Now as Then: Glitter Astounds the Primitive Soul

7 Dec

Those twenty-four dollars worth of glass beads and other trinkets so fascinated the inhabitants they turned over Manhattan Island to the Dutch as a fair trade.  The deep wonder those primitives and countless other exhibited in past centuries over perceived superior artifacts exists to this day as  exhibited by any group of moderns flocking the Apple store agog at the exotic new wonders being offered.  The technology differs in sophistication certainly, but the primitive fascination of our modern tribe is the same.  The Wow factor is identical!

Just as those earlier worthies scrapped obvious value to acquire the sparkling new thing, so our denizens gladly spurn the dread last-year-model as of little value. This one is new! The savage dazzled by the mirror in hand and a bevy of college students bent over their phones are identical except for the clothes, hairdos and tattoos.

This same dazzle gene blinds us to this day as we blithely render into oblivion perfectly usable objects that have been superseded by those whose sole virtue is being new.  We subscribe gleefully to whatever gadget or device promises adventure, thrill or distraction even if earlier models were disappointing.

Unfortunately the latest, greatest new thing is often a weapon that, if it is sufficiently awe provoking, the Wow factor gets built and used.  The following seems apt because the Wow factor can lead to carnage and perhaps this throws a light on our recent unhappy adventures abroad and what they say about our future as a nation; consider: “ …a species that insists on settling disputes violently reduces its overall fitness to thrive in a world that offers enough environmental challenges anyway.”  ORIGINS  by Richard E. Leakey and Roger Lewin

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Opus Collocus

1 Nov

by Robert Magill

Look at yourself if you dare.
What strange combination of wild genes
Caused you to end up this way?
How in the world did an otherwise garden variety ape
Make fire, lose sexual restraint
And end up like you?
Naked, with anytime sex and pretty much
Unable to cope.

Now fire’s a bit dicey to handle in a great furry overcoat
So not much happened with it
At first.
But one day some bundles of joy came along
Sans furry coats, they were starkers you see.
The game was on with the fire by then, but
All that bare skin!
My, my, what’s to be?

If it had been only one or two that were weird
The hyenas would have gotten them sure.
Hairless most of the new bunch.
But babies are hard to come by, even strange ones
Really strange as ever could be. .
They were turned inside out more like rabbits or rats
No fur at all we could see.
What on Earth!

What to do? Can’t feed the crop to the beasts.
Besides the mothers were frantic.
“It’s so cute, in it’s way! Don’t harm it!” they say.
So the naked little babes grew into big
Naked adults.
We learned to handle fire by using an old gnu hide.
If you bought into the clothes for modesty fibs,
Nope: barbeque bibs.

And the hairless kids! They all became fire bugs.
You know how dangerous that stuff is!
Well, these devilish kids treat bonfire as a new game
Of child’s play.
But then they need not worry of bursting into flame
Those fur-less little showoffs!
They don’t go up in smoke if they get to close and roast
Like we do.

Those kids started eating all kinds of things that
They’d half burn up on sticks.
The very idea!
I will say many things are quite tasty done that way
But who knows where all this fire business
Will lead.
I for one like my food less done but that said, it’s not really
That bad!

Those new kids gave us fits.
They had acres of lush, soft, silky epidermis and
Full time steamy amor.
No bothersome overcoats. Well just a token patch…
For auld lang syne.
Full time naked sex and the secret of fire would
Give any self respecting parent a
World of grief!

Both things together is a big, big pain.
And it doesn’t get any easier. Slowly, very reluctantly
Began that
Which we long beards knew early on.
It’s time to put on some cover-up to keep order
And peace in the cave.
One word of late does resonate, more often than not it is
NO!

So it began.
The business of the putting-on and the taking-off
Of surrogate overcoats.
Clothes, that is.
Big waste of time and energy
Weaving and skinning and sewing. The rules!
Oy vey. How much, how little, when, where
Ad nauseam.

