Monday, October 17, 2011

My Mantra

I must confess to having a secret. In the summer of 1969 I was a student at UO in Eugene OR. I was on the verge of somthing, threatened by Vietnam and the draft, lacking funds to continue school, and essentially adrift. I met an attractive young lady who introduced me to Transcendental Meditation.
I remember my introduction to TM very clearly. It consisted of meditating with a "guru" (young blond hippy guy). There were lots of flowers and incense. The key to the practice seemed to be the receipt of my mantra. The mantra is a simple two syllable sound silently repeated during the meditation practice. He whispered my mantra to me. It imbedded itself on a permanent basis.
I never became a true devotee of TM but I have used the meditation practice throughout my life in order to reduce stress, relax, and free my mind of the cacaphony of daily existence. It seems that the quiet and disciplined repetition of the mantra combined with deep breathing is very effective at isolating the thought processes from the world at large. This is a private and solitary pursuit.
My mantra is the only pure secret I have. I have never shared it with anyone. I have the feeling that if I were to do so it would be somehow diminished. I wonder if there is anything to this or if I am jealously guarding a "secret" simply because I am able. Perhaps it is not even wise to admit that I have a secret. Oh well, the cat is out of the bag now...

Friday, January 14, 2011

New "Iconic" Floor

The University of Oregon has unveiled the floor de-sign of the new Matthew Knight arena. You are forgiven if you "don't get it". I don't either. At least we can rest assured that it cost a lot of money. Following are highlights as I understand them.

1. Graphics of Douglas-fir trees surround and overwhelm the floor creating a dizzying if not muddy image. The orange and brown color gives the impression of a stand of trees dying from a bark beetle infestation.

2. Slogan - Deep in the Woods. Does this refer to the plight of the visiting team or the tax payer?

3. Other Slogan - Kilkenny Floor. This is an obscure homage to the other rich guy (aside from Phil Knight) who has "contributed" to the university. For those lacking local knowledge this might well be misinterpreted as an advert for the manufacturer or installer of the floor.

4. Best Confusing Image - Thingy bob under the big O. While at first glance indecipherable, I am informed that this is a creative styling of the name MATT referring to Matthew Knight, deceased son of Phil Knight and namesake of the arena. An untutored reading of this might be TAT or MAM. According to the official explanation this image is constructed of two Japanese Torii (gates) bracketing the letter A. I didn't see this until it was explained. What the image of the Torii has to do with basketball, Matthew Knight, UO etc. is a mystery. My impression is that it is a rather fuzzy attempt at a display of spirituality. Perhaps the designer is not aware of the close relationship of the animistic Japanese Shinto religion and its close ties to militarism and the cult of the Emperor.
5. On a Practical Note - Where is the center line? Can the players see it? I can't. What is the effect on the psyche of visiting players? Is this an effort to render them disoriented?

In summary it is the humble opinion of this author that the design of this court is confusing, inconsistent, and excessively ambitious. My suggestion would be to sand it down and start over. How about a simple image of a Duck? As a UO alumnus I would find this preferable.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Courtesy of Jack Bog's Blog

At a time when the nation could use some cheering up -- and the need for civility in discourse is on everyone's minds -- here is a collection, sent to us by a friend last week, of high-class insults:

The exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor: She said, "If you were my husband I'd give you poison." He said, "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease." "That depends, sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

"He had delusions of adequacy." - Walter Kerr

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." - Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." - Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." - William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it." - Moses Hadas

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." - Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." - Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend... if you have one." - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second.... if there is one." - Winston Churchill, in response.

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." - Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." - John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial." - Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others." -Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." - Paul Keating

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily." -Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." - Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?" - Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." -Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.." - Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination. " - Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." - Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." -Groucho Marx

Vitriol, Violence, and the American Politic

We (or at least the great majority) of Americans were greatly saddened over the weekend by the senseless killings in Tucson Arizona. America's body politic has again been tested by our proclivity towards vitriol and violence. Following are some thoughts we would do well to consider:

1. We do not agree as a nation on a wide variety of issues. This is hardly new. States rights vs. Federalism, the role of religion, gun rights, foreign policy, and immigration will continue to be subjects of debate and hopefully compromise.

2. We seem to forget or overlook the value of government. I believe that the more recently expressed hatred for government is quite likely the result of a lack of understanding and consideration of both the proper role of government and the benefits resulting. With a democratic representative government we are responsible for the election of representatives who write and pass the laws. Complete rejection of the value of government is it seems a clear case of self-loathing if not just ignorance.

3. There seems to be a cycle of rhetoric which results in violent outbreaks. The effect of whoever shouts the loudest and makes the most extreme points has the result of gradually increasing the level of anger and feelings of isolation among those espousing the views. This has been exascerbated greatly by the freedom of the internet, but is fueled by leaders in our own government. A recent example has been the tenor of the Republican campaign against the Democratic opposition. Please consider for example Sarah Palin's use of a map with targets overlayed to demonstrate actions which she would have us take:

4. Our political leadership should take as much blame as the fringe groups. Personal attacks on the opposition whether from one party or the other, lead the electorate to believe that our Representatives, Senators, and administration are bad people with evil intent. This is made worse by the use of simplistic sound bites and marketing phrases used to increase the level and fear and anger rather than to inform the issue. A good example is the use of the expression "Death Panels" to describe end of life care provisions in the new health care law. If you hear this repeated enough times it soon becomes the definition of the issue, regardless of its lack of actual content or accuracy.

5. The expanded reach and freedom of the media has thrown more fuel on the fire. Fox News, MSNBC, and the blogosphere in general have contributed greatly to the lack of respect and personal attacks on leaders from both sides. I have been a long time reader of a local blog here in Portland. Jack Bog's Blog ( has been an excellent source of information about state and local politics and economics. However, recently the quantity of personal attacks against everyone from the President to the Governor to the our Mayor have increased to the point where I decided to cease reading it. A good example was Jack's coining of the name Mayor Creepy to describe Sam Adams, the Mayor of Portland. I found that I was no better than Jack or many other readers when it came to heaping scorn and personal attacks on the Mayor. No, I don't agree with Sam Adams on a range of issues and culturally we are worlds apart, but is anything positive gained by the constantly increasing personal attacks? I don't think so.

6. It is time to reel in the anger and provide role models based on respect and civil discourse. Leadership will be required to accomplish this. I wonder if Jack Bog could go for a full week without using the expression Mayor Creepy, or describing our President in such negative terms. Would this have a positive effect on the tenor of the comments to his blog?
You can take personal action now by not giving in to the urge to "pile on". You can refrain from personal attacks on our elected officials and government workers. This does not mean you have to agree or condone all positions and actions. As a nation we can decide to work together for the best solutions to our problems or we can take the approach recently demonstrated in Tucson. It is up to you.