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

Friday, October 30, 2009

We...the Inchworm

Modern societies make progress, if at all, much in the manner of the lowly inchworm.
This small creature makes its way by drawing its hind end forward while holding on with its front legs. It then moves its front section forward holding on with the rear legs.
In our society, the hind section could represent the more traditional, well grounded elements of our nature; the front portion is our more progressive, exploratory end. Far too often we, the creature, attempt locomotion without the portions working harmoniously. A scenario for disaster exists when the front and back ends bicker and quarrel and evince distrust as often happens these days.

The vanguard represented by the front end is constantly seeking new areas and novel actions without considering the stability or collective wisdom, even the very existence, of its conservative base. Conversely, that section, not sure of the direction it's being led, often instinctively holds back, fearing lack of foresight or wisdom at the front, thus retarding progress and harmony

This seeming dichotomy is the very nature of our society, and being the sum of our parts, is perfectly valid and natural. What is not valid is the malignant cheering sections that have formed around the opposite ends of our poor struggling organism. These massed collections of fans and detractors add little to the benign and wise nature of our journey through life, and are much given to chaos and partisanship at every move.

Please turn down the volume on this clamor and begin to quietly support the plodding struggle of a society whose destiny is only revealed by the inch.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Worst Money Idea Since Wampum

It is becoming clearer every day that the US dollar is in danger of losing out as the world's reserve currency. This privileged position has, since the late nineteen forties, enabled us to direct the destiny of the financial world almost at will. The collective voice of punditry now resounds with cries of the world headed for a 'basket of currencies' to replace the dollar.

This has got to be the worst money idea since wampum or those big rocks they used to use. No doubt this represents a boon for the basket weaving trade but think of the nightmare at the bank and grocer when making change. Now if say, a large 'basket of currencies' is 100 and change back is 40, that would require, what?, two 20 baskets, or four 10's. It gets cumbersome real quick. And those baskets, unless covered at all times are subject to capricious windstorms, playful kittens and the big ones with the handles, to the carelessness of perching starlings.

There is an alternative, however. During World War 2 airmen began to collect the local currency wherever they had duty. These bills were signed by friends and admirers, then taped together in long chains. They were called Short Snorters and were carried about at all times. Not being able to produce yours on demand occasioned being stuck for a round of drinks at the local pub.

Now isn't this much better than all those baskets? And as for making change, well...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Are Dawkins and Hitchens Haunted by Hellfire?

It's so sad. It really is. They both had such great promise when they were...younger. The aging process can create fear of what looms ahead and that frightens some of us; awfully much. Has it happened with them, I wonder?

We have two distinguished luminaries; one well known for scholarship, the other for... posh Brit speak? Both made significant marks early on; both now rapidly spiraling back from the 21st to the 12th century. Both seemingly riddled with the most appalling medieval superstition.

"Wait a minute", you say. "Hold it right there. Are you telling us the distinguished scientist Richard Dawkins and his side kick, the journo Christopher Hitchens, are both as superstitious as old village scolds? Giddoudahere!"

Well, anticipating your doubts I consulted my trusty Websters Twentieth Century, Unabridged, mind you, and here's the skinny:
1.any belief or attitude that is inconsistent with... what is considered in the particular society as true and rational...

Now today in Britain I would suppose 99.9% of the population (in the US even higher)
are believers, or at least nominal subscribers to some sort of faith which they consider true and rational. This is true of the rest of mankind and has been so since time immemorial. Not so with our hysterical friends whose ravings recently leave an ever so slight whiff of anti-brimstone all about. One could almost conjure the shades of an aroused, unbelieving rabble with pitchfork and torch.
(Nowadays, of course, closer to fondue warmers and really pointy swizzle sticks.)

Further along in my trusty Webster's lies a clue to the heightened rise in shrillness, and hissy-fit scourging of all vestiges of faith, wherever found lurking. A lapse into almost girlish histrionics at invocation of any minor deity. 'Militant Atheists',for Christ's sake, come on now!.

Perhaps this aha! moment with Webster's explains the recent explosion of anti-religious fundamentalism represented by our pundits:

Superstitious...overexact; scrupulous beyond need.

