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Rumilluminations November 2012
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Thu, November 01 2012 - 5:37 am

November 30, 2012                               Madison, IN

Aaack!  I'm becoming a crank!

More stuffed than the turkey.  More squeaky than the most unoiled of wheels!  On a little red wagon!

This is the month that religions were invented for:  O Come O Come Emanuel was a plea for the return of the light.

That is what I need.  These are pleas for more light, please!

Less than one month before the light begins to return, but how long before we begin to see it?

Well, in a way this fact of nature is comforting.

We can't always see the coming of dawn in our own minds and natures, but it is coming.  It is coming, if we can open our new eyes.

November 29, 2012                                Madison, IN

I'm beginning to understand the attitude of plantation owners of the Deep South (slaveowners, if you will) with regards to their slaves.

These beings, they reasoned, were nothing without their owners.  "Where would they be without us?" they must have asked.  "They would have no food or lodging.  We provide them with work and sustenance.  They are takers."

Since they would have had little or no respect for slaves, they could rationalize their deprivation of freedom.

At least, that is how I guess they might have felt judging from the corporations' attitude towards their workers.  "We are the ones creating jobs.  These people would be nowhere without us - the makers."

Funny that Romney said that 47% of the citizens of the U.S. were "takers."

I've read recently that the number of Walmart employees that qualify for benefits from the federal government is 48%!

Gee, what do you know - they are beginning to sound like victims!

That expression "wage-slave" didn't come from nowhere.

November 28, 2012                               Madison, IN

Just read a Forbes article online that made me want to spew my oatmeal. It was about "death spiral" states and yet again we have to hear about "makers" and "takers".
The author makes a big deal about this fictitious dichotomy and proceeds to lump all government employees in the "takers" category. That does include the President of the United States and all the armed forces!
He talks about being generous to pensioners, admitting that their pensions might be well-deserved.
Well, how about himself? Is he only worth as much as the people who bother to read his stupid Randian propaganda? Is the only work worth doing work that is paid for?
Money does not equal value.

November 26, 2012                              Madison, IN

So the anti-abortion people want everyone to do as they say they would do if they or one of their loved ones got pregnant?

Okay, I'm pro-life myself.

Then let them put their money into it.  Along with a law making abortions illegal, let them provide funding for every person who has an unwanted pregnancy, giving them food, shelter, and medical care for the term of pregnancy and beyond.

After all, if government wants control, maybe they should take some responsibility.

Hey, I don't even mind if my taxes go for such a thing.  (Or, er, would if I paid taxes.)

Of course, there would always be people who would try to get illegal abortions - usually the children, wives, and relatives of people to whom unwanted pregnancies are anathema.  (These are often the same people who want abortion to be illegal.)

Ironic, isn't it?

November 25, 2012                             Madison, IN

Today has been an unusual day.

When I took a bag of trash out early this morning, at first I thought there was a lighted Christmas tree down by the river.  Then I realized it was a bright light on the opposite shore the glistening reflection of which reflected a wedge almost all the way across the water!

The sunrise was incredibly pink - a series of wavy corrugations of cloud unlike (intense color and sirrus formation) any combination I have seen before.  One advantage of living very near a big east/west river is having a clearer shot at the rising and setting sun.

Then, coming back up the stairs, I heard explosions in the west.  Fireworks?  On a Sunday morning?  More likely gunfire.  It is, after all, hunting season.

We roasted our Thanksgiving turkey this morning.  Since we were alone and arose before five, we sat down to our second Thanksgiving dinner when all the food was ready:  turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts with mushrooms, cranberry-orange sauce, corn stuffing, gravy, pear chutney and corn relish.

We had a wonderful meal and decided enough was enough; we would have our sweet potato pie later.

My partner grinned at me and asked, "Do you know what time it is?"

"No.  Didn't even think about it.  I was hungry."


Ha, ha!  And we had already had breakfast earlier!

