Ascending Mexico’s highlands: Part One. Subiendo el altiplano: Parte Uno.

Stone heads of La Venta . The Olmecs.  (Walker is well-behind 20-ton sculpture)

We’ve just returned from a wonderful trip, commencing at the Gulf of Mexico, near Villahermosa, gradually moving upland to about 7000 feet, at San Cristóbal de las Casas, in Chiapas – the southern-most state.  

Up front, I want to tell readers what a peaceful experience we’ve had, living and traveling in Mexico.  Yes, all countries have violence.  (Look at daily mass-shootings, of four-or-more victims in schools and churches in US, and compare that to cartel corpses hanging from bridges in Mexico – along with some violent robberies – asking which is worse – not that anyone wishes to compete in these categories!)  O, may equality of opportunity come soon, to both lands!  AMEN.  

From the sculpture park at La Venta, our attentive and thorough tour-guide, Marina Aguirre, took us to the Lacandon jungle where a small number of Mayan families have governed the jungle, and retained many of their ancient cultural practices.  We stayed at a welcoming but modest inn, called TOP CHE run by one of these families, and we also visited nearby ruins on the mighty Usumacinta River, by boat, not by “rafting”. 

TOP CHE Camp, Lacandon jungle

Grandfather Enrique, & clan : grandaughter Top Che, biggest smile, back row.

River boat, to Yaxchilán ruins.

Our sturdy, steady, river pilot –he looks like a La Venta head! no?

Marina addresses group of 17 at entry of protective maze to Yaxchilán.

Great mound & stele, along “superhighway” of river.

More to come, in Part Two : Palenque, and San Cristóbal de las Casas.

 

 

 

 

 

TWO BOOKS : Why Religion?, AND, The Alphabet Versus The Goddess

Admit it.  You’re a believer.  You believe in something, many things.  Anyone who has ever taken Philosophy 101 has heard this question: why is there something rather than nothing? (Nothing is what the rocks dream of, wrote Aristotle.)  You “believe” but the varieties of belief are vast.  Perhaps you believe in a god of wrath who, like santa claus, knows naughty from nice ;  or in ha satan (Hebrew for the accuser: AKA satan, the boogey man) ;  or in material reductionism (a determinism which denies free will, arguing that atomic force-fields comprise reality, denying that you have any choice) ;  or in a Messiah (ever-present, or yet to come, and/or in an attendant Holy Ghost) ;  or in The Church of Medicine (no heretics or free-thinkers allowed) ;  or naturopathy ;  or in sex-drugs-and rock’n’roll ;  or simply in gardening your beliefs.   Interpretation is everything.  And culture shapes our beliefs.  So, on to the two books . . . 

I’ve just finished reading both books depicted above, back to back.   What a fabulous experience!  I read the Alphabet book first, but at 450 pages, I suggest you start with Why Religion?, as it’s faster paced, and gripping.  I’ve enjoyed several books by Elaine Pagels, and am stunned by the candor of her storytelling here.  It’s autobiographical — painfully so.  She relates the loss of her first child, age 6, followed by the death of her husband, a prominent physicist, a year later while on a group hike, shortly after they had adopted two infants.  (I’ll put her book alongside a classic by CS Lewis, titled A Grief Observed.)  While the Pagels book could be prickly for someone recovering from loss of a loved one, her telling contains blessings, and surprises.  (Read it before gifting it.)  It contains much wisdom about consoling the bereaved.  She deals with anger, rage, superstition, alcoholism, depression, theology, and much more.

Next, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, was written by a nuerosurgeon who was also a competent scholar with interests in history, anthropology, language, and gender-issues.  He, too, is a great storyteller — and his book argues compellingly that the world became a crueler place due to the invention of reading and writing, when matriarchy was displaced by patriarchy (and by its male hunting-parties and armies).  Momma! –this book is an education. And it’s in the collection at Merida English Library, with a Dewey number of 302.22.

The Pagels book can also be found there, as I have donated my copy to the collection.