Having manifested as the secular equivalent of serpent handlers and tent-show Elmer Gantrys, these poor credulous souls have given atheism an even worse (is it possible?)reputation. Just what we need in these nutty times.

Thanks a lot,guys.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Not Humane Yet, Not Nearly

Religion comes from the beastly side of our nature. The need to pray and the urge to slay, dwell together. In thrall to baser impulses, we are at best a clumsy work in progress. A dubious link between the human and the truly humane; a messy bit of unfinished celestial business.

None among us living or dead is really fit to be called humane. The best and noblest among us is but a passive enabler of a species given to denial of future entitlement in favor of present utility. Notice the ones in those pictures with swollen bellies and flies on their eyes are never the mothers. We husband the breeders; forfeit the young...the future.

It has never been worse and that is because never before have we been able to take so much, so quickly, for use in the present; denying it to the future. Our legacy to the heirs, writ clearly and proudly, is, "You shall have nothing if we can help it. We are spending your Planet; go somewhere else". Maybe we'll overlook and leave behind something useful, something that doesn't take powerful machines to bring forth; that's doubtful. You will, future persons, if you are lucky, become scavengers, salvagers and junkmen, because we will leave plenty of that.

Oh yes, in the mix will be enough that is toxic and polluting to keep you on your toes, kids. Watch out for the things that go boom, plenty of that around. And if it smokes or fumes, stay away. Try to remember the word radiation, if you are still literate, which is doubtful. Trouble is you will need to know it in a dozen languages, bummer. Maybe that symbol with all the looping orbits will help? But with your primitive existence it's sort of hopeless. How will you deal with all those abandoned nukes without the same degree of advanced skills that created them in the first place. You're freaking doomed, guys.

Sorry if you too end up with big bellies and flies on your eyes. But we tried our best for your future. Really. Honestly. We did. Really.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Who Will be our Pallbearers?

Are there representatives of about eight nations who will willingly step forward if our Empire should perish? This question is not aimed at the multitude of avowed and/or closet enemies who will leap at the chance. That line forms to the right. Even you leftists regimes; line up there, no shoving. The country needs a few good men, women included of course, to ease our way into the afterlife reserved for failed super-states.

We have had our faults, no doubt. Don't get to be a big player without a little slung mud, a little slung blood too; who's perfect? But c'mon, Potter's Field for the USA? Don't do a Mozart on us. A little respect, pleez! Big sendoff expected. Let's hear from you.

What will it be like when we cross over? We need to be prepared for a large dose of reminiscing throughout eternity. (Latin and Koine Greek tutors welcome at anytime.) "We could have told you a Republic was a bad idea". That old chestnut will be heard in both languages, ad nauseam, better get used to it. And don't get those toga wearers started on Empire, whew. Ear benders, that lot, so don't lend one. (Some posh Brits, too. All that 'white man's burden' stuff, cheeky gits.) But they all got there first so they have seniority.

Eureka, we do have a friend!

The Al Maktoum dynasty in Dubai says it is honored to help carry the noble remains of the source of our inspiration in combining Disneyland, Las Vegas and Marina Del Rey here among the blistering sand dunes on the Gulf.

And another, we're not alone after all.

Our brave founders brought with them from America the nohow and burning desire to enslave the indigenous local populations and assure our dominance to this day. For this the ruling classes of Liberia thank you. Well done!

It's gratifying to have you both come forward and volunteer for our send off. It would be terribly discouraging to have lasted this long and made no friends at all.

There are more! Lots of sympathetic admirers out there it would appear.

For our Big Bomb the tribes of Pakistan thank you humbly. Let them try to take our Kush! We will be proud to help put you under, USA unbelievers.

Tiny, but strategic, Panama thanks you for having invented, then bisected us. Fondest wishes and best regards, el Norte, they say.

Israel salutes an old friend, supporter and enabler. Without you, we might all be working in a hookah factory or falafel bakery.

Love from Russia. We will miss our fellow comrade and klutz of the North. You thought our satellite countries were part of big Empire plan like yours, nyet, they were our moat. HaHa.

