This remark, taken from the headlines and attributed to Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner (du jour), will surely be used as a political football in the upcoming (read ongoing) campaign for POTUS in 2012, at least as long as Mr. Romney stays in the race.

The statement can be, and thus will be, interpreted as reflective of as anti-populist a stance as one might imagine, in spite of its author's pose with tassled loafer on hay bale (this was Iowa after all). In the context of the recent Supreme Court ruling claiming that corporations may enjoy the benefits of persons (for example spending the corporation's capital assets to back any candidate corporate leadership wishes to support), it projects a more grim and triumphal tone.

The latest catchword in the Oprah-ized American self-improvement catechism is mindfulness. Thanks to recent publications such as The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, those who are investigating higher consciousness or exploring meditation, along with those who are exploiting that aspiration, are creating a virtual echo-chamber in which "mindfulness" is reverberating 24-7.

I have noticed that parking spaces—white stripe lines painted on the street, for handicapped persons—are set back slightly further than the regular parking spot in front of them. I assume that this is for good reason—that the handicapped person generally may need more room for maneuver in and out of a parking spot.

This is an example in everyday life of the application of standards. I further assume that this is a standard for the crews that paint those lines. There are reasons for standards. It has to do with people’s capabilities, with their ability to perform and to learn.

Matsuoka Roshi often said that the Zen person has no difficulty following the sidewalks. What he meant by that, I think, is that conformance to trivial aspects of society are not really worth the trouble to resist. And if we are bogged down in that level of non-conformity, we will not have the time, energy, or awareness to avoid conforming in much more restricting or damaging ways.

Bucky, Zen & me

76_BuckyMe_copyI had the good fortune to meet R. Buckminster Fuller, to attend and listen to some of his lectures, and to be exposed to the thinking and teaching of this great, iconic American and mentor to my generation of design aspirants. Bucky’s life, philosophy and professional practice exhibited several parallels to Zen, from my perspective, and he anticipated much of the situation in which we now find ourselves, predicting many of the problems we are facing as a world-around society, and came up with solutions through a process he described as comprehensive anticipatory design science, anticipating burgeoning problems before it is too late. For example, he said, over fifty years ago, that the main problem would not be energy, but access to water.

I was born in March of 1941, and over the next half a decade, as only a young child can, became vaguely familiar with the fact that there was a war going on.

I still remember seeing the seemingly endless military transports, men and weapons in camo, parading through the small and relatively insignificant town of Centralia, Illinois, centered in the corn and soy bean fields in the southern half of the state, about an hour due east of St. Louis, Missouri, the East-West axis metropolis; and complemented by Chicago on the North-South axis, where I would later pursue higher education and find the love of my life.

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