Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tao Bible - Proverbs 18:7

A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
~ King James version ~

Those who know do not talk.
Those who talk do not know.
~ from Verse 56 of the Tao Te Ching ~
Both snippets indicate about the same thing. Too often, our words cover up our true motivations and intentions. Sometimes, they expose them.

Another line from the Tao Te Ching comes to mind as well: More words count less. (from Verse 5)

If you're interested in reading more from this experimental series, go to the Tao Bible Index page.

Chapter 25, Part 7A - Chuang Tzu

Po Chu having studied under Lao Tan, said, "I would like permission to go wandering about the world."

"Let it be!" said Lao Tan. "The world is right here."

When Po Chi! repeated his request, Lao Tan said, "Where will you go first?"

"I will begin with Ch'i." When he arrived in Ch'i, he saw the body of a criminal who had been executed. Pushing and dragging until he had it laid out in proper position, he took off his formal robes and covered it with them, wailing to Heaven and crying out, "Alas, alas! The world is in dire misfortune, and you have been quicker than the rest of us to encounter it.

'Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not murder!' they say. But when glory and disgrace have once been defined, you will see suffering; when goods and wealth have once been gathered together, you will see wrangling. To define something that brings suffering to men, to gather together what sets them to wrangling, inflicting misery and weariness upon them, never granting them a time of rest, and yet to hope somehow that they will not end up like this - how could it be possible?
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Someone Always Loses

One of the hallmarks of our "free enterprise" capitalist system is that for every winner, there are one or more losers. More often than not -- and the pace is accelerating -- the winners these days are corporations and the losers are large swaths of the American public.

Remember how we bailed out the too-big-to-fail banks? One of the trade offs was supposed to be that the banks would turn around to start lending to homeowners and Main Street again.

How has that worked out?

Not well at all! This hope was not made into a mandatory condition of receiving that public money and so the banks have kept almost all of the moolah for themselves. They came out as big winners and the rest of us came out as big losers.

We have now learned, thanks to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, that the bailout of American automakers created even more losers than we originally knew.
Vicki Denton died several years ago after the airbag in her 1998 Dodge Caravan minivan failed to deploy during a head-on collision in the Georgia mountains. In 2009, a jury found Chrysler responsible for her death because of a manufacturing defect, awarding her surviving son and other relatives $2.2 million.

The family was near collecting those damages on the eve of Chrysler's government-brokered bankruptcy. Now, two years removed from a $12.5 billion bailout, Chrysler Group LLC still hasn't paid the damages, and doesn't have to.

The reason: The company's restructuring allowed it to wash away legal responsibility for car-accident victims who had won damages or had pending lawsuits before its bankruptcy filing. The same holds true for General Motors Co., which discarded the liabilities as part of its own $50 billion bailout and restructuring.

In rescuing the car makers, the U.S. government prevented a potential meltdown of the auto industry and further shocks to the economy. But in the process, it created a wide universe of relative winners and losers. The U.S. Treasury received large ownerships stakes in the restructured auto makers, as did union retiree trusts. Chrysler's banks got some, not all, of their loans repaid in cash, and GM's lenders were fully repaid. On the other side, thousands of dealers, asbestos victims and other creditors received little to no recompense.

Among the creditors who suffered most, car-accident victims represent a distinct mold. Unlike banks and bondholders, this group didn't choose to extend credit to the auto makers. As consumers, they became creditors only after suffering injuries in vehicles they purchased...
For me, the interesting part of this arrangement is that the automakers weren't in a position to demand anything from the federal government. The Obama administration could dictate any terms they wished and they came up with this?

All this sorry case points to is yet another example of how our system always seems to have the backs of our corporate overlords, but somehow fails to protect the American consumer. GM and Chrysler got their money at the expense of the Denton families of this world.

It's downright shameful!

Afternoon Matinee: Foreclosuregate Explained

Chapter 25, Part 6 - Chuang Tzu

The border guard of Chang-wu said to Tzu-lao, "In running the government you mustn't be slipshod; in ordering the people you mustn't be slapdash! In the past I used to grow grain. I plowed in a slipshod way and got a slipshod crop in return. I weeded in a slapdash way and got a slapdash crop in return. The following year I changed my methods, plowing deeper than before and raking with great care - the grain grew thick and luxuriant, and I had all I wanted to eat for the whole year!"

Chuang Tzu, hearing of this, said, "People of today, when they come to ordering their bodies and regulating their minds, too often do it in a manner like that which the border guard described. They turn their backs on the Heavenly part, deviate from the inborn nature, destroy the true form, and annihilate the spirit, just to be doing what the crowd is doing.

"So he who is slipshod with his inborn nature will find the evils of desire and hate affecting his inborn nature like weeds and rushes. When they first sprout up, he thinks they will be a comfort to the body, but in time they end by stifling the inborn nature. Side by side they begin to break out and ooze forth, not on just one part of the body but all over. Festering ulcers and boils, internal fevers and pus-filled urine - these are the results!"
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Right and Wrong

In the film Clear and Present Danger, one of the president's henchmen who has engineered an unauthorized war in South America angrily confronts CIA chief Jack Ryan for questioning the operation saying "You are such a boy-scout. For you, everything is black and white, no gray areas." To which Ryan replies 'not black and white, right and wrong.' It's a scene that gets at the heart of what happens in the political world when standards are swept aside and replaced by ill-chosen, short-term remedies devised by partisans without conscience.

Decisions these days are rarely made according to principles that define right and wrong. They're all about outwitting political opponents, taking partisan advantage of situations where morality is the last thing under consideration. "Free markets" today are the bellwether of social values and any who dare question the premise are branded socialists or communists. Never mind that free markets are often the end game of unscrupulous manipulators of our fiscal condition, a name given to make what is venal and corrupt seem decent and honorable.
~ from Forget Ideology: Conservatives Need to Develop a Basic Sense of Right and Wrong by Ann Davidow ~
On one level, I wholeheartedly agree with Davidow. Too many legislators view governance as a game. Just like in baseball, the goal is to outscore your opponent. If you can do it within the rules, good for you, but if it takes a little cheating to come out on top...well, everybody cheats!

Besides the holy grail of besting the opponent, the other factor in the current equation is how to enrich yourself through wealth, power and status. There are many legislators who would push their own mother in front of a bus IF they thought it would curry favor with this or that corporate special interest. In their mind's eye, the worst thing in the world that could happen to them is not to get reelected or, if stepping down, not to have golden parachute waiting to soften their landing in the outside world.