Well, this is almost a mash note. Strange bedfellows these two.

Adios from your secret friends. Fidel and Raul appreciate your unswerving hostility over the many years. Without you, old friend, we mightn't have lasted a fortnight. R.I.P

They don't make Empires the way they used to and that goes for despots as well. Takes one to, well you know how that goes. The King and the twenty thousand princely nephews and prince ling cousins thank you and the camel that brought you here. Yours in oil, The Saudis.

Finally, enough volunteer pallbearers on record to insure a decent send off should it happen. We hope the prognosis is wrong and all the nay sayers eat the raven. We're good for another hundred years, at least. Right?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

America as Collateral Damage

It's a damn shame it has to be this way. It really is. If there was another way, but why dwell on it. Maybe a vestige could remain? Something, not anything like a Republic, of course. That's pure sentimentality; not going to happen.

There were good things, to be sure. A kind of fond hope, promise may be too strong, that seemed kinda ...nice, comforting. You know, it lasted a lot longer than any of us ever thought it would. The idea of the nation as a Republic. But you have to be realistic about these things. If you start to reminisce, look out, that's a slippery slope. Gotta be firm. Good basic idea, or not, the USA has simply gotten too expensive to keep alive any longer. Good money after bad, you know the drill.

Of course, we all thought, well most everybody, that the old familiar devices we had in place would see us through; last a lot longer. Really seemed promising; couple of wars going...not biggies, but profitable. Always worked before. But the boys, and they are boys you know, bunch of jackass MBA's got playing around with serious money. Those kids, a lot of them from good families, old families too, turned out to be a frat-rats and nerdy jocks, and yet we let them handle the dough. Jesus, they screwed it up, royally. Can't be fixed. So we got to shut it down. Whole damn country. Pity, way of life gone for good. Ah, me.

But that's life. Thank heaven there's enough money that is not at risk and not involved in the mess to keep us going. We'll have to be resourceful and cautious until
we can scope out the parameters of our new reality. It'll be a tad messy I'm afraid. Lots of people are left out, but in a class war, and that's what it's been all along you know, there's always a risk of collateral damage. Still, it was a nifty idea, a Republic here, never worked anywhere else but well...we gave it a good try. Don't you agree?

A lot of sore losers keep saying we turned it into an Empire. Duh? What else is new?
And how come it took those smart asses so long to figure it out. Mexican War, War with Spain, about a hundred and fifty years in the making, c'mon, geez. Maybe it was a tad short of inevitable, but lots of historical road-signs pointed the way, Prof. Ah, wishful thinking, works every time. Empire about shot, too. Now that hurts.

Alright, enough hindsight. Now the big guys are not going to want to waste a lot of money. Troops are needed here in the homeland so we'll shut down business in the Mid East for awhile, bring them home for policing. After we settle down the trouble makers, could be a lot of them, we'll try to find a way to feed everybody. They'll like that. Then when it's quiet we'll explain the nice, simple future we've planned. Hope they like it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dead Money

Half of the real wealth in the US and most of the rest of the world is entombed in dead money. What we get from the teller or change at the market is for the most part zombie money. The difference being the money at hand, the zombie money, is borrowed money, borrowed from the future. From the kids and grandkids, actually. We should thank them daily for their largess.

Even despite being spectral, hallucinatory, and futuristic, it is , of course, spendable. And that's all most of us care about. So what's this dead money business all about you may wonder? Dead money is the real wealth, actual bought and paid for bucks, euros ,yen lying around by the ton in the bullion vaults, blue ribbon investments and hedge funds cons of the extremely wealthy that produces, long pause.... nothing but...more money! Since the extremely wealthy few, several thousand families hereabouts, own half of all real wealth; if they just sit on it, it grows and grows's still dead. To the world.

Lost in the land of wealth, the zombies are too confused to envy the dead. They wander about in a zombie daze pretending their zombie money is wealth. 'tisn't, 'tis it? It's delusional and fit only for the living dead, which includes most of us.

