Saturday, June 10, 2023

"The Truth Behind Blown Dams and Military Offensives"

Scott Ritter, 6/10/23
"The Truth Behind Blown Dams and Military Offensives"
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"West Coast Shipping Crisis Heating Up; McDonald's Prices Are Crushing Consumers"

Jeremiah Babe, 6/10/23
 "West Coast Shipping Crisis Heating Up;
 McDonald's Prices Are Crushing Consumers"
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Musical Interlude: 2002, "Land of Forever"

Full screen recommended.
2002, "Land of Forever"

"A Look to the Heavens"

"What's that below those strange clouds? Presidents. If you look closely, you may recognize the heads of four former US Presidents carved into famous Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, USA. More obvious in the featured image are the unusual mammatus clouds that passed briefly overhead. Both were captured together by a surprised tourist with a quick camera in early September.
Click image for larger size.
Unlike normal flat-bottomed clouds which form when moist and calm air plateaus rise and cool, bumpy mammatus clouds form as icy and turbulent air pockets sink and heat up. Such turbulent air is frequently accompanied by a thunderstorm. Each mammatus lobe spans about one kilometer. The greater mountain is known to native Lakota Sioux as Six Grandfathers, deities responsible for the directions north, south, east, west, up, and down."

Free Download: Jack London, "The Iron Heel"

"I know nothing that I may say can influence you. You have no souls to be influenced. You are spineless, flaccid things. You pompously call yourselves Republicans and Democrats. You are lick-spittlers and panderers, the creatures of the Plutocracy." 
- Jack London
Freely download "The Iron Heel", by Jack London, here:

Read online The Project Gutenberg eBook 
of "The Iron Heel", by Jack London, here:

Chet Raymo, “The Sadist Next Door”

“The Sadist Next Door”
by Chet Raymo

“The TLS (“Times Literary Supplement”) had an absorbing review of American Historian Joel Harrington's book on the manuscript diary of a 16th-century German executioner, Franz Schmidt of Nuremberg. Remarkably, Schmidt kept a full record of the criminals he executed, the crimes they perpetrated, and the gruesome ways they met their fate. It is a tale that would chill most 21st-century readers.

Hangings, beheadings, burnings at the stake, and breakings with the wheel. In the latter custom, a heavy cartwheel is dropped onto the person to be executed, who is tied down spreadeagled on the execution platform, starting with the feet and working the way up to the head. There are also less final punishments: floggings, finger-choppings, ear-choppings, brandings, and an ingenious catalog of tortures.

For Herr Schmidt, it was all in a day's work. He might as well have been a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker. He had a family to support, and he was good at his job. His neighboring townspeople attended the executions. It was good public entertainment.

Of course, there is nothing unique to the 16th century or Germany about any of this. Hideous tortures and executions have been part of human history from the beginning. Think of the Roman gladiatorial entertainments with their cheering crowds. Or the public stonings, beheadings and amputations still common in certain parts of the world today. It seems that only in the post-Enlightenment West do we look with disapprobation on Herr Schmidt's trade, ostensibly at least. We have the grisly torture chambers of the Gestapo and NKVD to remind us that Enlightenment values are fragile.

All of which raises the question: Is taking pleasure in the infliction of pain on others nature or nurture? Are we born with a good angel on one shoulder and a bad angel on the other? How do we explain the huge popularity of slasher movies and shoot-'em-up video games? Is there something of Herr Schmidt in all of us?”

"Be Like The Bird..."

"What matter if this base, unjust life
Cast you naked and disarmed?
If the ground breaks beneath your step,
Have you not your soul?
Your soul! You fly away,
Escape to realms refined,
Beyond all sadness and whimpering.
Be like the bird which on frail branches balanced
A moment sits and sings;
He feels them tremble, but he sings unshaken,
Knowing he has wings."

- Victor Hugo

“The 11 Nations Of The United States”

Click image for larger size.
“The 11 Nations Of The United States”
by Andy Kiersz and Marguerite Ward 

“The map above shows how the US really has 11 separate ‘nations’ with entirely different cultures. Author and journalist Colin Woodard identified 11 distinct cultures that have historically divided the US. His book American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America” breaks down those cultures and the regions they each dominate. From the utopian “Yankeedom” to the conservative “Greater Appalachia” and liberal “Left Coast,” looking at these cultures sheds an interesting light on America’s political and cultural divides. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, some governors are acting among these factions – like California, Oregon, and Washington, of all which have parts comprising of “The Left Coast” group.”
Please view this complete and fascinating article here:

The Daily "Near You?"

New Britain, Connecticut, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"For This Is What We do..."

