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Rumilluminations Now
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Mon, December 01 2014 - 10:37 pm



December 21, 2014                                        Madison, IN


A serendipitous solstice to you all!  Whether it be winter or summer in your part of the globe, have fun either enjoying the longest day of the year or celebrating the return of the light.

Today may be the first day ever I have seen a sunset in Indiana on the shortest day of our year.  In this apartment we tend to miss sunsets anyway because we have no western exposure. Today, though, the sunset is as far south as it gets.  Not only was the sky the perfect partly cloudy for maximum magnificence, but I could see it from our living room window.

If I had any heroes, they would probably be the people who could notice and even pin down the days of the year that are the shortest and the longest.

Especially, perhaps, the people who managed to determine which day is the longest.

Most of the human race was probably using the abundant warmth and light to seize a little extra party time!


December 20, 2014                                           Madison, IN

In the early evening today I took a walk around the Hillside Inn. I tried to see deer, even though it was bitter cold and dusky enough that I figured they were holed up for the night.

Suddenly I heard a sound like boards cracking against each other. I looked up the hill, thinking maybe sounds were carrying down from the out-of-sight houses above.  Two birds were flying up from a tree which I realized, all of a sudden were filled with big black birds.

As I stared, a few more moved around with clacking sounds. Were their wings as noisy as that?  Or were they making the branches clatter?

The birds were probably the black vultures we have seen congregating in the trees along the river some mornings lately. Kind of the opposite of an ornamented Christmas tree - more like a Halloween or All Souls' Day tree.

I put on an extra burst of energy going up that hill to show them that I'm not vulture food yet - no need to hang around for my sake!

I'm sure glad tomorrow is the Winter Solstice.  Even though it won't be noticeable for a while yet, the light is coming back.

The Christians are fond of saying that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.  The Latin student in me has been saying for years, "No, Saturnalia is the reason for the season."

Of course, the real truth behind all the partying and spiritual meaning of Christmas (the coming of the Light) is the true, natural return of the light - the Winter Solstice.

And what a blessing!  It comes not once in every two millennia, but every single year.






December 19, 2014                                           Madison, IN

I don't get it.  Americans venture to foreign lands to treat people for deadly diseases and report on news in war-torn places.  They drive cars as if anti-accident technological features were already in place.  Americans live in Chicago and Detroit!

Americans have fought to overcome the idea that their own people have the right to censor them.  And they/WE! are closing our theaters in response to verbal and cyber-threats from North Korea because of some stupid comedy?

I wasn't planning on watching the movie because not at least changing the name of the dictator concerned is at least insensitive and probably cruel.  But now I will watch it, if I can stand it.  In the theater, if it comes to this little town.  If not, we will watch it at home.

Watching the fifteen officers who accompany the little twerp is an experience to marvel at.  Seeing the North Korean armies goosestepping goosed by a releve on the foot left touching the grounds is impressive.

Seeing these North Korean phenomena make me wonder why Hollywood made a comedy about this character at all.  The whole North Korean set-up is a comedy.

Unfortunately, it is a black one.



 








December 18, 2014                                           Madison, IN

Back to beige:  it seems that maybe beige isn't boring after all. In one website (about colors in interiors) beige is described as having "meanings" including "warm, calm, relaxing, comfort" and "implications" as "welcoming, friendly, natural, artistic."  Another site talks of "soothing beige that denotes a certain elegance."

I'll yield to the superior judgment of aesthetes, but I'm still not sure I like beige skin - on me.

That is what I would have written yesterday - if I had written.

But enough of silliness. The whole discussion got started because of the fuss about skin color and its social and political implications.  The fuss is genuinely silly because skin color is on the face of it (heh) as superficial as you can get.  Just goes to show you that the superficial can also be tragic.

















December 16, 2014                                            Madison, IN

Just for fun I tried to check out my skin color as it would be identified by Internet sources.  In the process I made some interesting discoveries.

The first is that it is really hard to compare your skin color to one on the computer screen, because your hand gets in the way of the light from the screen.  Seems obvious?  Oh, well.

