Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 14th, 2016

Lessig learned. Now let him debate.

No more pledge on resigning after winning

October 21, 2015

Larry Lessig speaks at the New Hampshire Democratic Party State Convention in Manchester, N.H., last month. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Jim Webb is mercifully out of the Democratic presidential race.

Not sure I could have handled another debate with him whining about talk time. This guy got 15 minutes to share why he’s running in a two-hour debate with four other candidates on the stage.

Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) made the most of the 11 minutes he got to talk in the three-hour CNN extravaganza with 14 other Republican presidential candidates around him at the Reagan Presidential Library last month. Clearly, a more efficient and successful effort, since the freshman senator was a standout that night.

But I’m not here to stomp on Webb’s political grave. No, my purpose is to talk up Larry Lessig. The Democratic Party should make sure he’s at the next debate.

Yeah, I know what I said last week. That no one should support his Democratic presidential bid because he promised to resign after passing a much-needed campaign finance reform package.

That such a pledge neutered his ability to be an effective chief executive and would make his vice presidential choice a powerful president-in-waiting.

[Why you should not support Larry Lessig for president]

Everything changed last Friday when he was asked about his resignation pledge during an appearance on “Real Time With Bill Maher” on HBO. “Yeah, that was stupid,” Lessig said to laughter. “That was totally stupid.” And then the Harvard law professor explained why he backed off.

….[E]very time I get on a show and you’ve got four minutes to talk about something, the whole focus would be, “Geez, you’re going to resign, you’re going to resign.” And, I’d be, like, no, what I want to do is pass the most important democracy legislation that we’ve seen in 50 years! That’s what I want to do. And then resign.

And… people are obsessed with that.

Democratic Party said, “We can’t take you seriously, because you’re going to resign.”

So, here’s the thing:  like my daughter would say, “Fine! You win!” I withdraw that promise. I’m not going to resign. I’m running for president.

I’m running for president with a commitment that we’re going to pass the legislation that gets us a democracy back. And, then once we pass that legislation, then there’s all the issues, the wonderful things that Bernie [Sanders] is talking about, everybody on that stage – well, three, two, maybe – on that stage in that Democratic debate, were talking about – we would have a chance to get that done if we actually had a representative democracy again. And that’s what I’m fighting for.

The latest poll from Monmouth University puts support for Lessig at 1 percent. That is the same amount of support for the departed Webb. And that’s more than former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island governor and senator Lincoln Chafee have.

Given their standing, if O’Malley, Chafee and Webb could secure a spot at last week’s Las Vegas debate, then Lessig should be on the stage at the next debate on Nov. 6 in South Carolina.

People will have a reason to listen to him now that he has backed off his irresponsible pledge to be a single-issue president who wouldn’t stick around for a full term.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog
Note: I have posted an article on Lessig’s political platform and watched an extensive documentary on him.

Jack Kerouac on How to Meditate

Centuries after Montaigne contemplated the double meaning of meditation and decades before Western science confirmed what Eastern philosophy has known for millennia — that meditation is our greatest gateway to self-transcendence and that by transforming our minds it is actually transforming our bodiesAlan Watts began popularizing Eastern spiritual teachings in the West and meditation wove itself into the fabric of popular culture.

Among the early converts in the 1950s was Jack Kerouac (March 12, 1922–October 21, 1969), who became so besotted with the ancient practice that he extolled its rewards in a poem, later included in The Portable Jack Kerouac (public library) — the same treasure trove of stories, poems, letters, and essays on Buddhism that gave us Kerouac on kindness, the self illusion and the “Golden Eternity,” the crucial difference between genius and talent, and his “beliefs and techniques” for prose and life.


— lights out —

fall, hands a-clasped, into instantaneous
ecstasy like a shot of heroin or morphine,
the gland inside of my brain discharging
the good glad fluid (Holy Fluid) as
I hap-down and hold all my body parts
down to a deadstop trance — Healing
all my sicknesses — erasing all — not
even the shred of a “I-hope-you” or a
Loony Balloon left in it, but the mind
blank, serene, thoughtless. When a thought
comes a-springing from afar with its held-
forth figure of image, you spoof it out,
you spuff it out, you fake it, and
it fades, and thought never comes — and
with joy you realize for the first time
“Thinking’s just like not thinking —
So I don’t have to think

Many more records of Kerouac’s foray into Eastern teachings can be found in The Portable Jack Kerouac.

