Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Be willing to look stupid for the great, great cause.
Oh, good. Wrong again. Opens up broad avenues of learning.

Avenues decorated with bright colors I couldn't see before.
The Earth is noticing humans used to live more subtly, and the Earth is thinking that felt better.
What have you not noticed lately?
What have you noticed lately?
Treating people like they're Gods doesn't make them smarter.
Tanks and tapestries, both human. What shall we do today?
Beauty is ok, even lots of beauty. Beauty is permitted.
"The Prince" by Machievelli is about how to be effectively powerful in a situation where all the powerful people tend to be sneaky and nasty.

So it's largely about how to be effectively sneaky and nasty. Not entirely--sometimes being sneaky and nasty, Machiavelli observes, is not the best way to preserve power, so do something else. But mostly "The Prince" is indeed about being Machievellian.

He may not have thought that was the best way to be. He may have just been observing and summarizing the most effective behavior of princes in Northern Italy in the Renaissance.

I think of "The Prince" and "The Leviathan" by Thomas Hobbes at the same time. Both have low opinions of human nature. Hobbes says life is nasty, brutish,and short and is a struggle of all against all. In that context, he thinks about what governments should be. You gotta protect yourself from the all against all situation, and therefore give the government more power than you might want to.

"The Prince" and "The Leviathan" were both written during periods of civil war, I think. Civil war makes people pessimistic about each other and about what people together might do. The people together possibilities seem grim, and only grim.

Thomas Hobbes would agree with my opinion that he lived in a period of civil war. He wrote from what he learned about living through the English Civil War of the sixteen hundreds.

Machievelli did not think he lived in a time of civil war. For him, the city states of Northern Italy struggling against each other politically and going to war against each other was not civil war. These were different governments, they were fighting, this was how to operate in that environment, which wasn't civil war.

Therein lies the dumbness of "The Prince." He observed and summarized the short term political smarts of some very smart people who were collectively missing the historical boat.

Smart people--Nothern Italy in Machievelli's time was doing the Renaissance, multiple world historical high points in many arts.

Including the art of clever and sometimes armed struggle among city states.

But city states were on their way out. The future was with nations who united, like France, to the north of Italy, was doing.

The ongoing struggle between the city states, which Machievelli advised on how to participate in, was one reason Italy wasn't united until the mid-nineteen hundreds, which had bad effects for Italians and others.

"The Prince" is fairly easy to read, and short, for a book. Parts of it can seem like good advice for a ruthless approach to office politics. A way to use smartness is to win at whatever game is going. Sometimes a way to use smartness is to make the game nastier than it was when you walked in and win at that.

People are good. People are bad. People are nasty, are kind. It depends on many things. Part of what it depends on is what is going around them.

If people around are mostly acting like nasty power plays are great, or like it's all against all, they tend to act in a way that makes that continue to be true.

It is a good thing if people can use the smarts they have to make a situation in which life is not nasty, brutish, and short so their imagination can make life something other than and more interesting than all against all.

"The Prince" is so short, for a book, that it is often put together with something else Machievelli wrote to make a (still small) book. Usually it's put with his "Discourses" which are more idealistic, less read, and (darn) less good.

Another bit of writing about humans and government that is so short it isn't often a book by itself is "Civil Disobedience" by Thoreau.

It would be fun to make a book that put "The Prince" and "Civil Disobedience" together, because they are both about government and think about it so differently that they are as if from parallel universes.

"The Prince" is top down. How to be clever, powerful, and win from the top and toward other people at the top of other governments. "Civil Disobedience" is about democracy and how if you are in a democracy that is doing wrong you shouldn't participate, shouldn't pay for it. Gandhi learned a lot from "Civil Disobedience" and all other civil disobeyers since have learned from Gandhi.

So you could put win in a monarchy with little concern for right and wrong together with don't participate in a democracy if it is doing wrong. For one thing, that would make clear there is a missing masterpiece--a short, great book about participating in a democracy from the bottom, not the top, in a way that keeps it from going wrong.

Maybe that isn't meant to be a book. Maybe it is to stay a way of life, of many lives.
Earth. Hearth. Heart.
Ear. Hear.

Some kinds of warm listening make the planet more like home.
The future is.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'd never heard of before today of Liane de Pougy, but she is the type of woman good to take a vacation observing because she has no cringe at all, no vibe of "excuse me for living."

That's so rare in a US woman it's rather grand to see what it's like, even from afar. Perhaps especially from afar, as she is so very good at getting what she wants that I, for example, would need new skills to stand up in her prescence.

from "My Blue Notebooks" by Liane de Pougy about living in Paris 1919-1941, from her journals. This book was given to me by one of those wise free boxes that live outside some San Francisco used bookstores.