On another level, however, Davidow's point about right and wrong is unrealistic. There is no one definition of what is right and what is wrong. It can't be objectified because the determination is made by subjective beings.

This world is anything but static. What might be universally right this very moment may be horribly wrong tomorrow. What is right for me may not be right for you. What is right for one aspect of life may not be so right for another.

This offers one of the key reasons why philosophical Taoism is so appealing to me. While the Judeo-Christian perspective is all about ironclad lists of right and wrong, the chief thrust of Taoism is harmony.

Harmony is not about balancing x amount of right to offset x amount of wrong. Equations like that always land humanity in hot water because we grant ourselves or our tribe a wide latitude of right, while shrinking the longitude of right for those not in our circle. Of course, those in the other circles are playing by the same damn rules, so it always ends up being an all out, no holds barred war as to whose right will prevail.

Synthesis -- a non-adversarial system -- is the key to harmony. You try to ascertain how all participants will benefit from any act or deed. Right vs. wrong stresses winners AND losers. Harmony tries to create win-win-win situations and outcomes.

That's the way I see it, at least.

Line by Line - Verse 31, Line 12

on occasions of mourning, the right hand.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

On sad occasions to the right.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Inauspicious events favor the right
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

(No corresponding line)
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from Beatrice.com, 2004 ~
On so many occasions, we have two basic choices. The first is to be selfish and to commit acts that satisfy our ego-driven desires. It is not that we necessarily wish to thwart other people's needs or force them to do things against their will; our exclusive focus solely is on ourselves.

The second choice is far more inclusive. We look to commit to those actions that will bring ourselves AND others into greater harmony. We balance our desires with the needs and desires of anyone and anything else that will be impacted.

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

Kentucky Fried Potholes

I have written quite a number of blog posts that feature quotes and analysis from Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. One of the strategies she warns about is the rush to sell off public assets to private corporate hands. On her blog yesterday, Rania Khalek draws our attention to a form of this strategy that absolutely boggles the mind!
In more desperate and bizarre attempts to fill in budget gaps the City Council in Naperville, IL is considering giving corporations exclusive rights to plaster their logos on city property. One proposed municipal sponsorship deal would allow Kentucky Fried Chicken to repair potholes in exchange for stamping the fresh asphalt with the chicken chain’s logo...
Before we know it, everything we can think of is going to be corporate-sponsored!

Sports fans have seen this creep for the last decade or so. In the old days, the college bowl season featured a handful of games at historic venues like the Orange, Cotton, Sugar or Rose Bowl. Today, however, in front of those historic names we now find corporate adornments like the Tostito's Fiesta Bowl or the Allstate Sugar Bowl!

Public schools have utilized corporate sponsorships to shore up sagging revenues and state aid.

In his book, Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America, Matt Taibbi talks about the case of the City of Chicago leasing its parking meters to some unknown conglomerate for a one-time multi-million dollar payment in exchange for foregoing 75 years of municipal revenue.

What's next? Stoplights brought to us by General Electric? Park benches by Forest Lawn Cemeteries? City Hall by Walmart? Public roads by Halliburton?

Where will it end?

Chapter 25, Part 5 - Chuang Tzu

When Confucius was traveling to the capital of Ch'u, he stopped for the night at a tavern at Ant Knoll. Next door a crowd of husbands and wives, menservants and maidservants had climbed up to the rooftop [to watch]. Tzu-lu said, "Who are all those people milling around?"

"They are the servants of a sage," said Confucius. "He has buried himself among the people, hidden himself among the fields. His reputation fades away but his determination knows no end. Though his mouth speaks, his mind has never spoken. Perhaps he finds himself at odds with the age and in his heart disdains to go along with it. He is one who has `drowned in the midst of dry land.' I would guess that it is I-liao from south of the Market."

" May I go next door and call him over?" asked Tzu-lu.

"Let it be!" said Confucius. "He knows that I am out to make a name for myself, and he knows I am on my way to the capital of Ch'u. .He is sure to assume that I am trying to get the king of Ch'u to give me a position and will accordingly take me for a sycophant. A man like that is ashamed even to hear the words of a sycophant, much less appear in person before him! What makes you think he is still at home anyway?"

Tzu-lu went next door to have a look and found the house deserted.
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Not Customary

On Memorial Day, it’s customary to honor soldiers who have lost their lives. And so we do so.

And while it may not be customary, it’s necessary on Memorial Day to ask what did they lose their lives for, and whom did they lose their lives for.

In almost every war, they did not die for their country. They died for their country’s rulers, the politicians who lie about the real reasons for war.

They died for the corporations that profit from war and for the top 1 percent of Americans who run this country.

They died for a concept, the concept of nationalism, which enables people to kill and to give up their own lives for an inflated sense of their own country’s mission.

Or they died for the concept of religion, which enables people to kill and to give up their own lives for a phantom god.

And while it may not be customary, it’s necessary on Memorial Day to honor the innocent people killed in our wars.

John Tirman’s new book, The Deaths of Others, tallies them up.

In the Korean War, about three million civilians died.

In the Vietnam War, about three million civilians died.

In Bush’s Iraq War, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians died.

And while it may not be customary, it’s necessary on Memorial Day to honor the duped or conscripted soldiers of our so-called enemies. The 100,000 Iraqi soldiers in the first Gulf War, for instance, many of whom the United States mowed down in the so-called Turkey Shoot.
~ from prepared remarks of Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, for delivery at the Veterans for Peace rally in Madison, Wisconsin ~


by Scott Bradley

When I shared with a friend that post in which I said Pray For Plague he replied that he really liked it verbally, but wasn't it a bit negative and didn't it contradict my philosophy in general? It is negative, I guess, and it does in some ways contradict my philosophy, but it made its way to your computer screen because it expresses how I feel. I figured a bit of honesty is worth letting my contradictions and 'issues' air out in public.

The truth is, I am a bit bemuddled on the whole issue of environmentalism. How can I reconcile my deep love of nature and fear for its destruction with the way of flow and acceptance and laisez faire? How can I say All Is Well when all is not well with our fragile planet?

Ultimately, All Is Well, of course. It will all come out in the wash. In the infinity of space and time (and the exfinitity of no space and no time) and the Unknown Source of it all, how could anything be 'lost'? But there is also this present and real-enough human experience, and it has its requirements and its qualitative values.

Earth is good for humanity, and thus, from the human perspective, worth preserving. And Earth is also good in and of itself. When my heart fills with thankfulness and joy in just sitting among the poppies, do I need to question and justify this experience? I think not, therefore I am — more fully.

