Wednesday, December 6, 2017
I was born in 1951 and so I have seen a few changes in my lifetime. One major change is the difference between how we thought about sex back in those rose-colored 1950’s and how we think about it nowadays.
Back in the day, a man and a women would marry and and try to make a go of it— a lifetime of extreme one-on-one intimacy and— if they were good at it and lucky enough— parenthood.
Nowadays, not so much.
Seems now everybody’s hung up on the sex part of it. Who’s screwing whom, whether he was raping her, who’s consenting, or not, to whom. And who’s coercing whom into sexual acts. Socialmedia world is all about what he did to her, or he did to him. Whereas it used to be about mama and daddy retiring to the same bed every night, then something mystical happening between them, which would result in a new human entering into this wonderful life.
But now that long-lost world of lifetime love and fidelity is going the way of the buffalo— which is to say. . . near extinction.
Mom and Pop are hardly even a part of it any more. The public obsession that’s been drummed up is all about what Harvey whoever did to so-and-so how many times on his studio couch, or about Roy’s groping the girls, or Kevin’s coercing the boys or even Prez pants-down Bill’s spurting on a blue dress in the very shadow of his privileged oval office hegemony.
Now some of us ole geezers are wondering how the hell did we get here. What happened? Funny thing happened on our way to the millennium, we lost something along the way.
We lost some healthy constraint somewhere; we forsook some beneficial bonds on our way to tearing down all those old taboos, pushed the envelope beyond beneficence.
It seems we Boomers overdid it in our campaign for Free Love.
As it turns out, free love is not much more than cheap lust.
And mere rape, be it sardonic, sadistic, or sodomic.
I think it’s time we blaze a path back to where we were before we lost our way in the wilderness of wantonness.
King of Soul
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
If you’re an early baby boomer like me you grew up with a sinister presence in the background of our American life—the threat of nuclear war with the USSR. On the distant edges of all that fear we could almost hear the low rumble of a Cold War; it was perpetually being waged somewhere in the world between “us’ and “them.”
We young Americans were told that those Russians over there in the Far East were perpetrators of terrible, repressive political system called Communism.
In 1956, the Premier of the USSR, Nikita Khruschev, began to talk about the widespread abuses that were heaped upon the a Russian people through Josef Stalin’s cruel network of surveillance and prisons.
It was said that many, many citizens, perhaps millions, of Soviet citizens were unjustly persecuted, arrested, imprisoned and executed without due process of law. American paranoia about the threat of Russian aggression and enslavement grew more and more intense through the 1950’s and ’60’s. We generally heard and believed reports from our Western news-gatherers, both military and journalistic, warning us about the nefarious presence of a horrific Communist empire on the other side of the world.
In 1973, Alecksandr Solzhenitsyn managed to publish to the world his voluminous report on the Soviet system of imprisonment. His book, Gulag Archipelago, was written from personal experience. Its IronCurtain-busting contents became for the world generally, but also for the Soviets, a basis for a widespread re-evaluation of the Soviet Union and its immense network of prisons and slave camps.
In 1989, the peoples of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fomented a revolution in which they overthrew the old communist system and began to replace it with something new and far more democratic than Russians had ever known. The great thrust of this revolution was powered by the people being sick and tired of communist oppression and cruelty.
In 2017, I learned that a woman in my hometown is daughter of a man who survived eleven years in the Soviet gulag, in a slave camp in Siberia, above the Arctic Circle.
Having heard about this stuff all my life, I was amazed to meet someone whose life had been directly affected by that infamous gulag archipelago.
In her historic book, Years Stolen, Birgitta Gottlieb McGalliard releases to the world her father’s own written account of his enslaved life, which was imposed on him by Russian soldiers in Bulgaria in 1944. That long imprisonment included months of miserable train transports, years in Lefortovo and Lubyanka prisons in Moscow, and ultimately Arctic imprisonment at Vorkuta slave labor camp in the faraway, frozen Siberian north.
Yes, Virginia, there really was a Siberia. And it was absolutely as bad as anything you ever heard about it. This terrible tale was not made up by yankee Red-baiters.
Birgitta’s account, obtained and documented meticulously from her own father’s memoirs, is a truly amazing testimony of his survival saga through unimaginably cruel, cold conditions. Roland Gottlieb wrote and spoke of his real life experience there after his release in 1955. Birgitta’s writing about his ordeal is laced with the tenderness of a daughter’s love; it is also strengthened with a visceral thoroughness that painstakingly communicates the immensity of Roland’s achievement in surviving eleven years in the gulag.
If you have ever doubted all those post-WWII reports of Soviet oppression and cruelty, this book will dispel your doubts. Thank God the people of the former USSR have seen, since 1989, the light of freedom and are now following that hopeful star of democratic reforms instead of the old Red Star of communist enslavement. One reason that beacon burns brightly in our world today is because of the testimony of survivors like Roland Gottlieb, as reported by his daughter, Birgitta.
