T   P   O
The Patient Ox (aka Hénock Gugsa)

G r e e t i n g s !

** TPO **
A personal blog with diverse topicality and multiple interests!

On the menu ... politics, music, poetry, and other good stuff.
There is humor, but there is blunt seriousness here as well!

Parfois, on parle français ici aussi. Je suis un francophile .... Bienvenue à tous!

* Your comments and evaluations are appreciated ! *

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Evil of Bureaucracy - by TPO

Hannah Arendt
The Evil of Bureaucracy *
- Hannah Arendt -

Regarding the malevolent and persistently ever-present human creation known as "bureaucracy", American political theorist Hannah Arendt (October 14, 1906–December 4, 1975) has a few choice words on the subject:

The greater the bureaucratization of public life, the greater will be the attraction of violence. In a fully developed bureaucracy there is nobody left with whom one could argue, to whom one could present grievances, on whom the pressures of power could be exerted. Bureaucracy is the form of government in which everybody is deprived of political freedom, of the power to act; for the rule by Nobody is not no-rule, and where all are equally powerless we have a tyranny without a tyrant.

Considering other theorists’ definitions of power as “the instinct of domination” driven by the urge “to command and to be obeyed,” Arendt argues bureaucracy is its greatest aberration:

     These definitions coincide with the terms which, since Greek antiquity, have been used to define the forms of government as the rule of man over man—of one or the few in monarchy and oligarchy, of the best or the many in aristocracy and democracy, to which today we ought to add the latest and perhaps most formidable form of such dominion, bureaucracy, or the rule by an intricate system of bureaux in which no men, neither one nor the best, neither the few nor the many, can be held responsible, and which could be properly called the rule by Nobody. Indeed, if we identify tyranny as the government that is not held to give account of itself, rule by Nobody is clearly the most tyrannical of all, since there is no one left who could even be asked to answer for what is being done. It is this state of affairs which is among the most potent causes for the current world-wide rebellious unrest.

* Excerpted from Hannah Arendt's "On Violence".
Source: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/tag/politics/page/6/

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bird on the Wire - by Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen
 Bird On The Wire
by Leonard Cohen
// === // === //
Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.
Like a worm on a hook,
like a knight from some old fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons for thee.
If I, if I have been unkind,
I hope that you can just let it go by.
If I, if I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Beethoven's Take on Mozart - by TPO