None of this gives me hope in the ability of humanity to stop, however. An estimated 160 species of living beings become extinct everyday. "Sustainable development" is not only an oxymoron, it is a pernicious lie. Recycling your plastic water bottles is not going to save the planet. Most all this "eco-friendly" greenism is a fraud intended to make you feel better about buying more, using more, disposing of more. We've got to keep consuming if there is to be growth and growth is the end all and be all of human industry and civilization.

I can thus be joyful in nature and attempt to share that joy with others, but I cannot yet see my way through to an activism imbued with hope. Perhaps this is a moral shortcoming and I should, like Confucius, strive for the implementation of the Good whether there is hope for success or not. But that saves nothing either.

Nature itself will, of course, solve this 'problem' in the end. Whether by preemptive plague (for which prayers are only a sentiment) or yet another aeon of reconstruction (for Earth has suffered massive ecological destruction in the past), it will all come out in the wash. And really, when I think about it, remove whiny 'me' from the equation and All Is Well once again in any case.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

What in the Hell?

Don't believe that America is turning into a police state? Watch this video and tell me otherwise!

Now I realize that SOME people will say this group went to the Jefferson Memorial specifically for a confrontation with the police. So what? If it's now considered a confrontation to dance in a public place, this nation is a lot more gone than I realized.

What is so brazen about this episode is that the police did it in full view of video cameras and didn't seem to give a flip.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Honoring Veterans

As another Memorial Day comes to a close, I wanted to share my view on honoring our fallen soldiers and veterans. It is the same view I have on Independence Day and Armed Forces Day. In my estimation, the best way to honor those who have died or those who have served and lived is to do everything possible not to create more dead soldiers and veterans.

War is a plague on humanity. It destroys lives in numerous ways and damages Mother Earth. It engenders hatred and resentment. It fosters revenge. It brings out some of the worst characteristics of our species.

Knowing all these negatives and yet promoting endless war is immoral to the extreme. Attacking others, when we know the pain of being attacked, is unconscionable. Subjecting innocents to the ravages of armed conflict all for the sake of money and power is grotesque.

If we truly wish to honor current and past soldiers, then we need to stop making war. Anything less, in my opinion, is dishonorable.

Chapter 25, Part 4C - Chuang Tzu

"But Your Majesty will perhaps allow me to show you the truth in it. Do you believe that there is a limit to the four directions, to up and down?"

"They have no limits," said the ruler.

"And do you know that when the mind has wandered in these limitless reaches and returns to the lands we know and travel, they seem so small it is not certain whether they even exist or not?"

"Yes," said the ruler.

"And among these lands we know and travel is the state of Wei, and within the state of Wei is the city of Liang, and within the city of Liang is Your Majesty. Is there any difference between you and the ruler of Maul?"

"No difference," said the king.

After the visitor left, the king sat stupefied, as though lost to the world. The interview over, Hui Tzu appeared before him. "That visitor of ours is a Great Man," said the king.

"The sages themselves are unworthy of comparison with him!" Hui Tzu said, "Blow on a flute and you get a nice shrill note; but blow on the ring of your sword hilt and all you get is a feeble wheeze. People are inclined to praise the sages Yao and Shun, but if you started expounding on Yao and Shun in the presence of Tai Chin-jen, it would sound like one little wheeze!"
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Not All Leaks Are the Same

Republicans are working on multiple fronts to stop President Barack Obama from making companies bidding on federal contracts disclose their donations to third-party political groups.

The chairmen of the House Oversight Committee and the Small Business Committee have introduced legislation that would ban the federal government from collecting or using information about the political expenditures of federal contractors, allowing them to keep their political donations to third party groups secret. Yesterday, the House passed an amendment to the 2012 defense bill which would prevent federal agencies from collecting such data.

Introduced by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Tom Cole (R-OK) in response to a leaked draft of an executive order the Obama administration was considering which would have mandated federal contractors disclose their donations to third-party groups, the legislation is titled the "Keeping Politics Out of Federal Contracting Act of 2011." (emphasis added)
~ from House GOP Fights To Keep Federal Contractors' Donations Secret by Ryan J. Reilly ~
There are two ways to look at this story. The first is highlighted by this article on TPM Muckraker. The focus is on the legislation being offered by two conservative Republicans as opposed to the Obama administration's intention for this proposed policy.

I ask you, however, to consider a different scenario. What if the Obama team had no intention of instituting this policy in the first place? How could they insure that it would be undermined?

Answer: By leaking it themselves!

Why would they do THAT, you ask.

It is a tried and true political ploy, particularly during the run-up to an election. Let's say you want to score some points with a portion of your constituency. As a candidate not in office, you can pretty much say whatever you want and then "change your mind" once elected.

This tack is much more difficult to accomplish if you are the incumbent. If you say x or y and then you don't follow up on it, you run the risk of alienating your base. So, you allow some key information to be leaked and then, when you are unable to "implement your plan" due to heavy opposition, you win brownie points for advocating something you had no intention of really implementing.

If we look at the manner in which the Obama administration has bowed down before the corporate gods, this policy is inconsistent with the tenor of his time in office. It goes against the grain. Since the president is running for reelection, the last thing in the world he wants to do is to piss off the very people who will fund that campaign. So, I don't believe for a second he has ANY interest in pursuing this type of disclosure.

This whole thing is nothing more than a big dog and pony show. He merely is pandering for votes from those progressives he has pissed all over during the last two years. The best part is that most of them will fall for it hook, line and sinker!

Afternoon Matinee: On Christianity 1.0: Zoroaster and Zoroastrianism

Chapter 25, Part 4B - Chuang Tzu

Hua Tzu, hearing this, was filled with disgust and said, "He who is so quick to say `Attack Ch'i!' is a troublemaker, and he who is so quick to say `Don't attack Ch'i!' is a troublemaker! And he who says that those who are for and against the attack are both troublemakers is a troublemaker, too!"

"Then what should I do?" said the ruler.

"Just try to find the Way, that's all."

Hui Tzu, hearing this, introduced Tai Chin-jen to the ruler. Tai Chin-jen said, "There is a creature called the snail - does Your Majesty know it?"


"On top of its left horn is a kingdom called Buffet, and on top of its right horn is a kingdom called Maul. At times they quarrel over territory and go to war, strewing the field with corpses by the ten thousand, the victor pursuing the vanquished for half a month before returning home."

