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, November 28, 2009

Gore Vidal:Tertiary Curmudgeon

There is much to admire about Gore Vidal as a writer and commentator on the political excesses of our way-of-life; that is not to say, our culture. He lived through a lot of it, knew many players personally and was an astute, if somewhat narrow observer. Now ,unfortunately, he seems to have gone all silly on us. His defense of Roman Polanski's rape conviction as Hollywood style anti-Semitism and the victim as a Lolita style hooker, is crap. His cavalier dismissal of the loading of a kid with 'ludes prior to anal rape suggests the phrase 'tertiary curmudgeon' may now be appropriate when applied to Mr. Vidal. The kid was 13, the mark 45, and everybody knew about jail-bait even in those be-knighted climes. Give it up, Gore. Kids were off limit then, same as now. Same reasons. We don't care about Errol Flynn's nice legs getting him acquitted, either.

A short history lesson is indicated here. Rock 'n Roll, once the 'smutty' amusement of black adults, in juke joints and late night parties, morphed into mainstream when the market was ripe. Teen demographics regarding numbers and affluence and the vehicle for delivery, television, encouraged a handful of execs and promoters, rife with lechery and venality, to exploit them for fun and profit back in the fifties. Six decades later, the rift is so great between the generations that the typical 12 year old is bored with viewing the 40th 'facial'. (If you don't know what that is, ask your kid, if you dare to.)

Kids today have total access to the most depraved portrayal of grown-up life imaginable. Surf the web for an idle hour and you'll will find the collective efforts of a zillion pornographers pumping grown-up versions of grown-up actions that must fill the wide-eyed youngsters with a most garbled idea of what we do nonstop in our intimate lives. License without responsibility is a sure recipe for disaster in any aspect of life. This is particularly true when it kindles premature appetite in undeveloped youngsters trying to understand the world.

Porn is such a bad teacher for the young because, as most women but not enough men know, the porn mantra is always, "Women never say no!". This is the worst lesson for young girls who must be taught they are charged with the dispensing of favors and boys with saying "Please", or a hundred million versions thereof.

Kids learn about, take an interest in, and explore their sexuality in fits and starts, much as they approach life's other mysteries. This is where they differ from adults who are more focused, more driven and more singular in their desires and urges. That is why the young are always at a disadvantage and must be protected.

If the current adult generation is unable to get down in the trenches with the young and cobble together at least the beginning of honest and open sexual dialogue; at the very least they can make sure the erotic education the kids get elsewhere, is realistic. Maybe, someday, a generation of grown-ups will appear who have left childhood behind and are qualified for mature relationships. These folks will surely eschew personal youth worship and mimicry. This presupposes adults who don't lust after the young because they are mature people who have peers who are interesting, finished products without residual wishful desires left unsatisfied in adolescence.

If we sincerely want to purge society of predatory grown-ups lusting after or hustling the kiddies, a lot needs doing. A good start would be to let kids be kids. What happens between kids, then stays between kids. No Humbert Humberts, whisky priests or randy school m'arms anywhere around them. But how to do it? How to raise a new generation of mature adults who got the kid stuff out of their systems when they were themselves, kids. It won't be easy but we can't afford another badly brought up generation. It's got to stop.

Someplace in time an Opaque Curtain was lowered between humans, their sexual selves, the greater society and nature. I suspect it was about the time the revealed religions came to power in the West. Any progress in improving the situation will surely cause organized religions, all of them, to fight to the death to retain control of peoples' sex lives, especially of the young. It's been their stock in trade from the onset. The strong, tradition enhanced arm of Law Enforcement is equally problematic. But still, it's worth doing. Nature went to a lot of trouble to invest our lives with the potential for ecstasy. Show some gratitude!

Don't be surprised if the doomsters prove right and our way of life becomes threatened, to see an unholy alliance between a home grown 'Taliban' of righteous-do-gooders and the overseas variety joining forces to save us all from ourselves. Not sure that scenario isn't the most chilling prospect ever imagined.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

boo, hisss-tory, boo

Just about everything important enough to appear in a serious historical study is disgusting. Spend a day with someone like the late, splendid, Arnold Toynbee as he details our sordid past in something like, "Mankind and Mother Earth", and see if you agree. Wear your high boots for the blood and gore run deep.

Start anywhere, with any culture, and it is the same. Conquest and mayhem, wars lasting decades and followed by others as soon as the stink clears. On and dreadful on, until this very day and again, surely, tomorrow. What becomes perfectly clear is that power and things predominate; scarcely a word is written about people, just plain folks, especially folks of the female persuasion. What's going on here? Can something glandular be at work?

History seems to reflect a selection process favouring one type of glandular secretion over another. There seems to be little in our past and present that is not about mankind skidding about on an exudated slime trail that is definitely not progesterone based. We are told that currently the number of male births slightly exceeds the female. If this was true historically as well, perhaps it was offset by female infanticide and perhaps females were selected based on a family history rife with male issue. A male offspring bias is seemingly operative today. Certainly this is true in China. Is part of the air quality problem choking Beijing caused by clouds of testosterone lingering about?