Speaking of her husband, Georges

"I really can't stand any more of this dismal, bad-tempered, discontented, hostile, and disapproving spirit of contradiction. When he assured me of his profound and faithful love I ended with these true and concilliating words: ' I don't mind about your love, just give me a little sympathy and kindness. That is what I need and that is what my conduct, bearing and my efforts have earned me.' Sympathy and kindness! These two words contain the whole secret of domestic happiness."

She offers two lessons. Her words are right about sympathy and kindness which I bet, from this journal entry alone, she was better at demanding than offering. And her demandingness is a good lesson in the possiblities of taking at least a little more space and not always making room for others when making room isn't needed, even for kindness.

I wonder what the music would sound like made by a band called Sympathy and Kindness. Or if there was a pop music movement called Sympathy and Kindness, what that would be like. One way would be to make it sound like the opposite, like garbage cans rolling down Mount Everest and fighting all the way.

But what would Sympathy and Kindness music sound like if it meant it and were good?

There would be much space made by the music to finish one's thoughts and feelings. Whether they were perfect or not, whether they were like what has happened before, sympathy and kindness music would build air and heart room to follow them through to the tiny new world they naturally make or the large one.

Love means safe room and lots of it.

I read the whole book and liked the author less and less. I at first liked her openly demanding to be taken care of, a change from the usual woman thing.

But her lifestyle was in fact decadent, which is Latin for decaying, and the decay started to show.

She went to Jean Cocteau's place to help him get drugs, and he was a mess, his place was a mess, seriously no fun. Cocteau was enormously talented and did some great stuff, but not as much, I think, if he had stayed tune by being conscious and if had stayed tune by not dying young.

I got tired of De Pougy's raging selfishness, but still thought there was something to learn from it. She always had a divan or two around to collapse onto and rest.

She gave a big party, and arranged with a friend to have a divan available in the friend's apartment onanother floor of her apartment building so she could leave the party and rest in comfort and style, then go back.

About the time I was reading "My Blue Notebooks" I read the plaque at the Bessie Carmichal School that told of her hard working life making sure that kids who had a worse life in general had a better that average life at school.

I want women who live like that to remember to have divans around and rest gloriously and a lot, and then go back to the healing.
Stand up time is a term used in tunnel building.

Some tunnels are built in more or less solid rock.

Other tunnels are built in soft matter--dirt, rocks, this and that that are not solidly with each other, like solid rock, but that have been together for quite a while before the tunnelers come through.

Some soft matter will stay together as it has been for a bit after the tunnellers remove the soft matter they are clearing out to make the tunnel. The amount of time that the soft matter will stay together as it was before it goes with gravity and collapses is called stand up time.

--information from the Encyclopedia Britannica
Dance and dandelions involve movements often graceful--wind-born seeds and rhythm-born people.
Trees and stars look at each other. They live outside.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lightning is very hot. Hot air expands.

When lightning hea up the air inside itself and next to itself that airs expands a lot fast, because lightning is so hot. As it expands, it bumps into the not-heated-up air next to it. The sounds of the suddenly hot air bumping into cool air is thunder.

When humans hear thunder, sometimes we hear it as one big boom--a clap of thunder. Sometimes we hear it as a series of sounds unfolding--rolling thunder.

Whether you hear a given bit of thunder as a boom or a roll depends on where you are relative to the lightning that makes the thunder.

If they lightning is laid out length-wise relative to where you are, all the sound the lightning makes is equally far way from you and arrives basically at the same time. Boom.

If you are at one end of the lightning, the sound from the end close to you gets to you first, the next farthest away next, and so on down the the far end. Roll.
The original equipment manufacturer is God? The original equipment manufacturer is time? The original equipment manufacturer is God working through time?
* A key to the kingdom for me is "Talk less." For some other people, it's "Talk more."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

*Edison said genius is ninety-nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration.

Goethe said perserverance is the most important virtue is getting great things done.

When the young, small Sony Corporation licensed the transitor from Bell Labs, which invented it, the Bell Labs people told them it would only be good for hearing aids.

Which was true of the transitor as Bell Labs had formulated it out of germanium and iridium. It didn't have enough power to run, for example, a radio.

The mission of the Sony Corporation was to make electronic products for regular people and sell lots and lots of them. They thought the transitor could be made into something that would power a small radio. Not just portable, they said. Pocketable. They said this before they had a transistor radio or a transistor that could run a radio. They knew what they wanted.

They thought the transitor could help them make the mass electronic product of their dreams. It just needed to be made of different materials. But which ones?