"Pooh!" said the ruler. "What kind of empty talk is this?"
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Where Have They Gone?

After more than two years, President Obama's national security policy looks all too familiar: like President Bush's policy. You remember the Bush doctrine? Its most prominent tenet was the policy of preventive war -- using the U.S. military to eliminate potentially dangerous enemies, rather than using military force only when the United States is clearly threatened.

Generally speaking, the Bush administration argued that deposing unfriendly regimes and promoting democracy both militarily and diplomatically were in America's long-term best interests. President Obama not only has embraced this approach, stressing it again in his May 19 speech on the Middle East, he's gone further: increasing military spending, expanding the war in Afghanistan, handing off more of the mission to contractors and mercenaries, and bombing Libya without anything resembling a threat to the United States or even a nod from Congress -- in violation of the War Powers Act.

Consider the budget. President Obama's first defense budget, for fiscal year 2010, was $685.1 billion, if we include the "supplemental" funds for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars (a budget gimmick he had promised not to use). This was 3 percent higher than in the previous year.
~ from Obama's War Policy More and More Like Bush's by Anthony Gregory ~
All throughout the Bush II presidency, peace activists took to the streets. Though our numbers were smaller in comparison to the previous decade or two, we made our presence known. Unfortunately, with the election of Barack Obama, the peace community stood down even though, as the snippet above underscores, Obama has turned out to be worse than Dubya!!

In essence, the peace movement has been co-opted. Far too many people bought into the man of "hope" and have given him a free pass on the issue of war and several other issues as well. As late as today, there are many progressive activists who are scared to go beyond tepid criticism of the Obama administration, lest they open the door to a GOP win in 2012.

In my estimation, so-called liberals like Barack Obama -- the man has always been a centrist -- are far more dangerous than most Republicans. With a Republican in the White House, activists don't sit on their hands. They aren't afraid to condemn policies and strategies that promote violence and world instability. They don't self-censor themselves when the administration lavishes tax dollars on corporations and goes after whistleblowers.

While Obama plays kissy with his corporate backers, the progressive movement has relegated itself to the sidelines. By standing down, Obama has been granted the license to injure this nation and its citizens in ways that Bush II would never have dreamed possible.

People, wake up...before it's too late!!

Line by Line - Verse 31, Line 11

On occasions of festivity to be on the left hand is the prized position;
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

On happy occasions precedence is given to the left,
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Auspicious events favor the left
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

(No corresponding line)
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from Beatrice.com, 2004 ~
According to Derek Lin,
The ancient Chinese observed that it was usually the right hand that wielded weapons, so they associated the right side with violence and the left with peace.
Since "auspicious events" are those that we describe as favorable and/or happy, it should not be surprising that these are the ones allied with peace.

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

Small Fry

I'm going to share with you two snippets from different articles. Their subject matter is related, though not the same, but both draw out a point I want to highlight.
This headline-grabbing Inquisition is a waste of time and resources. If prosecutors are sitting around with nothing to do, why don’t they go after the remorseless profiteers who nearly wrecked the global financial system? Why not shut down a human trafficking ring or two?
~ from Lance Armstrong Inquisition Is a Waste by Eugene Robinson ~

The U.S. government won convictions against 23,506 drug traffickers nationwide during 2010, sending 96 percent of the offenders to prison, according to U.S. Sentencing Commission statistics.

Yet one of the biggest entities busted by the feds for involvement in drug trafficking last year received just a wrist-slap deal from federal prosecutors with nobody getting prison time.

During 2010, the U.S. government also won convictions against 806 persons involved in smaller-time drug-related money laundering, sending nearly 77 percent of those offenders to prison.

Yet when it came to a case involving billions of dollars in illegal drug profits, the federal government gave the same unusual wrist-slap to the same entity caught giving greed-blinded assistance to Mexican drug cartels by laundering billions of dollars in illegal profits for them.

So, what is this entity that federal prosecutors found worthy of big breaks for its laundering of billions of dollars, and for its blatant facilitating or tons of smuggled cocaine?

Meet Wachovia – once the nation’s sixth largest bank by assets and now a part of Wells Fargo Bank… a too-big-to-fail bank that for the feds is apparently too-big-to jail.
~ from Too Big to Do Time?: Fed Wrist-slap for Wachovia Bank Makes a Farce of the Drug War by Linn Washington, Jr. ~
We often hear federal, state and local officials talk tough when it comes to the War on Drugs or several other criminal and/or civil offenses. Yet, too often, the police and prosecutors target the small fry and let off or slap the wrists of the kingpins.

In some parts of the country, a big deal is made about voter fraud, an almost nonexistent problem. But almost no one has gone after the corporations who manufacture vote tabulation machines -- even in areas where it is rampantly obvious that something nefarious is afoot.

Scores of homeowners across the country are dragged into court each week for foreclosure hearings, yet virtually no law enforcement is being applied to the banks and mortgage servicers who are foreclosing on folks without the legal paperwork.

Illegal immigrants regularly are rounded up to be jailed or deported, but few of the individuals, companies and corporations that knowingly hire them are subject to anything more than a slap on the wrist.

On issue after issue, it is the small fry and middlemen who bear the brunt of our criminal justice system, while the big fish generally are allowed to swim free or only slightly impeded. In other words, while the laws of this land apply to all equally on paper, it rarely works that way in practice.

In fact, the bigger you are, the greater the chance that you will be let off scot free with little more than a wink and a nod...if anyone in power even notices at all.

Chapter 25, Part 4A - Chuang Tzu

King Ying of Wei made a treaty with Marquis T'ien Mou of Ch'i, but Marquis T'ien Mou violated it. King Ying, enraged, was about to send a man to assassinate him. Kung-sun Yen, the minister of war, heard of this and was filled with shame.

"You are the ruler of a state of ten thousand chariots," he said to the king, "and yet you would send a commoner to carry out your revenge! I beg to be given command of two hundred thousand armored troops so that I may attack him for you, make prisoners of his people, and lead away his horses and cattle. I will make him burn with anger so fierce that it will break out on his back. Then I will storm his capital, and when T'ien Chi l tries to run away, I will strike him in the back and break his spine!"