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, everyone.  May you be enjoying your third Thanksgiving dinner as I write.

November 24, 2012                           Madison, IN

Last night and this evening we spent a couple of hours exploring houses opened to the ticketed public for VisitMadison, Inc.'s 2012 Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes.

These included an arts and crafts cottage, an old home owned for years now by a masonic lodge (or consortium of lodges) and what is considered one of the richest in architectural detail in town, a Francis Costigan home.

If you have an organization that needs funds, you might consider having a similar tour in your town.  Madison possesses a wealth of historical sites, but as in garden tours and quilt tours, houses are of almost universal interest.

So far we have seen seven of the eleven homes featured in the tour.  The only bone I have to pick with the presentation of these homes, is that, contrary to the name of the tour, there is no candlelight.  Maybe in the one church - yes, there we saw candles.

Part of my anticipation of the magic of the event was imagining these old high-ceilinged rooms in flickering candlelight.  My biggest concern was that they would be too dimly lit for the visitor to see anything well enough.

I need not have feared.  Electricity abounded, and thus dashed some of my more romantic hopes.

Oh, well.  There are more homes on the list.  One of them is the home of the President of Hanover College.  That house, I believe, has a fabulous view of the Ohio River.

If it doesn't, though, that won't matter.  We will be going in the dark, anyway.  For the candlelight...

Well, I am an incurable romantic!

November 22, 2012                            Madison, IN

Thanksgiving Day walk with red and yellow roses, chrysanthemums, blue skies and no snow.  Beautiful!

The wild wooded section along the old railroad tracks looked prettier to me today than it does in the summer.  Instead of a bunch of green weedy-looking stuff it looked like a varied winter bouquet.

Tomorrow I'm supposed to go visit my mom and sister in Nashville.  I'm not happy to hear about the pileup in Texas.  Thanksgiving Day itself was already the 5th most collision-heavy day of the year.  I wonder what its status will be now?

There were no waterbirds to be seen on the Ohio River during our walk today.  We think it is because we got a later start than usual, but maybe those birds are continuing their southern migrations.

A cat prowling around the bank looked like it hadn't had its Thanksgiving dinner yet.  We are sure it is feral.  I feel bad for it but worse for the bird populations.

This has been one of my laziest Thanksgivings ever, and I am glad of it!

November 21, 2012                            Madison, IN

Last week walking around outside I assumed the chatter I heard was in my ears until I realized it was starlings collecting in the treetops, making the trees look like they were leafing out again - in black!

Two days ago I saw an unusual number of black vultures hanging around.  I don't know if they were bold and brazen or merely exhausted.  They didn't seem interested in saving themselves from pedestrians in the park. 

This morning a kingfisher flew off one of those big rusty cylinders as we walked along the river walk - that beeline flight unmistakeable!

Also along the river we saw some geese browner and paler than Canada geese - just one pair.  Their orange feet and pinkish bill along with their paleness makes me think they were greater white-fronted geese.  They didn't have the heavy dark barring below (they really were quite pastel!) so maybe they were immature.  They are supposed to be something of a rarity inland and on the east coast, but maybe they got encouraged in this direction by Hurricane Sandy.

November 20, 2012                            Madison, IN

How interested are you in numbers?

Interested enough to know what a trillion is?

According to "Our National Debt Clock" our debt as of a couple of weeks ago was


How would you read that?

Pundits commonly say we have a sixteen trillion dollar debt - or, more precisely, sixteen trillion, sixteen billion, seventy-one million, four hundred sixteen thousand, three hundred ten dollars.

But that is defined according to the "short form" of calculating a trillion.

The European "long form trillion" would be a million million, or - well, never mind.  I still find it confusing.  They evidently gave up their way of defining trillion in the 1970's, long before I gave such large numbers a second thought, except as notations like 10 to the fourteenth power.  (I can't even write that numerically with this keyboard.)

