The War With Russia 2014 Dispatch 1

 

The Rain God Small

On August 8, 1783, Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, annexed Crimea into the Russian Empire, “from now until the end of time.” On February 19, 1954, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR transferred Crimea from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

 

With the current annexation of Crimea, which began in late 2013, and was escalated by the invasion of Russian troops in February 2014 and was internally formalized by the Kremlin in March of 2014, Russia, under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, started a war with the West. Cowed by the former Soviet Union after World War II, western Europe seduced America into providing for its physical protection and then squandered its own rising fortunes on liberal, anti-military policies. By the time the Berlin Wall came down and Germany was re-unified, western Europe had lost the resolve, the courage and the assets to quash the evil that its persisting feudal societies necessarily generate. Once again, Europe’s political backwardness will unleash the dogs of war.

 

Following Hitler’s Kampf of ethnic Nazism, Putin inserted his storm troopers into Georgia in 2008 and annexed two provinces while the West did not even rise to the pantywaist response of appeasement. Next, Fyurer Putin deployed his goose-steppers to Ukraine, principally in Crimea, and furtively into Moldova. Russia seized Crimea without so much as a show of force from the West and is massing Russian troops on the border of Ukraine. Europe, as is its wont, convened talks as Putin convened killers. America and western Europe prattle about sanctions as the souls of Jews and Poles howl.

 

The winds of war are once again blowing on the Continent and once again the pantywaists in Washington, London, Berlin and Paris look the other way as the forerunners of a massive bloodbath again prey on the weakness of deliberating, but not deliberate, governments. If you want to know how Hitler rose to his demonic dominance while the world stood idle or how Pol Pot bludgeoned two million people to death with bamboo sticks as the world pretended not to see, just pay attention. The world is once again baiting the hounds of hell while imagining it is strewing rose petals.

 

While the United States has a weak, ineffective and incompetent president, and Europe is busy unraveling itself, Fyurer Putin will seize eastern Ukraine past Kiev to the Dnieper river. Simultaneously, Russian shock troops will invade Moldova and the rest of Georgia. One thing Putin learned in his KGB training and undoubtedly reflected upon while he was stationed in Dresden, Germany, site of Churchill’s Holocaust, was how simple the Allied strategy was that fractured and toppled the Soviet Union. Bankruptcy, induced by an arms race, got the job done. Fyurer Putin has obviously concluded that if he can bankrupt Europe, he can topple NATO. With that as a strategy, the tactics are clear.

 

Fyurer Putin will seize territory to consolidate his power, squeeze more gas and oil dollars out of western Europe and militarily menace the milksop EU. He will continue to seize more territory until a frightened Europe gives its tacit assent for the Germans to re-arm. The French and Italians are useless and the British will once more realize that they are not part of the Continent.

 

As much as Europeans fear a German military, they did defeat it on the battlefield. Against the Russians, they have no world war victories. As Germany pours money into armaments, its economy, the main engine of the EU, will sputter and begin to fail. The North/South split in Europe, fanned by another enormous Euro crisis, will fracture the EU, which will go the way of the Warsaw Pact. The non-federated countries of Europe will collapse into bankruptcy. Russia will rule Eurasia and the Chinese will grow meek and quiet. The Japanese, following the German model, will re-arm. America, gutted economically and militarily by the inane, inept policies of Obama’s hoi polloi politics, will be sidelined but the price of its vodka, in purely economic terms, will precipitously decline.

 

Alas, however, as Robert Burns observed, “the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men

 

Aft gang a-gley,”.

 

When the unexpected happens, and Russia, at long last in the mind of Fyurer Putin, goes to war with the West, the Europeans—except for the Germans—will dawdle and the Americans, trying to conduct foreign policy with hope and compassion, will do nothing. Only when the European corpses surpass the Jewish high water mark will America, as Japan keeps China from seizing lands to the west, finally kill the Russian bear.

 

Surveying the acres of new tombstones in Europe, people will ask, “How did we let this happen?” From their graves, the Tatars, deported from Crimea by Stalin in 1944, will answer, “The world has no memory of evil and sees it afresh each time it emerges, though it is picking its teeth and sharpening its claws all the while.”

