Saturday Idle Talk

Pic of the day, part i:  Bamboo, by Unknown


Dogmatism and skepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance.

Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays, chapter ii Philosophy for laymen


Viddy of the day:  The Most Honest Three and a Half minutes of Television, EVER


I watched the above video and was stunned by it.  Well spoken and well written.  Yes it is for television.  Actors.  Scripts.  Camera angle, lighting.  Made to heighten the depth and feel and dramatic impact of whatever thought the person or persons directing and producing a piece want you to feel.  Usually with varied levels of success.

Aaron Sorkin, the guy who created the West Wing did this, created this show, and frankly knocked it out of the park.  Best political speech of the year so far.

The greatness of America seems like, sounds like, feels like, something in the past.  The economic troubles the country is, or feels it is in, one being as good as the other to the mass of Americans.   The state of our politics, our distrust of leadership that we put in place eats into our ability to feel like anything good is getting done for our combined futures.  And we are moving steadily down the ladder in things that actually matter, and have been doing so for a long long time.

Our kids are not as smart as they used to be.  They…We are not as good at math and science as we used to be.

Our workforce is not as resilient as it used to be.  Jobs are things that disappear and never come back, whole industries dry up, seemingly never to return.

Our leaders are followers. They follow the talking heads on TV like they’re trained dogs.

Our military is too large for the small threats that the world presents to us.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The viddy is from a new HBO series called the Newsroom.  The scene above shoots holes in the empty rhetoric of American greatness, and I believe that whoever wrote that bit is 100% correct, not just with facts but everything. The way it was portrayed, stated, struck a chord.  I want America to be great, but I want that greatness to be real. Not just canned rhetoric that the media and politicians use when they want us to feel good about being … us.

Which they do all the time.


Pic of the day, part ii:  Tiger, by Isen’in Hoin Eishin


The world at present is obsessed by the conflict of rival ideologies, and one of the apparent causes of conflict is the desire for the victory of our own ideology and the defeat of the other. I do not think that the fundamental motive here has much to do with ideologies. I think the ideologies are merely a way of grouping people, and that the passions involved are merely those which always arise between rival groups.

Bertrand Russell, What desires are politically important?


That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

On First Reading

Pic of the day:  Bennington Battle flag


Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments, the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from the acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.

James Madison, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 1788


I am in the process of reading the supreme courts ruling in the case National Federation of Independent Business v Sibelius.  I have to tell you it is an interesting read.  And not without twists and turns.  I can see why CNN and Fox were quick to say that the law was being overturned.  Much of the beginning statement was reasoning for the individual mandate to be overturned.  And the reasons were soundly thought out and reasonable.

Curious I should say that, seeing how I am very much for this law, personally.  I was much in line with Chief Justice Roberts rationale against using the commerce clause and the necessary and proper clause to constitutionally validate the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, once I read it.

The rationale against the law when looked at from these arguments is entirely reasonable.  I personally think he is right because in light of those arguments, it is a creation of power above and beyond the mandate of congress.  These two instances (commerce, and necessary &  proper) are both there to protect already enumerated powers, laws that already exist.  The health care law overstepped those bounds and created powers that did not exist before, and because of that the Chief justice shot those arguments down.

But the taxation argument saved the Patient protection and Affordable care act.  Despite the fact that the law calls the penalty for not getting health insurance a “penalty” and not a tax, the court said that they would simply look at the penalty as a tax, because the law is enacted in such a way that the penalty is actually paid like a tax, and is in fact collected by the IRS, and, according to the court, “the payment is not so high that there is really no choice but to buy health insurance.”

And payment is not intended to induce the purchase of health insurance, and there are no negative legal consequences to not buying health insurance.

Says so right in the writ of certiorari.  It’s on page four.  Click here to read the entire thing.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The one thing I have not seen is the actual amount one would have to pay should one not have health insurance.  I have heard from some fearful right wingers that there will be jail time for those who do not buy health insurance.  Which is just plain silly. There will be no jail time for anyone not according to the law that I read, and that law is the same one that Justice Roberts signed off on.


He did say that stripping states that do not comply with the law of their medicare benefits was “Dragooning.”

Can’t say that I disagree as far as that goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.  The states that simply turn their backs on the people who would be helped by this law won’t agree with Justice Roberts here.  And neither do I.  There are abuses that the state can heap upon the individual, just as the federal government can, and this was meant as a protection from the states “dragooning” the citizens of those states who turned their backs on this law, against the will of the electorate and would make them suffer with sub-standard medical coverage.

I would much rather see a state government made to suffer some harm than to see it’s citizens health unnecessarily compromised due to purposeful disregard of a federal law that does not impinge on my freedom, which this does not.  Mind you complete loss of their medicare coverage was a bit much. Some other penalty could have been brought to bear that would have stood the constitutional test.  The law would have survived untouched if not for that major misstep by congress.