So what happens if the dead money remains that way. Nothing good. And that goes for the bunch who own the real wealth, too. Zombies, as we know from their many screen appearances, are nothing to trifle with. Proclivity for living flesh and all that.

So spread the word to all your fabulously wealthy friends and neighbors to stop squatting on it. To get with it and spread the wealth to create more real wealth, not just more green papers with old guys on the front. They know what to do and how to do it. Just need a nudge in the right direction. Tempus fugit.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What Would You Pledge?

...for a world free of human slaughter. A planet without murder. Now this novel concept does include goring a few sacred cows to be sure. It means no capital punishment for any crime no matter how fiendish; including treason. And goodbye war...and self defensive. Yep, that too. No appeal to lawyerly pleadings and no jingoist bleats either. If you come upon a terrible accident scene with people in great distress and no hope for recovery can you help them to expire and ease the suffering. Nope. No mercy killing. And no suicide or abortion either. Forget manslaughter, homicide, crimes of passion, all gone. Plus infanticide, suicide, fratricide and all the other 'cides'. They're out. It's an absolute ban and unbreakable taboo on the taking of human life if you go for it. Haven't we heard all this before, you say?

Think it sounds familiar? It should. Only about the middle Commandment on the Greatest Hits of all time commandment list, though. But the most egregiously
violated of them all, wouldn't you agree? Consider the corpse count of the late, great, 20th century. Over a quarter of a billion snuffed out lives and still counting in that benighted time span.

Okay, the "World Against Murder Pledge Drive" is open. Keep in mind a firm commitment requirement. If you're in, you're in. Sorry folks, no reneging here, too important. I'm waiting for that first pledge, don't be shy. Nothing coming in from America, what's up with our fair weather friends? Give it up for the sake of everybody else, guys, you can do it. Well, something coming in from the Far East. Viet Nam. They're willing to forego all future attempts to reach, so called, first world status and live as if still a pre-colonial community. Great offer, folks. Real class. How about hearing from some Euro types? Ah swell, Bulgaria, close enough. To guarantee that mankind forswears the taking of human life forever, Bulgaria will immediately treat its Gypsy families as first class citizens. Good show. Go Roma! That is a mighty big gesture on your part, Bulgarians.

Washington on the line. You won't believe this friends. The USA will forego policing the world. The Americans are turning in their uniforms and turning over a new leaf. Wonderful. And going back onto the gold standard! Lots of folks will sleep better tonight. That's one of the big guys, friends, how about you others. Come on BRIC, you other giants. Brazil...Russia...India and China, let's go!

Here's Canada now, not willing to be outdone by her neighbor. Oh, that's huge, what a sacrifice. Canada will fill in and grow over the biggest, smelliest, most polluting eyesore on the planet. Yep, the land of the Maple Leaf will cease operating that Athabasca oil sands monstrosity in the Province of Alberta! So big it can be seen from space. Very generous, guys. That's impressive. Ottawa feels it is worth every cent to have a new start for us all.

Little, but really wealthy, Switzerland checking in. Oh my, they are retiring the last of the notorious banking 'gnomes of Zurich'. From now on only garden gnomes for us they vow. Cool! We know how tough that must be and we thank you and our money thanks you.

Finally, one of the BRICs. China has pledged to cease at once attempting to resurrect out of steel and aluminum the glories of the Middle Kingdom. Henceforth, all efforts will be toward it's vast wealth being employed more productively for humanity.

We're nearing our goal, folks, a few more pledges and we can kick out murder for all time. Cuba. What's up on the island. Wow, Cuba pledges to stop trying to overthrow the U.S. and do what it does best from now on. Namely, supplying the world with well trained doctors and nurses and supporting the arts like no other country. Yeah, Cuba.

Another BRIC on the line. Brazil. A big one, this could be it! Yes, yes, Brazil puts us over the top. Unbelievable. The Brazilians have volunteered to surrender the rights to the upcoming Olympics, stop cutting down the Amazon forest and ...give up Carnival! Truly noble, folks. Well, you've done it. Goodbye murder, hello Brave New World. Make it last, you hear? Signing off now....................... .

(Late pledges always welcome. Leave yours here.)

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"