Chi Tzu, hearing this, was filled with shame and said, "If one sets out to build an eighty-foot wall, and then, when it is already seven-tenths finished, deliberately pulls it down, the convict laborers who built it will look upon it as a bitter waste. Now for seven years we have not had to call out the troops, and this peace has been the foundation of your sovereignty. Kung-sun Yen is a troublemaker - his advice must not be heeded!"
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

One In, One Out

Our new dog, Lily, is fitting in quite nicely. In her own unique way, she is cute as a bug. She gets along great with Jaz and Dylan. She is a bit of a comedian with some funny attributes (like the way she burrows under the covers or tries to use my socks as nesting material). Everything is going swimmingly well with one glaring exception: Sami the cat.

Sami, a stray we adopted about 2 months ago, gets along well with the human population, but she does not get along well at all with other four-legged domestic creatures She terrorizes our 11 year old cat and our big dog, Jaz, is absolutely terrified of her. Even though Jaz outweighs Sami by about 50 pounds, she is constantly being bullied by the little kitty.

We had hoped that all Sami needed was some time to feel more at home after having been a stray for a month or more, but she seems to be getting along less well now than when she first arrived!

The final straw was broken today. She attacked Lily and scratched her nose enough to draw blood. Since Lily is a hairless dog, cuts and abrasions can be more serious for her than for other pooches. Since we can't watch Sami 24/7 and there are situations in which we leave and the doggies can't come with us, we don't want to take the chance that Sami will injure Lily severely.

So, as much as we hate to do this, we have decided to take Sami to the humane society and surrender her. It really is a shame because Sami is very sweet with Della and I. She has loads of personality and is a very affectionate feline. Her chief problem is that she is too possessive of her humans and feels the need to drive off any other animals in the house.

I plan to write up a short narrative about her to give to the staff at the shelter. Both Della and I recommend that she be adopted as the sole animal for an individual or family. With no other pets to compete with, I am very confident she will brighten the life of another family.

As Della noted this evening, with our laid back lifestyle and non-aggressive pets, we simply don't need the stress and worry of dealing with an alpha cat. I can guarantee that Dylan, Jaz and Lily will sleep easier once Sami is no longer around looking to pounce on them.


by Scott Bradley

Yesterday, while digging in the garden, I turned up an arrowhead. If you have ever found such a thing, you know that it is a very special experience. To hold in your hand something fashioned by another hand hundreds of years ago...by a hand of a people now extinct...well, there is wonder and connectedness and sorrow.

I definitely have a nostalgic inclination. When as a kid I would hike into the hills overlooking a bit of the San Francisco Bay delta I would always try and imagine it three hundred years ago. Ducks and geese filled the sky. Salmon teemed in the rivers and creeks. Golden grizzly bears lorded across the hills. Tule elk skirted the marshes. And here and there smoke rose from a tiny native american camp. Gone. All gone.

Three hundred years ago there was no San Francisco, no Los Angeles, no Chicago, no Saint Louis, no Kansas City, no Dallas. The speed of the European invasion and conquest of this American Continent never ceases to amaze me. But it is only symbolic of the human epidemic sweeping the earth. Growth! Housing starts are rising again! The economic indicators seem to promise 5% growth world-wide for the coming year! Like that blue-green mold that covers and destroys the orange, humanity cannot stop.

Had I any confidence in the ability of humanity to truly stop and care, I would not say this, but I have none: Pray For Plague.

Forgive me. I love Earth more than humanity. [If this upsets you, consider it one of the satanic verses, or simply that I have issues. That I add this should demonstrate, I think, that I, too, have my doubts about this attitude. I may follow it up with a re-think.]

But not to worry! If humanity destroys every other living thing on earth...when the sun dies or supernovas and this solar system is no more...all will still be well.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tao Bible - Proverbs 17:13

Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.
~ King James version ~

If you reward evil for good, learn from your mistake.
~ possible Taoist alternative ~
The biblical verse seems to suggest that one bad move stains a person for life. The Taoist philosophy emphasizes that life is about learning. If you take a misstep, learn to correct it. Mistakes only will become a pox on your house IF you refuse to grow in wisdom.

It's your choice.

If you're interested in reading more from this experimental series, go to the Tao Bible Index page.

Chapter 25, Part 3B - Chuang Tzu

T’ang got hold of the groom and guardsman Teng Heng and had him be his tutor. He followed him and treated him as a teacher, but was not confined by him - so he could follow along to completion, becoming as a result a mere holder of titles. This is called making yourself superfluous, a method by which two manifestations can be attained.

Confucius' injunc­tion "Be done with schemes!"- you could let that be your tutor as well. Or Mr. Yung-ch'eng's saying, "Be done with days and there will be no more years! No inside, no outside."
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.


When I woke up this morning, one of the first things I did was to check today's weather forecast. I learned that the prediction was for partly sunny skies. On other days, it has been forecasted to be partly cloudy.

What's the difference?!

So, I decided to do a little research and here are three explanations I found.
from wunderWIKI
Unfortunately, the weather terms Partly Cloudy and Partly Sunny are often confused, even by meteorologists. Partly Sunny means only part (less than half) of the time period will be sunny. In that same respect, Partly Cloudy means only part of the period will be cloudy. Since there is often confusion with these terms, however, it is best to assume that they are almost interchangeable.

Partly cloudy In a forecast, this means that less than half of the day will be cloudy. For a current condition, this means that less than half of the sky is covered by clouds.

Partly sunny In a forecast, this means that more than half of day will be cloudy. For a current condition, this means that more than half of the sky is covered by clouds.

from Diffen
Weather reporters often use the words partly sunny or partly cloudy skies on TV and radio. While this can get confusing, there is really no difference between partly sunny and partly cloudy as far as the meaning is concerned. There are, however, often different conditions when these phrases are used.

Even though they mean the same thing viz. the sun will be partially covered with clouds, newscasters use both phrases so that there is some variety in their vocabulary.

Since you cannot use "partly sunny" to describe weather conditions at night, weather reporters use the phrase "partly cloudy" for describing conditions at night and often use "partly sunny" for describing conditions during the day.

from Ken Kaye's Storm Center
What’s the difference between partly cloudy and partly sunny?

You see those phrases frequently in weather forecasts, and (as commenter KCK pointed out ) it's a bit confusing because they would seem to be the same thing.

Guess what?

They are the same thing, said meteorologist Andy Tingler of the National Weather Service in Miami.

“There’s no difference between partly cloudy and partly sunny,” he said.

Well, there is one minor difference, he added:

“We use partly sunny in the daytime and partly cloudy at night – because you can’t say partly sunny at night.”

By definition, the weather service says it’s partly cloudy when clouds cover 26 to 69 percent of the sky, Tingler said.