Pic of the day:  Mademoiselle Marcelle Lender by, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

James Madison, in a letter to W.T. Barry, 1822


That’s about it from here, America.  G’night.

Nothing More

No pics, no news, no nothing but a few quotes by a few Supreme court justices.  They are not quotes about the healthcare bill that the Court upheld today.  They are just quotes that speak to the mentality of a few of the justices that were part of the decision that was handed down today.  Nothing more.

Whether you believe what they say about themselves and the system in which they work is entirely up to you.



Our system presumes that there are certain principles that are more important than the temper of the times. And you must have a judge who is detached, who is independent, who is fair, who is committed only to those principles, and not public pressures of other sort.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy


I think it is up to the judge to say what the Constitution provided, even if what it provided is not the best answer, even if you think it should be amended. If that’s what it says, that’s what it says.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia


In such cases, one can feel powerless and wonder why the others were not persuaded by what one took to be so salient in the case. There is, on the other hand, a singularly satisfying feeling that one gets when one has arrived at a particularly penetrating analysis and is able to convince both of one’s colleagues of its merit.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor


As for the matter of my judicial philosophy, I didn’t have one- and didn’t want one. A philosophy that is imposed from without instead of arising organically from day-to-day engagement with the law isn’t worth having. Such a philosophy runs the risk of becoming an ideology, and I’d spent much of my adult life shying away from abstract ideological theories that served only to obscure the reality of life as it’s lived.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas


That’s it from here, America.  G’night.


Pic of the day, part i: Heron Hunting with the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, by David Teniers


Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business. Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born. The intellect is a cleaver; it discerns and rifts its way into the secret of things.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden chapter ii, Where I Lived, and What I Lived For


It has been a beautiful day.

Worked hard.  Had my hands full the entire day.  Nothing like it, especially when you love the work, as I do.

Played hard.  Ran so hard I thought my ass was going to fall off, and I’m exercising between sentences at the moment.

Made dinner, my wife is sick so I made her some chicken soup, while I made hot dogs.  She’ll feel better soon enough.

Read up on the news, about the agreement made between the generals and the muslim brotherhood in Egypt, so there can be peace.  And it looks, at the moment anyway, like it will work.  With the muslim brotherhood actually making some progress in stripping power from the military.  We could learn a thing or two from these people. Brokered peace instead of peace from the barrel of a gun.  What a novel concept!

Found out that I have work for the rest of the week.  Nice.  I was initially thinking I would get only one day.  Four days pay for four days work when seen in that light is wonderful news.

Doesn’t get much better than that in my world.   So the happy Rhino brings you some sublime and wonderful thoughts from Henry David Thoreau to close out the day.


Pic of the day, part ii:  Aisle of Chestnut trees, by Theodore Rousseau


The volatile truth of our words should continually betray the inadequacy of the residual statement. Their truth is instantly translated; its literal monument alone remains. The words which express our faith and piety are not definite; yet they are significant and fragrant like frankincense to superior natures. Why level downward to our dullest perception always, and praise that as common sense? The commonest sense is the sense of men asleep, which they express by snoring. Sometimes we are inclined to class those who are once-and-a-half-witted with the half-witted, because we appreciate only a third part of their wit.

Henry David Thoreau, Chapter xviii, Conclusion


That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Hard To Fathom

Pic of the day:  L’embarquement d’Ulysee by Claude Gellèe


The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. … What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them.

Thomas Jefferson


In light of the above quote, does that mean that the entire nation is simply wrong?

I cannot fathom it.  Mr. Jefferson was simply wrong here.

I think he, founding father though he was, grossly underestimated how much the people, on both sides of any political argument could be misinformed by people with agendas of their own. I don’t think he knew that media would so completely divide the people as to make two warring factions out of one nation.  I don’t think he saw the overwhelming influence that business would have over the actual legislative process.   ALEC is not something that Mr. Jefferson would have even begun to understand at the time he wrote that.

I think he simply did not foresee the power of corporations over the populace and government, or that the toxic mix of money and power could go unfought.  But that is the truth of the matter, too much money runs through the halls of congress, lobbyists are poisoning the water, turning freedom and liberty in pale shadows of their former selves.

The documents that define our freedom are still in full force.  I used to think that those documents power was eroding, but I am now not so sure.  That they are there unchanged tells the story that we love the truths and freedoms that those documents represent and defend.  What has happened is that the law, the legalese surrounding those documents have been thoroughly poisoned by monied interests.

Corporations run America, but government is yet powerful enough to protect us from them.  Which is why some members of the richest classes, and their paid lackeys want government small enough to drown in a bathtub. Some people want government small for the same reason that criminals like less cops around.  Makes it easier to get away with all the crimes they want to commit.