 

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When Spring Was More Than March Madness

The Rain God SmallI was born in 1949, the final child for a blue collar family. In the late fall, after the senses had been set ablaze by the vivid red, gold, orange, and yellow leaves festooning the trees, the world turned drab. Dead leaves, grass, vines, and field crops browned as their vitality slipped away. Golf courses had not yet resorted to permanently green grass and still had few players. Countering the sadness implicit in the ubiquitous death of enveloping vegetation, men went afield, gun in hand, to quicken the pulse in pursuit of prey. Women indwelled at the homes to which winter would mostly banish their families.

 

The harvest festivals and Halloween passed in the waning light. Though the solstice, marked by displays of light, celebrated the now waxing day, it also marked the beginning of winter. The days did get longer but the dropping temperature drove the people indoors and they did not really notice. There was no such thing as sportswear so people stayed home more and more where heating the house became more and more of a challenge. The only people who went out when they were not working were hunters. No one went skiing or visited relatives. They stayed home, were quieter than usual, and waited for winter to end. Their worlds and their spirits were diminished as they longed for Spring.

 

Spring came slowly. Redbuds, deep in the forest, bloomed and were brilliant beacons against the dark brown woods. Crocus and jonquils erupted from the dirt and birds began to pair. A bright, balmy day manifest from the somber gloom. Men stayed on the front porch to smoke, wearing only a long-sleeved shirt. Crappie moved into the shallows. Trees became textured with swollen buds. Shagbark hickories unfurled their tiny leaves. A sky so blue that it hurt your eyes suddenly appeared and the world burst open. Fresh, green grass emerged from massive brown patches; the air freshened; buttercups and forsythia splashed their happy yellows everywhere and the palette powerhouses—dogwoods and azaleas—prepared their rich hues for coming display.

 

Life had come back into the vegetative world and it came back into the people as well. Once again their worlds had a cloistered inside and an expansive, exciting outside. People began visiting their friends and family. They began to walk and linger outside, to fish and to plan a picnic. They cleaned off the grills of their barbeque pits. They prepared baseball diamonds. They were happier. They were noisier, they were busier. Their spirits had been revived because once again they could fully embrace the greening natural world.

 

No one sat at home and filled out brackets. Spring had enlivened their hearts and they all were champions but these heroes quested not for glory. They wildly ranged into nature seeking the satisfaction of being human before the cyclical vibrancy of the world died again. They knew one day the swinging scythe would mow them down.

 

Those times are gone forever. Spring, except in conference context, has no consequence. Now, the world never dies for those who inhabit it because, for them, it never truly lives.

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The Infinite Loneliness Of The Sole Christmas Celebrant

The Rain God SmallChristmas is a most solemn holiday because it honors the preciousness of the human spirit and the limited time that humans can partake of that spirit. Christmas is a most joyous holiday because it expresses the emergence of the human spirit from the brutality of wild existence. Christmas was a spiritual holiday long before the Christians appropriated it to their proselytizing purposes. The Solstice brought the re-birth of the Sun, the re-birth of the year, the re-birth of life and the re-birth of the human spirit.

 

Overlaying this profound acknowledgement that humans are spiritual creatures embodied in a physical form, different cultures have embroidered varying stories to make the deep energy of the holiday accessible to all, especially the children, who most need to discover that their most profound existence is inside themselves. My culture tells the story of Santa Claus and that is the narrative that I passionately passed to my own children. I remember the magic of Christmas Eve, when the world began to slip from its crass cover and the splendor of Christmas morning when we exchanged joy in a sacred time ere the world woke and began its grim churn.

 

I remember the magic of Christmas Eve with my children when we gathered before our Christmas village and told stories of the wonderful people who lived there. I remember the building excitement as the weather station radar reported the location of Santa and I conveyed it to my kids. Supper had to be completed by the time Santa reached North Dakota. Hot chocolate, cookies for Santa and stories of the Christmas village must end when Santa reached Kentucky. When that border was crossed, my children did not hesitate. They executed their bedtime preparations and jumped under the covers so they could be fast asleep when the jolly elf arrived.

 

I remember Christmas morning when my tykes, clad in footie pajamas, would burst into my bedroom before dawn and jubilantly announce that Santa had come! I remember them fidgeting as I lit the candles and started the ancient music. For a moment, the house glimmered in candlelight and brimmed with the majesty of beautiful, solemn, profound, joyous music. In such a moment, the human spirit had been born and had forever sundered the cold, mute, lifeless, eternal, infinite cosmos.