Anyway, lately I read (and parrotted) that there were already trillionaires in the world. 

Great! I thought.  We can get a few dozen of them to give up half a trillion or so and that should take care of our national debt.  Voila!

Well, not so fast.  It seems there are no trillionaires, as in U.S. dollars trillionaires.

Evidently no one comes close to having a trillion bucks yet, however you define it.

Dang!  So much for my simple way to rid ourselves of the national debt.

And I never said my solution would be easy, anyway.  Just simple -

and elegant!

November 19, 2012                            Madison, IN

Ha, ha!  An author named Penn Jillette featured in the Nov. 23 The Week writes, "If you're considering becoming an atheist, read the Bible from cover to cover....Sometime between when God tells Abraham to kill his son and when Jesus tells everyone to put him before their families, you'll be an atheist."

No wonder it took me so long!  I never got past Leviticus.  Now if boredom made you an atheist....

Other things that are enough to make you an atheist:  the behavior of the Israelites and the Palestinians;  being hit by a hurricane and having some Fundamentalist say that it is because you (and everyone else on the East Coast is weak of spirit or downright evil); praying (and screaming) for help, knocking, knocking, and getting no response; asking the question, did God create man, or did man create God?; setting out to prove the existence of God; and Fate.

November 18, 2012                             Madison, IN

If charisma went from being an unknown mysterious quality to one that is known, what would it end up being, I wonder?

If Jesus had a twin, Thomas, was he an identical twin?  If charisma is genetic, he should have been equally charismatic.  Could charisma be some proportion of hormones in the womb that creates an individual with a special balance of male/female traits?

If he was not an identical twin, that could have explained the charisma of one and the evident lack of it in the other.

Or maybe charisma involves the absence of some grounding quality in a person - one that allows them to soar into an emotional realm (with the abilities to take others along with them) which the rest of us lack.

Some would attribute spiritual powers to disciplines of fasting, meditation and solitude - experiential exercises that lend both lightness and gravitas to a personality.

Does our experience of spiritual leaders bear this theory out?

With this thought I probably put my obsession with charismatic religious leaders as part of the nature's survival of the fittest plan to rest.  At the very least, it might be said that as a survival strategy for any given individual, attracting a religious following might not be ideal!  

November 17, 2012                             Madison, IN

This one might appear on the level of fantasy of conspiracy theory to some of you, but bear with me.

Having read the Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Leloup I have a very different idea of how the Christian Church came to be what it is today.  (Yeah, yeah, I know I am grouping a high diversity of worship styles together - it's all relative!)

According to Leloup, Mary was very probably Jesus' wife - at the very least, his closest disciple.  When Jesus died, there was a power struggle and the men shut her out from having any authority over the forming church.

The Gospel According to St. Thomas (another Apocryphal work that doesn't count according to the Council of Nycea ("a bunch of white guys" in the sixth century)) states that Thomas was Jesus' twin.  (Did you ever hear that before in your life?  I didn't think so!)

This is witness from the "doubting Thomas" whom Jesus accused of not believing what he couldn't see.  (Maybe Jesus wanted to discredit him because he saw only too well what Jesus was in his childhood!)

I'm sure by making a statement like that, I'm opening up accusations against myself of being an AntiChrist.

Ha, ha!  As if I had that much power!

No, I'm just a lowly human trying to get at the truth here.

No one should have an objection to that.  As St. John said, "The Truth shall set you free."


November 16, 2012                             Madison, IN

For some reason, maybe from observing nature, we have developed a tooth-and-nail view of the survival of the fittest.

Or, alternatively, a scientific-snobbish view of the importance of intelligence and inventiveness takes hold.  We Americans, especially, seem to want to take credit for our wonderful development as a country, when it was also the incredible richness of the natural resources here that allowed us to grow the way we have.

I am wondering about the role of charisma.  A charismatic leader wins over, by virtue of a magnetic powerful personality, a following that includes some great organizers and a directive to "be fruitful and multiply" and the group as a whole can prove itself very fit indeed for survival.