At least that is what I can see.  My vision is not perfect, but no ones is.


Pic of the day, part ii:  Landing of Cleopatra at Tarsus, by Claude Gellèe


At the Democratic Convention, Barack Obama said, ‘only in this country, only in America, could someone like me appear here.’ Well, in some other countries, people much poorer than him would not only talk at the convention – they’d be elected president. Take Lula. The president of Brazil is a guy with a peasant background, a union organizer, never went to school, he’s the president of the second-biggest country in the hemisphere. Only in America? I mean, there they actually have elections where you can choose somebody from your own ranks. With different policies. That’s inconceivable in the United States.

Noam Chomsky, 2004


On the other hand, too strong a government is just as destructive of freedom as too strong a corporate infrastructure.  It is a delicate balance at the best of times, judging who one can trust with power.  But the simplest answer is no is trustable.  But someone must have it. We should, but it seems to have been taken from us.  Makes one wonder what to do.

Police have shown that they are above the law, especially in light of what has happened in the occupy protests and the quadrennial protests at the Republican convention.  They can be unnecessarily violent and amazingly oppressive, and in the name of the protection of freedom.  Which is an abomination.  The view is that is because they are there to protect the rich men and their money.  The police, who are here to serve and protect all, have been turned into slaves, willing slaves to mammon, and enemies of real freedom.

And yet we live in America, land of the free and home of the brave.

Seems that the brave are the ones that stand against the powers that be, and that only we who fight them, in word and deed are fighting for our freedom.  And those freedoms feel like they are falling away, despite the fact that our founding documents are still in force for all to see.

Hard to fathom.


That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Words by George Carlin

Pic of the day, part i:  The Plague of Ashdod, by  Nicolas Poussin


Today’s paintings, as always, are for the people who love the art.  As I have been doing of late, the art is from the Louvre, and it is going to be that way for a while.  There is enough great art there in my current 2 painting a day format to keep me at this for a long time with art from there.  As long as there is great art that I can share, I will share it.

Enjoy the art, enjoy the Carlin quotes, enjoy the video and have a good night.


4 years ago today, the best comedian this side of anywhere died.  George Carlin was about the funniest comedian the world has ever seen. The quotes here today are an homage to him.  I would add commentary, but he was vastly better at it than I, so I’ll let him speak this night, though he is dead and I am very much alive.

Plus, the dead fuck is still funnier than I am.  That motherfucker.


Viddy of the day:  George Carlin on Our Similarities.


America’s leading industry, America’s most profitable business, is still the manufacture, packaging, distribution and marketing of bullshit. High-quality, grade-A, prime-cut, pure, American bullshit. And the sad part is, that most people seem to have been indoctrinated to believe that bullshit only comes from certain places, certain sources: advertising, politics, salesmen – not true. Bullshit is everywhere. Bullshit is rampant. Parents are full of shit, teachers are full of shit, clergymen are full of shit, and law enforcement people are full…of…shit – this entire country. This entire country is completely full of shit, and always has been. From the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution to the Star-Spangled Banner, it’s still nothing more than one big steaming pile of red, white and blue, all-American bullshit. Because, think of how we started. Think of that. This country was founded by a group of slave-owners who told us all men are created equal. Oh yeah, all men, except for Indians and niggers and women, right? I always like to use that authentic American language. This was a small group of unelected, white, male, land-holding, slave-owners who also suggested their class be the only one allowed to vote. Now, that is what’s known as being stunningly and embarrassingly full of shit. And I think Americans really show their ignorance when they say they want their politicians to be honest. What are these fuckin’ cretins talking about? If honesty were suddenly introduced into American life, the whole system would collapse!

George Carlin, You are all diseased


Pic of the day, part ii: Vanity, by unknown


Now if you think you do have rights, one last assignment for you. Next time you’re at the computer, get on the Internet, go to Wikipedia. When you get to Wikipedia, in the search field for Wikipedia, I want you to type in “Japanese Americans 1942” and you’ll find out all about your precious fucking rights, Okay? All right. You know about it. In 1942, there were 110,000 Japanese American citizens in good standing, law-abiding people who were thrown into internment camps simply because their parents were born in the wrong country. That’s all they did wrong. They had no right to a lawyer, no right to a fair trial, no right to a jury of their peers no right to due process of any kind. The only right they had: “Right this way” into the internment camps! Just when these American citizens needed their rights the most, their government took them away! And rights aren’t rights if someone can take them away. They’re privileges. That’s all we’ve ever had in this country, is a bill of temporary privileges. And if you read the news even badly, you know that every year the list gets shorter and shorter. You see all, sooner or later. Sooner or later, the people in this country are gonna realize the government does not give a fuck about them! The government doesn’t care about you, or your children, or your rights, or your welfare or your safety. It simply does not give a fuck about you! It’s interested in its own power. That’s the only thing. Keeping it and expanding it wherever possible.