Another thing I learned is that an online Thesaurus which I expected to be only verbal gave color illustrations of various shades commonly considered to be more or less synonymous.
That was a pleasant surprise.

Of course the first color I looked up for my skin tone was what I called the "dreaded" beige, because let's be honest - that is my closest off-hand guess.  (Also a color called "rosy beige" was the foundation make-up I bought years ago that worked for me.)

If I were interior paint, I would come closest, I believe, to being a Tuscan or nutty beige.

Under the Thesaurus synonyms, the color I would have to choose would be buff. That works for me!  I could describe my complexion and with luck people might think I am referring to my physical condition.

Now if anyone wants to provide a physical description of me that is way more vivid and accurate than "white" - they can!

Have some fun!  Figure out your own color.  As a bonus, you may discover your seasonal color.  (Remember that craze?)

Now for the hair!













December 15, 2014                                              Madison, IN

Okay, here are my answers to yesterday's questions.  (If you haven't read them yet, they are immediately below.)

So, who would you think would be the most sympathetic victim from the verbal descriptions?  My guess would be the youngest and least aggressive and probably the most innocent of the four - Tamir Rice.

Which name do you recall first of the four?  My guess - Michael Brown.  ( I realize there are challenge-oriented individuals among you who would choose to remember another, but the easiest name to remember just also happens to be the individual who sparked the protests which brought the genuine plight of the young "black" American male in the U.S. the most publicity and the most momentum.

Just tally up the numbers.  The name Michael is one of the all time top 10 boys' names in popularity.  Almost everyone has a loved one named Michael.

The surname Brown is a very common one.  It also has historical race-related resonance from the folk hero John Brown, an abolitionist insurrectionist whom almost everyone has heard of (if only through the song that begins, "John Brown's body lies a-moldering in the grave".)  (No matter that he was white.  I, for one, never knew that until I looked him up for this piece.  Oh, and notice what his first name was!)

Add to that the fact that his name physically describes most of the so-called "black" people in the country as well as, supposedly, the Latinos who are called "brown" (when really, they are not brown at all, either, anymore than "whites" are actually white.)

(Honestly, these racial color descriptions are completely over-simplistic and out-of-date.  I am all for using the fashion industry's approach to descriptions of human skin - the more sophisticated, the better!  Am I ivory, am I taupe, or am I the dreaded neutral, beige?  I'll let you know tomorrow!)

At any rate, I almost rest my case.  The more easily accessible the name, the more memorable and popular the cause.

My last point in support of my argument is:  look at the only religion that has originated since the founding of the U.S. that has really taken off:  the Latter Day Saints (also known as Mormons, only two syllables, one which resembles the word "more" and the other which is close to "man."  Who was their founder?  Joseph Smith.

Joseph (one of the most important names in Christianity) and Smith (probably one of the two most common names in "white" America during his time.)

Gonna pick up a banner and protest?  If I did, the banner would say nothing but "Tamir Rice".






December 14, 2014                                            Madison, IN

Four "black" males are killed by police within a few months of each other.  (There may be more, but these are the ones that have hit the news big enough for me to have heard about them.)

One, a twelve-year-old boy carrying an altered toy gun, shot within seconds of a police car driving up to him.

The second-youngest was a seventeen-year-old on his way home from buying Skittles being pursued by a neighborhood vigilante. This young man turned on his pursuer, who, claiming to be fearful for his life, shot him.

The next youngest was an eighteen-year-old suspected of stealing Cigarillos from a nearby pharmacy after being told to get out of the middle of the street by the police.  When he reached into the front seat of the police car, the officer's gun went off.  Minutes later this young man was shot several times by the officer.

The oldest individual on my list was the most mature, with children of his own.  He was put in a choke-hold and restrained by police during questioning about his behavior - selling single cigarettes to passersby.  He suffered suffocation and heart failure as a result of the restraint.

Have you heard of these cases?  I especially want those living in foreign parts and less inundated with U.S. news to answer my next questions (in your minds.)  Really.

Which victim would you think would inspire the greatest outrage and demonstration among the American people?

Which of the following names (listed in alphabetical order of surname) would you think would inspire the greatest response?