This moment on Christmas morning was brief but it bulged with import. An instant later, I turned on the lights and returned us to the terrible symmetry of the clean, efficiently illuminated spiritless world we normally inhabit. Squeals of delight and peals of laughter accompanied the opening of presents and the emptying of stockings. Feasting immediately followed the exchange of gifts and lasted the rest of the day.

 

Now my kids are grown and live in other towns. Their mother and I divorced many, many years ago. There have been several wives since those happy Christmas years. Now, alone, I put up my Christmas tree and begin to trim it. I make my holly wreath and put out my Christmas village and my candles and I search for the ancient music. My kids’ stockings are hung by the chimney with care and memory will have to suffice to fill the emptiness of my house.

 

When Christmas morning comes, I will arise before dawn. I will light my candles and I will play the ancient music. The profound moment will come again, the world will briefly shed its worldly ways, and I will be the brimming spirit that I most essentially am. In that precious time, I will be alone but I will know that for many seasons I gave that tiny slice of timelessness to my children. When I turn on the lights and fix my coffee, I will hope that my children continue to give this moment of pure spirit to themselves. I hope they give it to their children one day. I hope to share the moment of golden being with my children one more time before I am gone forever into the deadness of eternal infinity.

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The Myth Of Spiritual Growth

 

The Rain God Small

Fate has compelled me to register with multiple online dating sites. I have four ex-wives and was recently abandoned by my Alaskan girlfriend. Since I am retired, am not a member of any group, and am a writer and folk artist, I am alone most of the time. My normal life gives me no opportunity to meet women. The reason I am on multiple dating sites is that I am a man severely out of his time. I am basically Beowulf with a cell phone. Mathematically, I must meet very many women in order to have a chance to click with just one.

By now, I have reviewed thousands and thousands of dating profiles posted by women. I have commented before on some of the peculiar characteristics of these self-characterizations. Lately I was struck by a very consistent  theme that appears in these biographical cameos. I call it The Myth Of Spiritual Growth.

Rarely do the women use the word spirit or spiritual; instead, they fashion their fantastic tales using the contemporary euphemism for soulfulness—journey. Naturally, we are to assume that the referenced trek is not physical but rather metaphysical and that it proceeds from a lower order to a higher order. Of course, the journey must continue for the rest of your life.

According to the testaments given on dating sites, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of American women not only sanction spiritual growth but are actively engaged in it! Good news! Sound the trumpets!

Unfortunately, like the Big Bang Theory, which is based on an ontological impossibility,  spiritual growth is rather finely filigreed poppycock. In the manner of the Higgs boson, it is pure myth. Judging by the accoutrements displayed by those claiming sacred journeys, herbal tea, cats, hanging plants, yoga, and unconventional dietary habits are essential to those propagating spiritual propaganda. While claims of, and dedication to, spiritual growth are charming, they are nonetheless deceitful and false. Like redemption and salvation, spiritual growth is impossible for humans to attain.

The human spirit has four dimensions: love, honor, beauty and truth. Every second of human existence is spent  within the throes of these. When they are equally strong in the human heart, they merge of their own accord into what can only be called grace. When they are not equally strong in the human heart, one or more of them becomes perverse and becomes what can only be called evil.

The human spirit has these four dimensions but, like all dimensions, they are measures of a single entity. That entity is profundity, the understanding that humans exist only to the extent that they comprehend the meaning of experience. So, although the human spirit has dimensions by which it manifests itself, that nature of the thing revealed, spirit itself, has no dimension.

Spirit is neither volume nor capacity. Spirit is a state of being, not an attribute of being. Spirit is a stream of profundity. Like light, it either exists or it does not. Just as increasing the density of light does not change the nature of light, increasing the significance of experience does not change the nature of spirit. Unlike light, the rate of flow of spirit has no bearing on its contents, just as education has no effect upon intelligence. Humans cannot get smarter and they cannot enlarge their spirits.

So why all the prattle about spiritual growth?  What are these women trying to say with a multitude of affectations of spirit?

