Monday, September 19, 2016

JAMES JOYCE AND GIL




One afternoon after my university classes had finished, I drank tea with a volunteer named Gil.

 He didn't socialize much, and I believe it was the only time I spoke with him about anything.

But one time was plenty, and I mean this in a positive sense.

Gil was a very interesting person.

 I found out that he was planning to leave the Peace Corps and head for Turkey.

 He explained the route he would take, mentioning a train up inside Russia.

 I found this amazing. 

Just leave...not say a word to anyone! 

But now I wonder why he told me.

I also thought that he might be a member of an Intelligence agency.

Gil was "translating" Ulysses by James Joyce. 

But the translating was more like interpreting what the heck this novel is about.

 I still haven't finished it.

 I finished Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in a few weeks.

Good luck Gil, wherever you are.




IT'S ABOUT RENEWABLE RESOURCES

Monday, September 12, 2016

THE FUNERAL



One day Touryalai invited me to a funeral.
"Who died?", I asked.
"I don't know," Touryalai replied.
"Then how can we go to the funeral?", I asked.
"It's no problem. Come with me", he said.
And so he and I walked onto an open dirt field of gravesites. 
(Not far from this graveyard there was a private area used only by men when they had to go to the bathroom.)
 I again told Touryalai about how gross it was that men just "pooped and peed" in the open.
 He agreed, and again told me that he wished this custom didn't exist, but it did. 
I could tell that he was tired of my complaints.
 I never mentioned the subject again.


"Look. There is the body." said Touryalai.
People were gathered around the body under a small roofed area. 
On a narrow wooden litter was the corpse of a male covered with a white sheet. 
When some men picked up the stretcher, Touryalai and I followed. 
They carefully stepped over a very short fence-like barrier, walked maybe 100 paces, and then stopped.
 They picked up the corpse and gently laid it inside of a shallow swath of the ground, just large enough to hold one body.
 Some large flat stones were placed on the corpse, and then a thin layer of soil was used to cover the stones.
I turned to Touryalai.
"That's it?"
He smiled and said, "Yes, that's it."
"What about dogs or other animals?” I asked.
Touryalai indicated that the body would be just fine.
How simple.
 How unceremonious. 
How frugal. 
And then, there was the American way of death.






IT'S ABOUT RENEWABLE RESOURCES


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

BAMIYAN


This was our first vacation.
 I don't know who decided to go to Bamiyan or why, but what a lovely province it turned out to be.
Our bus ride didn't take that long. It was just an all-day drive. 

On our bumpy and dusty bus ride, an Afghan woman kept putting something up to her veiled face. I thought she might be drinking soup or something; but then she put the vase-like container outside the window and emptied it. She had been vomiting. Bus motion sickness. The local population was not accustomed to bus riding.

Jon brought along a case of wine. This wine was made in Afghanistan, and although I didn't know much about wine, I sure knew that I didn't like this wine.
At one stop for prayer, Jon and I got off to stretch. When we returned to the bus, we saw spittle on our water bottle.
 Someone had been offended by the alcohol.

When we arrived in Bamian I first noticed how quiet it was, and then how green and clean it looked.
 We "checked in" to our "hotel", which was a small, dome-shaped and straw-thatched hut. 
Jon and I bunked in one hut with two single beds. We wondered how many scorpions were here.

I woke up the first night and removed a burning cigarette from Jon's hand. He had fallen asleep. I knew that our hut would have been eaten by flames in a flash. I'm glad that I couldn't sleep that first night.
The next day we walked around. Then we rented horses.
 My horse was difficult to control. 
He walked over a large garden.
 I was afraid I would get shot or something, but nothing happened, and then I looked up and saw a little Persian girl, dressed in beautifully embroidered clothing, walking down a small hill and carrying a basket on her head while holding up a small sickle in her left hand. 
Her brightly-colored clothing highlighted the earth colors.
 I wrote my poem Bamian, Afghanistan based on this brief encounter.

Rain had washed out the roads!
 We were "stranded" in beautiful Bamian!
 We were out of money, out of alcohol, but not out of hope! 

We telegraphed Kabul to inform the Peace Corps office of our problem. 
Our message reached the Peace Corps office so that they would know we were safe and sound, although penniless.
Betty had befriended an embassy worker (or maybe he was a businessman) from Germany, and he agreed to loan us some money. 

When we finally left Bamiyan two days later, it was in a plane that could fly over the Himalayas. 
Afghanistan's mountain peaks were large and ominous.
 It was a scary take-off and a scary ride, but we finally reached Kabul airport.






Bamiyan, Afghanistan


Echoes of Tamerlane, Genghis Khan, and Alexander
Were found in turquoise, opal, and amethyst dreams.

Young vagabonds slept on Persian rugs
Beneath heaven's pastures far below tall Buddhas on Bamian's plains.

While bright on Earth
Green grass grew under falling rain
Above the sky lit up dark echoed man's last refrain:
We hail the rains to bring us back to life
We hail the rains to remove this mortal rule of knife;
But thunder shouted and sirens cried
People hurried
They fought and died.