Michael Brown
Eric Garner
Trayvon Martin
Tamir Rice

Tomorrow I will write down my responses to my own questions. Can you guess what I'm going to say?
































December 13, 2014                                    Madison, IN

Notice to corporations who pay close to minimum wages but offer no sick leave and require their employees to provide a doctor's excuse if they miss work:

Are you insane?  (Since you are treated as an individual under the law I can talk to you this way.)

Are you absolutely nuts?

What universe do you "live" in?

1.  People who work for low wages cannot afford to go to a doctor, even if they get paid for sick days.  Since you seem incapable of understanding this, let me do the arithmetic for you.
 
Pretend minimum wage is $8.00 per hour (it is lower.)  One day's pay before taxes and other withdrawals would be $64.  One visit to the doctor, however, is likely to be $150 (also very low - I think my last preventive visit to my G.P. was $242 so if anything the bias of these numbers is greatly tilted in favor of you, dear corporation.)  So if your employee is out sick, not only does he not earn his measly wages, but he is out another $150 to pay the doctor's bill.  That is a total of $214 your employee loses if he is sick for one day.  That would be, for many of your employees, equivalent to half a month's rent!  Or over half a month's food. It is not reasonable to expect an employee to meet such a demand.

2.  Even assuming she tries to comply by the rules and get a doctor's appointment, there is no way she is going to get a visit the same day.  I can't remember when I last got an appointment the same day I made a phone call.  So what does that requirement mean?  The patient makes a phone call, needs an excuse, and the doctor writes a note?  The doctor takes the word of the patient?  Why involve the doctor at all?  Given an occasional chronic work-dodger, such superbly unreasonable demands placed upon everyone else is not the solution.

3.  Failing to get a doctor's appointment, some corporations require an employee to make a visit to the ER.  This is so enraging that I'm in danger of having to go to the ER myself for a stroke!  Jumping up and down in my seat, I'm saying that these rules are unconscionable and apoplexy-inducing!

4.  This corporate practice (especially in cases where no sick leave is provided) begs for negative outcomes:

     a) Employees go to work sick, thus putting your workforce and possibly the public at risk for getting the same malaise - a very expensive mistake.

     b) It simply begs for fraud on the part of the employee and/or the doctor signing the excuses.

     c) It makes the employee fucking hate the oppressive "body" for which he works, because stupid as you, the corporation, may think your employee is, he is not so stupid he can't recognize complete utter lack of conscience and insanely unreasonable demands.

Wake up, Wall Street!  Your corporations have gone berserk with greed and the power of slave ownership.

You aren't running a market - you are running an insane asylum.

































December 12, 2014                                     Madison, IN

Blithering siskins!  Pinewobble bulinskis!

Withering wethering and philoneous scrambunctions skay mitular forenskle belowerings.

Lilth.  Blaght.  Bloog - oosh, blooger, blooger!

Bloogt debobbling sar, sar karenden alond.

Harstrom glindig tutrilling querfally afond.

Torph.  Ninski menable lak rund.

Dow, dow.

Nybillering flunder strilling, "Kerplunk!"




















December 11, 2014
                                     Madison, IN

My alma mater Shimer College has been getting some bad press lately.  Seems it is the worst college in the country.

I think that is pretty funny, because it exemplifies the kind of extreme thinking that a Shimer education would help people avoid: rabid polarization.

A good many people these days have an all-or-nothing them-or-us mentality that is very wearying and quite frankly, stupid.

The emphasis that Shimer College put on the historical underpinnings of science, especially, shows that people do not arrive at the truth by taking a position and holding it until death.  Hooke and Newton fought tooth and nail over the physical nature of light. Hooke maintained light was comprised of waves and Newton held that light was particles.  Shroedinger resolved the argument by taking experimental data and creating an equation that showed the dual wave/particulate nature of light.  (Okay, okay, science has advanced by light-years' worth of quantum leaps since then and I am behind the times, and maybe, for all I know, what seems to be wave-action is really just bunches of really tiny tiny minute nanoparticles, but you get my point.)  The truth is not served by passionate adherence to a narrow vision of reality.

