Racists Are The Undead: Live

My formative years molded me into a leftward-leaning spirit — I studied German and geography in West Germany in the days of Willy Brandt, cast a vote in 1972 for George McGovern at the American Embassy in Frankfurt, watched the tragically pivotal Summer Olympics in Munich.

The unemployment rate in West Germany was 0.8% at that time. Gastarbeiter (guest workers) were invited as guests. Willkommen Gäste!gastarbeiter

Returning to privileged shores in 1973 brought cultural shock in the form of enormous automobiles, gigantic shopping carts, conspicuous consumption to match conspicuous war — all the trappings of glitz and phony patriotism. Homesickness set in, not for the country of my birth but for my newly forged affinity to nascent European sensibilities, a widening disdain for all things Nixon in the final three years before a well deserved defeat in Southeast Asia.

Your country needed your bleeding heart for fodder, but you didn’t enlist. You’re as yellow as a Chinaman, Bill.  

Lottery luck: 255 of 366.

The Monroe Doctrine is a thin veneer for brutally enforcing manifest destiny upon innocents — another word for sanctioned rape of Latin America. Has the United States ever interfered in the free elections of another country?

Might always makes right. The meek are weak. 

Do your part by looking the other way, pledging allegiance to a cotton flag and never sitting during the national anthem.

You can get down on your knee in a prison cell, rabble-rouser. 

The Gerrymander assures white privilege, something that Clarence and Neil agree upon. Six Supreme Court justices are of the Catholic faith, three are of the Judaic faith. No Atheists, no Protestants, no Muslims. What’s up with that?

gerrymander0675

Mitch (the unditched) changed the rules to seat a freaking originalist, Neil Gorsuch. Sing along with Mitch.

Clarence Thomas : Thurgood Marshall as Neil Gorsuch : Merrick Garland.

It’s what the founding fathers intended, my friend. It’s manifest. It’s destiny.

The constitution is a living document that matures slowly and deliberately. Society is kinetic. Amendments to the original document are a sign of vitality. Originalism molds its arguments from an intensely small set of volumes written in the 18th Century. Through the 18th Century human slavery was thought the most natural of laws, a societal bulwark. I’ve read that man was created in God’s image. Real men are white aren’t they? Why does Western Civilization color semitic speakers in shades and features comforting to western sensibilities?

originalism

Powerful white men were slaveholders. It’s a great way to keep the costs of production down. Down, down, down. Bail another crop of cotton, please. What did the white man do to the red-man? What would the white man do to those human resources obtained from Africa, the ones who arrived in cruise ships?

breeding.american.slaves

Do slaveholders have vested interests? Do slaughterhouse proprietors pay slave wages to undocumented workers? Why don’t American birth-certificate holders get in line for jobs at the slaughterhouses?

Don’t judge the evils of an earlier era from the perspective of later generations. We all benefit by looking the other way, Bill. Please look that way too. You fit the bill, Bill. Respect yourself.

Columbus Day is still on the calendar. Andrew Jackson is still on the twenty-dollar bill. Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Arab Americans? Still the wrong color.

I’ve heard the following platitude: There is only one race,  — the human race.

Unfortunately, that platitude whitewashes centuries of evidence to the contrary. Forgive and forget? Convenient.

The human race consumes 70 billion fellow sentient beings per annum. Those fellow sentients possess inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — unless homo sapiens cast a veto vote.

animals.killed.yearly

Did heroin present threats to polite society before it struck nice white folk? Is that fact relevant in a deeply racist society? But if you do not call yourself a racist does that earn you a wild card?

White flight in one generation becomes white gentrification in a succeeding generation. But the gentrifiers are making poor neighborhoods safe aren’t they? Don’t they create jobs and contribute to a well wealth-managed economy?

Nothing succeeds like success, Bill.

Racism is alive and deadly well in the country of my birth. Is that a success story?

Thanks for reading.

 

Palestinian Animal League

When you announce your vegan beliefs expect incredulity, perhaps not visceral, perhaps visceral. Make public your support of Palestinians to self-determination and expect raw nerves to flare — it comes with the territory. Or am I tilting at windmills? Why must Palestine be a verboten topic?

pal

Misunderstanding happens to “the least of these, my brethren” (Matthew 25:34). I mentioned recently that I am the green sheep in the family. Do I hold a lightning rod aloft, inviting impending doom? I guess.

I live in an area of the country noted for its borders — political, racial, climatic, geomorphic, social: there are others.  Our planet does not need more division and more rancor. Welcome the green, the black and the rainbow. Welcome the stranger.