"What keeps you going isn't some fine destination but just the road you're on, and the fact that you know how to drive. You keep your eyes open, you see this damned-to-hell world you got born into, and you ask yourself, 'What life can I live that will let me breathe in and out and love somebody or something and not run off screaming into the woods?'"
- Barbara Kingsolver

“For this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other. Lift our eyes to the snarl and smile of the world once more. Think. Act. Feel. Add our little consequence to the tides of good and evil that flood and drain the world. Drag our shadowed crosses into the hope of another night. Push our brave hearts into the promise of a new day. With love: the passionate search for truth other than our own. With longing: the pure, ineffable yearning to be saved. For so long as fate keeps waiting, we live on. God help us. God forgive us. We live on.”
- Gregory David Roberts, “Shantaram”

"Mark Strand on Dreams: A Lyrical Love Letter to Where We Go When We Go to Sleep"

"Mark Strand on Dreams:
A Lyrical Love Letter to Where We Go When We Go to Sleep"
“Something nameless hums us into sleep… 
We feel dreamed by someone else, a sleeping counterpart…”
by Maria Popova

"The mystery of dreams has always bewitched humanity, tickling art and science in equal measure. Freud was besotted with it when he laid the foundation for the study of the subject, as was his eccentric niece Tom when she illustrated that gem of a vintage children’s book about dreams. Dostoyevsky found the meaning of life in a dream, and so did Margaret Mead. Leonard Bernstein sought the solution to his sexual identity confusion and the key to the creative process in his dreams.

However detached from the reality of life dreams may seem, they affect our every waking moment and even help us regulate our negative moods. And yet, try as we might to control our dreams, we still know so very little about where we go when we slip into that nocturnal wonderland. For all the advances science has made, it still seems best left to the poets - and the best of poets only.

In one of the many masterpieces in his "Collected Poems" (public library), Pulitzer-winning poet and MacArthur “genius” Mark Strand (April 11, 1934–November 29, 2014) explores the delicate and disorienting world of dreams with unparalleled elegance. The poem is a supreme testament to Strand’s belief that it is the artist’s task to bear witness to the universe, within and without."

"Trying to recall the plot
And characters we dreamed,
     What life was like
Before the morning came,
We are seldom satisfied,
     And even then
There is no way of knowing
If what we know is true.
     Something nameless
Hums us into sleep,
Withdraws, and leaves us in
     A place that seems
Always vaguely familiar.
Perhaps it is because
     We take the props
And fixtures of our days
With us into the dark,
     Assuring ourselves
We are still alive. And yet
Nothing here is certain;
     Landscapes merge
With one another, houses
Are never where they should be,
     Doors and windows
Sometimes open out
To other doors and windows,
     Even the person
Who seems most like ourselves
Cannot be counted on,
     For there have been
Too many times when he,
Like everything else, has done
     The unexpected.
And as the night wears on,
The dim allegory of ourselves
     Unfolds, and we
Feel dreamed by someone else,
A sleeping counterpart,
     Who gathers in
The darkness of his person
Shades of the real world.
     Nothing is clear;
We are not ever sure
If the life we live there
     Belongs to us.
Each night it is the same;
Just when we’re on the verge
     Of catching on,
A sense of our remoteness
Closes in, and the world
     So lately seen
Gradually fades from sight.
We wake to find the sleeper
     Is ourselves
And the dreamt-of is someone who did
Something we can’t quite put
     Our finger on,
But which involved a life
We are always, we feel,
     About to discover."

"Dreams", by Mark Strand

Complement the immeasurably rewarding "Collected Poems" with Strand on the heartbeat of creative work and his lyrical love letter to clouds.”

"How It Really Is"


"Crime Seems To Pay"

Full screen recommended.
Dan, I Allegedly 6/10/23
"Crime Seems To Pay"
"It is getting more and more ridiculous that criminals are getting a break. They now want to pass a law that you cannot confront shoplifters. People are stealing mail and robbing mailmen. Crime Pays."
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Gerald Celente, "A Total Collapse Is Coming"

Strong language alert!
Gerald Celente, 6/9/23
"A Total Collapse Is Coming"
"In this video, Gerald Celente discusses various topics including the current state of the economy, global market trends, and the impact of AI. He criticizes the government's handling of the debt ceiling and expresses concern about the weakening manufacturing numbers in the United States and China. Celente also highlights the potential decline in the dollar's dominance and the negative effects of high office vacancy rates in cities like New York and Chicago. He emphasizes the rise in food prices in Europe due to sanctions and inflation. Additionally, Celente mentions the recession in Germany and introduces the AI section in the latest edition of the Trends Journal."
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"Wars And Rumors Of War"

