The Brothers Karamazov

"Actually, people sometimes talk about man's 'bestial' cruelty, but that is being terribly unjust and offensive to the beasts..."
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

But Who Keeps Score?

In what I call the "Peoples History of Violent Death: 20th Century" counting the numbers of deaths caused by wars and violence has produced a tie score for first place and one surprising result.

Our late lamented century, old number 20, stands highest in the Pantheon of relentless carnage. In the numbers game it has no close competitor. Genghis Kahn had his fling as did the old Romans and many ghastly others whose benighted despotism spilled lakes of blood to be sure. But alas, no contest in the body-count business.

Our forefathers made a heroic try in the 19th century. Civil War here at home, French Revolution, some nastiness in the Crimea and around the horn of Africa, a few million Indians wiped out, but we need to get on to the big hitters, the ones who could spill oceans of gore. Just weren't enough folks and firepower to really get the numbers up until the planet got filled to the max in the dear old 20th.

Enter the big players. Not much to report early in the game. Then came 1914. Whew! Stand back or you might be splashed. From then on, till the last blood-drenched day of the century, all the old records for sheer slaughter were constantly being broken.

Emerging from the chaos, now that the smoke has cleared a little, we see the history tote board running up the totals:

Look at that! A virtual tie for first place!

It's spine chilling. But numbers don't lie. The winners, each with identical numbers in the corpse derby are:

The Western Nations with 83 Million Victims Slaughtered


The Communist Nations with 83 Million Victims Slaughtered

Give them a hand. Job well done!

Now, here's a surprise. Great numbers for a small nation. All alone in second place, it's:

Japan with 43 Million Victims Wiped Out

Way to go!

In third place is a motley collection of hard strivers composed of some Buddhists, Animists, partisans, tribes etc., ad nauseam, but the numbers are not that shabby:

24 million Victims Massacred

Well, somebody has to be last. Would you believe it's the Moslems?

All the recent demonizing of Moslems as blood-thirsty notwithstanding, the numbers are not there. A hundred years to show us what they got and it's pathetic. A measly 7 million victims done in, come on guys. 7 million out of a possible 240 million. Less than 3%. All talk and no action if you ask me.

So folks, if you want to do the math yourself, be my guest. The statistics are available at Twentieth Century Atlas-Death Tolls.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Courage, Mr. President

President Obama may, very possibly, be asked to accept the retirement of a senior Supreme Court justice early into his term of office. A vacancy on the high court involves a momentous decision that will impact generations to come. Since this is a lifetime posting, it is arguably the most important personnel choice any president can be called upon to make. The new President is urged to continue being as cautious and circumspect as he has been throughout his career.

However, following are the appropriate responses to arguments likely to be advanced by the political opposition and a few well intentioned, but timid, supporters regarding one potential candidate. The President will demonstrate great courage by rejecting false negatives when considering this superbly qualified candidate.

A Nominee first advanced, then dropped, from consideration for a high government posting by a former President because of political opposition should not be avoided, even if it costs some political capital.

A candidate who has expressed, taught and written of a fairer playing field for minorities and others, beyond the currently accepted parameters, should be seriously considered.

The new Chief Executive can put forward a candidate whose law theories he himself once taught at the University of Chicago School of Law, despite the possibility some might find this compromising.

Caution should be exercised in considering any candidate associated with a University not strongly grounded within the dominant social mores of the country. The Ivies, especially Harvard, are not to be dismissed due to the possible taint of elitism.

Should not the fact that a candidate teaches at Harvard as did her father and also her husband be cause for serious attention?

A nominee of mixed racial ancestry will avoid the possibility of personal bias. This goes doubly if her mother also happens to be Caucasian.

So, ignore caution, Mr. President, take the political risk. Be our hero. Make your first nominee to the United States Supreme Court, Professor Lani Guinier, the first black woman given tenure at Harvard Law School. Take the heat and do not pick a lesser candidate as a safe choice.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The 24/7 Enigma

Look at yourself, if you dare. What strange combination of wild genes and willful theft caused you to end up this way? How in the world did an otherwise garden variety ape lose his hairy overcoat and his sexual restraint and end up like you? Bare naked and blessed with 24/7 sex and pretty much unable to cope with it.