At first glance, they would seem to be saying that experience has given them more insight into what is truly valuable in human experience. In this, they are not to be believed. If you don’t know what a human being should be by the time you are twenty-five, you will not learn any more on that subject before they throw dirt in your face.

What these women are really saying with their fantastic tales of spiritual growth is that they are worthy of love and yearn to find it before it is too late. In this, they are truthful and I am hopeful that they, and I, succeed.

 

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Why Love Stories Can Never Be About Being In Love

The Rain God SmallRomantic fairy tales always end with, “And they lived happily thereafter.” These yarns terminate this way for a simple reason: when a man and a woman fall in love, the story is over. Consequently, all of our love stories are about finding love and losing love. Being in love, it seems, does not a good story make.

 

This curiosity is the result of the both the nature of love and the nature of story. A story is the meaning of experience rendered in experience. To be a good story, the tale must have two additional ingredients: the meaning revealed must be of interest and the rendering must be dramatic. Our concept of drama centers on conflict because we believe that the profound character of human being is in highest relief when engaging strife. Our ideas about story make it impossible to render the essence of boredom in a boring manner. That would fail the story test.

 

When we combine our notions of love with our perception of story, it becomes impossible to write a love story that is about being in love. We believe that love conquers all and that love raises our being to a higher plane. Thus, conflict in love is impossible therefore being in love cannot be dramatic and, sadly, cannot become story.

 

The foregoing is not mere sophistry: we sincerely believe that love is so precious that the quest to find it is inherently compelling and the loss of it is utterly devastating. The majority of our cultural expressions embody either the urgent pursuit of love or the bitter death of love. We do not write stories about being in love. If Adam and Eve were destined to stay in Eden, the Bible would be three pages long: boy meets girl; boy and girl fall in love; boy and girl live happily ever after.

 

We cannot write stories about being in love because love conquers all. We celebrate being in love and that is why the cultural expression for being in love is not story, it is poetry. Poetry is the truth of being rendered in perceptions of being. It does not require drama, which in turn requires conflict, rather, it requires insight.

 

When a man falls in love with a woman, he does not write her a love story, he writes her a love poem. His heart has just been freed from conflict so there is no story in him. Her beauty, her grace, her mystique, her allure, her enchantment, fill him with celebration because he has transcended all things that are not love. A man who has found the woman he loves will be bursting with joy—and if you can get anything out of him that is not nonsense, it will be love poetry.

 

I hope that one day soon, I will again be filled with delicious ridiculousness. I hope my brain boils with such elation that I become positively stupid. I pray that, in a day not far away, I will again soar above story and my spirit will sail on a swift stream through cerulean skies because, more precious and sacred than all else, my hear is joined to her heart. In rejoicing, the entire universe will ring with golden sounds heralding the being of love between us, forever.

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An Operational Kitchen

The Rain God SmallMy kitchen has always been the center of , and reflective of, my emotional life. In my first marriage, because we lived in an apartment, the kitchen was tiny and cramped. On the narrow stove, I cast lead balls to shoot in my muskets. A lead spatter on the wall by the stove testifies to the result of pouring molten lead into a mold that contains a tiny drop of moisture. The oven in that stove gave rise to one of my great cooking stories.

I knew my mother had always put her turkey in the oven and cooked it all night so it would be ready on Thanksgiving morning while I was afield hunting with my male relatives. Without consulting my mother as to time and temperature, I tried her method. The next morning, my first wife and I discovered a rock-hard, blackened bird in the oven. I had to race around and find another bird, forty years ago when grocery stores were not open on Thanksgiving. I found a small frozen turkey at a convenience store. I rushed home and we thawed it with hot water. When our guests from the University arrived, I brought a covered platter to the table. Without a word, I presented the blackened bird. My guests said not a word. I broke out laughing then served them a properly cooked turkey.

In my second marriage, we had a large country kitchen which, because part of a wall had been taken out, opened into the hallway which opened into the living room. I had built a hearth in the hallway just off the kitchen and installed a wood stove. As the fire crackled, we could cook in the kitchen and speak to our guests. In that kitchen, I feed, entertained, counseled and disciplined my babies. In that kitchen, I proofed yeast and carefully weighed flour made from hard, red, winter wheat from Montana. In that kitchen, I made French bread and baked it in my baguette pans which had been dusted with cornmeal. In that kitchen, on the square table of parental justice, I explained to my babies the secret of Christmas and why people must die.