Sony researchers tried this and that and tried combinations of this and that. One researcher was trying a technique called phosporus doping. It seemed to be making tiny, incremental steps toward a more powerful transitor. But the progress wasn't that clear, and he wasn't that sure.

He reported his possible project at a meeting, cautiously. His boss, Kazuo Iwans, said, "Well, if it looks like you are getting interesting results, why don't you just keep working and see what happens?"

Hence, tiny Sony corporation became bigger. Phosphorus doping was the way to go.

Bell Labs had tried phosphorus doping, but not for long enough.

The Japanese language doesn't have an imperative--"Do this. Close the door. Talk. Shut up." They don't have that.

Sometimes a boss needs to say, Maybe you're right.

--information from "Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony" by Akio Morita with Edwin M. Reingold and Mitsuko Shimomura
* The poem is called "The Origins and History of Consciousness" by Adrienne Rich. Part of it goes like this:

"each of us, having loved the flesh in its clenched or loosened beauty
better than trees or music (yet loving those too
as if they were flesh--and they are--but the flesh
of beings yet unfathomed in our roughly literal life.)"

You think it's a dot, hurrying by this little something in your thoughts, but it's a point on a shere of something you know. You can go through the dot into this large round space of something you know, something that is not what you are expected to know.

If you stay in it and get strong at knowing what you know and let that knowing make something--a painting, a sound, a way you gesture, a way you touch, you are part of the long healing of the origins and history of consciousness.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Walking by the open garage door, I could see that there were seven doors leaning against the inside wall of the garage. They looked like they'd spent some time being doors inside a house.

They weren't stacked on top of each other, but leaned one at a time from the front of the garage going back. Easy for me to look at, easy for the garage person to look at.

I wondered.

Were they coming from a specific project? Were they going to a specific project?

Or were they being held by someone whose specific wisdom includes, "You never know when you'll need another door."?
* The number of countries with flags that are white, blue, and red and no other colors varies, but it hovers around twenty, and includes Iceland, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, and Luxemburg.

Luxemberg's flag is a lighter blue, like the blues of the flags of Israel and Greece, which have blue and white, but no red.

Israel and Greece have different stories about getting to blue and white for their flags, but still and all, they are countries that are by the Mediterrean Sea and they have flag colors that are the colors that overwhelm on good days on their shores.
* What did you do during the group insanity?

You can do what you think is different content, but it's difficult to get a different rhythm going than the rhythm of the intensely inaccurate mammals around you.]

Thursday, July 10, 2008

She was walking down the sidewalk, talking to the friend beside her, pushing the kid and stroller ahead of her.

Where she was walking was close to a university, USF, and not too far from a medical center/medical school, UCSF.

She was talking in the warm, fond, frustrated tone that would fit talking about someone you liked a lot who kept being difficult.

She said, "It's only a correlation, but. . ."

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

* Change it some, and pass it on. Art.
* Today you notice fifty ways in which this country lives up to its hype. You:

a.) decide which to participate in more.

b.) start working on a good thing clearly missing, fifty-one.
* Thinking I need to do something when I need to do nothing at all.

Monday, July 07, 2008

In zooming Japan, the slow food movement has expanded into the slow life movement.

People sometimes wish each other "Slow Holidays."

--information from Veronica Chamber's book "Kickboxing Geishas: How Modern Japanese Women Are Changing Their Nation\"
Little colorful bright things gleaming say that you can shine and shine precisely.
I don't know what verb is it, but I like being in this verb with you.
San Francisco, California is pleasant to pronouce. This is partly because English is hungry for pronounced final vowels, having fewer of them than many languages.

It is also because "San Francisco" and "California," though different, have some underlying sameness in how they sound.

They each have the same number of syllables--four.

They each have the same pattern of stressed syllables--a strong accent on the third syllable--cis, for--and a weak accent on the first syllable--san, cal.

So "San Francisco, California," pronouced, is a bit of a poem.

If you say it over and over with exaggerated emphasis on "cis" and "for," it sounds like you're going somewhere.
The relationship between the Andromeda Galaxy and patriotism is sort of like the relationship between the Andromeda Galaxy and nationalism. I love my country, and I love many parts of reality that are not my country. Everything else--long may it wave. I show my gratitude by waving back
When Gandhil was killed by a fellow Hindu, he was saying a Hindu prayer, because he was always saying a Hindu prayer. Using a mantra is a way of choosing your last words.

God knew Gandhi didn't like those things called civil disturbances where lots of people got killed. If Gandhi had been killed by a Moslem, much civil disturbance was likely. How does God work?