Friday, August 26, 2005

Insurance Co's Fear Global Warming/The Deep Mystery/Answering a Jihadist

(P1) Political

Insurance Industry Fears Global Warming...More So-Called "Liberal Propaganda"?

No...interestingly, this comes from the environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its Bush-appointed administrators.

While I'll give you the link to the EPA's website in a second, I first want to give a few quotes in case the EPA site changes.

"While the effects of climate change will impact every segment of the business community, the insurance industry is especially at risk..."

Note the term "climate change" which the Bush administration prefers to the term "global warming." However, when you go to the link, look about 24 lines down, and you will read the following: "What Can The Insurance Industry Do?... Educate policy holders about financial risks associated with GLOBAL WARMING..."

So why, after not signing the Kyoto Accords (which, by the way would not have been a panacea) and also seemingly denying the very existence of global warming, would the administration, through its EPA be this emphatic about the dangers? Well, in the words of Deep Throat, "Follow the money!" Who represents more money than the insurance industry? Even though the EPA's motivation may not be perfect, I regard this particular EPA action and advisory as at least being a somewhat hopeful sign for those of us who care about the environment.

Here's the link to the full text which is very interesting.

(P2) Philosophical

"God is an invention of Man.
So the nature of God
is only a shallow mystery.
The Deep mystery is
the nature of Man."

(Narei Koburi, late Abbot of the Temple of the Shining Dragon, a Buddhist Sanctuary in Kyoto from Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, by Sagan and Druyan)

(P3) Poetical

Of Art, Satisfaction, and Justification - by Edward Coletti

“Bin Ladin also relies heavily on the Egyptian writer Sayyid Qutb. A member of the Muslim Brotherhood executed in 1966 on charges of attempting to overthrow the government…He dismissed Western achievements as entirely material, arguing that Western society possesses nothing that will satisfy its own conscience and justify its existence.” – From The 911 Commission Report –

By this poem
I seek
to prove myself
and by extension
survival of a Western soul
to Sayyid
the unpronounceable
who (how like a Q-Tip)
opens our ears
to his own truth
which is the truth of certain death,
truth of Jihadists
who, like Qutb,
value life only
for the dying.

No thing
will satisfy
like the death
he found
in his own execution
(It is said also that
poets never die.
What of martyrs?
What of those
who inspire this
very poem?).

As to America,
no thing
will satisfy
its conscience.

like reflection
gives us only
a collective
stomach ache,
head ache
dull unfilled ache.

United we stand
we are.
Is this justification
for our existence?
Qutb would argue
deeply in the negative,
so deep within the earth
that even the worms
have ceased to hear him,
but, nonetheless
his argument rises
from a no less unusual place
than the presidentially-appointed
911 Commission
finding in the corpse of Sayyid Quttb
a quiet grub of truth
expelling noxious authenticity;

By breathing it in,
by making it part of me,
I satisfy my conscience,
I justify my existence.

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Monday, August 22, 2005

Three With a Chess Theme

(P1) Philosophical

This time, I thought I'd pay a bit of homage to the grand game of chess, not just as a "game," but for the manner in which it informs almost everything. Joyce frequently asks if I'm playing a "game" of chess. To those of us who play, it's a lot more than a game. I took up chess as sort of a counter-phobic pursuit. I tend to make my decisions in life through less than fully analytical means. Additionally, I'm not the most disciplined person in the world. So, with the help of my neighbor and friend Dave (to whom this piece is dedicated), I learned to play chess (albeit rather badly). My idea was to stare my deficits squarely in the face and perhaps by so doing, acquire a bit more discipline and become somewhat more analytical. I believe I have succeeded (especially if the hedge of the word "somewhat" is fully considered).

Beyond disicipline and analysis, my greatest spur to becoming involved was this passage from the great Grandmaster Sigbert Tarrasch who wrote simply and profoundly that, "CHESS, LIKE LOVE, LIKE MUSIC, HAS THE POWER TO MAKE MEN HAPPY." Any pursuit carrying such a promise of happiness is worth investigating. I have never been disappointed - frustrated, yes - but don't love and frustration go hand-in-hand? - The results have been well-worth the effort.

