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Soon-ok and I have been watching some BBC history documentaries on Ireland, Scotland, and the earliest days of the British monarchy.
Fascinating stuff, real eye openers…
…and a very interesting look at what it really means to have a small government.
Make no bones about it, in the aftermath of the fall of Roman colonial rule, the tiny part of Britain that had been civilized soon lapsed into the ugly despotism of warlord rule.
In the areas “beyond the pale” (to use a later term), things were just as bad:
A near endless state of conflict, greed, and fear, with whoever could promote themselves as the local strong man pretty much running things as they saw fit.
Yeah, isn’t it romantic to watch movies and read books set in those bucolic, halcyon days when everyone lived a simple peasant life close to the land, close to nature?
vs The Real
Seriously, try The Seven Samurai on for size; don’t look at the swordplay, look at just how frightened and desperate the villagers are.
That’s your era of small government.
run to the hills
hills won’t save you
run to the sea
sea won’t save you
run to the sky
sky won’t save you
run to the deep
deep won’t hide you
run to the rock
rock won’t hide you
run to the grave
grave won’t hide you
can’t run from time
can’t run from fate
can’t run from crimes
can’t run from hate
can’t run from tide
can’t run from dues
can’t run from pride
can’t run from you
run to the slave
slave won’t carry you
run to the priest
priest won’t bury you
run to the whore
whore won’t marry you
run to the bank
bank full of rot
run to your friends
friends already forgot
run to the wedding
door shut in your face
run to the feast
can’t find you a place
run to the fields
what you gonna reap?
run to the shepherd
“did you feed my sheep?”
run to the past
past can’t hide you
run to the now
now can’t abide you
run to your hope
it’s lost in the wind
run to the devil
devil says “come right in”
This version © Buzz Dixon. It is a mash-up of the original African-American spiritual as well as being influenced by versions performed by Les Baxter, Nina Simone, The Weavers, The Wailers, Peter Tosh, Gordon Lightfoot, and others.
“If, for instance, a female character is introduced on the first page and all we learn about her is the color of her hair and the size/shape of her breasts, I’m unlikely to read the second page.”
– there’s more
“First, the locally-owned newspapers went to the publicly-traded newspaper chains, which promised economies of scale and great wealth to the owning families at the point of sale, as well as the preservation of editorial independence. It was a lie.
“Then the chains went to Wall Street, where analysts who only measure the health and purpose of any endeavor in terms of short-term, quarterly profits, demanded greater mediocrity long before the internet arrived to pressure the industry. The analysts promised greater profits than ever before. In the end, they lied and diminished the product just in time for digitization.
“Then the newspapers went to the internet hat in hand, afraid to charge for their weakened, eviscerated product and hoping against hope that giving the news report away for free would somehow encourage a revenue stream. The mavens of new media lied.
“And now, those end-game capitalists who will not be content until nothing — no societal need, no communal ambition, no other American ideal save for maximized profit — is left standing. They , will buy up the gutted newspaper carcasses, so that they can lie on a scale that makes all the previous dishonesty a trifle. They will regard what remains of the news report merely as a platform to advance themselves and their capital, just as they regard the political system as such.
“Once and forever, capitalism is a worthy tool and a necessary one for creating mass wealth, but as to the distribution and uses of that wealth within a society? No, capitalism is not a metric for anything but profit itself. This is the lie at the core of free-market ideology and libertarianism. And free markets are never the whole or complete answer when addressing any societal goal, compact or responsibility. It’s easy to make money when all you give a fuck about is making money, to invoke Orson Welles. And the Koch brothers and others of their kind wish to build a society that does little but transfer wealth to a select few while obliterating any other ambition for American society. If newspapers can help them secure that future, so be it.
(thanx & a tip o’the blogger’s cap to
Jonathan Korman for the tip off!)
I have just learned of the death of Richard E. Geis back in February of this year.
I am saddened to learn it, though not surprised, and certainly not surprised to have taken this long to become aware of it.