In my third marriage, divorce had driven me from my country kitchen to a condo and an L-shaped kitchen that was adequate. In that kitchen, I tried to console my sad children, whose world had been savagely destroyed by the sunder of their parents. In that kitchen, I made pie crusts with butter and lard and a special dressing I would only make for Thanksgiving and Christmas. In that kitchen, I roasted goose and made real eggnog. In that kitchen, I planned the trips that let me take my son to Barcelona to see the work of his hero, Gaudi; and allowed me to take my daughter to Paris for her sixteenth birthday, have red streaks put in her hair in a salon on the Champs-Elysees and her portrait drawn on Montmartre.

In my fourth marriage, I was in a brand new kitchen in a brand new house. My fourth wife would not let me cook with her and I did not comprehend the significance of that choice. Instead, she would hand me a drink, banish me to the living room to watch the news, and then serve me a gourmet meal. I slept on sheets that she washed and IRONED. Still, I did not comprehend the import of that decision. She declared to the world that I was her soul mate yet, in the kitchen, we were split in twain. Soon, the divide was comprehensive.

Fortunately, I had kept my condo so I had someplace to go when my fourth marriage ended. Since I had been preparing to move into my new house with my fourth wife, I returned to a bare condo. Gone was my Hickory-White solid mahogany dining table and chairs, my seven-foot tall, glass front mahogany china cabinet, my China-red, exposed frame, Raku finished living room furniture with the most beautiful Oriental fabric I have ever seen, gone was my lovely Oneida flatware, and gone was my Wusthof knife set.

Now my kitchen is filled with cheap Chinese crap. Unless I can get a good agent in New York and get my novels published by a major publisher, I will not be able to restore it to its previous quality. But that is not my big problem now. My difficulty is keeping my kitchen operational. Women are better at this than men. If I get just a few dirty dishes behind, I start stacking dirty plates and pots and pans everywhere. Because my kitchen then becomes not operational, I eat out until I finally get sick of the mess and shove everything in the dishwasher. I do not like the dish washer. I prefer to hand wash and dry my dishes, just like my grandmother did.

I need for my kitchen to remain operational. I must have ready access to my nylon cutting board or I will not really cook. I require convenient access to my marble dough board or I will not make pies and cookies. As a writer and folk artist, I am disciplined enough to work in my study and my studio every day. Since I must walk for my health, I have the resolve to walk three miles a day, five times a week. But for the life of me, I cannot maintain my kitchen in an operational state.

I have no babies to cook for. I have no wife to cook with. My study and my studio are always ready for me to work in them. It is my kitchen that causes me unrest. Perhaps my kitchen languishes because there are no more great celebrations for me to prepare, no more sublime moments for me to commemorate with food and drink. I do not know. At this very moment, my kitchen is operational. When I look into it, its somber shadows seem to be saying, in a voice that thunders through my quiet, empty condo, “Something is yet amiss—put it back or you will die.”

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The Future Of American Marketing

The Rain God SmallFrom just after the turn of the 20th century until just after the middle of that century, the motivational driver for American marketing messages was based on the public’s desire to feel modern. The patent selling messages were about convenience and saving time and being new but the psychological message was: THIS PRODUCT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL MODERN. Merchandise from furniture to frozen fish sticks was presented thoroughly imbued with this fundamental magical promise. All marketing, in all cultures and all ages, is based on the public’s enduring belief in magic. Only the promises change.

Such a change in the marketing psychological message began slowly in 1960. The Age Of Aquarius was not about any kind of counterculture. That was just a media event. The Hippie-Dippie-Yippie-Ki-Yay movement was not even about the Great American Pointless Slaughter in Southeast Asia. The Greening Of America was about the change in the market that Madison Avenue had to address in order to keep the green flowing in the economy. The New Age was about the super-saturation of the market with college-educated people. Unlike their parents, kids of the sixties had grown up feeling modern. What they desperately wanted was to feel intelligent.