 

 

ASSIMILATION : Todos Somos Extraños ; ¿¿We’re All Outsiders??

Self Portraits, by Cecilia Paredes @Museum of Latin American Art, until December 30.

¿ Is there a distinction between “foreigners” and “outsiders” ?  Adults in Mexico, as elsewhere in the world, tell children not to talk with strangers (extraños).  This word can also be translated as outsiders or even as weirdos.  In some sense we’re all strangers in a mixture called culture. And it’s often entertaining.

FOREING CLUB BAR   c.72@c.43, centro Merida, Yucatan, MX

Yes, culture is entertainment, but there is more to it than being entertained.  “We” seem especially to love it when people fail.  The current US president has made a career out of entertaining by firing people for failing to satisfy his demands.  His most recent farce has been on TV, meeting with the leaders of Congress.  Ultimately he (and his fellow citizens) are big losers for the distraction he has caused with his brand of enterainment, rather than working to improve the social fabric by governing reasonably.  He has refused to govern, instead choosing to distract by focusing attention on himself.

He is not a foreigner, nor even an outsider.  He is a weirdo, in terms of governance, rejecting skill in that discipline — which always requires compromise, resulting in both sides of a deal feeling that they got the best possible deal, under the circumstances.  (This way, everybody wins.)  But in his view there is no winner unless there is a big loser.   (His father reportedly taught him that there are only two kinds of people: killers who become kings ;  and losers.)  This seems a dangerous sociopathology.  But the purpose of my post is to explore fitting in.

Humankind is a social species, like ants and honeybees.  Some biologists view the beehive as a single organism. And that observation can be extended to humans.  Using a Greek word meaning organs, St Paul says, literally, that we are each others’ organs, which largely goes unnoticed in today’s English translations, rendered variously as we are members one of another (see especially verses 4 and 5).  But tribalism is a problem :  us and them; who’s in? — and who’s out?  “The Other.”  Which reminds me of a poem by Edward Markham, and another verse of scripture, from Genesis.

                    He drew a circle that shut me out –
                    Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
                    But love and I had the wit to win:
                    We drew a circle and took him In!

Genesis 49:10   The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one[*]  to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor. –NLT

49:10 El cetro no se apartará de Judá, ni la vara de gobernante de entre sus pies, hasta que venga Siloh[*], y a él sea dada la obediencia de los pueblos. –BLA

* The Hebrew word transliterated into a Latin alphabet as Shiyloh, Shiloh (ENG) Siloh (SPAN) – can be rendered “the owner” (which concept is sometimes translated as Lord, in English; or Señor, in Spanish).

I have no idea how to love a man who has such a view of life as to aspire to rule by being “a killer”.  But I’m relieved to be reminded of Who is truly in charge.  Global citizenship requires this effort of inclusion.  I aspire to being an upstanding citizen.  ¿ How’bout you ? — What can we do, together, to recognize Divine Government?

 

Book Review. NonCompliant : A Lone Whistleblower . . .

NonFiction Heist Thriller of Biggest Theft, Ever!

She rats out the banksters. The author, is a lawyer and former Federal Reserve employee.
 

A smoldering author-interview ready to burst into flames, below.

Wall Street’s Corruption Runs Deeper Than You Can Fathom
Excerpt from author interview :

Noncompliant explores one of the darkest chapters in modern American history, but with a crooked, unabashed narcissist occupying the Oval Office, its lessons are proving remarkably timely. “We live in a culture where we reward bad behavior, we worship bad behavior, and it’s something that needs to stop,” she cautions. “Changing the regulatory culture on [a] U.S. governmental level is something that’s going to take a decade, maybe two. And we need to start now, before things get worse.”