Complement this particular one with neuroscientist Sam Harris on the paradox of meditation, journalist Jo Marchant on how our minds actually affect our bodies, and David Lynch on meditation as a creative anchor, then revisit Patti Smith’s masterful music adaptation of Kerouac.

Note 1: I tied once to read a section of On the Road and gave up. I realized the real function of punctuations: Giving the reader a break to breath, and the author a fake sense of breathing.

This is the same case of reading Proust: More than 3 pages with no punctuations and my mind failed to link up with the many ideas: It was a suffocating and heavy experience, and I gave up on Proust.

Note 2: Jude Quinten Hawkins comment on Kerouac writing style:
When you read Beat authors like Kerouac, Kesey, or Burroughs, it helps to let go off any desire for a plot or arc of any sort.
Most of the time their books are more like snapshots of a place and time, put down in writing.

I try to pretend that I am there with them, hanging out in the car/apartment and just experience it as it comes without trying to make a bunch of grandiose connections about what it all means.
Maybe the key to success with On the Road is approaching it from the correct angle. Some people love it because its a rip-roaring party book, and in some respects, it is. But it is also a post WWII novel about people that had absolutely no idea how to live in the world they had helped build.

For what it’s worth, I toss it in the stack of work that I’d describe as apocalyptic.
Read it with Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America, Carson’s Silent Spring, McCarthy’s The Road, DeLillo’s Point Omega, Harrison’s A Good Day to Die maybe watch Mad Max while you’re at it…

In that context, you probably still wouldn’t like the diction or the characters, but if the end doesn’t rip your heart and your guts right out, I’m not sure what would.

Honestly Kerouac is a mess, and to think that’s after going through edits and publishers. It seems to me that some books are meant to be read over and over, On the Road being one of them, his style really is a reflection of his environment and the journey he was on.

Extremely heavy drinking and drug use, in fact, and I can’t be 100% on this but there should be a study confirming it I’ll see if I can find it, but examining On the Road is basically a case study in the effects of speed on the brain.
Mad typing, half-formed ideas, seeming madness on the page, as if his mind was moving much too fast for the typewriter to keep up and even with that he typed the 120-ft scroll of On The Road in little over two or three weeks, single spaced, no edits.
In the end he’s a talented mad typist that seems to just let the machine, be it car or typewriter, take him places


In Hebron ‘even the kids have numbers’

A reminiscent of effectiveness of Nazi process

Hebron, Occupied West Bank – Every sunset, 23-year-old Alaa stands in the balcony of her modest stone house overlooking Hebron’s Shuhada Street.

“I count the minutes until he [her husband] comes home. I wait by the window, and I tell him not to be late,” she said, requesting that her last name not be published.

Shahada Street (Arabic for “Martyrs Street”) was once a bustling thoroughfare running through the heart of the West Bank’s largest city, connecting Hebron’s outdoor market to the Ibrahimi Mosque.

Marj Henningsen shared this link

Hard to imagine living like this.

Israeli army introduces a new system of identification numbers for the 30,000 Palestinian residents in the city. *   In Hebron ‘even the kids have numbers’ Hebron, Occupied West Bank – E…

Palestinians buzzed between busy shops and glass factories, and lived in apartments above the shops. The area is also home to 500 hardline Israeli settlers, and has long been a flashpoint for unrest between Palestinians and the Israeli military.

Over the past month, the few Palestinians, who still live on or nearby the street, are enduring a new set of army restrictions and security searches.

On October 30, the Israeli military announced a closed military zone over the area of Hebron under full Israeli security control.

“No one who can come to visit us. My father couldn’t come to see us,” Alaa said.

To enforce the closure, the Israeli army introduced a new system of identification numbers for the 30,000 Palestinian residents of the cordoned-off H2 district which encompasses about 20 percent of Hebron and includes Shuhada Street and a number of Israeli settlements.

The remaining 80 percent of the city is under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.

In addition to presenting their identification cards at 17 internal checkpoints and undergoing security checks, Palestinians must now orally give soldiers their new ID number when entering and leaving the blockades that enclose Shuhada Street.

The army did not distribute paper documents with the new identification number. Once a soldier is told the number, he then cross-references it with a printed list.

