Bob Dylan Driven by Melville and Homer?

Bob Dylan has been driven by serious literature? Really?

As an American literature fan, I was thrilled by his recap of Melville’s Moby Dick. As a classics and “dead language” nut, his overview of the trials of Odysseus brought me to tears. As an anti-imperialism activist, his raw look at All Quiet on the Western Front gave me depth insight into Dylan’s lyrics.

The polar opposite of a brainless celebrity.

Well done, Mr. Dylan, well done.

“Listen to the songs….however songs are listened to these days…”

NATO Expands…Again

 

Great.
Just great.

We continue to gobble up former East Bloc nations; incorporating them into NATO.

Montenegro (with the double-eagle flag) is as of yesterday the newest member of the Western military alliance which was formed after World War 2 to contain the expansionist Soviet Union.

Used to be part of Stalinist/Communist Yugoslavia under strongman ruler Tito.

Go back to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Before that, Western Europe was protected by NATO and the Americans, and Eastern Europe was occupied by the Soviet Union and organized into the Warsaw Pact. These two forces faced off along what Churchill called “The Iron Curtain.”

When Germany was reunified, we promised Russia that in return for their allowing the new Germany (both East and West) to be a part of NATO, we would not expand the alliance to former Warsaw Pact nations, because that would remove the buffer on which Russia relies, geopolitically, for security. Unlike the US, they don’t have oceans on both sides and have been brutally invaded twice (Napoleon and Hitler) costing millions of Russian lives.

Well, we lied.

Now virtually all the former communist nations (Russia’s buffer states) have come into the American military orbit.

So foolish.

Russia and the US could be the best of allies. We both want the same things:

-To curtail Islamic extremism.

-To explore space together (we are the “space superpowers”)

-To keep our vast nuclear arsenals from getting into the wrong hands.

-For free trade giving us access to each other’s resources.

For whatever reason, insecure nations (like the US) don’t seem to be able to function without an enemy. A bogeyman.

And for that matter, NATO is clearly obsolete. Since about 1990 when the Soviet Union (the whole point of NATO) disintegrated.

“But we need NATO to fight terror together.”

Nope. Our mutual NATO interventionism in the Middle East has given us ZERO results in several decades of military meddling. In fact, you can make an argument that 9-11 would never had happened without the NATO led crusade to topple Saddam Hussein, which ticked off many Saudis, who manned the planes which destroyed the world trade center.

NATO is just an excuse for our military industrial complex to sell more weapons to more countries–and make the world less safe by doing so.

And, the scary thing is that the mission statement of NATO is “An attack on one member is an attack on all.” Are you really wiling to commit our nation to war over….Montenegro….or Latvia?

 

Easy Fix for the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is dying.

The result of an irrigation accident over 100 years ago, the Salton Sink (below sea level) started filling with water, and having no natural outlet, the water’s getting pretty stagnant, toxic, and just plain yucky.

But the fix is easy.
  1. Run a high-capacity aqueduct inbound from the Gulf of California which lies to the south. Control the flow level from a valve at the seashore. No need to pump–water runs downhill.
  2. Choose a water level for the Salton Sea and keep it there by varying the flow of the inbound water.
  3. Build a parallel siphon water pipeline going uphill to the Gulf of California. Thus, creating an outlet for the Salton Sea. Continuously pump water out into the world’s oceans.
  4. Over time, the salinity will match that of the Pacific Ocean. Over time, the outlet will dilute toxins and return the region to ecological health. If necessary, water leaving the Salton Sea for the Gulf of California could be treated at the Ocean shore before flowing out.
  5. Seafront property will be created, ready for development and recreation. Fish and birds will thrive once again.

Pope Invites Charismatics and Pentecostals to Celebrate in Rome

Pope Francis, whose closest colleagues in his homeland of Argentina may have been Alpha Course Anglican Charismatics, has invited Protestant Charismatics and Pentecostals to join him in Rome to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Roman Catholic Charismatic renewal.

This weekend is Pentecost (see Acts 2 in the Bible). The celebration original outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the infant Christian Church in Jerusalem 50 days after the Resurrection of Jesus.

Pope Francis will be hosting a huge gathering outdoors at the Circus Maximus on Saturday night.

Let’s see if he sings in tongues…..

Full story in the Catholic Herald: LINK

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2017/05/03/pope-plans-pentecost-celebrations-with-charismatics-and-pentecostals/

My Seven Secrets Book Made the Top 500

Was surprised to see my fourth book, The Seven Secrets of a Meaningful Life, on the top 500 list for self-help books.

Kinda like making the Fortune 500 in this field.

I will be doing a book signing at Hosanna! Lutheran Church in Lakeville, Minnesota, on Father’s Day weekend in just a few weeks (June 17-18 after each service) as long as supplies last.

You can find the church at: http://hosannalc.org

The website for my book is: http://sevensecretsbooks.com

You can see the whole list of 500 self help books at: https://websitefinder.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/500-motivational-and-self-improvement-books/

 

The “New” Jesus


What happens when Jesus spends some time with his disciples after he is risen? Walking through walls, breathing on them...and what about Thomas? Does he get a bad rap? Listen...

Get US Out of the Middle East

Do no harm.

A good guideline when you are thinking about intervening in the affairs of another country.

The truth is, there is a gigantic civil war going on in the Middle East, engulfing many nations.

Basically, it’s between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, although it seems none of our leaders see it this way. Islam split into Sunni and Shiite factions soon after Mohammed’s death, mostly because of the death of Ali. You can look that up on your own.

Many hotter fighting areas…

-Yemen

-Syria

-Internal Iraq violence

…can be framed in these “greater regional civil war” terms.

So who are these groups?

SHIITES: Led by Iran, Shiites make up a majority of the population in Iraq, Yemen, Hisbollah, and have a hold on power in Syria (whose leaders are backed by Russia).

SUNNIS: Let by Saudi Arabia, this gang includes ISIS, the wealthy smaller Gulf States, most Palestinians, Al Qaeda, and large minorities in Yemen and Iraq.

This fight has been going on for almost 1,400 (!) years. We Americans aren’t aware of it, don’t understand it, and our current foreign policy (since Bush II) has been to fight against both (!) sides.

Basically our bogeymen are ISIS/Al Qaeda (Sunnis) and Iran (Shiites). We are against both sides. Thus we blunder along, escalating and adding lethal US firepower to the centuries-old civil war by attacking both sides.

We try to get our “ally” Saudi Arabia to help us fight ISIS, which is never going to happen. Those are their brothers in faith; their allies against Iran in the big chess game for Middle East leadership. Remember, the 9/11 attackers were all Saudi Al Qaeda operatives. Saudi Arabia’s national interest is to block Iranian expansion by supporting Sunnis (wherever they are) as they fight Shiites. And we give them money and arms to do so.

In Iraq and Syria, on the other hand, we are (strangely enough) ALLIES with Iran. Iran props up the (Shiite) Iraqi government that emerged after we got rid of the Sunni leader, Saddam Hussein. ISIS (Sunnis) formed itself to push back on Shiite domination of Iraq.

I won’t even start on Syria. In order to fight ISIS there, we have to ally ourselves with….Assad and the Russians who are fighting ISIS.

As there are no good guys in this fight to be found, we continue to complicate and escalate the situation with every action we take over there. Often arming both sides.

It’s time to get out of the Middle East altogether. We can’t solve the Sunni/Shiite fight. “Do no harm” would be a better foreign policy in the region. Israel can take care of itself–no one has attacked them since 1973 (about the time they got nukes).

I love the words of Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty) on the Middle East: “We need to get out of there–most of them are mean.”

Could not have said it better myself.