It would be nice if all our problems could be so easily resolved into black and white issues, but -

No.  Wait a minute.  I take that back.  Who wants to live in a black and white world?  Do you really want night without stars or daylight without shadows or clouds?  Do you really want only two choices when painting your house or a favorite room?

To say that something is simple is really to deny its reality.  Nothing real is simple - except the minds of people who want to deny the complexity of the genesis and evolution of every little thing that is.  And come to think of it, black and white thinking is really harsh.

Creative tension, balance, compromise, transcendence of dualistic thinking - that is what turns the light bulb on.

Ha, ha.  Upon reading this, I have to laugh.  It really is the kind of article a Shimer graduate might write.

 





December 9, 2014                                       Madison, IN

It seems that businesses cry a lot about the fact that customer loyalty is out of date.

Waah, waah.  People will not stick with a chosen brand anymore.

Well, I have experienced the reverse.  I use a product for years and then wham! the manufacturer changes it.  Now that I think about it, my mom probably used products for decades.  Maybe I did too - decades ago.  These days finding a product unchanged for more than a few months is the exception to the rule.

Those damn corporations!  They are always changing stuff on me.  So they better not expect any loyalty from me!

Waah, waah.


December 8, 2014                                       Madison, IN

My partner and I watch a movie together almost every day.  After watching many war, hoodlum, and crime movies with almost no women in them, I have come to a conclusion:

Men without women do not have fun.  Even when they are getting roaring drunk, they don't seem to be having any fun.

I don't want to give the impression, however, that we only watch male-flicks.  We also watch comedies, dramas - even romances.

Mysteriously enough, when we watch romantic comedies, the very philosophical shrug with which he approaches them almost convinces me that he doesn't find them much fun!

Evidently he finds it more fun to watch men not having fun than to watch men and women having fun.

Go figure.

























December 7, 2014                                       Madison, IN

Whew!  Yesterday I hit The Nights Before Christmas tour with a coworker of my partner's.  She hadn't taken it since she was a girl and was a little disappointed, having expected more of historical interest.

Since I have been on the walk for three years running now my expectations weren't so high.

The home-owners did have some creative ideas for ornamenting their houses, though, and the one historical tidbit I did like was the discovery in one home of a little walled-off room which was speculated to perhaps have been a safe room for people taking advantage of the underground railroad.  This is not unlikely since Indiana is right across the Ohio from the then-was slave state of Kentucky, and this house is no more than a quarter mile from the riverbank.

Unfortunately, having seen all too many cases in recent decades of people imprisoned in similar such hidden rooms, I am aware that such a space could also have been used for less beneficent purposes.

Such thoughts are not helpful, however, so I will choose to believe the story that supports the right of people ultimately to possess their freedom, even if they have to temporarily cringe and hide.

It must have been a small space indeed; we tour-takers were not allowed to stand in it and try to feel the vibes.  The low arched entryway stood beyond the washer and dryer in the utility room, which was roped off.

My companion for the tour commented that during her childhood the downtown area was deemed unsafe by her mother.  She was not allowed to come alone even as a teenager.  It has evidently become gentrified since those days, and I am so glad since here we live!



























December 4, 2014                                       Madison, IN

Ha!  The freethinkers aren't freethinking enough for me, I'm thinking!

I just remembered after one member was stating that there was no real historical evidence that Jesus even lived, I made the comment, "Isn't it Jesus who said, 'The truth shall set you free.'?"  pursuant to what I thought was an interesting point.  The point I meant to make was that we might feel that the statement about truth is an accurate statement, but we would be substituting a religious "truth" with a scientific truth.

The unbeliever in Christ as even a historical figure (who I am not going to argue with because I don't know anything about it) said with exaggerated patience, "No, Jesus didn't say it."

I was not, however, really asking if the "real" Jesus said it, because I knew he and possibly others did not believe in Jesus as God or anything else.  I guess I should have said, "Isn't it attributed to Jesus, the idea that the truth shall set you free?"

I wasn't being so literal, though.  If you are talking about a novel and you ask if a character said something, you expect that everyone knows you are not talking about a real person.