Interestingly, Florida, the Sunshine State, is partly cloudy more than any other state in the union, the weather service says.
This is all well and good, but it didn't help with today. There was no partly to describe our skies. No, the better descriptor for today was mostly. As is often the case here, it was mostly cloudy.

Afternoon Matinee: Mengzi shuo Mencius Book 1b

Chapter 25, Part 3A - Chuang Tzu

The old homeland, the old city - just to gaze at it from afar is to feel a flush of joy. Even when its hills and mounds are a tangle of weeds and brush, and nine out of ten of the ones you knew have gone to lie under them, still you feel joyful. How much more so, then, when you see those you used to see, when you hear the voices you used to hear - they stand out like eighty-foot towers among the crowd.

Mr. Jen-hsiang held on to the empty socket and followed along to completion. Joining with things, he knew no end, no beginning, no year, no season. And because he changed day by day with things, he was one with the man who never changes - so why should he ever try to stop doing this? He who tries to make Heaven his teacher will never get Heaven to teach him - he will end up following blindly along with all other things, and then no matter how he goes about it, what can he do?

The sage has never begun to think of Heaven, has never begun to think of man, has never begun to think of a beginning, has never begun to think of things. He moves in company with the age, never halting; wherever he moves he finds completion and no impediment. Others try to keep up with him, but what can they do?
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

The This Or The That

I'll let you in on a pet peeve of mine. I hate it when I see a book, article or blog post that is entitled, The Tao of ______. In this type of grammatical structure, the author is suggesting that there is a particular or specific way of viewing whatever subject matter the book, article or blog post the person has written about.

To me, this flies in the face of Taoist philosophy. It suggests that there is one path and that certainly isn't the message I derive from Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu (among others).

It would be one thing if the author entitled something like this: The Tao of Bill Jones As It Pertains to Snorkeling. That would provide a clear indication that this is the path Bill Jones has taken. It would also suggest that anyone else's path might be different than that of Bill Jones.

But when Bill Jones simply states that he has discovered THE way of snorkeling, it sounds to me like an egotistical pronouncement that his way is the ONLY way and, if you or I choose a different path, then we are snorkeling in a wrong way.

I would much prefer -- in keeping with Taoist philosophy -- if such works were rendered as A Tao of ________. This would more clearly denote that it is the author's way of doing or dealing with the subject matter and that their way isn't necessarily superior or inferior to anyone else's way.

Line by Line - Verse 31, Line 10

and he who delights in the slaughter of men cannot get his will in the kingdom.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

If you delight in killing, you cannot fulfill yourself.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Those who delight in killing
Cannot achieve their ambitions upon the world

~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

A person who would rejoice in killing
has lost touch completely with Tao.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from Beatrice.com, 2004 ~
How can a person who supports war equally embrace peace? One is about destroying life, while the other is about protecting it. When a person says they support both or that the former leads to the latter, the contradictions inherent tear the argument apart.

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

Both Sides of His Mouth

In his latest speeches on the Middle East, President Obama, both at the State Department and at the G8 meeting in France, has pledged billions of dollars in economic aid to Middle Eastern countries, drawing a direct connection between the unrest and demonstrations that brought down the dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, and the joblessness and hopelessness felt by the young people in those two countries.

His adviser on international economics, David Lipton, has been more specific, saying that, “We believe that these two pillars go hand in hand. Without economic modernization, it will be hard for governments trying to democratize to show people that democracy delivers.”

Unemployment in Egypt among young men and women is about 30%. In Tunisia, it is over 40%. The White House claims that with figures like that, the future for democracy in those countries is tenuous.

But wait a minute. What about the US? Unemployment and underemployment here is still up around 20% overall, and it is much higher among young people...So why is the president so concerned about providing economic support to boost jobs in countries like Tunisia and Egypt, in order to “support democracy,” while in here in the US, he has basically thrown in the towel on job creation efforts, and is just talking about cutting the deficit -- a Republican theme?
~ from Jarring Disconnect: If Joblessness and Hopelessness Undermine Democracy in the Middle East, What about Here at Home? by Dave Lindorff ~
You see, this is one of the problems with political leaders who utilize crass rhetoric -- they often can't see the sharp contradictions of their own words!!

What's worse, most Americans won't even realize how contradictory the Obama position is. I'd write more, but what else could a person say?

Chapter 25, Part 2 - Chuang Tzu

The sage penetrates bafflement and complication, rounding all into a single body, yet he does not know why - it is his inborn nature. He returns to fate and acts accordingly, using Heaven as his teacher, and men follow after, pinning labels on him. But if he worried about how much he knew and his actions were never constant for so much as a year or a season then how could he ever find a stopping place?

When people are born with good looks, you may hand them a mirror, but if you don't tell them, they will never know that they are better looking than others. Whether they know it or don't know it, whether they are told of it or are not told of it, however, their delightful good looks remain unchanged to the end, and others can go on endlessly admiring them - it is a matter of inborn nature.

The sage loves other men, and men accordingly pin labels on him, but if they do not tell him, then he will never know that he loves other men. Whether he knows it or doesn't know it, whether he is told of it or is not told of it, however, his love for men remains unchanged to the end, and others can find endless security in it - it is a matter of inborn nature.
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.


When the pain finally erupted for Laramie Sweet on Thursday afternoon in the car park of a Food4Less supermarket her features seemed almost to dissolve and she could not speak. She and her brother, Paul, had been queuing with other disaster victims for aid packages, including food, clothing and medicines. When it was their turn, a volunteer asked, "How many in your family?"

How many in your family? Such a simple question. But here it's grotesque. She swallows and then lets out a brief wail. "Three," she finally manages. "I guess. Three. I don't know. I'm sorry. I can't find my dad." Those last words are blurted almost like a plea for help. A few minutes earlier she had told her story – how four has become three – and the telling of it was almost more than she and her brother could stand.

Her father and mother were at Pizza Hut by Home Depot when the sirens went off. With the other patrons, they huddled in the restaurant's cold storage room. They held hands tightly. Their mother, Vickie Sweet, blacked out after the wind started. When she woke up she was covered in blood and in a car being taken to hospital. Pizza Hut was gone, completely. And so was her husband. Just gone.

"He got pulled away," Laramie says, tears streaming. She says she still has hope that her father might be found alive, perhaps in a hospital, but her sodden cheeks tell you she is nearly at the end of that thread. "It has been a long time, it's hard. We've called everywhere." Paul has pleaded in vain to get into the city morgue to look for his father. "They said there are too many bodies, they were still coming in," he said.