By the time I was discharged, a few years before the war ended, Madison Avenue was presenting a new psychological message, the one they spout to this very day: THIS PRODUCT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL SMART. They adopted this message prior to Women’s Liberation, although that movement played into their hands perfectly. The patent messages are about having choices and having either a clinical basis or an ethical basis for making them. Numbers and technical sounding names make people feel smart so the patent messages are loaded with them. Vague allusions to fairness make people feel superior, which is the reward for being smart. Patent messages are rife with such nonsense as “fair trade”, “natural”, and “green”.

My guess for the immediate future of American marketing is that the psychological driver will shift again to become this: THIS PRODUCT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL HUMAN. People will need this in about 50 years when they are walking around on the surface of the moon—with hearts and lungs grown from pig cells, and eyes, ears and limbs that are “facilitated” by computers and bio-membranes—as they visit their friends who have fled Earth for the completely artificial world of the lunar colonies. Moon-enthused people will no longer have the need to feel smart.

My prediction for the distant future of American marketing is that the psychological driver propelling folks in the market will result in this psychological message: THIS PRODUCT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE AN EARTHLING.

Looking farther out in time, the marketing psychological message could become: THIS PRODUCT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU BELONG IN THE MILKY WAY.

Peering forward a tiny bit more, we might discover that the marketing psychological message has become extinct. In its place, perhaps, will be a sleek, glassine chip encoding orthodox logic: THIS CODE WILL RESTORE YOUR CIRCUIT DIAGNOSTICS AND PROCESSING TO ACCEPTABLE LEVELS.

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Reflection 2013 When Labor Day Celebrated Summer

The Rain God Small

I remember a time when summer was so loved in American culture that it was not ruled by The All Mighty School Year. The start of summer was simple: as soon as it was still light after supper, it was summer because you could be excused from the table to go outside and play. Summer ended the week before Halloween because then it was already dark when you were allowed to leave the supper table.

In those bygone days, Americans were not as stupid as they are today, lived a significant part of their lives out of doors, did not go back to school until well after Labor Day, and understood that summer was ruled by the sun. In those days, the School Calendar did not control society because public schools were still devoted to liberal education and liberally-educated folk would not submit to domination by professional morons.

In our time, public schools are an International Embarrassment: they are dedicated not to liberal education but to the Education of Liberals, which is to say ignorance, doctrine and banality. They have been seized by the federal government and political unions with the result that it is impossible for public school “educators” to pen an educated letter to parents, and students can’t find Japan on a map. What’s worse, their parents don’t know their equinoxes from their solstices.

When I was a kid, summer was glory. Precious sunlight was distilled into plump, juicy tomatoes; crisp, green cucumbers; golden-rippled, rough-husked ears of milky corn, swelled globes of luscious, sweet watermelons; clusters of fragrant, beaded blackberries. To celebrate this wondrous transformation, we would do what humans have done ceremonially for millions of years: we built fires.

Before our current Time Of Eating Healthy—when publicly-educated folk clamor for probiotics even though they have no knowledge of them—we kindled flames in barbeque pits and in barbeque grills; to these solar emblems we committed thick hamburger patties and plump frankfurters. Dad tended the fire while Uncle Mason, a burly railroad man, turned the crank on the ice cream machine—burgeoning with cream, sugar and fresh peaches from the tree by the fence—and Mom and Aunt Irene prepared platters of fried chicken, deviled eggs and potato salad.

Apostates of the golden light, we rose early, expended ourselves interacting with nature under cerulean skies, and captured, in clean glass jars, the flesh of our sacred produce to sustain us in the coming grey days when the holy light was scant. In those days that I remember, Labor Day was a happy summer festival for which we kindled a special fire. In those days, summer was ruled by the sun, Americans possessed knowledge and consulted it before speaking, people reveled in life outdoors and culture was still susceptible to glory. No more. Glory is fled. Class dismissed.

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Methods To Subvert Illegal Spying By The NSA

The Rain God SmallThe National Security Agency has not only admitted to conducting illegal spying operations against Americans, the NSA has made it clear that, not only will it not stop these unconstitutional actions, but that there is nothing the government can do to halt them. It is virtually true that, administratively, that the Obama government, which does not require our renegade Attorney General enforce U.S. laws he does not care for, will not stop the NSA. It is also true that Congress, whose powerful committee chairmen get off on secrecy, will not legislatively stop the NSA as long as they retain their privileges to view the NSA’s toys behind closed doors.