If agriculture was invented by females as is generally accepted; that new reality must have rendered the hunter class over-fed and under-unemployed. So for the newly idle guys, what to do with all that spare time? Well, beyond making babies that layabout bunch started to do stuff in a big way. (a)Get everybody else's stuff,anyway possible,(b) build more new stuff all the time and (c) kill people. That's what history reveals we've always mostly done.

This is in no way a tract for feminism. In no way do I support any of those self-righteous little isms/ists. It does, however, strongly support the feminine principle as equal and valid. If power and thingism, oops there's one now, are male proclivities, how about if we males take a seat in the back of the bus and let the ladies drive for awhile.

Let's just see where a few generations down a different trail leads us. A ratio of seven females to every one male for about a thousand years might be a good idea. Our track record could conceivably improve.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

That Good Greek Thing

Once upon a time there was a country sort of like our own; actually very much like our own. The people there were very proud of their country, like we are of ours. They told all and sundry that what made them special was that they had a very good system that really worked well and it was really the best of all.

They said it came from the old Greeks and everybody said, "What!". And they said not that, the other thing the old Greeks did, the clean thing, the good thing, that they all did...together. Everybody said,"Oh".

If pressed to demonstrate it actually working the people said , "You have to take our word for it because it's so great but we can't actually show it to you, but it's really, really great." If pressed further, they got a little miffed and said," Well it's true nobody around here has ever seen it working but back in the old days it was everywhere and worked great".

So now they go around the world telling everybody to quit doing what they do and start doing the Greek thing. And people grumble, so they say that if they start the Greek thing they will give them money and not be mad at them. So they do.

It's very confusing to people trying to understand what this thing is they are supposed to do so they are told. "Look, just take our word for it. It's good for you but we can't show it to you. So just do it". And then they show them the totem. This is the center piece of the Greek thing and it is a big deal. So the people stand around and look at this thing, which to them is just a box with a lid that has a slotted hole in it.
But no, they are told, it's the secret behind the Greek thing.

Here's what you do. On certain very special days, you take these papers with the X on them and stuff them into the totem through this slot. In the beginning, until you get to do it right, we will send one of our old sachems to watch you do it. Out of the box will come the magic name of your leader, usually the same old leader as before, who will tell you what to do until the next special day comes around. It's that simple and you get the money and we won't be mad at you.

And so they all say how smart those old Greeks were and they take the totems to use as storage for corn or grain or cat food until the next special day. If they do this long enough, the old sachem won't come around to check anymore and they can forget all about the Greek thing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tell me, Please Tell me

Please tell me how one of the least materialist personalities in recorded history spawned the most rapacious, greedy, pillaging gang of thing-worshipping followers ever to ransack the planet? It is totally inconsistent for them to avow reverence and awe for this person, then ignore the most basic aspect of his life and teaching. But ignore it they have...big time, for a millennium.

What exactly is the convoluted process by which his simple ministry in the countryside, villages and small towns translates into great Basilicas and Crystal Worship Palaces covering acres of real estate? How exactly does his lashing out at money speculators for substituting gain for piety morph into digital conversion of our financial substance into virtual abracadabra that creates potential peons of one half of mankind? How do his adherents justify such theft? How can anyone profess allegiance to a sacred memory and while keeping a pious mien, ignore all he lived for...and died for?

Scarcely a square yard of the globe has escaped colonization or at best, visitation by his followers seeking conquest, loot or to proselytize the locals for future utility. Once the restraints, A.K.A the Romans, were eased and the numbers were bred up, the takings began. We have had almost a thousand years of mischief done with pious abandon just about everywhere. These incursions changed, modified or destroyed the way of life of a thousand different populations; many perhaps, superior to our own.

Is there a subtle transference at work whereby a "believer" intakes the essence of the beloved, as a kind of internal camouflage; thereby abjures further responsibility and then behaves as covetously as desired? Is this a license to misbehave as in: "He died for my sins", so I am free to carry on as I please or, "He was the epitome of non-materialism", so it's okay if I get a second car, clear cut that glade, slice up that mountain?

Perhaps an answer exists for behavior that is so exasperating. Why his followers who ought to be paragons of immateriality, are the opposite? They have, by example, shown other faiths and creeds how to do quite well instead of doing much good. Now the entire planet is being devoured as rapidly as possible. Well done, all ye humble faithful.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The USA: Is it a Racket? or/

Ponzi Was a Piker and 'The Recovery' Fell Off the Back of a Truck

Now the 'old' mob was very shortsighted. They made their mark in booze and shakedown schemes and shunned the 'er, pharmacheuticals, as too dirty; can you believe the naivete? With the new big dogs, the DC 'family', nothing is too dirty.