please click on picture to enlarge
please click on picture to enlarge
Beethoven's Take on Mozart
by TPO
~~~ // ~~~ 
Beethoven: 12 Variations 
for Cello &  Piano in F major
 Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen, Op.66

Only Beethoven could do even greater justice to Mozart's work without losing the magic and serene excellence!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Mighty Dragonfly - by The Old Redhead

The Mighty Dragonfly
- Another close encounter of the natural kind -
 reported by The Old Redhead *

One pretty day, while standing on our lake-cabin deck, I was again wondering what to do about the weed patch we commonly refer to as 'the lawn' when I noticed a small swarm of gnats pirouetting in the sunshine.

I normally wouldn't give much attention to a small swarm of gnats, since I'm a farm boy, but this one was different because just below it there was a dragonfly slowly going back and forth.

As I watched, the dragonfly suddenly changed direction and flew right into the swarm, flying this way and that, up and down, forwards and backwards, upside down and spinning on its tail, showing absolutely astounding aerial acrobatics. There was no way to tell if the dragonfly was eating or just killing; all you could tell is that the ranks of the gnats were getting thinner.

Twice, new dragonflies came to join in, but the first one chased them away and resumed its berserk decimation of the swarm. When it was all over, the dragonfly hovered for a couple of seconds and then flew off to do whatever dragonflies do.

It happened quickly -- surely not more than four or five minutes -- and I returned to peaceful contemplation of the weeds.

* Source: The Bulletin Board, St. Paul Pioneer Press

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It figures! - by TPO

It figures!

Pearls Before Swine (7/7/14) *
- Stephan Pastis -
please click on strip to enlarge
please click on strip to enlarge
* At its heart, Pearls Before Swine is the comic strip tale of two friends: an arrogant Rat who thinks he knows it all and a slow-witted Pig who doesn't know any better. And once in a while, the two friends run into a mutual friend called Goat. Together or apart, members of the trio offer caustic commentary on humanity's quest for the unattainable ...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Youthfulness - by Henry Miller

Henryy Miller  (1891-1980)

Thoughts on Youthfulness *

- Henry Miller (1972) -

If at eighty you’re not a cripple or an invalid, if you have your health, if you still enjoy a good walk, a good meal (with all the trimmings), if you can sleep without first taking a pill, if birds and flowers, mountains and sea still inspire you, you are a most fortunate individual and you should get down on your knees morning and night and thank the good Lord for his savin’ and keepin’ power. If you are young in years but already weary in spirit, already on the way to becoming an automaton, it may do you good to say to your boss — under your breath, of course — “Fuck you, Jack! You don’t own me!” … If you can fall in love again and again, if you can forgive your parents for the crime of bringing you into the world, if you are content to get nowhere, just take each day as it comes, if you can forgive as well as forget, if you can keep from growing sour, surly, bitter and cynical, man you’ve got it half licked.


I have very few friends or acquaintances my own age or near it. Though I am usually ill at ease in the company of elderly people I have the greatest respect and admiration for two very old men who seem to remain eternally young and creative. I mean [the Catalan cellist and conductor] Pablo Casals and Pablo Picasso, both over ninety now. Such youthful nonagenarians put the young to shame. Those who are truly decrepit, living corpses, so to speak, are the middle-aged, middleclass men and women who are stuck in their comfortable grooves and imagine that the status quo will last forever or else are so frightened it won’t that they have retreated into their mental bomb shelters to wait it out.
*Source: from Henry Miller’s “On Turning Eighty” … as posted by Maria Popova (http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/tag/philosophy/)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

McCain the Blunderer - by TPO

John McCain
John McCain: Blunderer-in-Chief
~~ -------- ~~
'Thank God for the Saudis': ISIS, Iraq, and the Lessons of Blowback *
by Steve Clemons
The Atlantic Magazine, Jun 23 2014.

U.S lawmakers [John McCain and his lap dog, Lindsey Graham] encouraged officials in Riyadh to arm Syrian rebels. Now, that strategy may have created a monster in the Middle East.

“Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar,” John McCain told CNN’s Candy Crowley in January 2014. “Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar, and for our Qatari friends,” the senator said once again a month later, at the Munich Security Conference.

McCain was praising Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services and a former ambassador to the United States, for supporting forces fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham had previously met with Bandar to encourage the Saudis to arm Syrian rebel forces.

But shortly after McCain’s Munich comments, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah relieved Bandar of his Syrian covert-action portfolio, which was then transferred to Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. By mid-April, just two weeks after President Obama met with King Abdullah on March 28, Bandar had also been removed from his position as head of Saudi intelligence — according to official government statements, at “his own request.” Sources close to the royal court told me that, in fact, the king fired Bandar over his handling of the kingdom’s Syria policy ...,

The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the “moderate” armed opposition in the country, receives a lot of attention. But two of the most successful factions fighting Assad’s forces are Islamist extremist groups: Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the latter of which is now amassing territory in Iraq and threatening to further destabilize the entire region. And that success is in part due to the support they have received from two Persian Gulf countries: Qatar and Saudi Arabia ....

ISIS, in fact, may have been a major part of Bandar’s covert-ops strategy in Syria. The Saudi government, for its part, has denied allegations, including claims made by Iraqi Prime Minister  Nouri al-Maliki, that it has directly supported ISIS. But there are also signs that the kingdom recently shifted its assistance—whether direct or indirect—away from extremist factions in Syria and toward more moderate opposition groups.  [But ,from the get-go, according to one Qatari official: "ISIS has been a a Saudi project."

The United States, France, and Turkey have long sought to support the weak and disorganized FSA, and to secure commitments from Qatar and Saudi Arabia to do the same. When Mohammed bin Nayef took the Syrian file from Bandar in February, the Saudi government appeared to finally be endorsing this strategy. As The Washington Post’s David Ignatius wrote at the time, “Prince Mohammed’s new oversight role reflects the increasing concern in Saudi Arabia and other neighboring countries about al-Qaeda’s growing power within the Syrian opposition.”

Like elements of the mujahideen, which benefited from U.S. financial and military support during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and then later turned on the West in the form of al-Qaeda, ISIS achieved scale and consequence through Saudi support, only to now pose a grave threat to the kingdom and the region. 

John McCain’s desire to help rebel forces toss off a brutal dictator and fight for a more just and inclusive Syria is admirable. But as has been proven repeatedly in the Middle East, ousting strongmen doesn’t necessarily produce more favorable successor governments. Embracing figures like Bandar, who may have tried to achieve his objectives in Syria by building a monster, isn't worth it.

* Source:  http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/06/isis-saudi-arabia-iraq-syria-bandar/373181/

Monday, July 7, 2014

"Corporatist" America - as explained by Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader

Corporatist America 
 * Ralph Nader *

In a recent interview with blogger Dave Weigel of Slate, Ralph Nader discussed the current state of American politics. Mr. Nader was as usual, clear, sharp, up-to-date, and uncomplicated in his analyses of the issues covered. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bertrand Russell's Decalogue - by TPO

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
Bertrand Russell's Decalogue *

" ... a new Decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it."

1-   Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2-   Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3-  Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.

4-    When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

5-    Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

6-   Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

7-    Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

8-    Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

9-    Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.  [ TPO adds: Be daring and brave in speaking the truth! ]

10-    Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

* Source: Brain Pickings by Maria Popova