Echoes of Tamerlane, Genghis Khan, and Alexander
Were found in turquoise, opal, and amethyst dreams.

Young vagabonds slept on Persian rugs
Beneath heaven's pastures
Far below tall Buddhas on Bamian's plains.




IT'S ABOUT RENEWABLE RESOURCES

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

ANNIVERSARY: THE DETHRONING OF PLUTO



Below are previous posts about Pluto.



Astronomers anticipate 100 billion Earth-like planets
     03 April 2013 13:32


The planet formerly known as Pluto now just plutoid!
Pluto and Charon

Charon




After weeks of online ballot casting by people around the world, the poll asking the public to name two of Pluto's moons — currently called P4 and P5 — ended Monday.

As of 12 p.m. (1700 GMT) Feb. 25, the polls closed with a total of 450,324 total votes cast since Feb. 11 with 'Vulcan,' a Pluto moon name proposed by Star Trek's William Shatner, is the clear winner.




*

First, the planet Pluto was demoted and re-classified as a dwarf planet.

I don’t know whether this made dwarves happy or mad.

But hold the phone---the cell phone!

Now Pluto is being called a plutoid.

And I just read today that Pluto…or rather Plutoid the Dwarf Planet

Has ice water!

And lo and behold, its core is an iron-nickel alloy!

And Pluto’s round!

*

No longer a planet, Pluto is just a member of the Kuiper Belt; a collection of icy objects that extend out past the orbit of Neptune. If you brought Pluto into the inner Solar System, it would start to act like a comet – blasting out gas and particles from the solar wind. It’s a good thing Pluto is in the cold, dark outer Solar System, far away from the Sun.”

Read more: 
http://www.universetoday.com/13875/what-is-pluto-made-up-of/#ixzz2M3gpDq13

*

Captain Kirk has taken time from his space travel and work as a commercial for Priceline to tell us that one of Pluto’s moons should be named Vulcan.

I don’t know if this made Spock happy or sad.

Sure, name it Vulcan…or Cerberus…or Pluto’s Son…

But call Pluto a planet again!

 

IT’S ABOUT RENEWABLE RESOURCES!





















Pluto....
Not the Disney dog...
NoT THE planet....
But THE dwarf planet.

This dwarf planet will soon get its day in the sun.
(It takes over five hours for the sun's rays to reach this plutoid.)

Really close-up pictures of this dwarf planet will be seen next Week.


In the meantime, let's do some eavesdropping.


AlPHa:
Well, the cat will soon be out of the bag.

Beta:
Cat?

Alpha:
Alright, no cat, but us, and where we live.

Beta:
We knew that humans would eventually travel here. Well, not them, but their machines. There's no place to hide.

Alpha:
Especially now, because sources of their fresh water are getting so low.

Beta:
Give them time. They'll soon be here to steal our water.

Alpha:
And put their fast food restaurants here.

Beta:
And their cars, Politicians, and Lawyers.

Alpha:
Let's get the blue blazes out of here.

Beta:
O.K. Let me pack. Go fire up the Chariot.




IT'S ABOUT RENEWABLE RESOURCES AND PLUTO!






Monday, July 13, from a distance of 476,000 miles.

How would you feel if someone told you one day that you were no longer a human?
Now imagine that you were a planet one day (or for almost a century), and then you were told that you were no longer a planet.
Zap!
Goodbye!
Good Riddens!
The solar system's ninth planet has been eliminated.
Number nine has been voted out.
This is not so much sad as it is wrong.
Poor Pluto.
After being so far away for so long.
After having a dog given its name.
After possessing a mystery that none of the other planets had.
Then...Poof!
You're out of here you round and puny ball of cosmic dust!
And how would Pluto's expulsion make its discoverer Clyde William Tombaugh (February 4, 1906 – January 17, 1997) feel?
Bring Pluto back!
Bring Pluto back!
Can the Long War President do anything about this?

(P. S. Pluto’s new title is dwarf planet. Better than nothing, I suppose.)


IT'S ABOUT RENEWABLE RESOURCES!







http://madplatonews.blogspot.com/2006/01/visit-to-small-ice-dwarf.html

Friday, August 19, 2016

THE CAR CHASE



I hired a taxi to take me to a Thanksgiving party.

 I thought it was in Kart-e-Char, the part of Kabul where I first lived, and close to the University of Kabul.

I usually rode my bicycle to get to Kabul University, and I got around fine, but at night I was totally lost.

My taxi driver had been driving for about five minutes. I told him to stop at one particular house and I would ask for directions.
 I saw a large American car in the garage, and I hoped that Americans lived in the house, but before I could find out I had to pay my taxi driver.
 He wanted more than we had agreed on, and so I paid a higher amount. 
But he wanted even more afghanis. I told him to forget it, and I walked to the house and knocked.
 A man (an American!) greeted me and asked what I needed. 
I told him my problem.  
He said, "Don't worry about him, just come with us. We're on our way to the movies." 