Theorists are thinking one of our best tools for survival has been our ability to work together as social beings.  Charismatic leaders help us do this.

Hmmm.  I wonder if there is a charisma gene.

If so, would it produce especially attractive pheromones?

Would it involve a hyperactive imagination?  Confer incredible abilities of verbal persuasion?

It sure would bring the idea of the survival of the fittest back into the biological realm!   

November 12, 2012                              Madison, IN

We are hearing a lot less about the power outages in the East right now, but a lot of people are still in the cold.

It looks like they are not going to be warm very soon - not because the utilities can't restore power but because it would be dangerous to do so with the electrical systems of some homes as compromised as they are.

167, 000 people doesn't sound like many compared to millions without power, but that number represents the whole population of half-a-dozen counties in the southeastern corner of Indiana.

The fact that these people are packed into relatively small areas around New York City makes the problem of no power even more mind-boggling.

We haven't forgotten you, Hurricane Sandy victims!

At least for a while (unfortunately after my initial donation) The Weather Channel and some others were offering to match donations to the Red Cross.  Might be worthwhile to see if their offer still holds! 

November 11, 2012                              Madison, IN

My partner was ruminating this morning that everyone talks about Obama's first debate possibly costing him the election, but that perhaps Obama won because he and his supporters felt they had to put out an extra effort to overcome it.

Otherwise, the whole campaign might have coasted along in too much security about the result.

But hasn't this election year been a rollercoaster ride?

Too bad I don't like roller coasters.

November 10, 2012                               Madison, IN

I've shook in Albuquerque, Madison, Shimer College, Oregon, California!

And no!  I'm not talking about election results.

I'm talking earthquakes.  There was an earthquake today in Southeastern Kentucky near the Virginia border and I felt it!

It was just a little tremor here in Madison, but I felt the motion and heard the kitchen shelf rattle as I have not heard it since the railroad trains went by a block-and-a-half away in Valparaiso, IN.

At Shimer College in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, I was alone in the old music building when it started to shake.  "Boy, this building is older than I thought!" was my first response, until, having experienced earthquakes in California, I recognized the motion for what it was.

In Albuquerque one night, my roommate jumped out of bed, crying, "There's an animal in the house!  It bumped under my bed!"

I, just awakened, assured her that that could not be.  It wasn't just a dream, though.  Her necklace, hanging from the dresser, was swinging.  The next day we heard that the earthquake was strong enough along the Rio Grande to knock vases of shelves.

Yesterday's earthquake, barely detectable here, was 4 point something at its epicenter in Kentucky.

I've begun to recognize earthquakes can happen anywhere.

I'm all shook up!


November 8, 2012                                Madison, IN

Interesting that the CEO's of eighty top companies want us to address the national debt.

I have an idea.  How about if everyone who works for these companies, no matter where they are, pays some of the taxes which will help get us out of debt?

Oh, these people who hold our outsourced jobs can't afford to, you say?  They only get a tenth of what we used to pay taxes on, you say?

Oh, that's right.  There is a reason other than the incompetence of our labor forces for the outsourcing of those jobs.

The people who are holding those jobs in India and China have been able to do them for 1/10 of what we could do them for can afford to, because of their lower cost of living.

Well, that cost of living is not going to stay so low with so much money flowing into their economy.  If incomes are going up, everything will go up, eventually.  Higher standards of living are more expensive.

Whether or not I am wrong about that prediction, right now American employees abroad probably can't afford to pay taxes to two federal governments, theirs and ours.

Well, the middle classes and lower classes here can't afford to pay them.  We are too poor and jobless.  Expect the middle class to pay them and they will be living at poverty level, like my daughter who makes a middle-class income with a huge school debt (forget more taxes!)

So who is left?