The book is, as they say, a good read. Buy it now and you will be much the wiser after this textual journey into the hell of suffering that some humans have historically imposed on other humans.
Sunday, November 12, 2017
You can kiss ole George goodbye.
He was great as a Father to our country. He was courageous as Commander of the Continental Army, when they ran King George’s redcoats back to England.
He performed wisely as our first President. Washington’s dignified leadership tempered the contentious impulses of our first politicians, Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, et al.
As a legendary figurehead of American leadership he has served well for over two centuries.
Young George’s honest admission about the cherry tree incident still inspires us to honesty and integrity.
But as the face on the dollar bill, his days are numbered.
Most of your purchases are (are they not?) far beyond the 1-$2 range. And, think about it, what can you buy with a dollar bill these days? A sugar drink at a convenience store? Probably not. They’ll supersize you into greater quantities of go-juice with your gas and you’ll be whipping out the plastic stripe.
These days all that used-to-be-money is just swiped stripes and inserted chips and electrons flowing around the globe.
And that old greenback—what is it really? Used to be a silver certificate, then a Federal Reserve Note. Now the Fed has got the legal tender’s stability all figured out, so that the value of a buck walks a fine line between what it was last year and a what the CPI will allow you now.
Which isn’t as much as it used to be.
So these days we have, and have had for quite a while now, a comfortably numb currency inflation. That Federal Reserve Note in your pocket appreciates at a predetermined rate of 1-2% per year, and this calculated depreciation compensates for the variability of our paper dollar’s value since we ditched the gold/silver standard back in the 1960’s.
But I think this waffling Dollar will be with us for only a little while longer.
How much longer?
Washington’s greenback will probably float around until such a time as BrettonWoods doth move against Dunce’nGame for the last time. Then the weight of the world will be too much to bear. Tensioned Tectonic shifts in the world’s monetary plates will render our legal tender to disability status, and those Federal Reserve Notes slipping in and out of international accounts will no longer be the world’s reserve currency.
’Tis then the Treasury will nudge Ole George into retirement. He’ll be on Social Security like the rest of us, with direct deposit, never even seeing the checks, never handling the cash, merely reaping the debit presence of those positive credit numbers. ’Tis then they’ll gently compel Ole George into retirement. Maybe they’ll give him a gold watch for old time sake.
So long, George. We’ve felt so fat and happy having your pocketbook visage to enable our consumer shopping excursions. Your accomplishments have been Notable, expansive and historic, like Norman Rockwell scenes from our magazine covers and dime store excursions in all those bygone petrol-fueled Main Street purchase excursions.
Fare thee well, George. But I’ll never forget the smooth, crisp feeling of your fibered texture between my digits. Ah, those were the days, the dollar days! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KODZtjOIPg.
King of Soul
Friday, November 10, 2017
On this Veterans' Day 2017, I say to all men and women who have served our United States as soldiers and workers in our armed forces, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard. . .
Since you have served us, at risk of life and limb, and then lived to tell about it, please know that we are glad you made it through your dutiful missions, still alive and kicking.
We consider it a good thing that your name is not carved into this wall.
But we also consider it good that your service is recorded in the annals of our history. You were recruited to defend our freedoms. You answered the summons that many of us resisted. You did your duty. In so doing, you defended also the freedom of many people throughout our troubled world. Thanks for your courage in doing that.
Sometimes we prevailed in our immediate mission; sometimes we did not. Nevertheless, our collective mission as defenders and exemplaries of liberty remains intact because of what you have done.
And are still doing.
Especially all you Vietnam Veterans. You chose, or were compelled to, defend us and our way of life while so many of us were lollygagging around in the blood-bought liberty that you have assured us.
Especially to all you Vietnam Veterans, I offer to you the greeting that my friend, Jim Shoemake, himself a Vietnam Vet, tells me is the most precious message of all:
Keep up the good work.
King of Soul
Sunday, October 29, 2017
I don’t know how I ever did it.
Looking now outside my window at the coming
Remembering those many years of
in the cold, going out in the gray
layering the clothes and the resolutions:
Get it done,
Get this house built for these good people and then
and another one, day after day, week after week, month after month,
after year, cutting, sawing, nailing, flailing, sometimes
to have a good attitude, like right now. I don’t know
I ever did it.
It couldn’t have been me that
Must have been someone else who
someone else who went out into that cold, someone else who is
than me because I am not
Surely it was someone who knows more than I
about how and why and when and where all this seasonal cycle and this
fits together into some kind of sense. And now I
that I can not do it again, cannot
through another winter, even though it is easier
At this moment it doesn’t seem easier because . . . well I don’t know
But I do know this. I do
that someone else will have to
do it now, because looking out there just now with the snow flurries I can’t see
I could have done it, or how I can ever do it
Someone else will have to
from here onward.