CS [author]: One of the things that happened as a result of Glass-Steagall coming down was that a lot of the investment bankers were allowed to take over the commercial banks. And those investment bankers knew nothing about banking, and Goldman is a great example of that. I mean, when I arrived three years in after the financial crisis, what was one of the things that was very shocking to me was going into meeting after meeting with Goldman senior management and hearing them lie, doublespeak, and most shockingly of all, insist that they didn’t have to comply with the law. And that is a problem. Because a bank that doesn’t believe, or management at a bank that doesn’t believe they have to comply with the law–you bet they are not supervising their employees correctly, and they’re not incentivizing employees correctly in terms of how to do their job. So their behavior is injecting enormous risk into the system.

RSWhy should they think they should comply with the law when they got the law written and they could get it rewritten? I mean, after all, the treasury secretary, who pushed in the Clinton administration, right, to get rid of this restraint of Glass-Steagall and allow companies like Goldman Sachs to cross that line, was Robert Rubin. And he had been a top executive at Goldman Sachs. In fact, people used to refer to it as Government Sachs, that they had people all over the government, and it was a revolving door. And I want to point out that what you did, which was really unique–you had the guts to record these conversations. When you finally got to have your say before Congress, you could be backed up because you had the record. And tell us about that record. The conversations you recorded are absolutely chilling in describing an atmosphere of cynicism; you know, corruption; contempt, actually, for the political process and for restraint and regulation.

CSYeah. And I would sort of add that part of what the book sort of points out is that I didn’t really get my say. I mean, Congress did hold a hearing, but they did not invite me to testify. They didn’t want to hear what I had to say. And so I think what we have in terms of this story is really not just a failure of the banks and the regulators, but also a failure of our prosecutors. I mean, a lot of the statutes that could be used–criminal statutes, even, that could be used to hold these executives accountable are not being used, and they have not expired; we could have prosecutors holding these people accountable. We could have trial lawyers filing cases and holding these people accountable. Yet we can’t count on them to do it; we can’t count on the judiciary to do anything about it. I mean, when you read about what happened in my case in the book, it’s tragic, you know? It’s unbelievable.

THE POWER OF HUMOR, and Thanksgiving!

The political cartoonist who drew the above item, Rob Rogers, was recently fired by his paper in Pittsburgh for being “too political”.   ¿ Sorta like a president being unpresidential, no?  Rogers lost his job, but still appears in syndicated publication. Cartoonists stick together, and are a political force.  I visit their site daily to see what they’re drawing.  And today I updated the Wikipedia page on this topic to include a link to their collective contributions, with gratitude, for Thanksgiving Day. (Yes, gratitude is a force, too.  I’m grateful, among so many things, for our First Amendment, which allows us to speak power to authority, without risking our lives.)

Here’s what Wikipedia presently says to introduce its topical entry :

Editorial cartoon

An editorial cartoon, also known as a political cartoon, is a drawing containing a commentary expressing the artist’s opinion. An artist who writes and draws such images is known as an editorial cartoonist. They typically combine artistic skill, hyperbole and satire in order to question authority and draw attention to corruption, political violence and other social ills.[1][2]Developed in England in the latter part of the 18th century, James Gillray was a pioneer of the political cartoon.[3] Founded in 1841, the British periodical Punch appropriated the term cartoon to refer to its political cartoons, which led to the term’s widespread use.[4]

 

                WE’RE ALL IMMIGRANTS

Duct-taped water bottle,  PHOTOS by Tom Keifer, series linked below.

All magicians use distraction:  Look, over there!  Invaders!   (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, that armed bear, that loon with an extended-mag Glock who’s about to shoot up your place of worship, or your kid’s classroom, or your place of refreshment, or entertainment venue — who maybe can’t hold a driver license due to instability — but can easily buy military-grade assault weapons.)  They call this “states’ rights”, but whatever happened to our right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness?  

Ah, 2nd Amendment.  Our elected officials prefer to defend their own jobs rather defending public lives by creating a federally-regulated system of checks on gunners’ “rights” to arm bears, crazy-angry bears.  (¿ They can regulate, federally, whomever is allowed to fly a plane, but not who can buy an assault rifle?)  