 

sudfeh.vegan.cafe
Sudfeh Vegan Cafe

Languages fascinate me intensely. Learning them lightens my spirit and dispels an illusory separation. We are all one. I lived and studied in Germany, a country that knows something of borders — their erection and their dissolution. Loving languages is a joy that requires patience, but it rewards that patience by several orders of magnitude. Or is it a waste of time, a conceit if you already speak THE international language — one dipped in the blood of imperious arrogance. Just saying. Colonialism is not dead. Were that it were.

 

berlin.wall
Berlin Wall

My intense interest in the Middle East began in 1967 when I began to seriously study its physical, cultural and religious geography. Study makes friends of pain and joy. I was living in West Germany in 1972, at the time of an ill-fated Olympics in Munich. Stasi was still going strong in East Germany. That same year I learned about Savak and the Shah of Iran from my fellow exchange students of the University of Tehran — a full seven years before the revolution in their ancient land, one with the longest continuous civilization in history, one that started with Cyrus the Great. Many cool people are Persian. Yes they are 🙂

Perhaps this is an overlong preface to my topic. I hope not, but please accept my apology if it is.

 

PALlogo
Source

Let me meld two curiously similar joys and pains — veganism and Palestine. Mix them together and you have The Palestinian Animal League. That kind group of animal activists knows that “acting like an animal” is an expression to deflect misbehavior of a specie with an overdeveloped ego that imposes their self-righteous “superiority” to the innocent fellow sentient beings possessing inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, though it be inexpedient to the self-described exceptional.

We’re not the top dog, we are the arrogant yapping selfish being that always takes advantage. Are we not a part of the cycle of life? Who made us the boss? What is the difference between cannibalism and meatism? I suggest that the difference between eating the flesh of your own and eating the flesh of an other is as trivial as the difference between apples and oranges — both are fruit. Human flesh and the flesh of any other sentient being — both are meat.

Let me now lighten the burden of writing. I yield the pen to The PAL. They know more about themselves than I. Expect joy.

arabic-public-art-qma
Arabic public art

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Losing Rumi in the Translation

A couple years ago I attended an interfaith discussion at Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati: “Welcoming the Stranger.” Their guest, Ismaeel Chartier of the Clifton Mosque, spoke to this theme. One attendee literally thumped a Qu’ran on a table and demanded an answer of Chartier:

“Do you know what is written in this book?”

He delivered this inquiry with a sharp accusatory tone. Then he gave the Qur’an interpretation another thump.

The Imam calmly replied:

“It depends on the translation.”

dua

Translation is a science, it’s an art, and there’s a lot at stake. Interpretations that serve a trenchant agenda may wish to cloud understanding, to close open minds. This is an odious breach of ethics and a declaration of cultural militance. An imperious position that lusts power. Most Muslims are not Arabs, but each adherent relies upon a faithful transmittal of the Word in Arabic language. It is in the marrow of Islam.

Simple answers to complex societal questions are wrong-headed and arrogant, but they are widely believed and have entered the body politic like a body-blow.

Yesterday I happened upon an article in the The New Yorker on the inescapably important Persian poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī . Coleman Barks is a decades-long lover of Rūmī, but it is unfortunate that his is an interpretation that informs his Christian upbringing. Barks is not disingenuous in working the poet through that innate filter, but the heart of Rūmī speaks to Islam — the faithful focus of his heart and being is integral.

rumi-calligraphic

From the article:

Rūmī is often called a mystic, a saint, an enlightened man. He is less frequently described as a Muslim.”

Source: The Erasure of Islam from the Poetry of Rumi – The New Yorker

Memes that attribute heartfelt insight through search-engine algorithms often misattribute, mistranslate, misinform. Truth becomes an early victim. Allow me to repeat the oft repeated:

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

This quote is attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a voice much worth hearing. But this very popular attribution adopted by innumerable memes is not sourced to Moynihan.

lies

To quote the late and astonishing John Ciardi: writer and world-class translator of Dante.

“Good Words to You.”

irvine-welsh
As an incurable pedant I assign vetting this quote as a reading assignment 🙂

Thanks for reading.

 

Leitmotif of a Commonplace Book

A commonplace book is a collection of loosely organized snippets of stuff. It’s a way of thinking that I first encountered by way of detour (my favorite hobby) at the Cincinnati Library — a book caught my eye and subsumed my identity — A Certain World by W.H. Auden. ’twas many a decade ago (4) in what now seems a distant galaxy.