The people, however, can make the NSA’s illegal spying pointless. Once this happens, and the James Bond thrill is gone for Congressional leaders, funding for these programs will be cut via an obscure amendment to the Farm Bill.

Happily, if the NSA really is not illegally spying on U.S. citizens, the methods I propose to make you an NSA Sapper will have no effect other than making you feel empowered.

SAPPER PREPARATION

GROUND RULES: It is crucial that these methods be used by individuals only and NEVER IN CONCERT AMONG INDIVIDUALS. All research, without exception, must be done using only printed books and notes must only be recorded on paper using a carpenter’s pencil. All subversion supplies must be purchased with cash. You must tell no one that you are an NSA Sapper. You must make no electronic reference to this blog post whatsoever. Instead, you should print this blog post and mail it to your friends.

RESEARCH REQUIREMENTS: You must compile an Assange List of bad guys. This is a list of physical addresses, email addresses, web site addresses, phone numbers and VOIP numbers of officials in hostile foreign governments, foreign embassies, cultural attaches, and military attaches.

You must compile an Assisi List of good guys. This is a list of physical addresses, email addresses, web site addresses, phone numbers and VOIP numbers of U.S. Senators, members of Congress, Congressional staff members, pastors, preachers, parsons, rabbis, priests, and bishops in the U.S.

You must compile a Schweitzer list of compassionate guys. This is a list of the physical addresses, email addresses, web site addresses, phone numbers and VOIP numbers of humanitarian groups, human rights groups, religious groups, environmental groups, non-profit groups, educational groups, peace groups and pet rescue groups.

You must compile a Hot Word List. This is a list of all of the words you think an electronic spy would search for when snooping to see if you are a threat to National Security. This list of Hot Words must be extensive. In addition to nuclear and fissile material, explosives, assassinations, attacks, and conventional weapons, don’t forget jet fuel and accelerants. You will use these Hot Words in your phone calls, emails, and letters to the Assisi List and the Assange List.

MESSAGE COMPOSITION: The NSA relies on crude KWIC and KWOK technology when it listens and post-CODASYL data networking when processing “meta data.” The NSA has absolutely no semiotic classification software so it does not matter if you use your Hot Words in a grammatically and syntactically correct manner. But it is much more effective as subversion if you do. The spying programs of the U S Postal Service are so primitive, they cannot even handle middle initials.

SAPPER METHODS

STARBUCKS METHOD: Forego Starbucks for two weeks. Use the money to buy several disposable prepaid cell phones. THESE PHONES MUST ONLY BE USED FOR YOUR SAPPER CALLS. The first call you make must be to the White House. Any number will do because the NSA monitors them all. DO NOT USE YOUR HOT WORDS ON THIS CALL. Then call someone on the Assange List and use your Hot Words. When the call ends, call someone on the Assisi List. Use your Hot Words. Next, call someone on the Schweitzer List. Do not use your Hot Words.

CHRISTMAS METHOD: Ask your sweetheart, family members or friends to pool their resources and get you a satellite phone with prepaid service. Go to the Starbucks Method.

VOIP METHOD: Use a computer that can execute VOIP calls. Go to the Starbucks Method.

SNAIL METHOD: Always use your correct return address. NEVER USE YOUR HOT WORDS. First, write a letter to the President. Then write a letter to someone on your Assange List. Then write a letter to someone on your Assisi List. Then write a letter to someone on your Schweitzer List. Finally, write a letter to Santa Claus.

EMAIL METHOD: Send an email to the White House. DO NOT USE YOUR HOT WORDS. Send an email to someone on your Assange List. Use your Hot Words. Send an email to someone on your Assisi List. Use your Hot Words. Send an email to someone on your Schweitzer List. Do not use your Hot Words. Send an email to the Pope. Do not use your Hot Words.

GORE METHOD: Access the White House web site. Then do a web search for a few of your Hot Words. Access the FBI web site. Then do a web search for a few of your Hot Words. Access the CIA web site. Then do a web search for a few of your Hot Words. Access a web site from your Assange List. Then do a web search for a few of your Hot Words. Access a web site from your Assisi List. Then do a web search for a few of your Hot Words. Access the web sites of both Senators from your state.