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(P2) Political

Perhaps the two greatest young chess players who ever lived are still alive: 1. Bobby Fischer - a total nutcase, and 2. Garry Kasparov - a force for world change.

Permit me not to give any "press" to anti-semite Fischer. But Kasparov should be heard and is being heard by his sworn enemy Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Why should the Russians and the world listen to a great chess player? In his autobiography, Garry Kasparov - Unlimited Challenge, Kasparov offers the wise words of his own esteemed teacher, Grandmaster Mikhail Botvinnik, "In order to solve inexact problems it is essential to limit the scope of the problem so as not to get entangled in it, and only then is there the chance of finding a more exact solution. Hence, it is a mistake to think that chess does not reflect objective reality. It reflects man's thinking."

Here is an example of Kasparov's chess-influenced political analysis:

"Western leaders who still hope that relations with Putin will lead to reforms are similar to chess players who wish to attack only the enemy’s king. One must learn to play against pawns, play on all sides of the chessboard. If you are able to convince the opponent’s pawns and pieces to join you, the enemy’s king will not succeed in standing alone for a long time.”

So, good luck, Garry Kasparov. You're up against a ruthless pro who also knows how to play. In fact he plays so well that George Bush, upon only one visit, declared that he had looked into Vladimir's soul and liked what he saw. But I rather doubt that Bush is a very good chess player.

(P3) Poetical


Here when the game is done,

the last piece moved,

the King with no place to go,

Not dead, not checked,

just frozen forever

in a limbo of his own

creation. No exit.

No entrance. No movement.

No target. No victim.

No attacker. No time.

All the others gaping at him

here in his cave safe

forever in this vacuum-

-packed cocoon unclear,

No loss. No victory.

A draw. A stasis.

No nourishment. No need.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Compassionate Conservative/Ideas Toward World Harmony/Firefighters

(P1) Political

(P2) Philosophical

Brainstorming World Harmony

A close relative asked me for some ideas regarding world harmony through the internet and education. I sent off a five minute brainstorm. I come up with some of my best ideas when I work quickly. Here they are in no particular order:

1. I've long expounded on a theory of mine that governments, especially ours, should spend money on a world peace initiative involving either requiring or (more likely) making it difficult to refuse spending 6 months abroad to overcome xenophobia and the type of provincialism that causes folks in Kansas to view (let us call them) "Iraqis" as less-than-human fodder to be bombed, etc. And I mean make it available to EVERY American: grape pickers, farmers, assembly line workers, welfare recipients, Harvard students, lawyers, high school students, and fast food workers.

2. Along the same line, what of a U.S. President who had never left the continental United States ( except perhaps for a college binge in Tijuana) and then becomes President, and his first international act of note is to declare war on da furriners. What if Bush had been enticed or required to spend a semester or so wherever he'd have liked, and, let's say he'd chosen Paris, and let's imagine he'd fallen in love with a French girl. Would there have been any chance of french fries being renamed "Freedom Fries," etc?

3. I recall when I first got involved with the internet. It was back before there were any pictures or even colors on the worldwide web. It had to do with getting into different university libraries and in various countries. I was amazed. This was back when the few of us who knew about the technology (pre-mouse even) were traveling the world libraries with programs named Archie and Veronica. Later, something called Mosaic created a more usable interface IN Color. That led several Illinois University students to create something called Netscape, and the rest is history. But, when I used the most rudimentary technology a dozen or fifteen years or so ago, I remember one day running down to Joyce and exclaiming, "I'm in Russia!" That was when the Soviet Union still existed, and I almost felt like a "traitor" just for "visiting" a Soviet library online.

4. Today, thanks to the internet, there are no borders. Did I share with you a dialogue between me and an Iraqi chemical engineer I happened to be playing chess with online? That was a most profound interchange. He was out of work due to the war. He also didn't want us there and said that a nation as old as his could solve it's own problems. This sort of exchange happens online among many people worldwide by virtue of the internet. What a boon to world understanding and harmony!