Dick was a loner, a recluse, a person more at home behind the keys of his typewriter than in face to face conversation.
I never met him,
but we were friends
for over 40 years.
so maybe there was this little boy
and maybe he wasn’t one of them
but was one of them
(you know: nigger
kike dago spick mick
slant gook cracker)
and it didn’t matter that his mother –
– ‘scuse, please, adoptive mother –
– was rich and famous and powerful
he was still one of them
and nobody liked him
because they had to treat him like he was one of them instead
…at least while his mom was looking
and maybe this little boy knew they didn’t love him
and maybe he knew they didn’t love him either,
because both “theys” thought of him as one of “them”
so no matter where he stood
he stood outside
and maybe his adoptive mother’s people
maybe they said to him, “Well, we can like you, we could like you, we would like you and let you play with us, if…”
[giggle] “If you suck our dicks.”
and the little boy
the poor, scared, lonely little boy
he was so eager to belong
belong anywhere that he swallowed drily and agreed and
at the wall behind the palace where nobody was looking he
got down on his knees and he sucked them off
and then maybe one of them said
“Now let us stick our dicks in your bum”
and he didn’t want to do that, this little boy, but he was so desperate, so lonely, so afraid of never belonging anywhere
that he agreed and bent over and grit his teeth as they took turns with him
and when it was over
as he was wiping the tears from his eyes
tears of pain and shame (and the shame burned hottest)
he asked, “Am I one of you now? Do I belong?”
and they laughed
and called him names
and kicked him and beat him
and told him if he ever told his adoptive mother
that she would hate him for shaming himself
and she would never ever love him again
and she would kick him out
and they would hold him in contempt
and beat him
and rape him
and treat him like the piece of shit he was
so he never told
and he suffered in silence
and he let it grow and fester and eat away at his soul
and as he got older he tried to reach out to the other them
but they would have no part of him
(because, after all, he was one of them)
and one day he saw one of his adoptive mother’s people
beating one of them
and the memories and shame came flooding back
and he killed that man
and he felt strangely good about it
thinking, Now I have done something that they will appreciate
Now they will see I really am one of them
Now they will accept me
but the very next day
when he tried to stop a dispute among his birth people from escalating into a fight
they said, “What are you going to do, kill us if we don’t obey you?”
and terrified –
– THEY KNEW!!! –
– he ran
because his adoptive mother couldn’t protect him
and her people would love to have a chance to put him in his place (little upstart)
so he ran and ran and ran
until miles away
he fell down in the sand
and wept as he had never wept before
and cried and howled in anguish
and hated those who had abused him raped him
and swore that if ever — EVER! — he had the chance to dictate the rules
he would see that bastards who raped frightened lonely children would die die DIE!!!
and he would punish them!
and he would hurt them!
and he would never EVER let another man do what had been done to him
(never really understanding
that what they did was rape
and had nothing to do with
genuine love or affection)
maybe this little boy never existed
or maybe he did
and maybe this never happened to him
or maybe it did
or maybe something like it
(c) Buzz Dixon
On another Christian forum, in a discussion about the lack of morals in the modern world (“morals” in this case being explicitly referred to as “Christian values”), I observed “At one point the Christian message swept the Mediterranean world, then on into Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor. Now it’s being weighed and found wanting by contemporary societies. Why is that? Has contemporary society changed all that much from the ancient & medieval worlds? Or have we as stewards of the Word gone adrift, and what we present to the world is not what Christ taught?”
The response I got — and from someone who considered this to be a good thing — was: “What was no doubt keeping the reprobate in check before was militant social ostracism and good old fashioned Puritan derision.”
In other words, judgmentalism & tyranny.
I don’t find Christ talking about that too often.
Well, actually, he does talk about them quite a bit.
But he has nothing good to say about either.
Look, ancient Rome had a plethora of various religions to choose from. Christianity caught on because it offered something that other religions didn’t: A world view free of fear and hate and selfishness. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” – John 13:35 KJV.