Galaxy (not the magazine) reminds me now of that breathtaking work by Douglas Adams — by golly, esme recently alluded to HHGTTG. Please consult esme for more, much and many. You’ll enjoy the visit. You will, yes you will. Say, I also offer a thread from H2G2 too.

commonplace-book-cartoon-newyorker  

I like to use the word eponymous whenever possible. By gosh, this entire writing adventure is eponymously named billziegler1947. Tell your friends about this ever so clever self-referential weblog, or not.

But WTF is a leitmotif? Doesn’t sound light to us. Har Har.

A leitmotif is a recurring theme in a musical or literary work.  

leit-motif

All so very well Bill, but isn’t it time for an unnecessary ‘detour’, one you cloyingly call a hobby?

A blog is a jarringly clumsy word created in the internet wild-west world: a two character left-string truncation of ‘weblog’ — it removes the ‘we’, or is it the’us’?

Captain’s weblog 2016.366. We is back. Welcome. Just us chicken defenders.

And so, this has all been a rather detour-ridden post. However, it’s a holiday of sorts — the null point , nodding here to Hariod, between 2016 and 2017. Or are we to be taken, in far less than an instant, to arrive in 1957. There to encounter a Back to the Future replay of the fell sort, Biff and all perhaps.

biff-wins-again

Holy heavens, you have completely abandoned every modicum that informs an insistent adherence to proper writing-style. Will you ever stay on task?

No.

Veganism is the best ‘ism’ ever. If you don’t believe that then you haven’t visited Crows Head Soup by Peter Schreiner, have you? Right. Go there now.

As you gather about that soup cauldron, allow me to pass the microphone to a most impassioned advocate, one who brings voice to each and every animal crushed to the marrow for the sake of appetites unending and insatiable — outsidersinsides. Expect no bon appetit if meat be on the table. Thank you! And to all gatherers — grab that mike. My ear enjoys your insights. Always.

Let’s say that you recognize the longest occupation in modern history, one that continues into 2017 and you are also interested in animal rights. Right. Palestinian Animal League.

Let us remind you, Bill, that you are no Laurence Sterne and we fervently pray that you not dash off first lines from Tristram Shandy to cover your untidiness. We merely ask.

First lines

shandy-black-page

Copy. (and paste). But I do recall that page of solid black ink from high school, don’t I?

Yes, I do.

cover-page-tristram

And so, with gratitude for every and each reader, and with appreciation for everyone I follow, a hearty fist in the air on behalf of all the exploited sentient beings who are our fellow travellers.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

A Möbius Twist Please

 

Hariod Brawn, a fellow I follow regularly on WordPress, recently posted “What is it like for nothing to happen.” Many, including myself, have found great mill for grist there. Please consider spending a moment or five there.

gahan-wilson-nothing-happens-next-this-is-it-new-yorker-cartoon_a-g-9172121-8419447

Such thoughts as these intrigue me.

What is the science behind the abrupt discontinuity and surprising continuity of a Möbius strip? You are on one side and simultaneously on the other, or is it the other way around. Or is there just one side? A simple twist of the two-dimensional surface is radical and beautiful to ilk like me.

 

 

moebius-strip

 

Calculus allows us to keep begging the questions on a seeming, and actual, infinity:

“Are we there yet? When are we going to be there?”

Meanwhile we march on asymptotically toward an axis or several axes, or three-dimensional, four-dimensional axes.

asymptote

I say “dare to divide by zero.” But thank me not —thank the unknown scholars who introduced the zero. Roman numerals are hard-headed and in-your-face hard-nosed to math fans.

But back to nothing (or zero or zed). Consider the weight of the universe. Then consider its opposite: absolutely absolutely nothing.

“But, but the big-ass weight of the universe is a whole lot of something. Or something.”

Some time ago a science fiction author (name unknown to me) imagined a planet with never dissipating cloud cover. At no time of the day or night could an inhabitant see anything but the underside of endlessly butting together clouds. The sun was a hazy bright spot visible during the day. At night, of course, no stars. What could the inhabitants know of the universe?

Question your assumptions, and most certainly question the assumptions that others wish you to parrot. Many orthodox believers deign to make it all so convenient, and think in dogmatic lockstep. Big but:

Critical thought is not regurgitation.

The theory of the large bang is instantly and often and desperately decried by those who presume knowing, and accurately interpreting, the mind of deity.

“How can something come of nothing? It doesn’t make any sense. How could anyone think that it could. QED, Q E D.” Demonstrandum optional.