“Anyone who does not have a number is removed or arrested. The Israeli army detained at least 20 international volunteers who monitor H2 area,” said Sohaib Zahda, of the Hebron-based activist group Youth Against Settlements.

Those who forget their ID numbers or chose not to register sneak in and out of the H2 area through fields, careful not to be caught in the heavily monitored region.

“Even the little kids have numbers,” said Anas Murakatan, 27, who lives in an apartment near a checkpoint at the entrance to Shuhada Street. “I am 58; she is 59,” Anas said, pointing to his pregnant wife, Fadwa Murakatan.

“When the baby is born, she will get one too.”

Fadwa’s child was due four weeks ago – prompting her husband to joke that “the baby is afraid, so he does not want to come out”.

Fadwa explained that when she goes into labour, she will have to walk down Shuhada Street and cross a checkpoint, and only then will she be able to enter an ambulance. She said she had to wait 30 minutes the last time she needed an ambulance.

Because of the new regulations, she said, “we are not allowed to bring any guests. When I give birth, they will not allow my family to come and visit me.”

A spokesperson for the Israeli army said in a statement to Al Jazeera: “Precautionary measures have been implemented in order to prevent future attacks and maintain the safety and well-being of residence of the area.”

But the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said, in a statement issued last month, that the new measure constituted “a collective punishment of Hebron residents”.

“Anyone whose name is not on the list cannot cross the checkpoint and is forced to take a long, arduous detour to get home. Some neighborhood residents have not had their names put on the list to protest at being required to receive a permit to enter their own homes,” said the statement.

“In other cases, checkpoint personnel have erroneously left some residents’ names off the list, so these individuals cannot cross the checkpoint either.”

Beyond Hebron’s city centre, the Israeli army mounted a series of mobile checkpoints between Hebron and Bethlehem, causing lengthy delays for motorists at the same location where cars were regularly inspected during the second Intifada

In 1994, after the signing of the Oslo Accords, the Israeli military closed businesses and shops along Shuhada Street.

A decade later, at the end of the Second Intifada in 2005, the army shut down the glass manufacturing plants and prohibited Palestinian vehicles from using the street.

Hundreds of people were forced to move, and those who stayed often have to enter their homes through alleyways.

“Palestinians are barred from Shuhada Street. They are prohibited from even walking down part of it,” said Sarit Michaeli, a spokesperson for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

“This whole situation is meant to facilitate the presence of Israeli settlers. It’s an official policy called the ‘policy of separation’ that the Israeli government has adopted.”

Despite these changes, hardline Israeli politicians say the increased army presence in and around Hebron remains insufficient.

Speaking to Army Radio last Monday, Naftali Bennett, the leader of the far-right Jewish Home party, called for a second Defensive Shield, referring to Israel’s large-scale military operation in the West Bank in 2002.

Bennett’s remarks reflect a growing desire among Israeli right-wingers to launch a full-scale advance into Palestinian cities.

While Hebron has long been the site of clashes between settlers and Palestinians, the Murakatans said their neighbourhood has witnessed about three settler attacks a week since it became a closed military zone.

They said the attacks always take place at night, and involve about a dozen settlers parading down Shuhada Street, often stoning Palestinian homes.

“One month ago our daughter, she fell on the stairs, and so my husband took her to the hospital,” recounted Fadwa. “When I came back from the hospital, a settler tried to attack me while I was holding Diala,” Anas said.

In another incident, Israeli soldiers accused Fadwa of concealing a weapon when she left her house to throw rubbish into a bin on Shuhada Street. “I asked, ‘Where is the knife, where is the knife?’” she said, motioning her arms from her chest outward.

As dusk fell, the family of four gathered on their rooftop – the only outdoor play space for the two children, who kicked spent tear gas canisters and a shipping box marked “hazardous”.

A packing slip on the box indicated that its contents were meant for the Israeli army. The container was lobbed on to their house during the near-daily clashes in Hebron between Palestinian youth and the Israeli military.

Below, two settlers strolled across Shuhada Street near a group of soldiers. No Palestinians were on the road.

Meanwhile, Anas reminisced about how different his neighbourhood used to be. “It was very nice; a lot of people were usually here,” he said. “At that time settlers were afraid of us – but now we are afraid of them.”




March 2016

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