Saturday, October 25, 2014

Smoke A Little Dope? -- Say WHAT? -- The Recipe of Bolsheviks of Old.

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LITTLE DOPE”, …  (look at these characters).

With the winding down of the wars as formerly prosecuted in the Middle East (principally in Afghanistan and Iraq), presumably as well the so – called “war on drugs” is being relaxed for the time being and thus a principal conflict as carried on by the U.S. Military and somewhat by coalition partners for more than thirteen years so far, and to every pessimist and naysayer, seems to have been without the kind of social and economic utility that one expects from traditional “boots on the ground” - type warfare since even the time of Clausewicz. It is important to note the current military and paramilitary conflicts in Northern Iraq and Syria, again involving tribal warfare and that of warlords, probably will not taper off for a while, whether or not the US continues or avows the causes of people like the Kurds and so forth. Since some time ago, and even before the Iran / Iraq war of some time ago, the Kurds were fighting the occupiers of their territories, presumably Kurdistan, and those occupiers were the same groups now involved in the strife in that area again. The Kurds are a minority in a Northern Middle East territory that were a bother and therefore marked for extinction by neighbors, of which the Iraqi Hussein regime during the late 1970's and early to mid – 1980's. No one wants to remember the essentially peaceful Kurds having to take up arms to defend their homes against invaders and / or flee their homeland by way of any means possible, including by the airlines to parts unknown where they assimilated and disappeared into crowded populaces, as did the culture of Kurdistan they carried with them, and most of home was forgotten by those refugees who actually managed to escape the forces invading at home. The attitude of the invaders and the Syrians, etc., opposing the Kurds and rebels in those areas to – day is they are good for nothing and need make way for the “postmodern” and hegelian (even those who read Engels) everyman from the delineated areas and their corresponding military forces, many of whom worship the former soviet military model and some of its views and practices still pervasive in Russian Federation society at this time still. This includes perhaps an unofficial phalanx of ruling society featuring “urbane” types, a political party structure that imitates immovable royalty and some other things Lenin and Leon Trotsky would be proud of today.

October is a terrific month for conflict, of which the resolution of the sudden chaos and abandon of the Russian Revolution (1917), and that of the very long Chinese Communist Revolution that ended in 1949. It is also the month of the famous Yom Kippur War, the Battle of Trafalgar, the beginning of the Long March of the Chinese Revolution, that of the Battle of Passchendaele, the First Battle of Ypres, and ironically that of the Treaty of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years War in 1648. The list goes on of notable things without there being a laundry list of disaster after disaster. That the Middle East wars are winding down, as are the legacy of 2000 – 2008 statecraft and the democratic Cold War legacy as former communist states withdraw into themselves as led into it by the Russian leadership, and the tampering as well with the war on drugs are anything but peaceful portents: People just continue to get more and more wound at the prospect of facing opposing leadership as they get older given the Cold War and other conflicts showed the deficiencies of the forgetfulness and continuous renewal of things as represented by the international left, including an elitist permissiveness for things like trafficking of various sorts. That the left today even in the US is preoccupied with curing social ills and socioeconomic inequities, it is perhaps a paradox the left started these sorts of things in their modern form and in concentrating on these issues with public and solicitous private campaigns, it glorifies and highlights these sorts of things that are at best perfidious, lousy intrigue and extremely hazardous, and destructive at their most benign. Comments invited.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hong Kong, P.R.C.

Presently in Hong Kong, PRC.
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Though there have been no recent anniversaries, not of the 1950's Central and Eastern Europe national unrest, nor of the 1968 political and societal protests in places like Czechoslovakia and France, and in the U.S. against the war in Southeast Asia, though maybe of the end of the Tian An Men movement in 1989; the protest in Hong Kong at this point though not covered at length in the Western press, might be as formidable as any of the former ones that espoused and personified in their leadership a greater and greater annoyance with respect to nationalism and politics sponsored frequently within the borders of where the unrest takes or took place. The protests in Hong Kong have been going on since some days ago, and the major U.S. news services might just have picked up the story this morning for the weekend news. For various and sundry technical reasons, many of the citizens of Hong Kong would like to have "the United States of America" as Jim Lehrer so judiciously and artfully mentioned the attitude of the Tian An movement during 1989 at the time on his news hour. Hong Kong has a municipal or civic governance review that is coming up in an election where only CPC / Bei jing - approved candidates will be allowed to submit their candidacy to a vote. The conflict here is the same as the again age - old scuffle between town and country everywhere, or as has been the case in communist regimes, the provinces out of alignment with the Center, and local and national Chinese authorities have futilely demanded for the protesters to disperse, of which no great giving in of the populace at this point. Police have appeared briefly on television spraying protestors presumably with pepper spray while attempting to land a number of same in detention, or while attempting to yank light - gauge steel fencing out of the hands of protesters trying to gain ground.

