobilize again.  But for now I call for POLITICAL action.  It's the only way we can win.  If we stick together we WILL WIN!  WE ARE THE 99%!

Friday, October 14, 2011


This may shock and amaze you but I'm pulling the plug on the Kennedy assassination book.  1,500 pages of excruciating detail just doesn't fit the schedule right now.  I have another book from the library that I've already started (God: A Brief History) and Rick Perlstein's Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, a precursor to Nixonland, came in today's mail.  

But I can tell you this, just the same: Oswald did it!  If you want further convincing, find the book, Reclaiming History: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, by Vincent Bugliosi, read the introduction, and see if you aren't satisfied.  If not, keep reading.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011


As I was nearing the finish of Nixonland I remembered that Vincent Bugliosi had written about the Kennedy assassination a couple years back.  Not sure but maybe something in Nixonland triggered it; anyway I had always meant to read that one so I went and found it in one of the libraries on campus.

Reading the 36 page preface and the early part of the text I realized that in addition to examining the Kennedy assassination in excruciating detail and blowing up every conspiracy myth you've ever heard of, Bugliosi is writing on the same theme as Perlstein was: the polarization of America.  Perlstein traced it to Nixon, Bugliosi goes back to that fateful day in 1963.

From the preface:

At approximately 12:30 p.m. on November 22, 1963, while President John F. Kennedy, the most powerful man in the free world, rode in his presidential limousine slowly past the Texas School Book Depository Building and down Elm Street in Dallas, Texas, three shots rang out ...  lay mortally wounded on his wife Jaqueline's lap.  The assassin had succeeded in brutally cutting down, at the age of forty-six, the thirty-fifth president of these United States, a man whose wit, charm and intelligence had captivated a world audience.  The assassin's bullets had also extinguished a flame of hope for millions of Americans who saw in the youthful president at least the promise of excellence in national life.

As the years have shown, Kennedy's assassination immediately transformed him into a mythical, larger-than-life figure whose hold on the nation's imagination resonates to this very day.  "The image of Kennedy is not based on what he accomplished, but on his promise, the hope he held out," said historian Stephen Ambrose in 1993.  Years earlier, New York Times columnist James Reston wrote similarly that "what was killed in Dallas was not only the President but the promise.  The heart of the Kennedy legend is what might have been.  All this is apparent in the faces of the people who come daily to his grave on the Arlington Hill."  In 1993, Ambrose added, "There's a very strong sense that if he had not died, we would not have suffered the 30 years of nightmare that followed--the race riots, the white backlash, assassinations, Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra."  While this is, of course, speculative, what is not is JFK's legacy of rekindling the notion that public service is a noble calling.  If it is any barometer of the sense of hope and promise that Kennedy inspired in the American people, the ever-decreasing trust by Americans in their government down through the years started with the Kennedy assassination and the subsequent erroneously perceived notion--fostered by conspiracy theorists--that the government concealed the full truth about the assassination from them.  Trust in our leaders in Washington to do what is right for the people plummeted from 76 percent around the time of the assassination to a low of 19 percent three decades later.  "There's such a gulf in history between the day before and the day after Kennedy's assassination," says historian Howard Jones of the University of Alabama.  "It's as if we passed through a hundred years in a day."  

The book is 1,500 pages long; I don't know if I'll read every word.  So far I'm liking it.

More to come ...