5. Think also of the law enforcement predicament - trying to enforce U.S. laws - anti anti anti pornography pot sedition - when the "perpertrators" are not subject to U.S. laws. Anything goes. Or in Rastfarian terms: "One love...let's get together and feel alright."

6. What of Doctors Without Borders?

7. What of the European Community?

8. Can any of this (should any of this) be stopped?

9. What of India and China? India has the greatest technical university in the world.

10. So, much of this is very hopeful, and I am hopeful, except that my own country may be the most resistant to change. It's time for great thinkers, diplomats, statesmen, to step forward. All the Bushie Neocons care about is the bottom line. But they'll lose there too without subscribing to the movements of which we speak.

11. In terms of education, what about a virtual university of the world where students of particular schools gain credit from online courses from overseas universities and credit for participation in international forums and through actual visits to other countries? How about international work-study programs?

12. How about tracking the most successful students from other countries and creating test instruments based upon the stuff that makes them successful. Call it "TRS" for "The Right Stuff." To get the right stuff, American students will need to measure up to a World standard, etc. etc.

Please add your own Comments and Ideas. When prompted, you can sign in as "other" but please add your name to your text. Always feel free to also look at the comments of others as well by pressing on "comments" throughout these postings. Should you prefer, my email is edcoletti

(P3) Poetical

Found Poem (based upon an interview with NYC Firefighter Maureen McArdle-Schulman)

Somebody yelled something was falling.
We didn't know if it was desks coming out.
It turned out it was people coming out,
They started coming out one after the other.
We saw the jumpers coming.
We didn't know what it was at first
But then the first body hit
Then we knew what it was
And they were just like constant
I was getting sick.
I felt like
I was intruding on a sacrament.
They were choosing to die
I was watching them
And shouldn't have been.
So me and another guy
Turned away and looked at a wall,
And we could still hear them hit.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Getting Fat Again/Bolton And The Final Straw/Time Travel

(P1) Philosophical

Why Sweat Getting Fat Again?

Once again, the clothes are beginning to feel like someone else's. In the car, I unbuckle my trou. In the morning, I wonder how that guy from a year ago got back into my mirror. I begin to experience the dread of "having to" resume my program. It always works for me. I lost 20 lbs within the first few weeks after New Years Day. But the prospect of all that work!...rising at 5:45 AM...drinking water...lifting weights, doing crunches, squats, stretches...more water...a 45 minute walk up hills...but, worst of all by far- keeping meticulous track of all I ingest and holding it to 1800 calories a day! All that deprivation! Why can't I just stop weighing myself? Actually, I have. Why not just enjoy life and lasagne, and real breakfasts, and chicken fried steak and biscuits and gravy and ribs and potato chips and ice cream at night. Some people eat to live and others live to eat. I fall squarely into the second category!

But, it's not just about appearance. I don't relish the prospects of high blood pressure, arterial plaque, heart disease, stroke, or diabetes either. So, just as I adjust to this further motivation, Anthony Bourdain, on TV, from France, counsels to eat with all 5 senses and enjoy life fully like a Frenchman rather than wrinkling up like a puritanical American.

I don't have the answer this time. Help me and the other readers. Add your comments by pressing the word "Comments" , signing in either as "blogger" or "other" and making sure to add your name at the end of your comments.

(P2) Political

My friend Larry Carlin sent the following letter to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Larry might as well have been voicing my own opinions on the need to not sit silently by.

Saturday, August 6, 2005

No End In Sight

EDITOR: Bravo for your Tuesday editorial regarding John Bolton. I have been voting since the 1960's, and have never seen a president of any stripe who seems so consumed by his own vision or that of his inner circle.

To purposefully make an end run while Congress is on holiday on such an important position is unthinkable. Doesn't he hear the message from the rest of the world? Or worse, doesn't he care?

Watching a Bill Maher cable special the other night, I was struck by something he said. Maher intimated that while all these crazy things are going on, no one -- whether Democrats, moderate Republicans, a member of the media -- is speaking out loud enough.

Alas, he offered no specific solutions, but I think he's right. It's not just that the message is falling on deaf ears. No one is (peacefully) yelling, marching, protesting and creating a buzz. Yet, many of us are ticked off.