His wife and son were walking down the stairs, joined by a friend of the family, a minister.
The husband directed me through a door and into the garage, and told me to get into the large car.
 We were on our way, but so was the taxi driver, right on our tail.
Finally, we stopped and paid the taxi driver even more afghanis, but it was still not enough for the taxi driver! 
The husband sped off, and the taxi driver followed.
 It was now a car chase.

The minister in the back seat was praying.
The little boy said, “This is just like in the movies."
 I was getting nervous.
 I was sorry that I had gotten an innocent family involved.

We finally arrived back in Shar-i-Naw where I lived. The big car stopped in front of the United States Information Service building where the movie was being shown. 
I told my friends that I would get out before they parked and handle the situation. 
I thanked them, apologized, and got out of their large luxury car.
The taxi driver stopped his car and got out.
He started yelling at me, and I said in Farsi that he was crazy. 
This was the wrong thing to say. 
Before I knew it he was running after me.

I had on my over-sized Italian hiking boots and my usual three or four pairs of socks on. 
I kept just ahead of the taxi driver, turned a corner, and ducked into the entrance of a German restaurant that was on the third floor.
 I ran up the stairs and into the restaurant.

I sat down. 
I waited.
 For about five minutes I kept my eyes glued to the curtained entrance door.
 Ten minutes. Nobody entered. 
I bought some cigarettes. I started smoking again. I had quit two weeks earlier. 
As I was lighting up I knocked over the salt shaker when a couple entered. 
But it was not the taxi driver. 
He apparently had given up on finding me.

I stayed in the restaurant for two hours. 
I finally mustered up the mettle to leave.
 I cautiously looked up and down the streets, and found another taxi driver. 
This time I knew exactly where I was going: to my own house. 

I got out of the taxi a few blocks away from my house, and lo-and-behold, I walked right into the Thanksgiving party. 
I stayed long enough to tell a couple playing pool what had just happened.
 I wanted to go home and relax.



IT'S ABOUT RENEWABLE RESOURCES


Saturday, August 06, 2016

ABSURDITY








Absurdity is king, but love saves us from it.”
Camus


I first read Albert Camus while taking a course at the University of Colorado called French Writers and God.
Professor Richard Chadbourne taught this course.

It was then that I also met Montaigne and Pascal.
My soul was opened up, and my consciousness was raised by these  writers.

I recently re-read NOTEBOOKS 1935-1942 by Camus.
It is from this book that I have found a few examples of absurdity.

I'm also reading NOTEBOOKS 1951-1959.
Not too much is funny or absurd in this work, nor does it have as much poetic description as NOTEBOOKS 1935-1942.

Here are selections from NOTEBOOKS 1935-1942:



At the hospital. The tubercular patient who is told by the doctor that he has five days to live. He anticipates and cuts his throat with a razor. Obviously, he can't wait five days.
One of the male nurses tells the journalists:
Don't mention it in your papers. He's suffered enough already.”


The other reservist, whose stomach has been X-rayed:
They made me drink about six pints of chalk. Before I shat black. Now, I shit white. That's war.”


The little old man who throws scraps of paper from the balcony to attract the cats. Then spits on them. When he hits one, the old man laughs.


Death of Flaubert's friend, Le Poittevin:
Close the window. It's too beautiful.”


Laxatives are only a temporary remedy. The roots of constipation remain untouched.


An artist who goes to Port-Cros in order to paint. And everything is so beautiful that he buys a house, puts his paintings away, and never touches them again.



On a door: “Come in. I have hanged myself.” They go in and find it is true. (He says “I”, but there isn't an “I” any more.)




IT'S ABOUT RENEWABLE RESOURCES AND ABSURDITY












Friday, August 05, 2016

CHIMERAS




"It is not as if, 'Oh my God, all of a sudden we are doing something that is crazy.'”
Samuel Packer, chief of medical ethics at Northwell Health in New York.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3724786/US-fund-research-create-mixed-human-animal-embryos.html


Do we really want animals with human brains, or humans with the brains of animals, even if it might help find cures for various maladies and diseases?

Let's listen to what two dogs have to say:


Butch:
Well, have you heard?

Daisy:
Heard what?

Butch:
About the research that mixes human cells into animal embryos.

Daisy:
You've got to be kidding?

Butch:
Nope. Listen to what Stuart Newman, a researcher at New York Medical College, has said:

"Let's say that we have pigs with human brains and they are wondering why we are doing experiments on them."
"And then, what if we had human bodies with animal brains, and then you say, 'Well they are not really humans, we can do experiments on them and harvest organs from them.'"


Daisy:
But we're dogs, not pigs.


Butch:
We're in the same boat as the pigs; and we have about the same intelligence.


Daisy:
I like who I am.
I like who you are.
I sure don't want your brain or mine harvested. Maybe they can just use pigs, since they eat them.


Butch:
But if we get human brains, we could watch TV and play Pokemon go.
Daisy:
Yeah!


P.S.
Here are two older posts on the same subject:
http://madplatonews.blogspot.com/2010/07/synthetic-life-forms.html





IT'S ABOUT RENEWABLE RESOURCES AND CHIMERAS