The cast of characters in the Chinese administration is authoritarian with respect to the protests and hardly comical, and the protesters have leaders like Leung Kwok - hung (a fierce, pro - democracy activist) and Cardinal Joseph Zen (former Catholic bishop of Hong Kong). Leung has approved of the protestors staying in place with the attitude of civil disobedience, and Zen advocates people returning to their normal lives after leaving the scene of the demonstrations, indicating that taking a position adversarial to the Chinese government is futile given the impossibility of dialogue with Chinese leaders. The idea of the protesters is to deaden business activity in town, and thus their positions in the Hong Kong financial district. The protest apparently had been triggered by the format of some elections in town, but cap off some long standing anti - Bei jing sentiment there as well. Hong Kong is a special area of P.R.C. that has kept its character as a Western and fiercely entrepreneurial, free business area since its handover to P.R.C. from UK in 1997. It does appear that young people in the region dislike the loyalties of some in local administration to power - grabbing associated with the Chinese capitol, and the local government right now in town is apparently very unpopular due to this and distrust of the capitol in Hong Kong and other places in China. The protesters, in comprising their "Occupy Central" movement threaten the commerce and business in the financial district of Hong Kong, and have united religious leaders, student and university leaders and high - profile professionals in their efforts. These public personalities have assured at least for the time being that the sit - in will continue and this insisting on restricting business and commercial activities and access to same by the presences of the protestors in centrally located places downtown -- the expectation is this will force Bei jing leaders and local leaders who are on the Bei jing tether to first discuss and then negotiate democratic reform and a continuance of Hong Kong in its productive and businesslike, entrepreneurial ways of old.

There have been rallies against the movement Occupy Central, and not everyone around is in the pitched demonstrations against Bei jing governance and rule - making. The idea as indicated by concerned CPC parties is that Hong Kong will lose its reputation as a safe and tidy, and business - oriented mecca for professional people given the effects, short - and long - term of the demonstrations. Characteristically and officially, the demonstrators are marginalized by government polls that detail not everyone is in favor of keeping Hong Kong as it is, and that many of the people who've read or heard of the protests do not understand the town's special economic and business status before the communist regime. Upon some reading on the subject of possible electoral action and reform by Bei jing and the screening out of pro - reform candidates, the requirements for candidates as fulfilled to stand for election do appear a little cheesy, and some CPC officials blame the US and UK for influencing the opposition demonstrations and protests. The use of physical force by local security agencies and apparently the local army are worrisome and make the situation akin to the Bei jing administration offering the Hong Kong people something they might not, nor should not refuse. Though the Chinese administration has denied that only its own candidates have been approved (strictly speaking) for the ballot contest to come that will elect representatives from town, the process of candidate submissions does appear to follow that particular line, but then one returns to the letter of criteria for the [presumably pro - capitol] candidates who will be appointed to run, and then be nominated in the election. Around and around it goes as the Chinese administration appears to be playing quite a bit of defense in its public relations and maybe even in minimizing media coverage of these very serious and meaningful demonstrations and protests there.





Sunday, September 21, 2014

No Need to Really Read This Entry - Ther're Plenty of Them Out There ... .

Recently, and because I have seen more and more people in robes and so forth, even Caucasian and
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more Western people, I picked up a book on Buddhism that happened to be about the austere and strict form of that religious practice, read "Southern" Buddhism, versus the more popular "Mahanayan" faith that's in places that really interest more people about it and so forth.  Sort of like picking up a missal from the Orthodox Catholic faith when you just want to watch the "700 Club" once in a while on the tube.  The text I picked up in paperback and read through was originally, not the one I own, but in the beginning and in 1896 no less, published as a comprehensive study that probably made its author completely mortal by the date of its publication.  The text is very detailed and talks greatly about the merits, the strict ones, of this massively - scaled and intelligent faith; though it is difficult at times, and the text is in plain English, to distinguish the tone and intentions of the teachings of the "Great Teacher" as he is portrayed.  The closest I really came to Nirvana or any fulfillment with this  text, as in fact such things lead sometimes to a sort of similar resolution to things, if not to a kind of Nirvana itself immediately or eventually, was akin to my once having been in the presence of a famous economist who I know mistook me not for a student of sorts of his, but for a laundry or other delivery person.  The value of such texts is they make one reflect on such events and therefore the tone of the book becomes the more serious and worth contemplation apart from the de - reflective and gross things the "dhamma" can lead to at times, maybe even in a minority of cases.  There are many Buddhists who are extremely achieving and fine people, but for example, I would not really trust the idea of giving one, and this not just because Buddhism is from where it's from, rocket launch codes or nuclear secrets -- Buddhism is not really a faith in which those types of things are appropriately secure.  If you cannot tell this, maybe move somewhere where there are lots of Buddhists, great people that they are.