My part in the story ends about now.
Only a few oldsters remain of the old kind and
That is the way it should be.
Our kid’s, kid’s, kids will follow the thread of time
‘Til they too leave the stage.
But that’s for them to tell of a proud history
If it is now in the main
Unknown.

Hello. I know something of my people to tell you.
We were great travelers and tellers’ of stories
Of oceans and seas in our path and
Mountains at our back.
Rivers of sand lay below one path and terrible cold
At the other. I sewed. My hair was the color of rust and
My face of yak milk. I had three babes
Two lived.

Stories of a better place had us follow down the great river.
I grew old on the journey but my babes
Grew strong and long forgot
The old ways.
Others will tell the story of the people who lived long;
Long enough to see the time of the ice and
The good time and then the ice again
And still we lived.

Until. It happened first in the land near the sand.
A few at first. Then more. Still more all the time.
We were bewildered.
The new ones were like us but not of us.
We were fair, they were dark. We liked them.
They liked us.
The babes came in time and they were different.
We liked them.

When there were more of the new babes than us
Some grown ones moved away toward
The rising light.
At least so the ancient ones tell us.
Stories retold when important gatherings happen.
Not sad tales but still…we wonder
How they fare and should we go to the new light
As well.

After the last big ice went away a tale is told of
Another leaving of our people.
But now the path is toward the pale sun
That stays so long.
Fewer and fewer are the old type people seen now.
Higher we travel toward the lands
Where the ice once had been covering over
The grass.

We are mostly all the new people now.
Small bands remain of the old.
The large water is near and many leave
To live nearby.
Brave ones go out on the big water to follow the sun.
We see not one of the old type people
Just their empty caves. Alas. They lived here for
Most all of time.

What came next started after the last big ice time.
The hunters hunted and the gatherers
Gathered as always.
Then the gatherers became diggers and, eureka!
Agriculture. This was the real thing the future…
Civilization.
Full bellies and some leisure time courtesy
Of the women.

The women let their power slip away to those
Under-employed former hunters now goat
And camel wranglers.
Prophets and martyrs at every oasis hectoring
The unwary by day. Their hapless flocks by night.
Damning the unreachable. Stoning the backslider.
No longer under-employed now pious
Stewards of eternity.

Cobblers of many small truths
Into large lies.
Dazzlers of the easily moved, the
Desperate, the forsaken who yearn for larger truths
And only wee small lies.
Several of the biggest liars have recruited global hordes.
Meanwhile the Greeks learned
How to think.

Alas! They taught the Romans. Trust us said they and thence
A millenium of gore was born. Exit Samnites
Luisitani, too and Albans and Sabines
Can’t forget the Argosians O no. Rue.
The Latins gone. Forgotten? Maybe, and the dear
Old Spartans brave but dead.
Still at end the Empire into history slid with
Scarcely a whimper.

Quiet now. That fitful scratching noise? Monks
On dry skins salvaging thought and deed. Blessed be those scribes
But rescuing those ancient desert ravings and small truths may
Not have been so wise.
Armed now with the Word they set abroad to
Recruit anew the holy army.
The desert message writ in gore and peace was never
Known again.

With the reign triumphant chattel was amassed unparalled. Firstly
All females, the sex into bondage. Infidels dutfully done in.
All treasure for taking.
All beasts into proclaimed stewardship cast
And for battle caught foe, alas
The chains.
Mere arrow, axe and mace blazon desert minions’ zeal
For now.

Monastaries for the parochial few led in time
To University leaving the many to life’s instruction
Also known as being
Uneducated.
The franchise expanded reluctantly to include “useful idiots”.
Scholars and Gentlemen.
Now the desert minions would have champions
By legion.

In the Middle Kingdom dragons grew fearful for
Such awful noise had come.
Fire in tubes that drove them away
Never to be seen again.
Salute! Salute! Begone demons.
Strangers came to the Kingdom welcomed
But warned against knowing the recipe for
The Dragon weapon.