This is the worst agony of Joplin. Laramie and Paul and scores of others are in the cruelest of all limbos. Their lost ones appear to have been taken but to where exactly? They burst to grieve but dare not let that strand of hope snap, because to do so would be to betray the one who is missing. You can't give up on a person when there is no body. And you can't grieve when there is no body. Echoes of 9/11 again.
~ from Echoes of 9/11, Katrina in Tornado-Hit Town by David Usborne ~

Selections From Mencius II

Selections From Mencius II
by Scott Bradley

"Think of the consequences before you speak of the shortcomings of others." (IV B 9)

"A great man is the one who retains the heart of a newborn babe." (IV B 12)

"The conduct of sages is not always the same." (V A 7)

"There are more ways than one of instructing others. My distain to instruct a man is itself one way of instructing him." (VI B 16)

"For a man to give full realization to his heart is for him to understand his own nature, and a man who knows his own nature will know Heaven." (VII A 1)

"'Seek and you will get it; let go and you will lose it.' If this is the case, then seeking is of use in getting and what is sought is in yourself." (VII A 3)

"All the ten thousand things are in me. There is no greater joy for me than to find, on self-examination, that I am true to myself. Try your best to treat others as you would wish them to treat yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence." (VII A 4)

"The multitude can be said never to understand what they practice, to notice what they repeatedly do, or to be aware of the path they follow all their lives." (VII A 5)

"A man must not be without shame, for the shame of being without shame is shamelessness indeed." (VII A 6)

"To try to achieve anything is like digging a well. You can dig a hole nine fathoms deep, but if you fail to reach the source of water, it is just an abandoned well." (VII A 29)

"If a man borrows a thing [te] and keeps it long enough, how can one be sure that it will not become truly his." (VII A 30)

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

Tranquility Base

One of the aspects I cherish most about where I live is the tranquility of night. I just stepped out on my back deck and, in terms of this modern world, I was met with silence. About the only thing I could hear was my breath!

The silence was broken every now and again by the croaking of frogs at the pond in the ravine below my house and the breeze rustling through the leaves of the trees in the forest. In many ways, I don't even consider that a true break in the silence; it's merely a different aspect of it.

How different it is here from living in an urban or suburban area. No sirens waling at all hours of the day and night. There is very little traffic on the roads. No sounds of industry past about 5:00 p.m. No shrieks and hollers of crowds at ballparks or concerts.

My home in South Bend on the westernmost hill of town is my tranquility base.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tao Bible - Proverbs 16:32

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
~ King James version ~

Mastering others requires force;
Mastering the self needs strength.
~ from Verse 33 of the Tao Te Ching ~
We like to say that relating to others can be one of the most difficult aspects of life. I think we all know, however, that dealing with ourselves can be a much more arduous task.

Those that can master themselves are in a much better position to work well with others!

If you're interested in reading more from this experimental series, go to the Tao Bible Index page.

Chapter 25, Part 1B - Chuang Tzu

"The true sage, now - living in hardship, he can make his family forget their poverty; living in affluence, he can make kings and dukes forget their titles and stipends and humble themselves before him. His approach to things is to go along with them and be merry; his approach to men is to take pleasure in the progress of others and to hold on to what is his own.

"So there may be times when, without saying a word, he induces harmony in others; just standing alongside others, he can cause them to change, until the proper relationship between father and son has found its way into every home. He does it all in a spirit of unity and effortlessness - so far is he removed from the hearts of men. This is why I say you should wait for Kung Yueh-hsiu."
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

The Spokes Meet at the Hub

...it seems that one of the ways in which we must pro­ceed is to create a great­er pub­lic com­mit­ment to co­alition­al and col­laborative re­lationships ac­ross com­munit­ies and ac­ross the na­tion - a sort of multi­ple peo­ples' Con­gres­ses, if you will, that can com­municate with one an­oth­er on key is­sues and con­cerns, out­side of the li­mited and ego-driven arena of elec­tor­al politics.

Moreov­er, it seems that once we ac­cept the li­mits of the pre­siden­cy in its capac­ity to enact chan­ge that im­proves the qual­ity of our lives, we can be­come more ef­fective in putt­ing peo­ple pre­ssure on the pre­siden­cy with re­spect to local, state, nation­al and in­ter­nation­al con­cerns. His­torical­ly, it seems that most major chan­ges of poli­cy at the feder­al level, in the in­terest of the many, were made as a con­sequ­ence of the en­orm­ous pre­ssure put on Was­hington by folks on the ground.
~ from Awakening to the Limits of the Obama Presidency by Antonia Darder ~
Back in the days when I was a semi-professional progressive activist, one of my overarching critiques of our general movement concerned the fact that so many of my brethren allowed themselves to get so caught up in their own focus issues that they often couldn't or wouldn't see the thread that connected these issues together.

For example, labor groups were often at loggerheads with environmental organizations and vice versa. Each acted as if the other was trying to undermine their goals. From my perspective, however, their goals intersected. Both supported the idea of a robust economy with sustainable employment. The treehuggers merely pointed out that corporate business as usual only provided short-term job security, not long-term.

Another example involved the supposed chasm between [mainly straight and white] peace groups and those that worked on Queer, Latino and/or Black issues. What did all these groups have in common? Each wants to create a world in which people from different nationalities, ethnicities, genders, abilities and orientations are respected and valued. In such a world, war, oppression and discrimination become outmoded.

Whatever the progressive cause (the spokes), we all meet at the hub of mutual respect. When we respect others, we treat them as we would treat ourselves -- the Golden Rule.

For me, the Taoist philosophy could provide an excellent framework for fusing together the various elements of the progressive movement. While each group or individual would work on those issues that each group or person was the most motivated by, we would all understand that our separate actions lead to the same place.

Afternoon Matinee: Mengzi shuo Mencius Book 1a

Chapter 25, Part 1A - Chuang Tzu

When Tse-Yang was traveling In Ch'u, Yi Chieh spoke to the king of Ch'u about him, but gave up and went home without having persuaded the king to grant Tse-yang an interview. Tse-yang went to see Wang Kuo and said, "Sir, I wonder if you would mention me to the king."

Wang Kuo replied, "I would not be as good at that as Kung Yueh-hsiu."

Tse-yang said, "Kung Yueh-hsiu? What does he do?"

"In winter he spears turtles by the river, in summer he loafs around the mountains, and if anyone comes along and asks him about it, he says, `This is my house!' Now since Yi Chieh was unable to persuade the king, what could I do? - I am not even a match for Yi Chieh.