That QED insists that you follow one simple step: The Deity thinks, therefore I am, therefore you are.

Let’s say you follow one of two (2) monotheistic religions that number three (3), often depicted as a triangle or triad.

A line is the shortest distance two points: 3-monotheisticthe locus of the points between Judaism and Christianity. Small voice:

“What about Islam?”

Mark a point of discontinuity between Judaism and Islam.

Mark another point of discontinuity between Christianity and Islam.

Read The Glory of the Crusades. Listen to Al Kresta

Judaism may respond ponderously and profoundly with Christianity, and vice versa.  Cast every aspersion against the inexpedient, inconvenient, threatening, dangerous. Western Civilization took such a path.

So what happens when you ignore your sibling for a millennium or so? Call me Ishmael.

 

Speak Arabic Openly and Joyfully!

Arabic is a tapestry

Modern Standard Arabic is a construct used to help Arabic speakers living over a wide expanse to understand each other. To speak the language, and yet be understood, you have to choose among Arabic dialects specific to particular geographical areas, as suggested by the map below:

Arabic_Dialects.svg

Modern Standard Arabic is akin to Esperanto among its many speakers: about 400 million Arab speakers on this planet of ours!

Lines on a map I’ve viewed 10,000 times mask the neighborhood scenes, but empires find borders (preferably using a straight edge) an expedient means for control.  Africa before Europeans. Is there a downside?  Empires rape as much as they can as fast as they can, but what’s wrong with that?  Endless decadence for one.

My safari (سفر, from Swahili) into Arabic started some years ago when teaching a German class: sample, sample. One student was born in Jerusalem. Palestinians live under constant occupation. Occupied by Ottomans until 1923, British Empire until May 1948, then another legal entity to 2016 and counting (down). But Palestine is a forever place.

I made a good deal “if you can learn some German I can learn some Arabic.” It was a means for transcending culture and stereotypes, the kind explained in the documentary Reel Bad Arabs.

It’s fun tackling curiosities in Indo-European roots. Only recently did I discover that Persian shares Indo-European roots along with most European countries. Their alphabet looks like Arabic, but there isn’t much overlap in vocabulary.

Farsi doesn’t use the root system – a fundamental building-block system for assigning meaning. Arabic dictionaries are arranged by consonant groupings

SFR = SaFaRi, a journey

indo-european-word-history-of-plek

Arabic script is brilliantly beautiful. The Roman alphabet has a tiny toolbox, as useful as thimbles for trumping fingers and thumb IMO.

Latin doesn’t even have lowercase letters and it does not often include curved letters like U when a V will do. But they are easier to chisel into stone.

alan-dunn-does-ex-take-the-ablative-or-the-dative-new-yorker-cartoon

Nothing beats a zero when speaking the language of science. The Romans didn’t get there. To paraphrase the John Cleese (Why does British food suck? “they had an empire to run.” It’s not easy to derive square roots using Roman numerals.

Let me say something about resources: not all Arabic alphabet aids are good. This one helped me the most: Sugar comes from Arabic.

Many Spanish words derive from Arabic. They stayed on after Arabic culture was forceably ejected from Spain in 1492. So at least two all-time epic fails happened in 1492.

The Crusades and the Inquisition (The Church Militant) were not good ideas. Spreading lies like Joseph Goebbels lends not a single grain of truth. Truth went into exile from 1933 to 1945. No literature or art of any value springs forth under Fascism. Nothing good comes of Fascism. “When I hear the word ‘culture’…”

Islamophobia (from the xeno family of racism) will not lead to a better gentler world.

An earlier post on this theme: Thinking about language

 #RumiWasntWhite.

 

 

 

#HateHurts

#HateHurts is a blog I follow and recommend. Misinformation and deliberate bias provokes; it intends to provoke. Broadcasters who long for a return to the Pre-Enlightenment write volumes that with titles like The Glory of the Crusades. Authors with absolutely no knowledge of Arabic language and diverse cultural roots endlessly repeat bad translations of the Quran. This is not scholarship: the title is all you need. Wink and a nod to the ignorant, arrogant and angry. The following video features propaganda using false witness.

Not responding to evil is a complicit act.

In the aftermath of acts of violence/terror by someone from a Muslim background, there is a unique backlash that takes place against Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim. There is often an upswing in assigning collective blame to the greater Muslim community, resulting in violent attacks or harassment against Muslims and their institutions. This […]

via A List of Anti-Muslim Incidents Since The Orlando Shooting — #HateHurts