Well, granted the full time sex thing was nobody's fault; just a few genes run amok. Probably came in handy in the tussle between the early folks and those lumpen Neanderthals who had a bad attitude about newcomers. Fortunately those big gorilla's gals only came into season periodically (like any decent mammal actually) and so they avoided the women folk the rest of the time. Hah! Easy for the busy breeders to gang up on them and, well you know who won the laurels (and the real estate!).

About the theft thing. Maybe theft is too strong. Call it borrowing, really long term borrowing. (Of course everybody knows it was really stolen.) Yeah, yeah, blame it on Prometheus, poor old guy gets the blame every time. No, the early folks took it, the fire secret that is. Seemed the thing to do at the time. Look what it's led to, though. Another mixed blessing!

Now fire's a bit dicey to handle in your big furry overcoat so not much happened with it at first. But one day some little bundles of joy came along sans overcoats, starkers that is, and the game was on. All that bare skin! My, my, what next?

Our horny cousins, the Bonobo apes, gave us a run for a while in the eros department. They were really no match. Not with those tiny little patches of bare tush. What a joke. We have acres of lush, soft, silky epidermis and full time amor. No bothersome overcoats. Well just a token patch... for auld lang syne. Like the deer's white tail, a signal flag to keep everybody interested and alert.

Okay, just one of these deals, full time 24/7 naked sex and/or the secret of fire is enough to give any self respecting ape, whoops, human type, a world of grief. Both things together is a big, big pain. And it doesn't get any easier. There's this business of putting on and taking off of our surrogate overcoats. Clothes, that is. Big waste of time and energy, weaving and skinning and sewing. And the rules!
Oy vey. How much, how little, when ,where, on and on ad nauseam. But they had to have some cover up to keep order in the cave and make time to sweep out the joint and find something to eat.

Ah, truly a burden all this bare skin and full time sex business. But if they were only content with a nice bonfire , a decent barbeque, some new clothes... but no. Not to be. Got fire, all nice and warm, keeping the beasties away at night too, women folks close at hand, so now what? Well, the old cave and those same old ladies was getting boring, the kids were noisy, had to get out and have a look. See the world. Make some new stuff. Lots of stuff. Do things.

Thus it began.


Saturday, January 10, 2009


has lost prestige when:

Someone in Mumbai answers the phone.

The bank teller is not old enough to vote.

The company CFO is an English major.

Your drug dealer is your favorite aunt.

The pilot and copilot are both women.

Your representative in Congress formerly sold used cars.

The taxi driver was not born here.

The string section is predominately female.

The pool guy is paid in bananas.

The super is the landlord's ten year old son.

The governor has a parole officer.

Your anesthetist carries a hammer.

The President Elect is from Chicago.

Quoth the Raving



Julius Caesar

Veni,Vedi,Vici...Sidi ( I stuck around )

Uncle Sam


....Zero Gravitas

Quoth the Raving

All I know, all any of us know, is what we're told.

...Zero Gravitas


Quoth the Raving

If it walks like a depression, talks like a depression, and looks like a depression; it's a recovery.

...Zero Gravitas

Nice paint job

Nice paint job
Watch your step!

Quoth the Raving

Full scale War in Korea; we called it a Police Action
Police Action in Iraq; we call it a War.

...Zero Gravitas


Gene Pool?

Gene Pool?

Quoth the Raving

Ecology is an impending Black Swan quagmire therefore incorporation is anathema to Economists.

...Zero Gravitas


Quoth the Raving

An incoming US President who does not immediately resign his office after having received eyes-only briefings of what's really going on is hopelessly co-opted or delusional.
....Zero Gravitas

Quoth the Raving

We are now a nation of middlemen. What becomes of us if the center cannot hold?

....Zero Gravitas

Quoth the Raving


Why not use some of the red ink to make things Green?

....Zero Gravitas

"Ashes to Ashes"

"Ashes to Ashes"