George Carlin, It’s Bad for Ya


That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Good Morning

Pic of the day, part i:  Drapery for a seated figure, by Leonardo da Vinci


How many people ruin themselves by laying out money on trinkets of frivolous utility? What pleases these lovers of toys is not so much the utility, as the aptness of the machines which are fitted to promote it. All their pockets are stuffed with little conveniences. They contrive new pockets, unknown in the clothes of other people, in order to carry a greater number. They walk about loaded with a multitude of baubles…

Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments


The day began like any other.  The repetitive staccato high pitched blare announcing to anyone who had ears that functioned that it was 6:00 am.  I immediately got up, first rolling to my right then heaving myself upward as gently as possible so as not to disturb my sleeping wife, then hurriedly hit the button that turned off the alarm so that would not wake her.  After accomplishing that, I did something that I do every day, and it is a rather odd thing to do.

Think about the first word I will utter that day before I utter it.  I do it for 2 reasons.  Admittedly bad reasons, but reasons nonetheless.  Reason one is that the word will affect the mood of the entire day, and that it should hence be as positive as possible.  Reason two is that if I can concentrate enough five seconds out of bed on one thing, one word to guide the day, then I will be able to concentrate on anything that passes before me that day.

“Good Morning, Hon” I said as I got up to turn off the alarm.  She turned very slightly away under the thin purple covers, not responding to me so much as the alarm clock going off.   I wanted to greet the day with a hello, and a happy one at that.  Good is a good way to start any day, I say.

I take my first step after hitting the alarm and saying my piece (peace?) and walk to the end of the bed, and roughly grab the end of the bed because my inner ear has decided that I should be sitting and the world spun and heaved to the left and almost fell backwards.  This didn’t faze me overmuch, as this has happened a number of times, and I’ve come out relatively unscathed.  Continuing after the near mishap, I make the left hand turn, and feel at once the breeze from the air conditioner behind me and the fan from my right.  It is 6:01 am July 21st, it is 81 degrees out, and I am cold.

Could be worse…


Pic of the day, part ii:  Study for Madonna and Child with St. Anne, by Leonardo da Vinci


But every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world’s phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again. That is why every man’s story is important, eternal, sacred; that is why every man, as long as he lives and fulfills the will of nature, is wondrous, and worthy of consideration.

Hermann Hesse, Demian (prologue)


As I pass the fan and begin to leave the bedroom, I look down and see a cat.  Roddy.  He looks at me and mews to me.  It’s his way of saying good morning. I say hello back to him in a pitch that attempts to match his high pitch, not easy for someone who can sing  Barry White with relative ease.  He mews again and he and I head for the Kitchen to get him some food and me some coffee, him running, me walking.

I pour him his dry food for the day, a fairly large bowl for a cat or even two, which is how many cats there are.  Minky the other cat is a lump on a chair at this point, and won’t get up.  So I leave him be, and feed Roddy.  He mews at me again and purrs as he begins to eat, and I skritch his ears and I then turn to the task of making coffee.  I’ve got everything set up for me to make coffee fast, and it goes fast, as usual.  Water in pot, coffee in strainer, turn on heater, start.  Then I wash a few dishes.  Help to keep the place clean, part of the morning ritual

6:07 am.

Takes 15 minutes to make.  Slow, but not so slow that it’s an issue.  Go to bathroom quickly, then turn on computer.  Roddy comes in and mews yet again, this time rubbing against the ottoman (furniture, not 18th century turk) I’m sitting on.  He wants attention.  So I pay it.  Plug in the iPod to charge it, then log in.  Check the e-mail.  Nothing major.  2 people liked my post from yesterday, one e-mail telling me I have job opportunities waiting for me, and another political fundraising e-mail from someone whom I don’t recognize.  The e-mail I’m waiting for, the job in the Bronx one, isn’t there yet.  Dammit

Trash the new stuff.  I like the people liking me, but I keep forgetting to turn off the damned e-mail notifications, which clog the inbox whenever I write a piece that doesn’t entirely suck, or when I don’t delete my e-mail for a few days in a row (Keep liking them BTW, I don’t mind that much!) and I end up with 50 or 60.

Check the news.  Hosni Mubarak is still critically dead (asshole,) Sandusky is still the devil(asshole,) Mitt Romney is still stupid (asshole,) and futures are down slightly(many assholes.)  Nothing has changed in the 6 and one half hours that I slept.  Still surrounded by assholes.

I can smell the coffee cooking, and I am starving and can’t wait for breakfast.

Which today is coffee and 2 Devil dogs.

No worries.

I’ve had worse days.


That’s it from here, America.  G’night.