There are some actually great principles of the Buddhist faith that hearken to an agrarian and earthy existence starting some time ago and that are completely compatible with this yet today in places, and with urban and bustling settings of the metropolis and so forth as well.  I know less and less actually about the desirable things of it now I have read more about the austere, priestly version of the faith and realize that in no way do people join this faith without seriously thoughtful commitment, and one might believe that those born into it are accursed and disadvantaged though they are not.  The richness of mind of many Buddhists, their patience and conservatism in many ways, their dedication to contemplation and prayer beats the islamo - believers in all their own varieties hands and pencils down every time.  Though many will disagree, and this is by all means a provocation to the reader here and one's own construct of the role of such things in their popular interpretation:  I submit to you after having read about him in the Theravada tradition, that the Buddha as we knew him in his various incarnations and personae, and in his current incarnation if I am not wrong as from Dharamsala, India; that Buddha as our friend from the East was not and is not a Christ symbol.  Perhaps the correct solution about what he represents to us, and literally and metaphorically, other than being in the role of a great spiritual leader and Teacher lies in some innovative psychological and philosophical approach to the faith that needs to be new in 2014, or as renewed and re - hashed in 20l4 (let us here choose gestalt or depth psychology as that is safe away from useless, specious and burdensome dialogues and analysis, or even the philosophical approach of deconstructive character without and devoid of spirit:)  The representation of the Buddha today, and with minimal study one might agree, has really very little to do with the symbolism of the Christian New Testament and the life nor the symbolism of the Christ and his followers; and has much more to do with the great following of the ancient Hebrew leader Moses has in the appropriate books of the Christian Old Testament and Old Testaments themselves everywhere.  This fits quite nicely with what I have read heretofore, including the eternal suffering that Buddhism internalizes, the delivery it promises from the conflicts, curses and vagaries of existence, and the promise of tomorrow it has for so many people who lead an existence much like that of the biblical Abraham, or similar individuals as illustrated in the Bible books where Moses appears or is mentioned.  Buddha, dear, comments invited, especially given your lessons on the emphasis of life on compassion and its promise for individual and collective salvation.  Remember as well your extremely powerful symbolism and cultural facets, and the way of the righteous you follow.  Have a great day. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Belated book review (again) -- Andrew and Gordievsky, 1990.

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Belated Book Review -- text by Andrew and Gordievsky, 1990.

This non - fiction historical / political KGB spy bureau story has to do with the workings of the international espionage and other Cold War games mostly between the bureaus in U.K. and the K.G.B. as based then in Moscow, U.S.S.R. from about the time of the soviet civil war to the 1980's.  The beginning of the text gives a brief summary of security services under the Tsar that their own terror(s), deportations, exiles, and the like.  As the K.G.B., the Tsarist espionage bureaus were oriented to foreign operations and intelligence.  The Tsarist spies at the revolution were followed by the Chekists who, with a utopic vision as their license, worked hard to confiscate property, conduct foreign and domestic spying, resolve the loose ends from the civil war, battle capitalists and their secret services, find wreckers and traitors, etc., and so on.  By the end of 1920, the Chekist Feliks Dzerzhinsky promised the soviet leadership the Cheka was in control of all aspects of life in U.S.S.R., and Cheka in 1922 was subsumed into the GRU that later was incorporated into the Internal Affairs Commission. The GRU became a soviet federal agency with the formation of the soviet union.  The text goes into the various personalities and cast of characters respectfully portrayed therein, but nonetheless in illustrating the dangerous traits of soviet espionage over the years.
Soviet institutions such as the Comintern and others are shown in the book as established to further first Cheka, ... , and then K.G.B. aims.  Western surveillance of these is also discussed, and the crossing as well that went from one side to the other over the years, however infrequently and the resulting political developments.  The Stalin years were portrayed as particularly mortal concerning soviet spy successes, gangsterism, even setbacks with respect to world events and the communist spy heads at the time -- Yagoda, Yezhov, Beria, ... .  Through all this, and possibly and probably into the Khrushchev and Brezhnev times, soviet spying traditionally was done with military goals in mind.
After allowing the reader some formation into soviet spying organizations, the authors proceed to tell how the communists in Eastern Europe on the state level proceeded over time to expand and empower their range and operation locations through administrative penetration and political and other influences.  This included groups assigned to Poland and Eastern Europe, Western European targets, and this in America (Northern and in Latin areas), Africa, South and Southeast Asia, the far East, the island nations, and so on.  As the organizational networks were built and were successful apparently, and continued to grow, more people, departments and directorates were added in Moscow and in the various operational fields.  The text examines many cases of spying activity in which there were clearly soviet successes including from the founding of the K.G.B
through the years of the Great Depression and WWII with the allies, and later against adversaries.  The effectiveness, for example of the soviets in defensive - type spying and in the area of ciphers is illustrated as remarkable given what people were working, and had to work with in the day.  It is important to note the most effective spying by the K.G.B. in its time, domestic and especially abroad had to do with people who were lax with security, whose guard was down, and who frequented Moscow and the other U.S.S.R. capitols. 
After the defeat of the Nazis, the Cold War themes of penetration and influence were used in obtaining things like military and spy / intelligence secrets, of which the apparent and frequent duplication of U.S. and U.K. military and nuclear projects during the 1950's and thereafter.  Destalinization of the U.S.S.R. at the time nor abated nor accelerated this process.  The text goes on to discuss 1956 Hungary, Yugoslavia's Tito, Cuban missile crisis, 1968 Prague, and other soviet policy failures as additional extraordinary cases.  As approaches to Cold War conflict became more and more standardized internationally, soviet spying activity included sponsorship of political / administrative groups and alliances with groups and administrations outside the mainstream and with those having little international administrative participation.  This might be said to be one of the multi - national competencies of the K.G.B. at the time that contrasted with the mishandling of Berlin and Warsaw and appurtenant issues.  The achievements, and the losses acutely as well added to East - West rivalries that began crumbling the U.S.S.R. after its unsuccessful incursion into Afghanistan starting in 1979.  The 1980's including the Gorbachev years are comprised by a laundry list of events, favorable and unfavorable to the K.G.B., that subtracted from its reputation abroad given the winding - up of the Cold War, that in all events had Russian spy jobs at a premium at home.  A long read that depicts soviet adventurism on every page just about, with a good index and summary organizational and other tables.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Another Belated Review: Bio of Robert Oppenheimer (Knopf, 2005)