And, yet it goes on -- the war, the killings, politics in secret, health care, gas prices, Social Security, ad infinitum, with no end in sight. What will be the final straw? What needs to happen to make us step over the line?

Larry Carlin -
Santa Rosa, CA

(P3) Poetical

Recently, I fell in love with a very old clock that belonged to my father-in-law George Watson and, before him, to his mother. I had the clock fixed, and it is running and ringing now at my house.

Time Travel

Waterbury Clock 1881
one hundred twenty-five
years encased in walnut

Named "Paris" a carved head
androgynous gaze
beneath a parasol dome

within a granddaughter's home
in Santa Rosa, California
doesn't run

teeth shorn
bell won't toll
time won't tell

What of a clock
speaks to love?

something of
the work it's done

movement's grinding

thirsts for care
all it needs

to tock and tick
to ring aloud again
as it began

the Spring of '81
when Grandma
first wound

the Waterbury Paris clock
from Connecticut
she'd bought

at Wannamaker's Department
Store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

worth a hundred times
its purchase price

more than that
for the time it's kept.

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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Flight From Logic/One By John/ & Fun Zen

(P1) Political

Loyalty Oath To Ignorance - The Flight From Logic

Responding to a column I sent to her, a dear friend of mine asked me if I really believed that Republicans were responsible for all of the world's ills. Of course, I responded with a "No," but, after reading the following from Richard Cohen's Aug. 6th column titled When Politicians Are Delirious, I decided that, while the Republicans may not be responsible for all the world's ills, their current embrace of psychotic illogic is enough to scare the bejeebers out of anyone who thinks.

Cohen discusses 3 of the more "moderate" Republicans, who since becoming presidential "contenders, " have rendered opinions that they had previously eschewed regarding the morning after pill, Terry Schiavo, and a woman's right to choose. The offenders respectively were George Pataki, Bill Frist, and Mitt Romney.

Cohen writes:

"It has now become clear that a viable Republican presidential candidate must oppose abortion, stem cell research, the morning after pill, gay marriage and, for good measure, evolution. At the very least, you have to offer a good word for intelligent design, as the president did just the other day in the single dopiest statement of his presidency.

"These are positions that defy logic - not each and every one of them, but as a totality. Taken together, they require GOP presidential candidates to take a kind of loyalty oath to ignorance, to see virtually every issue through a religious prism."

(P2) Poetical

I'm fond of this poem by my son John in his book The New Normalcy (Boog Literature: NY, 2002)


You can’t mean

To be anything

As long as you

Break something

With something else

You exist.

You buy something

To break something

And are something

(P3) Philosophical

Now Zen, Now Zen

Here are some philosophical musings...

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me, either. Just leave me the hell alone.

2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a leaky tyre.

3. It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbour's newspaper, that's the time to do it.

4. No one is listening until you break wind.

5. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

6. It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

7. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

8. Before you criticise someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticise them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

9. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

10. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat & drink beer all day.

11. If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

12. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

13. If you drink, don't park; accidents cause people.

14. Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

15. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

16. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

17. Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side & a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

18. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your mouth is moving.

19. We are born naked, wet, and hungry. Then things get worse.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

An Argument For The Soul Of America

(P1) Political and (P2) Philosophical
-The two, at times, are inseparable-

While I would prefer that comments to my postings contain the name of the writer somewhere in the text of the comment, I choose to pay attention to this particular unsigned dissenting comment for reasons that should prove obvious:

Did you ever wonder why not a single communist guard, dictator, prison administrator or executioner ever went to trial in the defunct Soviet Union or in China, Cambodia or other countries where 150 million were slaughtered in the name of Lenin? Have you wondered why leftist 'liberation' armies in all the world's theaters have license to bomb, murder, rape and hold hostage while those on the right defending against such atrocities by using the same methods and tactics are hunted down and brought to trial?

My answer is - Because, even if you, my unidentified reader/commentator, are correct in any of your premises, then my answer to why we should choose not to "...murder, rape, hold hostage...(torture)..., etc" is because We Are Americans.