What do you know.  The very, very, very rich - many of whom are living high off the inadequately protected inventions and creativity of the middle classes, not to mention wealth gained through loopholes, unscrupulous business practices, intimidation and other unsavory practices.

Now I know even you may not be able to just wave your magic wallets and get us out of debt.  But given there are a few trillionaires among you now, I bet you could subtract at least a few zeros from the grand total of our national deficit.

That would be a huge start.  We of the 99% would greet such a meaningful sacrifice with a cheer!

And I will contribute by doing my best to keep my Medicare expenses low.  I'll start by minimizing the effect of my stress levels by controlling the amount of food I stuff into my stomach.

Ooops!  I already do that.  I pay no money for Nexium or Prilosec, and neither does Medicare - for me.

No, I think I'm squeezed about dry of excess.

I guess it really is up to you - willingly or no.

November 7, 2012                                Madison, IN

Now that the election is over and our attention is being turned back to the economy and the national debt (as if we could forget anyway) I suppose we are going to start hearing from paternalistic rich folks and businessmen on Wall Street about how we (the American people) have to start addressing our financial problems.

In fact, the Nov. 9 issue of The Week reports about this.  They even have a photo of "The National Debt Clock" which posts the national debt and "your family's share," which is, according to the purveyors of the information, $135,590.

Interesting.  I am the first person I know of who thought to calculate what the national debt would be per person.  In fact, I wrote about it in this blahg and came up with the number $30,000.  Obviously this was several years ago, and even at that time I said, "Sorry, I don't have $30,000!"

I still don't have it now that my "share" is twice as much.

Family psychologists make the observation that children should be treated basically at the same level of financial prosperity as the parents.  If the parents live a rich lifestyle with several cars, say, and don't give their children bicycles it makes for an unhealthy relationship.  Seems obvious, doesn't it?

So I propose that our American family (the richest of which love to be paternalistic in tone and advice, at least) take on shares of this national debt (much of which has been incurred supporting oil companies and other major corporations) based on our means.

So let's see, CEOs who make what was it - $495,000 to every dollar that a minimum wage person gets? (I forget the exact numbers) - your family of five will have a share of the national debt of about $250,000,000.  (Correct me if my math is wrong.)

That's only fair.

And feel free to go first.  I'll pay my share after you.  When I get it.  If there is any left by the time Hell freezes over!

That is, I'll pay it if my bicycle is still running.

November 6, 2012                                 Madison, IN

So glad this election is almost over!  I've been reading nothing but news articles and escape literature for two weeks.

November 5, 2012                                 Madison, IN

According to the Nov. 2 The Week, reports that people are much more susceptible to carbon dioxide levels than we ever realized.  It seems that the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory "tested the reasoning skills of volunteers while exposing them to different levels of carbon dioxide" and found that their "strategic and leadership abilities worsened to a degree 'so astonishing that it was almost hard to believe,'" as they quote epidemiologist Mark Mendell.

I can believe it.  I have always been susceptible to what I thought was a lack of oxygen in buses and sometimes even in small groups of people.  I feel faint, nauseated, and the immediate introduction of more air dispels my symptoms immediately. 

But when around other people, a lack of oxygen could be correlated with a proportional increase of carbon dioxide, with its own set of symptoms.

This makes me wonder about the outdoor levels of carbon dioxide around a really big mass of people.  What if there is high barometric pressure or a temperature inversion or lack of breeze that might keep the concentrated exhalations of all those people closer to the crowd than would normally occur during an outdoor meeting?

This could put the phrase "mob mentality" in a different, more scientific, light.

Maybe instead of more police presence during rallies, we should hand out scuba gear!

November 4, 2012                                  Madison, IN

I'm trying to figure out why women would support Romney.  After all, I heard this morning that one out of three women in this country had an abortion (or need of abortion services?  What did I hear, and what did it really mean?)

At any rate, I think it is a safe bet that abortion has touched all of our lives to a greater or lesser extent.  If you have never known anyone who has had (or considered having) an abortion, someone is probably keeping a secret from you.