You can forget that guy in a cave with the long beard and his 150 Al Qaeda henchmen; and forget those pipelines down from the 'Stans, oil is so 20th century, we're in Afghanistan for the 'horticulture'. Pipe dreams are the future. Remember this, pal; and follow the dough.

To spare any stumbling over esoteric language we go to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which is always right, well always handy:

A racket is an illegal business, usually run as part of organized crime. Engaging in a racket is called racketeering

And from the horse's mouth, the words of the most honest and forthright gangster of them all, Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, twice winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor:

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
...from " Common Sense"

Even the best schemes sometimes get sandbagged and this one is in some danger. We learned from Mr. Ponzi how simple it is to run a profit if the money comes in from the next sucker and that the trick is not to run out of suckers. Now the DC 'family' has a world of suckers out there and is in the printing business to make it look legit. This racket has been working real good until now. But there's always a spoiler. What's a legit counterfeiter to do?

This time it's a hedge fund. A good one, can't find any dirt, drat. These chumps could spoil the whole deal. They will sell you shares for gold! and get this, redeem them for gold too! Talk about rackets. Who would take our phony dough...oops, coin of the realm, reserve currency, mighty dollar, etc.etc. with this kind of unfair competition? Give me a break.

Just when we had the marks salivating for the 'recovery' that ISN'T COMING, at least in any recognizable form, these characters threaten a perfectly good scam. The nerve! Maybe the poor slobs will recover something after all. Damn. Damn. Damn.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

We're All Educated Here, Ain't We?

Unless a human person turns up who has been raised by wolves or apes we have to assume he was reared by other humans; therefore educated. Now semantically the root definition of this human condition from Webster's seems clear and simple enough, from:

educare. to bring up, rear, or train a child.

Today this simple definition has no merit in the eyes of the vast industry grown up in the name of education. This, from Wikipedia, is perhaps a more apt description of what occurs: is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated
knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another

This definition of education is also quite limited, specific only to that transfer of knowledge, etc. 'deliberately' transmitted by a society. It fails to include how all of us are, in fact, 'educated' by simply being alive at any time, in any human society. Alas, without the blessing of some form of a formal teaching mechanism having been employed, one is by definition; uneducated.

Scholastic education in the West in the Early Middle Ages had been parochial and confined to monasteries, later to Universities, and was for the fortunate few. Most others received knowledge, skills and values as they encountered life. Early universities were the province of ecclesiasticism. The franchise was expanded to include scholars and other 'useful idiots' and became training grounds for creating Gentlemen.

Compulsory popular education has been with us during our lifetimes and is assumed benign and natural although always enforceable by law when necessary. The modern 'cult' of higher education began after the Second World War. It was a huge success and now on some campuses both the University President and the Football Coach are millionaires. Under the G.I. Bill, hundreds of thousands of returning veterans were warehoused in schools until the economy created the jobs they were to fill. This was a quite reasonable expectation in 1945 as the country was awash in good prospect and, therefore, had realistic expectations of future prosperity.

In 2009 folks are again being bribed with government handouts to remain in or return to school. The jobs are not currently here for them but will magically appear in this withered economy in just a few years. This appears to be a cynical attempt by the authorities to offer hope where none is warranted and has little credence. Unless enrolled in courses in spinning straw into gold most will be wasting their time and be greatly disappointed.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Death by Green Beans

In May 2007 I purchased a 14oz. can of string beans in British Columbia where we were living at the time. The price was 79 cents at the Safeway. These were very nice beans, carefully cut in lengths to fit the can, along with water and a bit of salt. I saved the label from that can: Western Family. Choice Grade. Whole Green Beans. It also read Haricots vert entiers (French, it's Canada, remember?).

I not only saved the label, I framed it. Sits on a shelf to this day to remind me of when I first realized we were all done for; that the race was over and we did not win it. That can of beans came from China!

Yeah, yeah lots of stuff does. What's the big deal? Well, it struck me that although a can of beans is about as prosaic an item as you can imagine, it represents what has gone wrong lately. Now for this can to get on a shelf in a small town on the coast of British Columbia a lot had to happen to it. Somebody ,somewhere back in China, had to grow and pick the beans and get them to the cannery where they were cut to size and put into cans which had to be manufactured from stuff dug up somewhere and made into cans which the beans were put into, then cooked and labeled with labels on paper from trees goes on...and on.

Don't forget about the carton for the cans and the containership at the wharf and then a zillion miles by slow boat to Vancouver and than by barge 80 miles to our little town or else, by truck, which takes two ferry boat rides before arriving and going up on the shelf. Whew. For 79 cents!

If you're still with me, then tell me how, since Canada, the USA and Mexico all grow green beans and have canneries and are a lot closer than China, this all came to be? My best advise in situations like this is to recall the words of eminent financial pundit Richard Daughty, The Mogambo Guru,

"We're freaking doomed!"

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"