Theft. Deception. On camel’s back the secret left
The trusting Kingdom.
Plodding toward the sand people early
In it’s journey. Later to lodge with the baptised where
Piety seethed and enemies grew like
Mushrooms after horses.
Cannonading madly those angelical stewards
Of eternity.

The takings began.
Rare a yard of the globe unnoticed by the pious
As conquest or conversion fodder.
Each pagan household upended despite worth
Exceeding the usurper’s own.
No matter that.
Monkish scratching etched the Word for all time.
All persons. Amen.

Pray tell how a humble ministry
To village and desert wanderer led to
Basilica
And Crystal Worship Palace? The least
Materialist soul of record
Spawned generations of rapacious zealots
Ransacking a planet for piety
And for gain.

Our progress, if such, is in the way of the inchworm
Which must need grasp with his front
Whilst dragging onward his
Rear parts. And again.
His vanguard end needs hind parts holding
For purchase only
Not to anchor the forward movement with
Sternest tradition.

Poor creature. Desert minions to the rear lag back
And myopia joins narrow wisdom
Going forward.
Perilous journey with parts joined nicely in tandem
But solo effort
Brings chaos and struggle. While destiny
Is revealed only by
The inch.

Vague as our fate remains, the desert minions
Doubt not the day of our birth.
Scouring monkish scribblings brings
The aha! moment.
With that instant writ firm, all later discovery brings scorn and threat.
Time, a bother and impediment, is throttled back
To fit the desert calendar exact, lest
Doubt emerge.

Machines employed and vile draughts brewed to
Stay new thought from ever tainting
The faithful.
Show the rack. Behold the fire and irons.
Enough? Why will they not convert nor
See our truth revealed and what glories await?
Imps and demons poison all
Who doubt!

Lure the peasant from his fold to kneel and
Labor all his days at parchment and wine press
And the bell ropes.
Equip with a tongue so old and forgotten that its drone
Would cower all rogue dissent.
Tell of lesser breeds who need succor
Or bondage and how the parchments
Command it.

The freed serf and vassal and bondsmen too
Gladly aped hard Roman and thinking Greek as well
In yolking others to their will.
Centuries of men in chains leave evidence of
Grand spectacle for their driven effort.
No onset of humane regret manumit those held so
Long ’til better power than human muscle made
Them free.

Oil of whale and then of ancient ferns and such
Flowing from deep pit caused water to
Boil and spit.
Drove the engines of the newly freed serfs and made
Leisure to devise torments fresh
For sundry foes.
Onward the Juggernaut of devout
Desert minions.

Conquest and mayhem and decades of war
And more again as quick as the
Stink clears.
On and dreadful on ’til this very day and again surely
Tomorrow.
Religion the beastly side our nature. Need to pray and
Urge to slay
Dwell together.

Whilst Barons feudal did John the King coerce to
Magna Carta sire, a lusty bairn was
Whelped.
When gray of beard that babe had met
Another ancient one.
Whose da was born the very year
English pluck routed brave Frenchmen at
Agincourt.

Now that wee babe with long lived luck
In dotage knew another such who’s own dear mother
Came alive the very day
Great Lear appeared upon the stage.
For just three mortal spans of years made
Creaking steps of times past appear
Less daunting. Six stout hearts carried us to
Elizabethan sphere.

Nearing now our present era aided by
These leaps in time to learn of a Bard’s namesake
Babe who too grew eld.
And chanced to meet another crone of
Countless years who told
The singular precedent of one
Whose papa timely arrived when
Adams, John was President.

To be or not to be a King our
Republic’s Princeling heir pondered, then agreed
To forsake the crown.
Majestically he searched in vain to find an American heart
Not depraved or corrupted. More darkness than light
Filled their souls and thus were unfit
For a Republic. Low born. Base.
Demos!