Judging by the frequency of its necessity, I'm willing to guess that those who are against abortion will hold this view - until they need one.

I hope that when they need one they can get one legally.

Why would women vote against this availability for themselves or others - besides the obvious "pro-life" argument which pits fetal life against fully formed human lives?

At my most cynical I want to say that the pro-life women want their babies and the babies' support, too.  If a woman has a child, the father can, at least in theory, be required to pay.  This is true even if abortion is legal, but the woman can throw up her hands and allow the machine of justice to grind along on her behalf with a little less feeling of responsibility if she didn't have the choice of terminating her pregnancy.

Have I gone too far?  Is my imagination over-active?

Well, have you heard about the women who try to stay married for at least ten years for the sheer right to lay claim to their share of the husband's social security benefits?

This consideration never played a moment's part in my decisions about marriage or divorce (I'm afraid I don't think that far ahead) but obviously for some people it is a major life gambit.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm really trying to find a way to think that any woman casting a vote for Romney is not herself insane! 

November 3, 2012                                Madison, IN

My partner and I try to be good citizens.

We have contributed to Wikipedia, MoveOn, the Democratic party, and specific individual campaigns as well as to charitable organizations.

We regularly vote (in at the very least) general elections.

Yesterday a strange card came in the mail.

It purported to be a "report card" of my partner's voting record and stated, "You were a voter in one of the last five general elections, according to public records for your current address only.  That's less than average for your neighborhood."

"What a crock!" I thought.  "How insulting!  How untrue and undeserved!"  I knew that my partner had voted in at least three out of the last four general elections, and that he is quite a political creature.  He remembers voting and how he voted for his whole life span.  "How positively libelous!" I fumed, a pair of thunderbolts forming on my brow.

At this address?  We've only been here seven months!

"What asinine organization sent this?"

I look at the return address:  MoveOn.orgCivicAction.

My jaw dropped.  MoveOn?

MoveOn used our money to send us insulting, patronizing, and false admonitions?

Now I suppose I have my own spurious "report card" to look forward to. 

MoveOn will get no more of our money.

We're moving on from MoveOn!

November 2, 2012                                 Madison, IN

What a missed opportunity for Donald Trump!

He could have taken his offer to Obama of $5,000,000 to charity and given it for rescue efforts for Hurricane Sandy victims.

After all, Obama could not with any integrity have taken Trump up on his offer.

I think Trump knew that.  His offer was spurious.

He couldn't, I'm guessing, do the generous thing and give it to now-homeless of New Jersey to pay people's bills including rent and mortgages.  He doesn't really have the ready to do it.

If I'm wrong, Trump is even worse than I thought.

I guess his helmet of hair is his attempt to look like what he really is - a cockroach.

Ha, ha, ha!  So the homeless guy had more resources (was richer) than you a few years back, huh?  Well, I guess you will toss the same line back to the homeless of New York, New Jersey and Staten Island now.

Poor Donald Trump!  We have to admit you are rich in psychological mystery.

What does Donald Trump really want?

What I want is for him to give his fucking five million to charity himself.

November 1, 2012                                  Madison, IN

People are always deploring low voter turnout.

I don't think they give nonvoters enough credit.  Why should people bother to vote when they know that the vast majority of their particular region agrees with them?

"Every vote counts?"

Well, not really in a very heavily Democrat or Republican state.

The makers of our Constitution were afraid of a completely popular vote (and this is when voters had to own unmoveable property like land!) because they knew what could happen when the people were gripped by a passion for say, -  anything (like tulips or gold or speculation or gambling.  (Gee, was I redundant just now?))

Because of the electoral college, which gives different portions representation per voter depending on location (I wonder what the average and median are?) the popular vote isn't really "of the people" at all.

No wonder voting isn't popular!

If every vote really counted, we citizens would be up there in the high 90 percentage.

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