Archive for January, 2013

Advice for thieves

January 27, 2013

About 1900 years ago, a teacher named Paul of Tarsus sent this advice to the Christians who were in Ephesus, Turkey:

“He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.”

To this  I would add my two cents:

Don’t wait for the labor to come to you; go out and find it. Find some work that needs to be done in your community or city, then go out and do it. Don’t wait for some to bail you out of your downhill slide. Rather, find some folks nearby that you can work with, hook up with them, and then go out and do what needs to be done to make your community or city, your/our world a better place.

Your effort will ultimately improve you as much as it benefits them.

Times are hard, but that’s no excuse.  Get busy before this thing goes down, and you with it. Your personal responsibility is  the fertile raw material where  “individuality” so disdained by liberals intersects effectively with “collectivism” that is dissed by the conservatives.

Try to be the middle ground where everybody else is missing it. Somebody needs to. Be the missing link.

Listen: Underground Railroad Rides Again

In the Harbinger

January 24, 2013

Our Creator says:

“If. . . my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Listen: Traveler’s Rest

January 19, 2013

Damage not the oil.

Rather, steward what is pressed forth from earth,

and don’t neglect to toil;

refine your oil from death to birth.

Damage not the wine.

Bottle it, then store it; bring forth its worth.

What’s new and crude then becomes so fine.

When the time is right, pop out the mirth!

Don’t destroy the soil;

give back to it; tend it;  help it give birth;

conscientious stewardship is royal,

producing regal heritage from simple earth.

Plant your field; tend your vine.

Explore your spheres from ocean to firth,

and when all is well, then pray and dine.

Make love, avoid war, and cultivate some birth.

Glass half-Full

Extraction contraction

January 5, 2013

When the industrializing European culture hit American shores half a millennium ago, there wasn’t much here except what God and the native peoples had made.

This was a virgin continent for sure.

Our English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian et al forebears got busy developing the unspoiled continent, slowly metamorphosing raw earth into commodities and products useful for civilization.

This development process required extraction.

For a few hundred years we were busily pulling stuff out of the land. We planted crops, harvested them, ate the food thereof. We chopped down forests and converted all that wood and pulp into houses, furniture, and paper. We dug and drilled the ground, pulling out water, oil, gold, silver, and iron.

We melted and we smelted; we forged and we gorged; we built and built, strove and drove; we ate and drank. Then while we slept, the wheels of commerce kept rollin’ on, while profits an paychecks rolled in.

We woke up on Monday morning and did some more; we toiled in the day, we worked into the night.  We manufactured, fabricated, alternated, generated; we designed and aligned, we account-padded and value-added. We sold and rolled. We were productive and we were bold ; we were young and now we’re old. Now it’s time for reflection in the evening, perchance goodbyes in the evening. May old acquaintance be not forgot, and always brought to mind.

By God’s grace, we shall rise tomorrow morn.

But in in our human wake, the earth is torn.

So nowadays we’re phasing out all the extractive stuff, or at least thinking about it.

We’ve discovered the terrible price of tearing up earth in order to pull resources out of the ground for further development. Slowly we convince ourselves that our planet can no longer afford to supply, with its raw investiture, the extractive extravagant carbon-spewing, fracking-cracking excesses of our past. It seems we can’t keep going like this without depleting Earth to death.

So we begin to pull back on all the extraction. We outlaw clearcutting timber. We pooh-pooh open pit mining, criticize deepwater drilling, wail over crude oil spilling, regulate rapacious milling and legislate 24-ounce overfilling.

We convert our economies to service industries. Now we’re cutting each other’s hair, laundering each other’s clothes, keeping the books, complimenting the cooks, filling the nooks, filling the crannies, taking care of each other’s grannies.

We develop software, digitize hardware; we’re playing whack-a-mole with malware, while whacking at the cost of health care; now we’re virtualizing virtuosity, corralling creativity, curtailing suspicious activity. Let us now securitize mortgages, consolidate storages, collateralize the debts, take vacations in the sunsets. Surely It’s time to securitize airports, containerize  seaports, and spectate the extreme sports,  while we salivate to tip a few,  or sip a brew, and channel-surf on cable, while we’re still able. We used to surf the net; now we milk it for all we can get.

For the best deal possible.

It used to be we sweated out holes in the ground to pull stuff out; new we’ve come to cruising the lanes of cyberspace, California-style, and exploring the overstocked waters of Amazon. Sometimes we still have to roam the aisles of China-mart to find what we’re looking for.