Yes, a congress of cowards.  So, what about that phrase in the 2nd A? :  a well-regulated militia.  Apparently congress knows better than to poke a bear in its den, even if it will surely soon emerge again to ravage the nearest watering hole, or school, or church.  Yes, cowards, on both sides of the aisle.

Of course, the feds need to control borders, just as they need to control planes, and toxins, and fires, and weapons.  

I own a few long guns for sport.  I spent four years defending this nation.  I want our elected officials, many of whom have never served (other than themselves) to step up and defend the citizenry.  Guys, you’re way late!  You work for us.  Get busy bringing federal regulation to this insanity.  Be willing to lay down your careers for your neighbors!  Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.  ~Jesus

Photographer/designer Tom Keifer has done an eloquent job depicting the risks and costs of fleeing poverty — just as nearly all of our ancestors did – including President Trump’s first American ancestor, Friedrich Drumpf, who came to America in 1885, apparently to dodge the draft in Germany.   (I have no idea what Mr Keifer’s views might be on assault weapons, or politics, but I admire his photographic work.)

All detainees are stripped of their belts which are generally discarded. As they move through the court system and eventually deported, they wear pants with no belt and shoes with no shoelaces.   (All photos by Tom Keifer.)

 

SEE TWO COMMENTS.

COMMENTS CLOSED, DUE TO ATTEMPTED HACKS.

 

BREAKING NEWS : : NATIONAL CALL TO SHABBAT WORSHIP in memory of shooting victims in Pittsburgh synagogue, “censored/politicized” (buried) by npr?

Photo by Lawrie Cate, flickr; illustration selected by MeridaGOround

THIS IS NEWS. I think it is rare, and historic.  But it has already mostly been censored, pulled from view, (correction: my report originally said “less than an hour after appearing at npr” but that was based on a timestamp of 5:33pm,Nov.2 which may have been the audio version of a visible story which first posted online at 5:20pm, Nov.1 — but that does not excuse removal of a major invitation on the eve of such a solemn memorial.).  The link below is still working, as of now. The buried article (below) invites people of faith across America to attend Jewish services Saturday, in memory of the shooting in a synagogue in Pittsburgh:  

https://www.npr.org/2018/11/01/663123118/jewish-schools-and-centers-add-more-security-following-pittsburgh-shooting

Here is a peek at the headline of npr’s article, posted as fair use, considering journalistic practices:  <being paste of audio intro to above article>

Americans Of All Faiths Plan To Attend Shabbat Services In Solidarity With Jews

There is a call for non-Jews to join Jewish congregations this weekend in a show of solidarity. A rabbi and a pastor in St. Louis talks about the event, labeled #ShowUpForShabbat.