Watch the national news for reports about obscure amendments to the Farm Bill.

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When Back To School Was About Learning

The Rain God SmallFor several weeks, advertisers have relentlessly bombarded the airways with “Back To School” commercials. Only two messages are embedded in these sleazy assaults on education: YOUR KIDS MUST HAVE POPULAR BRANDS OR THEY WILL NOT BE POPULAR and BUY MORE OF OUR STUFF THAN YOU NEED SO YOU CAN FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF WHEN YOU DONATE THE SURPLUS TO THE POOR. The first message is shamelessly promoted by for-profit organizations while the second message is shamelessly promoted by non-profit organizations. Nowhere is there a message about learning.

There was a time when things were not this way. Years ago, society cared very much about learning. The Russian launch of Sputnik had clearly demonstrated that an educated society accomplished more than a happily ignorant one. A national effort was made to improve the quality of education in America and it was successful. In those days, the school year did not start until after Labor Day. September was the month when we went back to school. Shopping for beginning the school year was simple: we got new pencil boxes filled with new pencils, a new gum eraser, a new compass, a new protractor, one new notebook and one or two packs of notebook paper. The most prized new thing we got was a shiny new mechanical pencil. If you carried a mechanical pencil in your shirt pocket, you looked very smart. The real lucky dogs had a small pad of graph paper sheets displayed prominently behind the mechanical pencil.

No one got a new wardrobe back then. Christmas was the time when clothing was refreshed, even though kids hated getting clothes for presents. That was the adult way of putting coal in your stocking without using a stocking. There was no such thing as a book bag. Everyone had a book satchel. These were made of heavy canvas and they were all olive drab with dark colored buckles and fasteners. Blue ink from fountain pens was used to decorate these humble pouches with the same of your sweetheart or whatever fanciful image came to mind.

In those days, kids were not excited about going back to school so they could see their friends. Schools in those days were neighborhood schools. We were with our friends all summer long. Seeing them in school was no big deal. What was a big deal was being back in the classroom. We had no idea what projects our teachers had been cooking up for us all summer long but we were anxious to find out. We knew that some of the classwork and some of the homework would be boring and repetitious but we also knew that nuggets of genuine learning would be cast among the lectures and assignments. We knew that we would have opportunities to discover something neat, prove something nifty or verify something dazzling. Each time we did so, we felt our beings expand, we felt our minds a little more satisfied.

We paid a heavy price for such illumination: multiplication tables, state capitals, diagramming sentences, split infinitives and the most somber of all knowledge—gerunds. But honest-to-god learning was the reason we loved our teachers. We did love our teachers then because they did something no one else on Earth could do. They lifted us above our home lives. School was not the street. When you were in school, you could not act, you could not speak as if you were at home or as if you were in the street. That simply was not done. That was not tolerated. School was a different place. It was a more noble place than home or the street. Each of us knew school was, above all, a spiritual place, a place where being was expanded by understanding. When we got in trouble, we did not just feel guilty because we had broken a rule, we felt shame because we had violated a spiritual place. Back to school was not about brand names, trends and fashions. Back to school was about being allowed back inside the temple.

Then came the Age of Aquarius and the rise of the Counterculture. In the name of Liberalism, the temples were destroyed, learning was banished and replaced by official “enlightened” social propaganda. Ignorance, crassness and commercialism from the streets was not only allowed into the schools, it was installed in schools as curriculum and administration. Schools became little more than media outlets for government doctrine.

With genuine learning, and the concomitant expansion of spirit, thrown out of schools due to the incessant clamoring of the hoi polloi, schools have become little more than government organized marketplaces. Little wonder then that kids feel no wonder when they return. Beleaguered parents are rid of their kids at last. They try to console their troubled consciences with the expenditures they have made to swaddle their offspring in the trendiest fashions from the hottest brands but such is a Pyrrhic victory: the disciples are all in their places with bright shiny faces and unsinkable shoelaces but the temple long ago gave up the spirit.

When they go back to school, the youth of America face the decaying remnants of a great society that was once committed to spiritual expansion through learning. So tell me now, enlightened America, as we are about to go down the drain, WHAT IS YOUR FIRST DAY STRATEGY?
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