"Yi Chieh is the kind of man who has understanding, though he lacks real virtue. He is not permissive with himself, but puts his whole spirit into pleasing his friends. He has always been dazzled and misled by wealth and eminence - so he is not the kind to help others out with virtue, but instead will help them out with harm. A man who is chilled will think spring has come if he piles on enough clothes; a man suffering from the heat will think winter has returned if he finds a cool breeze.

"Now the king of Ch'u is the kind of man who is majestic and stern in bearing, and if offended he is as unforgiving as a tiger. No one but a gross flatterer or a man of the most perfect virtue can hope to talk him into anything.
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.

Not a Person In Any Way, Shape Or Form

Back in my days of political activism, the chief question my comrades and I faced was: Which issue do we start with? Some people thought political reform was where we needed to commit our energies. Others pointed to the military-industrial complex and the ending of our current wars. Still others pointed to the environment, peak oil and climate change.

Each of these issues represents a worthy cause. A person couldn't go wrong selecting any of them or many other issues I didn't listed. However, in my estimation, the one issue that undergirds almost every issue one can think of is the bestowal of human rights to corporations. If we could defeat this one bizarre notion, it would make it that much easier to tackle almost anything else.

Of course, the question of how to strip corporations of the rights of humans is no easy task. The US Court system continues to grant them more and more human-based rights everyday. For example, on Thursday,
A judge has ruled that the campaign-finance law banning corporations from making contributions to federal candidates is unconstitutional, citing the Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United decision last year in his analysis...
But we all know that a corporation is an artificial entity created BY humans. Corporations do not exist in nature. They don't have a face, brain, heart, lungs or skin. While I personally doubt that we humans have souls, there can be no doubt -- based on their behavior -- that corporations certainly don't possess them!

It seems that the ONLY place that a corporation is said to be on par with a human being is in our system of laws which are created BY humans too.

For me then, this is the core issue we need to address. As long as corporations enjoy the same rights as each of us, we're sunk. They are bigger than we are. They are richer than we are. And they are far more powerful than we are.

Some days it feels like trying to slay Godzilla with a peashooter!

Line by Line - Verse 31, Line 9

To consider this desirable would be to delight in the slaughter of men;
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

If you rejoice in victory, then you delight in killing;
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Those who glorify
Are delighting in the killing

~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

to do so would be to rejoice in killing.
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from Beatrice.com, 2004 ~
A very straightforward line! When we embrace war, we embrace premeditated murder.

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

As It Turns Out

I shared with you in the post, You Never Know, about our plans to adopt two Dachshund - Mexican Hairless puppies from the Humane Society in Long Beach. As it turns out, things did not go as planned. The adoption was made yesterday, but those two doggies didn't come home with us; only one of them did.

If you will recall from the cited post, both dogs were to be neutered on Wednesday and then we would pick them up on Saturday. Thursday morning -- being the overly concerned new doggy daddy -- I called the shelter to check how both puppies how made it through the surgery. The volunteer who answered the phone wanted to know who I was and I explained that Della & I were the ones adopting the dogs.

There was a pregnant pause and the woman asked for my phone number. She said someone else would call me back. Needless to say, this made me anxious. Had something gone terribly wrong?

About 10 minutes later, the shelter director called. She informed me that the two had been separated and Buddy, the male, had already been adopted out to a different family!! I was a bit peeved at this news because they had stressed to us the importance of keeping the two dogs together. Heck, that's why the approached us about the dual adoption in the first place.

The director explained that staff had decided that the two dogs didn't get along and that it would be better for each to be adopted separately. I'm sorry, but that doesn't make a lick of sense. The two dogs had been at the shelter for nearly 3 weeks and had been housed together during all that time. During that 3 week period, no one had raised this issue and, in fact, we were told they got along great. When we visited them for 30 minutes on Tuesday, they got along.

It's obvious to Della and I that the explanation was a manufactured reason. We have no idea WHY Buddy was adopted out from under our noses and after we had been approved to adopt BOTH dogs. But it was done and there was nothing we could do about it.

We also learned that these puppies were not, in fact, puppies. We had been told originally that both were 5 months old. As it turns out, they are each about 1 1/2 years old. No big deal, really, but it does make a difference in terms of training.

So yesterday, we ended up adopting the female only. (We decided to name her Lily instead of Holly because the Buddy - Holly connection no longer existed.)

Here's the other part of the equation that irked me a bit. Originally, as part of the plan to honor the previous owner's wishes of adopting the two dogs together, we had been informed that another person had agreed to pay the full adoption price. Since this plan had been scuttled, the director told Della that this person had paid only $30 toward the adoption fee for "Lily" and that we would need to pay the other $45.

Mind you, this amount was not an issue for us because, had we adopted any other dog at this shelter or the one in Warrenton, we were prepared to shell out anywhere from $45 - $120. No, the issue for me is that this story is bunch of malarkey!

You see, the everyday adoption fee for dogs in Long Beach is $45, the amount we paid. So, while the director wanted us to believe she was cutting us a special deal, there was no deal involved. We paid the normal fee to adopt one dog. I don't know why she felt the need to be dishonest about this.

Regardless of the particulars about the adoption process itself, we are VERY pleased with our new little doggy. She and Jaz hit it off well and she doesn't seem all that interested in the cats. Lily cannot erase the pain of losing Princess to cancer, but her presence does soften the blow a bit.

She slept with me last night by burrowing deep within my blankets. I had read that the Mexican Hairless dog was used as a canine hot water bottle by the Aztecs (these dogs naturally have a higher body temperature than most dogs) and it certainly turned out that way last night. She kept my legs warm.

Like any Dachshund, she gives the sweetest little doggy kisses. That's a big plus too!

Chapter 24, Part 15B - Chuang Tzu

End with what is Heavenly, follow what is bright, hide in what is pivotal, begin in what is objective - then your com­prehension will seem like noncomprehension, your understanding will seem like no understanding; not understanding it, you will later understand it. Your questions about it cannot have a limit, and yet they cannot not have a limit.

Vague and slippery, there is yet some reality there. Past and present, it does not alter - nothing can do it injury. We may say that there is one great goal, may we not? Why not inquire about it? Why act in such perplexity? If we use the unperplexed to dispel perplexity and return to unperplexity, this will be the greatest unperplexity.
~ Burton Watson translation via Terebess Asia Online ~
Go here to read the introductory post to the chapters of the Book of Chuang Tzu.