<end paste>

ADDED BY MeridaGOround :
Here, I believe, is the normal Jewish lectionary for the week, being read tomorrow (Sat Nov.3) :  1Kings1:1-31   (It reports on a change of leadership.)
The text, from the Complete Jewish Bible: https://www.biblestudytools.com/cjb/1-kings/1.html —
1 King David grew old, the years took their toll, and he couldn’t get warm even when they covered him with bedclothes.
2 His servants said to him, “Let us try to find a young virgin for my lord the king. She can wait on the king and be a companion for him, and she can lie next to you, so that my lord the king will get some heat.”
3 After looking through all of Isra’el’s territory for a beautiful girl, they found Avishag the Shunamit and brought her to the king.
4 The girl was very beautiful and became a companion for the king. She took care of him, but the king did not have sexual relations with her.
5 Adoniyah the son of Haggit was beginning to claim that he would be king; to this end he organized chariots and horsemen, with fifty men to run ahead of him.
6 (His father had never in his life confronted him by asking, “Why are you behaving this way?” Moreover, he was a very handsome man; he was born next after Avshalom.)
7 He conferred with Yo’av the son of Tz’ruyah and Evyatar the cohen; and they both supported Adoniyah.
8 But Tzadok the cohen, B’nayah the son of Y’hoyada, Natan the prophet, Shim’i, Re’i and David’s elite guard were not on Adoniyah’s side.
9 One day Adoniyah killed sheep, oxen and fattened calves at the Stone of Zochelet, by ‘Ein-Rogel. He summoned all his brothers the king’s sons, and all the men of Y’hudah the king’s servants;
10 but he did not summon Natan the prophet, B’nayah, the elite guard or Shlomo his brother.
11 Natan went to Bat-Sheva the mother of Shlomo and said, “Haven’t you heard that Adoniyah the son of Haggit has become king without the knowledge of David our lord?
12 Now, come, please let me give you advice, so that you can save both your own life and that of your son Shlomo.
13 Go, get in to see King David, and say to him, ‘My lord, king, didn’t you swear to your servant, “Your son Shlomo will be king after me; he will sit on my throne”? So why is Adoniyah king?’
14 Right then, while you are still talking with the king, I will also come in after you and confirm what you are saying.”
15 Bat-Sheva went in to the king in his room. (The king was very old; Avishag the Shunamit was in attendance on the king.)
16 Bat-Sheva bowed, prostrating herself to the king. The king asked, “What do you want?”
17 She answered him, “My lord, you swore by ADONAI your God to your servant, ‘Your son Shlomo will be king after me; he will sit on my throne.’
18 But now, here is Adoniyah ruling as king; and you, my lord the king, don’t know anything about it.
19 He has killed oxen, fattened calves and sheep in great numbers; and he has summoned all the sons of the king, Evyatar the cohen and Yo’av the commander of the army; but he didn’t summon Shlomo your servant.
20 As for you, my lord the king, all Isra’el is watching you; they are waiting for you to tell them who is to sit on the throne of my lord the king after him.
21 If you don’t, then, when my lord the king sleeps with his ancestors, I and my son Shlomo will be considered criminals.”
22 Right then, while she was still talking with the king, Natan the prophet entered.
23They told the king, “Natan the prophet is here.” After coming into the king’s presence, he prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground.
24 Natan said, “My lord king, did you say, ‘Adoniyah is to be king after me; he will sit on my throne’?
25 For he has gone down today and killed oxen, fattened calves and sheep in great numbers; and he has summoned all the king’s sons, the commanders of the army and Evyatar the cohen; right now they are eating and drinking in his presence and proclaiming, ‘Long live King Adoniyah!’
26 But he didn’t summon me your servant, or Tzadok the cohen, or B’nayah the son of Y’hoyada or your servant Shlomo.
27Is this authorized by my lord the king without your having told your servant who would sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?”
28 King David answered by saying, “Summon Bat-Sheva to me.” She entered the king’s presence and stood before the king.
29 Then the king swore an oath: “As ADONAI lives, who has delivered me from all adversity,
30 as I swore to you by ADONAI the God of Isra’el, ‘Your son Shlomo will be king after me; he will sit on my throne in my place,’ so will I do today.”
31Bat-Sheva bowed with her face to the ground, prostrating herself to the king, and said, “Let my lord King David live forever.”

 

 

Nobel Prize in Consumer Electronics

Electrtonic mosquito racquet

Yeah, yeah, there is no such prize category.  But there should be!  And the iPhone doesn’t need a prize, as it has already won the market.  

So, here’s the first nomination.  This little gem will help you tame the turf inside your house — and it gives such satisfaction to hear it bark and see it spark, when you connect with one of those evil bloodsuckers, mid-air.  There are numerous brands and styles.  I prefer the plug-in variety, as batteries seem wasteful.  I always leave mine plugged into the wall so I know where to find it — it doesn’t hold much of a charge, fading after about a half-dozen kills.  (Of course the best control is good screening of windows and doors.)  But mosquitos get in when people enter or depart, so I sweep the area immediately.  

You can buy such racquets in larger grocery stores, from Amazon MX, and often at major intersections.  They really work.  In Spanish: raqueta de mata moscos. Good hunting!  

(NB:  swing gently – otherwise you will whack furniture, ruining the delicate device, which consists of three layers of metal mesh.)