King of Soul
Saturday, October 21, 2017
Maybe four or five thousand years ago, some pondering poet raised these two profound questions:
Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?
Who taught the ocean: You can only go this far?
In the modern world we know just how ridiculous it is to suppose that any one person could teach the sun anything, or that any person could establish the boundaries of the oceans.
So I hope you can accept that the words above, translated from the biblical “Job” represent a figurative, or allegorical, statement about creation.
In our modern, post-Copernican, post Galileo way of viewing the world, we understand that our evolving knowledge requires a different approach to answering such large queries.
Who has successfully explained to us where the sun stands in its solar system?
Who changed the ocean in a way that would cause sea levels to rise?
Having posed these ancient questions in a modern context, we could, in our vastly expanding database of knowledge perhaps answer them this way:
History shows that Copernicus and Galileo figured out the centered position of the sun, and concluded furthermore that the planets, including our earth, revolve around it.
And, as for the question of where and by what means the oceans terminate their relentless wave action on our shores, I notice this: the question is currently up for debate.
Could it be that we ourselves are rearranging, by our consumptive habits, the boundaries of the oceans?
There are many studies now being done to determime where the oceans’ coastlines are now shifting as a consequence of our Homo sapiens-generated emissions. Data-collecting scientists are finding that our Carbon emissions have a deeper impact on nature’s processes than any other elements.
This makes sense; it fits into a larger pattern. Carbon, number 6 on the Periodic Table Table of Elements, is the most essential and ubiquitous building block of life itself.
Therefore, the real question becomes . . .
What’s a human to do? Those danged Carbon atoms that float around like phantoms wherever they damn well please, like they own the place—you can’t live with ‘em, and can’t live without ‘em!
One ostensibly scientific scenario in particular—that one generally referred to as “climate change”— is moving, or appears to be evolving, toward a “scientific” consensus of some kind about the accuracy of our grim projections about what will happen to us in the future.
In the wake of a consensual international agreement to address this problem, we may work together to contrive a world-governmental plan to minimize carbon (and other) emissions. We would begin thereby to arrest the human-generated heating up of our atmosphere, and possibly prevent our polar ice from melting, and oppose the destabilization of our rising sea levels.
We do not want to see more flooding of coastal cities. Otherwise, in the wake of our global consequences . . . there could be trouble ahead.
Now when potentially cataclysmic trouble arises in human civilization, there are generally, among the inhabitants of earth, three different ways of addressing such a huge conundrum.
One way is the way of positivism, which says: We can fix this damn thing if we’ll put our minds to it!
Another way is the way of fatalism, which says: This place is going to hell in a handbasket. We’ll never get around this!
The third way is simple to deny that there is a problem.
Now this writer’s perspective is located somewhere between these three viewpoint poles (or polls).
I have, since my youth, thought we should find ways to quit polluting our earth. Furthermore, I am not yet convinced that carbon emissions is the biggest challenge. There are other substances which are far more destructive and poisonous. I would like to think we can fix this thing, but on the other hand, human behavior, with its boundless abuses and thoughtless excesses, is so absolutely an irreversibly huge force of constructive destruction momentum.
We might have a snowball’s chance in hell, or
We might get it together as a species and solve the problem. Good luck with that!
My problem with the positive approach is this: a true fix (reducing carbon emissions from a 2% rate of increase to a 0% rate of increase) would require an oppressively extreme rearrangement of our institutions and our collectively escalating consumption habits. For the sake of the holy grail of saving the planet, a control-freaking totalitarian government would surely overtake our best intentions and thus turn the required regulations into a tyranny of police-state restrictions. By this means we would sacrifice our freedom upon the altar of saving the planet.
Malicious manipulations of human ideology have already spoiled our postmodern aspirations at least once or twice in history. Stalinism and Maoism overtook Marxist Socialism and turned it into a systematic monster of human oppression.
With such dystopian historica precedent as evidence, my hope of establishing a human/governmental solution to neutralize our climate change problem tops off at next to nothing.
Furthermore, the revelation of the “faith” camp into which I was born, and then born again, acknowledges that we are all sinners on this bus (planet).
We need, both individually and collectively, someone to save us from our own destructive tendencies. But who might that person or entity be? I say it is the one who conquered death itself by rising from the tomb.
Consequently, my leaning toward the fatalistic position on climate change convinces me to turn to divine faith to solve my own problem of what to do with the life that was given to me. My conclusion is: Rationalism and its positivistic proposals will never save us from ourselves and our consequently rising oceans.
So count me in the irrational camp, more appropriately referred to as the faith camp, although I will, every day, in every way possible, assist in our our recycling and solarizing efforts in any way I effectively can.
Now I conclude this little trail of assessment and analytical adventure with a video of Sister Nicole’s rendition of our condition.