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

Saturday, February 21, 2009

By Way of Response

Attorney General Holder issued a challenge to America to stop being cowards on racial issues.
I have been waiting for decades for a foreign anthropologist or psychologist (assuming no American would dare touch the topic) to seriously examine the issue of selective slave breeding prior to emancipation. Such a study could shed light on how this might affect later generations.

After the ban on importation of slaves mandated by Congress in 1808 the slave breeding pens in Virginia and elsewhere got into high gear to make up for the loss. Slavery of indigenous people began in the New World almost the same day that Columbus stepped ashore. By 1500, more slaves were needed as the attrition rate among these unfortunates was ghastly. Importation began from West Africa in what would later be known as the Middle Passage.

The topic of purpose breeding is an extremely delicate subject and I take it up largely because dialogue about the subject, for a variety of reasons, has long been taboo among responsible authorities. But General Holder has issued a challenge, and here we go.

I intend to limit my comments to one result of this reprehensible practice among the dozens of possibilities that exist. Sexual selection of this sort practiced for many generations obviously has certain desired results and perhaps many surprises or disappointments. But one theme that courses through the literature on anti-bellum life is the erotic relationship between many slave owners and their bound women. If we simply consider the skin coloring of West Africans in say, 1700, to many of today's descendents something, indeed, must have happened along the way.

"Young women were often advertised for sale as "good breeding stock". To encourage child-bearing some population owners promised women slaves their freedom after they had produced fifteen children. One slave trader from Virginia boasted that his successful breeding policies enabled him to sell 6,000 slave children a year." Spartacus Educational

If the goal of some "masters" was to create someone they "owned",who resembled "Miss Scarlett",then they succeeded admirably. The gals ranged in complexion from "beginner brown" to "high yellow" on the way to becoming the object of his oafish designs; i.e.,someone light skinned who could never refuse him.

Unfortunately, a century later,Adolph Hitler,to further his delusion of a blond blue-eyed "Master Race", used a similar purpose breeding program. The Nazi horror show also put an abrupt end to the interest of many investigators in the then popular study of Eugenics as a possible aid to mankind. Such is often the fate of legitimate fields of investigation in the hands of scoundrels or cowards.

"While I was thus employed by my master, I was often a witness to cruelties of every kind, which were exercised on my unhappy fellow slaves. I used frequently to have different cargoes of new Negroes in my care for sale; and it was almost a constant practice with our clerks, and other whites, to commit violent depredations on the chastity of the female slaves; and these I was, though with reluctance, obliged to submit to at all times, being unable to help them." The Life of Olaudah Equiano the African (1789).

Perhaps enough time has passed to have a frank and honest conversation about race in America. I recall Carl Jung, the eminent psychologist, writing on race problems in our country, alluding to what he termed the, "American complex". I take this to mean that if unexamined a social disturbance can remain seething below the surface and later develop into a national pathology.

So with a black man finally in the White House and another as his Attorney General, I agree with Holder, and this could be the optimum time for an earnest racial dialogue.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Message From a Parallel Universe

Hello. We hesitate attempting this communique since efforts of this sort using worm-holes and the like to communicate have failed and, in addition, we don't even know if you really exist. Several learned factions among us insist the probability of parallel universes is significant but are probably not reachable in this fashion. However the events transpiring now are of such momentous import to us we are willing to try again to reach out to you.

Perhaps in your world an event as enormously significant has occurred and you will understand our excitement. We trust you will not be offended by the history lesson accompanying this dispatch but our realities may be so extraordinarily different this may be helpful.

In our world the pagan cultures extent in the Mediterranean regions and in the vast interiors which existed from antiquity ceased to function hundreds of years ago. With their demise the propensity for armed conflicts gradually ceased. The outbursts of Messianic frenzy which kept the mid-eastern region boiling for millennia also finally ebbed. It has since been determined a stubborn virus acquired from prolonged association with camels and goats may have been involved. Maybe your world also experienced such disturbances.

Four centuries we have been under the benign influence of various Eastern philosophies and our settlements have peacefully coexisted for generations. We have long enjoyed a viable social ethic based on mutual respect. The core of this system is the absolute insistence on non-intrusion and respect for persons, geographic divisions and cultures which continues. Perhaps your world has undergone similar transitions and lives peacefully as well.

This story prompting this outreach to you began long ago when an obscure sea gypsy whose name was Colon or Columbus, some confusion exists, but who was originally from Genoa attempted an illegal incursion into what we call the New World. This adventurer was apprehended by authorities and returned to our Old World in irons. Despite the absolute taboo on unwanted foreign intrusions very occasionally a willful perpetrator had made such an attempt in the distant past. This is no longer a problem with us. Perhaps some similar great villain existed in your past history.