It was a Nation, that much is true and
A new Republic, too. Though some saw murder, theft
And jingo seeping through.
But winners write the tale that longest lasts.
There was a wilderness to tame
And treasures greater than ever known before
Lay at every patriot’s door.
For the taking.

Tom J. came along when we needed a friend.
Eight years had he but old Adams, J. scarce half that
To rule. Good friend Tom fiddled and took all
The House commanded and kept all his bought help
In field, kitchen and manse.
Tom was no friend to woman or hired man who
Dared wish a ballot to cast, if you please. Was Tom J. truly
A friend… indeed?

Polish an oaf and he cleans up so nicely.
Put his hands on a throttle with caboose
Far behind.
Varlet now literate reading solemn at law while
Steamboat Willie flickers about on
A wall.
Brave and new the world is our oyster
Stew.

Republic gone. Lasted but scarce a half century! Egad.
Then on that slippery slope. Big chunk of neighbor Mexico.
Some idyllic pineapple isles
And next whatever Spain had worth the taking.
Hush! Be loath to utter aloud or even think
If loyal patriotic and discrete
That foulest of foul word that stink…
Empire.

Our RNA, our very genes demand we must always grow.
Go West Young Man and Eminent Domain and Westward Ho!
But no Nation unless some hidden fugue propels will endlessly
Grow the whole world over.
No wisdom voice to mock us as we willfully grow, but never do
Grow up.
Unlimited growth is a perfect tell but only by a metastasizing
Cancer cell.

The game is up. Every day, in every way it slides away and
We have no clue as to how it ever got that way.
We are not unique, never were. We are not all good
And wise and noble.
Only motion and noise and none to say Stop! Pause!
Between the human and the truly humane we are but a link
And a messy bit of unfinished celestial business
I think. 

End

Bouncing Along on Juggernaut/

30 Oct

Are you enjoying the ride so far?

 

History tells of military failures rivaling those suffered since about 1950 by the US military. The French reliance on the Maginot Line which the Germans cleverly drove around and flew over is of recent vintage.  Certainly the battle for Kiev, Ukraine in 1941 was astonishing in the magnitude of disaster. Ancient China put great effort and treasure into the Great Wall to little avail. But all of these were solitary and except for incidents involving the China Wall happened in a relatively short time span.

 

Not so with the US military which has blundered along its losing path for six plus decades with no end in sight. Half the treasure of the wealthiest country on the planet has been poured into this organization without much return. It has demanded each new gadget and device as it appeared.  Enormous depots of used and/or abandoned ordnance can be found wherever the ‘defense’ machine has functioned. Acres of tanks, war planes, vehicles of every description reach to the horizon in scores of locations. Other military groups have feasted on this largess and armed themselves at leisure when the US forces had moved on.

 

The wastefulness appears indigenous.  The communal nature of the military precludes the personal; so  things held in common exclude the person and produce negative inertia over time.  Shades of the USSR; the Roman Legions, the Hittites, et al.  But our military wisely has a bevy of jingoes in the PR departments, who are skilled at telling a story many will accept, in order to keep public support at high level despite all evidence.

 

As a nation we have long forgotten how to compete in trade with other nations and now resort to wholesale murder. Combat deaths in just the four major theatres since 1950 total about 20,750,000. Other deaths, called ‘collateral damage’, are incalculable. End result: US is nearly broke and approaching 2nd world status; is losing friends and allies at a growing rate, and is rapidly falling apart internally but remains stubbornly oblivious to reality.

 

https://robertmagill.wordpress.com/2017/10/14/mankind-a-bogus-spec

 

Mankind: a Bogus Species

14 Oct

There was once an anthropoid species that thrived and evolved for a million years who rightfully and proudly deserved the title; Humankind.  These amazing beings no longer exist intact as a species having been destroyed by a series of heaven-struck fanatical bands who burst forth from the deserts and steppes near the end of the late Bronze Age.  Adept at rapine, pillage and smiting of all opposition, these usurpers were not satisfied until they at last conquered the remaining vestige of opposition to its sovereignty: the females of the Humankind species.