But we may never find it until we ourselves are extracted from this present arrangement of things.

Glass Chimera

Disturbing video, 1936

January 1, 2013

In my present writing project, a novel named Smoke, the protagonist is a young American, Philip Marlowe. Living in London during the year 1937, Philip finds himself drawn into a terrible vortex of European political currents.

I find that writing this story, which takes place mostly on another continent, and seventy-years ago, is a challenge. Some may think I’m crazy to have undertaken it. We shall see.

For this endeavor, every hour of writing requires, oh, ten or so hours of reading and research to substantiate it. Otherwise the story that I concoct would be implausible and unrealistic. My theory is that search tools on our worldwide web enable new possibilities for global storytelling that are unprecedented. So I’m  forging a sort of historical fictional frontier. We shall see, in the next year or so, if I can pull it off.

Anyway, since the whole thing happens in the year 1937, maintaining a credible level of authenticity in the story is a constant challenge, and requires a lot of work.

My character, Philip, although originally a simple fellow from the mountainous region of North Carolina, is nevertheless representing a worldwide tobacco company, and working accounts in London. The story begins May 12, 1937, the day that King George VI, the stuttering sovereign, is crowned in Westminster Abbey.

Out in the crowded streets of London, Philip and his friend Nathan find themselves suddenly witnesses to the untimely death of an old gentleman. One thing leads to another, and a week or so later Philip finds himself on an unusual mission on the Mediterranean coast of France, after a journey that skirts the Pyrennical edges of the Spanish civil war. In the background and underneath it all are the immense political tectonics of communism and fascism that are slowly, or perhaps not so slowly, catapulting the nations of Europe toward a terrible war.

With my meandering plot lines having brought Philip to the southernmost tip of France, and him having an inclination to travel from there all the way to Belgium on the North coast, I am now researching France in 1937. This is hard to do, because most of the documentation readily available pertains to the war which started two years later, in 1939.

I am more interested, for purposes of this story, in learning and writing about what caused that war than about the war itself.

The main reason World War II happened was one evil megalomaniac, Adolf Hitler, who duped the good German people into following down a perditious path of antisemitic racial hatred and obsessive vengeance against the French and other Europeans, most notably the Russians.

After the first WorldWar had ended, the victorious Allies got together and wrote up a treaty, the Treaty of Versailles,that, as time went by, put a severe crimp on German rebuilding of an economy and society. By the early 1930s, Hitler was able to, in his fanatically diabolical way, take advantage of a resentment that had been mounting inside Germany. He absconded what had formerly been a proud Prussian military tradition, and subverted its nobler aspects with hateful plans for genocide and war.

In 1933 Hitler and his band of national socialist radicals came to power. In taking over the German government, they broke all the rules of law and decency. Because of the dearth and extremities of the times, they were able to get away with it.

In spring 1936, Hitler made an arrogant military move that–probably moreso than any other historical event–set the stage for the terrible destruction that followed during the next ten years–the German reoccupation of the Rhineland. This was an area between France and Germany that had been disputed in earlier times.

Because France had been weakened by its war weariness, still hungover from 1914-1918, and also its debilitating internal contention between socialist and nationalistic factions within its own government, France did not prevent, nor resist, the German reoccupation of the Rhineland. There was, in fact, a sizable German population in the disputed area. There was a similarly problematical situation on the other side of Germany–the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.

The choice of the French Third Republic to not stop Hitler and his goons at that point turned out later to be a fatal mistake.

But who knew?

History in the making is only explicable when viewed in hindsight. There were a few who could see, in the midst of what was happening at the time,  what was coming–Churchill, perhaps DeGaulle, an American congressman or two.

During my present search to ascertain the character of France during that vulnerable period, I found a very disturbing propaganda film from 1936 Germany. It captures images of that fateful, though bloodless, German advance into the Rhineland, and also the words of the diabolical genius who had ordered it.

It’s creepy:

Nevertheless,  here is a lesson in history now viewable in 2013, but obtained originally from old 1936 film.

Think about this: What is it that is happening now in our world that will inform our grandchildren, watching utube or whatever, decades from now, about the failings of this present generation?

We cannot know until, if human nature remains the same, it is too late to do much besides talking and writing about it, and watch old videos.  But that is life and death in a fallen world of 21st-century perplexity.

Glass Chimera