Since this is the last known incident of it's sort it remains significant to us. Alas, all attempts to secure visitation permission with inhabitants of the two massive continents constituting this New World have been unsuccessful until lately. Two years ago word was received the inhabitants of both continents would entertain visitation by qualified Ethnologists and anthropologists. At once a massive effort began to secure and equip qualified teams from all sections of the Old World to take advantage of this great opportunity with dozens of simultaneous sorties

Of course the coastlines of both areas have been mapped and charted for hundreds of years and during the last century non-intrusive high altitude fly-overs by air and satellite have been performed. But nothing at all is known of the interiors or the inhabitants of the regions other than what could be gleaned from a distance. We know of the existence of what appear to be modest sized city-states linked by extensive waterway transportation and massive forested areas in the north continent. Much the same has been noted in the south region with the addition of many vast, apparently ceremonial, sites.

The prospect of these simultaneous expeditions into the great unknown regions has excited the scientific community and the public as well. We are most willing to relay the findings of these excursions to your world if contact is possible
. Goodbye.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Birthday Boy Turns 200

Anticipating a year-long dust up occasioned by the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, consider this. The author of The Origin of Species wrote “I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term Natural Selection.” The scientific conclusions of Darwin regarding our ancestry doesn't satisfy the spiritual teachings of many. If, as has happened quite often recently, public school boards around the country are inserting a particular faith-based version of The Origin of Species into the curriculum, a plea for fairness is needed. Since we are a democratic nation, let's put to a vote which faith-based version is used.

Now if the criterion for inclusion in any curriculum in a public school is to be determined in juxtaposition to scientific consensus, let us begin with the time factor. Age over rhetoric for this discussion. Science agrees that the Earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago. That figure is the result of many branches of science reaching common agreement.

So in selecting a faith-based estimate of how much time has elapsed since the Creation, let us examine the tenets of a few contenders.

Christians, Moslems, and Jews set the time of Creation about the same at 4000 B.C. (Yes, they actually agree on something!) Okay, since we all mostly cut our teeth on Genesis, I won't give it much space. So the position of roughly one-third of everybody is that it all started about 6,000 years ago.

The Zoroastrians posit the transition from the infinite to the finite we are familiar with to have occurred in the span of 12,000 years. We have a doubling of time here already.

Now the Chinese, traditionally, had a different take on how it was in the beginning and all that. They teach that the Creator woke from a sleep of 18,000 years and began to create. This took another 18,000 so they are in for 36,000 years. Hmmm, big difference.

The Japanese version of creation has the heavy and opaque cosmos slowly condensing into Earth and attribute millions and millions of years to the process. Now we have some big numbers.

Our last candidate, the Hindus, from the Vedas put it thusly: a day of Brahma lasts 4.2 billion years. Whoa, that's incredibly close to the science position. But a night of Brahma also lasts 4.2 billion years. During the day of Brahma, life exists, but no life during a Brahma night. The cycle goes on and on for a hundred Brahma years.

These are among the candidates whose cosmogony mentions a time frame in connection with Creation. If we are to allow a Creationist position opposing the scientific one in the public schools, which is the most plausible story? Be fair now and cast your vote

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mr. President, You Do it All the Time

On the 36th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, President Obama said that it “stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters.” I would like to call Mr. Obama's attention to a few of the ways his government does indeed intrude — all the time. So much so that is taken for granted, it appears.

The Government mandates:

1.With whom and when one may marry.

2.The age at which one can have sex.

3.With whom or with what one may or may not have sex.

4.The degree and content of "prurient" subjects permitted access.

5.The age at which one can marry.

6.The nature of sex acts permitted.

7.The regulation of mind/mood altering substances.

8. Regulation of birth control devices and practices. And finally:

9. Permitting/ denying the right of choice.

So "our most private family matters" are indeed subject to constant and capricious regulation and inspection by the government. The choice granted under Roe v. Wade is a good example of the government decreeing what is permissible in regard to one's own body. It does not matter how one views the outcome of this ruling and that is especially true in the case of the President. For him to speak so as a private citizen is perfectly okay but totally unacceptable in his present capacity. His words carry the solemn weight of the law as well as the spirit. If he truly wishes to keep the government out of our bedrooms he has four years to work on it.

Mr. Obama tells us in The Audacity of Hope, "...the government should not interject itself into civil society" but is not his statement on private family matters exactly that? He seems to back away from responsibility by stating, "Of course, there are limits to the bully pulpit". A reflective President cannot have it both ways; particularly if he has had a long career teaching law to others.

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"