The insistence of our group member upon returning to the question of reality instead of the story seems to me a little on the pedantic side.

Of course, from his point of view I hadn't been paying attention, or didn't "believe" what he said.

It took a few minutes to sort out that I wasn't challenging his knowledge and in that time I lost the point of what I was trying to say:  that you can use Jesus' words to someone who does believe in the myth of Jesus to wonder whether he would ignore scientific evidence today.  After all, to any but the most closed-minded, science contradicts literal interpretations of the Bible.

At another point in the discussion, someone was talking about reality as scientifically defined and trustworthy (something to believe in) and I laughingly commented, "Until we know more and find out that that reality isn't correct."

She also laughed and responded, "Now you're getting too philosophical."

Huh?  Too philosophical for a freethinkers' group?  That's a laugh.

One thing I can say for this collection of people - one meeting provides food for thought for days!


December 3, 2014                                       Madison, IN

Another thing I mentioned during the Freethinkers meeting was that ritual and singing together promoted group cohesion.

There is no doubt in my mind that the statement is true, but I wish I had kept my mouth shut.  Later it occurred to me that ritual and singing in that kind of context could be perceived as a real Anti-Christ or Satanic kind of activity.  It would not be the case, but it might be considered in that light.

I think it was okay, though.  Nobody seemed to respond to that idea, anyway.  Whew.

The ideal would be, of course, that people keep coming to the meetings simply because they like each other and enjoy each others' company.

Sounds good to me.  It is, however, a very diverse group.  We'll see.

































December 2, 2014                                     Madison, IN


Last night I went to a Freethinkers' Meeting and found myself asking, "Why are we talking so much about religion?"

But what did I expect?  One member more or less asked, "What do we have to offer people besides a negative thing - a lack of belief?"

I responded, "It's in the name Freethinkers.  We offer people freedom" - of thought, but also from the kind of responsibilities Christianity seems to impose - like repetitious forgiving of the same offenses from the same people instead of simply removing oneself from the unhealthy situation.

A woman present offered, "Freedom from the crushing weight of guilt."

A man said, "Freedom from feeling guilt for things that are not my responsibility."

All good points, I think.  But why meet at all?  Some feel the need for some kind of stable community.  "What is the glue that holds the group together?"

Some of us seemed to feel the need to proselytize.  I don't.

Others of us seem obsessed.  Why sit around and worry the idea of religion as if we were picking at a scab?  It occurred to me that we were almost like former addicts.  Should we call ourselves survivors of the religious myth?  Brainwashed Anonymous?

Maybe the biggest need the group has is support for a position (of agnosticism or atheism) that is not the social norm - especially in a small almost oppressively Christian community such as Madison, IN.

As such, perhaps, it is the nature of the group to be comprised of a relatively tiny revolving population.  Maybe its nature is transitory, as opposed to a stable religious community which observes a definite ritual and shares a common doctrine.

That idea is okay with me.  Maybe I don't even belong in such a group beyond the three meetings I have already attended.

I realized I'm really done with religion, except to study the religions of other cultures a little to understand where those people are coming from.

I'll keep going for at least a while, though.  There are interesting people there - and if what they want is moral support, well, I can do that!



December 1, 2014                                     Madison, IN

It is a mystery.

Why do I seem to get so many more hits from foreign countries these days than I get from the U.S.?

I appreciate the attention.  I am flattered, although the hits could be misses, if you know what I mean.

Maybe people log onto my site because they think that they're going to get something which they fail to get and then they can't wait to get off and get on to something else.

Or maybe my site is good for intermediate English students.  When I was in college one of my classmates talked about what simple words I used, while I wondered at the mental processes of a third student who felt the need to use the phrase "cerebral machinations" which I still for the life of me cannot, with regards to meaning, differentiate from "thinking."

At any rate, I sure get a lot of hits from Brazil.  I don't know what Brazil's love affair with me is, but more and more I'm thinking that if I ever get farther away from the United States than Mexico and Canada, I must visit Brazil!

Either they are a very open-minded population or they make a lot of Internet missteps!

Either way we have a lot in common.

But, seriously?  My foreign following?

It's a mystery.




































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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