These rapacious hordes now carry the pejorative stand-alone branding: Mankind.  It is a bogus, unnatural, therefore unsustainable, species.

The fundamental natural relationship which exists between the sexes in all of animal life is now missing in action in humans. The balance, harmony and respect of gender differences is gone from us. From that fateful time until now, through these thousands of years of recent human existence, all major decisions affecting humankind, including life and death matters, have been decided by males. Even the simple courtesy of inclusion of females for the appearance of equality is not deemed necessary.  The notion of changing this imbalance rarely reaches the level of serious discussion in male circles of influence.

Scarcely any major human activities in recorded history have been exempt from male bias and history might well have been vastly different with equal female input. There is no way to determine how  Humankind as an intact species would have behaved in a world with food surpluses generated by the onset of  agriculture and animal husbandry.  We gather from early history that life was altered radically by the possession of some control of the future that the surplus of food offered. Unfortunately this food surplus seems to have increased the rapaciousness of this dominating group towards the distaff side who, already burdened by unequal biological demands, was now further degraded by the added leisure and power accrued to males.

The capital represented by this surplus windfall spawned opportunities for trade and acquisitions heretofore impossible.  It also created more distance between the genders as males asserted increasing control in trade and barter matters. Manifestation of this uni-polar lifestyle erupted with increasing frequency into clashes with other male groups.  Bloodshed came with the territory but early weaponry precluded massive carnage. This would change.  As centuries passed the ability of Mankind to cast a larger shadow over the female increased.  No aspect of nature was shielded from the tools and devices wielded in the quest for male puissance and privilege.

Alas, the fact of this unnatural and untenable, possibly fatal, usurpation of power by Mankind remains unacknowledged, thus unaccountable, to the vast majority of males, and not a few females as well, as the passage of time had made it appear simply as the natural order of things. Balzac advised that “behind every great fortune there is a crime”. What greater crime than to rob an entire gender of equality?

 

In weighing the success or failure of any major human enterprise the first consideration should be: has there been equal female input in this matter? If not, the verdict should be failure for it is a unilateral effort and not a full Humankind enterprise. Little weight should be granted to the recorded history of Mankind as males have been authors of most texts and as such, the renditions are somewhat suspect .

 

Human males most certainly have a place in this world but it is distinctly less lofty than the one commandeered for themselves. That dominant position is a pure usurpation of power and control that has been going on for centuries. If one were tasked with identifying any major human initiative that has had equal input of both sexes, it would be difficult to find anything of significance in most of the developed world. There is next to no important segment of our lives that reflects gender equality in design, purpose or intent.  That it is certainly a man’s world is writ large in every corner of the globe.

 

In an objective ranking of the human species male importance would be found distinctly subordinate to female importance in most categories.  Males are useful in reasonable numbers: probably have value at the present time; in short, a helpful appendage to female advancement in matters of longer term species success and survival. But continued male commandeering of resources and further negative adventures offset any useful qualities male dominance may still possess.

 

Since there exists little to no chance of the majority of males even seriously considering relinquishing this unfair advantage over females we must prepared for species extinction.  The narrow, short-sighted and violent thrust of male actions and reactions in the world had not been species-threatening in the past.  That has changed with the advent of modern weapons and processes.  We must remain on high alert for potential irreversible threats to all human life brought on by lethal actions of a single gender and act accordingly.

Who Else? How Else? What Else?

26 Aug

Considering we started life as an English prison colony rife with 75,000 felons; a rabble of religious fanatics run out of Europe, were peopled by hordes of indentured servants, zealous Indian stalkers and resentful slaves, we haven’t done so badly. Who Else could have overcome those odds to become the indispensable nation we are? It’s not easy climbing to the top.