On his latest HBO Comedy Special, Bill Maher, says that whenever he describes some of the problems with our administration in power, some of the more close-minded spew, "Well, he hates America!" Maher retorts, "I don't hate America. I love America! But sometimes, I'm so embarrassed! I feel like saying 'I'm Swiss'" That's also the title of the show.

In his column of August 2, 2005, Bob Herbert describes a senate conflict between Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. and Sen. John Mc Cain, R-Arizona. The debate was over legislation that would explicitly "prohibit cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody."

Sessions said "...there was no need for it because, as he put it, the detainees are not prisoners of war, 'they are terrorists.'"

McCain (who certainly knows more than all of us put together about the results of torture and maltreatment as a prisoner), responded that the debate " not about who they are. It's about who we are." He concluded that Americans "hold ourselves" to a higher standard.

So, we are Americans, and Americans, like you and I, have grown up living by the two most fundamental principles of ethics:

(1) The Golden Rule - "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you." Or, today, "Do unto enemy combatants as you'd have them do unto our combatants."

(2) "The End Does Not Justify The Means."

Not altogether surprising, the comments I received regarding the Charles Krauthammer column, which I included in a recent posting, ran virtually 100% against his recommendation that obvious non-terrorist types be excluded from searches at airports. Yes, Dan, I can be "seduced" by logic. I'm not always consistent in my points of view, and I tend to like that about myself. Still, in the spirit of the present piece, I definitely will have to go along with the need to respect the rights of the smallest minority, even if only a minority of one. Somehow, writing this also produces a very real hesitancy because I have a visceral sense of being caught between the rights of the one and the convenience and right to privacy of the many. Still, if we must err, it has to be on behalf of "the least of our brethren." It brings to mind the allied issue of sacrifice which is something very few (other than our soldiers) are really being asked to do by the political powers that be...but can't we at least exclude the 85-year-old ladies in pink jump suits?!

Seriously, what is great about America is its soul. Let's all argue for a recognition of and a return to the true soul of America and all it has stood for in the world. America, once again, must be exemplary in its behavior at home and abroad. Only then can we bask in our own light.

- Ed Coletti - August 3, 2005 -

(P3) Poetical


The time clearly here to believe no one whose skin
we cannot touch within a two-day journey.

I mean like "War is good" "War is bad" "War is coming" "Stop the war."

What will touch of skin determine about the merits or demerits of warfare?

Smooth tough hairy porous ennervated flesh pink and pulsing, warm and sleek,
cold and swampy, skin as membrane, skin as fabric, skin a curtain.

Skin is not woven tightly to be torn.

The TV screen is only so much frozen sand.

Let us touch the skin of those we know to try to really know.

Edward Coletti - 2003

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Monday, August 01, 2005

Poker, Feeling, and Monkey Business

(P1) Philosophical

I've recently developed a taste for Texas Holdem Poker. Psychology is very important in the game. Ever wonder if temperament and personality are acquired or bred?

(P2) Political

My new friend Larry Carlin is proving to be a boon intellectual companion. I am thankful to Larry for this opinion piece by novelist E.L Doctorow. Upon my return from Vietnam as a young Lieutenant in 1967, I was assigned to work as Survivor Assistance Officer at the Presidio of San Francisco. Each day, more likely night, I would receive notification of military remains returning to the Bay Area. After assigning someone of like or higher rank to notify the GI's next-of-kin, I would go out the next day with a driver and visit the family. I was required to discus Military Funerals and GI Insurance. I would then attend two to three funerals a week. Needless to say, the following piece resonates in me. Please press on the link for the full text.

Guest Words by E. L. Doctorow

I fault this president for not knowing what death is...

Here's the link to the full article called The Unfeeling President

(P3) Poetical

Safari Park monkey walks like human

- Jerusalem Post July 22, 2004

Monkey Business

Red assed

Pink faced

Brain injured

Israel zoo Macaque

Walks upright.

What next?

a garden?

a deluge?

a concept of sin?

ten new commandments?

a redeemer?

Brain injured

World famed

Red assed monkey

Marching beyond

The Holy Land

On its very first

World conquering tour.

(Edward Coletti 2004)

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