Don’t see much room for militant social ostracism and
good old fashioned Puritan derision in there, do you?
Let’s look at a perfect social laboratory to test out two competing worldviews:
“Militant social ostracism & good old fashioned Puritan derision” vs. unconditional acceptance.
Drunkenness has been a problem for at least as long as humans have been keeping records, probably a whole lot longer. In the 19th century a group of Christian women formed an organization called the Women’s Christian Temperance Union with the wholly logical & admirable goal of curbing the destructive influence of alcohol in this country. They launched a three pronged attack: Persuade people to stop drinking (abstinence pledges), persuade governments to outlaw the sale & consumption of alcohol (prohibition), and the hands on destruction of businesses that made or sold alcohol (terrorism).
In the 1920s they finally succeeded in getting Congress to pass and the prerequisite number of states to ratify the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Prohibition became the law –
– and the country promptly went to hell in a handbasket and has never recovered.
One can not dry out drunks by legislative fiat: They want their booze and they will get it. Rum runners soon sprang into business, bribing the very same authorities who had passed the law against alcohol sales to look the other way while they raked in millions.
Of course, with no legal controls on alcohol, the rum runners ended up policing themselves, and the streets of America ran red and even tiny rural towns saw sharp upticks in violence.
America finally wised up and ditched prohibition, but the damage was done and it has been permanent. We are still using prohibition today against drugs — throwing more people behind bars than any other nation on Earth & allowing investors to make money off of this by running private for-profit prisons. We have rampant political corruption extending not just from the drug trade but seeping into big business, politics, and the judicial system.
And people still drink…
And people still use drugs…
And the wicked make more and more money…
All because a group of sincere, well-intentioned Christians gave them the keys to the kingdom.
There’s another group with Christian roots that took an entirely different approach to alcohol abuse.
They sought no laws.
They smashed no saloons.
They demanded nothing of anyone.
They offered — free and unencumbered, open and available to all who asked — the only thing they could offer: Camaraderie in the face of the daily struggle against alcoholism.
They didn’t look for fame or power or money: They shun it to this day.
They just open their doors and welcome anyone who will come.
They don’t judge others for who they are, where they came from, or what they did.
All they do is try to help them get through one more day without drinking.
Their organization is based on the teachings of Christ.
But they never mention him by name.
They don’t require anyone to believe in anyone or anything other than some “higher power” that is stronger than they are, and that can help them get through the day without resorting to alcohol.
They judge not.
And they save lives.
They’re Alcoholics Anonymous and they are the single most effective group in combating drunkenness that the planet has ever seen.
And they do it one day at a time.
One drunk at a time.
“G.I. Joe is the code name for America’s daring, highly trained special mission force.
Its purpose: to defend human freedom against Cobra,
a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world.”
1970s / early 80s cartoons were often suckalicious pablum. Various groups and busybodies hammered the networks over violence, racial & religious references, and any hint of impropriety.
As a result all the juice got squeezed out of most shows long before they hit the air. They were sanitized, purified, and rectified.
We were told to produce entertaining programming, yet robbed of all tools to do so.
I worked on a show called The Little Clowns Of Happytown, an attempt to deliberately engineer a show for kids with no conflict, no violence, no “victim based humor”. For example, we couldn’t have the little clowns actually throw pies at one another, but a little clown could place a pie on the ground and then another little clown could accidentally trip and fall face first in it.
Beyond any shadow of a doubt,
the show was an abomination
in the eyes of God and man.
We shall speak of it no more.
So when toy companies found a loophole in FCC regs, big enough to drive 30-minute commercial thru, the syndication airwaves were choked with Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcakes, GoBots, Transformers…
…and G.I. Joe.
“At the height of its power, the photography company Kodak employed more than 14,000 people and was worth $28 billion. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has become Instagram. When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people. Where did all those jobs disappear? And what happened to the wealth that all those middle-class jobs created?” – Jaron Lanier: The Internet destroyed the middle class