Sure, it’s easy to criticize the top dog for things done to get there. But How Else could we have done it?  Tell me that. You try building an Empire, and never once admitting to doing so, if it’s that easy. Maybe we made a mistake or two.  George Washington did advise we refrain from all those involvements abroad. Well we didn’t.  So maybe we did make a hash of it. Who Else can do better? Look where? East. 

There’s nothing there. Maybe some Chinamen, commies that is, so what?  We’ve dealt with their kind before; the 50’s, remember? So  Who Else ? Most of Asia, most of Europe, lots of Africa you say, ha they’re not indispensible! We’ve got friends too; Israel, the Saudis. Get real. How can a Belt and a Road compete with an Empire?  So,  What Else you got?  I thought so.  Goodbye.                       

Issues Seen and Not Seen

26 Aug

You could safely wager that those guys expressing racism in Charlottesville, VA have a second issue that both precedes and equals the racial hostility demonstrated there.  Both issues result from failure to successfully deal with a form of competition that is troubling them. The other issue, although entering one’s life earlier on, doesn’t lead to street demonstrations.  It can instead, if not harmonized, fester and torment and add to a propensity for racism and hatred.

I submit that both of these plagues on civil behavior have the same root cause: competition.  The human beast has not been known to behave well when dealing with competitors.  The racism aspect, of course, has a social and physical presence that makes it highly visible. The other has a camouflage of normalcy so effective as to be almost unseen if not carefully explored for involvement.

It’s doubtful if the human propensity for prejudice (read, preconceived preference) often leads to this kind of active and overt racial hatred without being linked with the other issue.  If competition with different races or ethnicities can trigger such distress; we can readily grasp the trauma of competition with the opposite sex. Here the personal aspect is incredibly older and firmly rooted. This competition is so basic and so visceral as to defy solution if there is a lack of will to successfully manage it.

Most large historical cultures have a legacy of sexual tensions and distortions which cast a long shadow.  If you have issues with the females in your life you just might be prone to also have issues with minorities. Competition is insidious and if allowed to overpower reason and harmony can be destructive. How to convince someone attacking a racial target that mother, wife or sibling issues are fueling the assault is quite another task.

Let’s Get it Straight

20 Aug

The Civil War was not about racism and initially not really about slavery.  Financial competition between the sections and a profound disgust on the part of Southern elites for Yankee materialism and cupidity were much more important factors.  Visitors from New England were not warmly welcomed in the South after the Mexican War.  The election of Abraham Lincoln, a former railroad lawyer and therefore anathema, was the final insult.

Slavery is not about racism, it’s about money. Racism is not about race, it’s about competition turned deeply personal.  Racism exploded when the Civil War ended and millions of freed black slaves who possessed significant marketable skills were forced to compete in the ruined South with poor whites who often had fewer skills. No need for teamsters, tanners, weavers , mechanics;  the list is endless of skills for which little employment was available. The elites possessed even fewer attributes for rebuilding the devastated regions.

The genesis of racism in the Americas was competition. Competition for land and resources; the settlers wanted it: the natives had it.  The natives fought for it, ergo, they were racist savages, redskins etc etc.  Later the Mexican War, also about land, produced another form of racism that endures.  Overseas adventures began with our conflict with the Moslem Barbary Pirates which fueled an additional racism element.  The 20th century abounded in a legacy of racism resultant from centuries of colonialism where competition for land and resources kindled racism worldwide.

As the US moved onto the global scene, we were the inheritors of institutional racism courtesy of the British, Spaniards, Belgians; the list is long and sordid.  Much of the profound racism exhibited by and towards the Japanese during the second world war was fueled by the malignant racial history of Britain and Japan. Competition for dominance in the Pacific resulted in Pearl Harbor, internment of American citizens of Japanese ancestry and Hiroshima. Now that’s racism!