AMERICAN PROMETHEUS (2005,) by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin.

This monumental and greatly detailed text about a titan of nuclear science
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in the day, and as to one whose life was as varied and colorful as that of a scientist could be, whose life again had been a blessing and a curse but that nonetheless fit the bill of anyone who modeled and romanticized popular science; depicts the human side of a once deified public figure who was at once an unassuming scientist and at the same time an extraordinary and political and organizational charmer.  J. R. Oppenheimer was a gifted son of a gifted businessman with strong ties to the old countries of Europe, especially pre – world war Germany.  Though JRO was born in New York and raised in its Upper West Side, his father had emigrated from the Frankfurt area of FRG and his mother’s family was from Maryland.  JRO was raised in New York and shone in the scientific area and in mathematics as a young person.  His parents were able to cultivate his genius by sending him to study at various technical centers including those in U.K. and in Germany on and off again until late in the 1930’s.

Throughout most of JRO’s adult life there were two major themes that included nuclear science and communism.  He and his generation of scientists are responsible for the birth of the nuclear arms race as many of us know it today.  His trials about communism also fulfill our image and how many remember the 1950’s U.S. anti – liberal movement.  The nuclear bombing of Japan, and his judicial trial during 1953 – 54 brought public attention, sometimes greatly negative in nature, into the personal realm for him, things that would disrupt the life of any responsible and bright character as he was, attributes and foibles at the same time.  Science at the time of Oppenheimer was a practical and political jungle full of mythical beasts, imaginary and real, benign and greatly threatening.  It is strange the public figure of the day most responsible for popularizing nuclear science and the related dilemmas of the arms race was subject to, and this in the U.S., the ominous forces of society gossip and social pressures among his friends and colleagues that led to the end of his career as a scientist, essentially when he lost his security clearance in the 1950’s. 

Perhaps more to blame here than his 1954 bureaucratic trials was the overall deterioration of U.S. / soviet politics at the time:  this agonized and humiliated many, and provoked the castigation and ruin of a number of public figures vulnerable to such things.  For many as well, the attack on liberalism at the time comprised an attack on America’s values, and this presumed assault exposed the bureaucracy at the time as more and more paternalistic and condemning of the character and personalities of some.  For many of those examined and even subject to trial proceedings, their brilliance, stoicism, and personal self – assurance and integrity led frequently to bewildering and defeating, magically destructive antagonisms, first from officialdom and then from everybody.  This is / was perhaps due, and this on most pages of this definitive and again detailed text, to JRO’s personal life informing his scientific studies, achievements, and overall scientific work before his audiences, and those who watched and monitored the Oppenheimers closely.  An outstanding book.

Periodic Interest: Modern Day Hiroshima? ... and the 'Shinto - priest...

Periodic Interest: Modern Day Hiroshima? ... and the 'Shinto - priest...: Original March 2011 story in the international news. ... of someone who lived through Hiroshima. Media Photo.

Periodic Interest: Perhaps The Most Important Thing to Remember about...

Periodic Interest: Perhaps The Most Important Thing to Remember about...: ...  is Hiroshima was the first. Hiroshima - August 6, 2010 - morning.