Full screen recommended.
Canadian Prepper, 6/9/23
"Border Evacuated, Nukes Being Moved Miles
 From NATO Summit; 72 Hour WW3 Exercise; Huge Fires"
Comments here:
Full screen recommended.
Hindustan Times, 6/10/23
"Ukraine's Counteroffensive a Flop Show?
 Dramatic Video of Russia Destroying Kyiv's Tank Unit"
"Ukraine's long-pending counteroffensive has begun but failed to impact Russia. Despite the massive influx of western weapons, Kyiv is unable to cope with the Russian blitz. A new video released by the Russian Defence Ministry is proof of Ukraine's struggles. The video shows how an entire tank crew on the battlefield of Donetsk was destroyed. The Russian missiles, one after the other, hit the Ukrainian armored vehicles. All the tanks on the spot and their crews were blown up in smoke within seconds. The combat operation seems to be part of Russia's "hunt and kill" mission."
Comments here:
Full screen recommended.
Hindustan Times, 6/10/23
"Russia Onslaught Brings Kyiv To Its Knees;
 Ukraine Loses Over 1200 Troops In just One Day"
"A ferocious Russian onslaught literally brought Ukrainian troops to their knees. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Ukrainian Army has lost up to 1,240 troops. Ukraine suffered massive losses during its "long-expected counteroffensive." Not just lost lives, but Ukraine also faced massive weapon destruction. Nearly 40 Ukrainian tanks were blown up in the Russian blitzkrieg. The Russian Defense Ministry said that Kyiv's 30 infantry fighting vehicles, 38 armored vehicles, and a dozen pieces of artillery were also wiped out. This is not all; two Ukrainian military jets, two UK-provided Storm Shadow cruise missiles, and 13 drones were intercepted by the Russians in the last 24 hours. The losses that Ukraine suffered show that it failed to capitalize on the new western weapons provided to it for the mega counteroffensive."
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Hey, don't you look away Good Citizen! See the horror that you and I and all of us have paid at very least $120 billion to create! Col. Douglas Macgregor said Ukraine has lost 300,000 soldiers killed, while Russia has lost 30,000 dead, and for what? This was NONE of our business, and we all may die in a nuclear war, and for what?! All that blood's on our hands, and we should hang our heads in shame and disgrace and beg God for forgiveness, which we do not deserve... - CP

"Stock Up Now At Kroger! Get Prepared! What's Next!"

Adventures With Danno, 6/10/23
"Stock Up Now At Kroger!
 Get Prepared! What's Next!"
"In today's vlog, we are going over a massive amount of grocery items that we recommend everyone should be stocking up on. With inflation at an all-time high, we have to prepare like never before to save money in the grocery stores!"
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Friday, June 9, 2023

"16 Great Depression Foods Everyone Will Eat In The Months Ahead"

Full screen recommended.
"16 Great Depression Foods Everyone 
Will Eat In The Months Ahead"
By Investing Future

"The Great Depression was an era of scarcity-induced creativity, with millions of people out of work and widespread shortages of food and goods. Families had a hard time scraping money together to feed their children. They had to make things work without household staples and other products that weren't readily available at the stores when they needed them. Their innovations came out of necessity, from women dyeing their legs with tea instead of using stockings to men mending their shoes with cardboard.

Americans during the Great Depression used their resourcefulness to make do with what little they had. Inventiveness became a survival mechanism. Soup kitchens sprung up across the country to ensure that unemployed workers got at least one meal daily. It was precisely in the kitchen that you could see the biggest reflection of the ingenuity and desperation of that era. Those who lived in rural areas typically planted gardens and raised chickens and cows. Men used to go to the woods to hunt and fish. New recipes were concocted, and many food combinations that would be considered disgusting today were actually delicacies during that time.

Spurred on by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who encouraged families to save money and resources by practicing frugal home economics, many meals that people didn't consider eating were now consumed without question in the face of hunger and misery. Our society was forced to adapt.

The recipes of that period may come back to our tables as the economy moves towards another devastating crisis. That's why today we decided to compile unusual foods that were very popular in the 1930s. But before moving on, we kindly ask you to support our work with a thumbs up, and don't forget to subscribe. Without further ado, here are 15 weird foods that were common during the Great Depression.

1. Snapping turtle soup: Snapping turtles are cold-blooded reptiles and a cousin to lizards, snakes, and alligators. On average, they weigh 10 to 36 pounds each. Capturing them is not easy; they hiss like a cat if you get too close, and their jaws can easily bite off a finger. Folklore claims that the head can still bite you even after a snapping turtle is beheaded. While that may be part of the myth, turtles could be acquired in the spring during mating season when they were on the move and were spotted crossing roads. When they leave their natural water environment, they're much easier to catch. Turtle soup is essentially a vegetable stew with green onions, carrots, and turtle meat instead of beef or chicken. People say it tastes like a combination of pork, clams, and chicken thighs. Although it may seem weird, this soup was a way to survive during such hard times. Today, they're still considered a delicacy in many famous restaurants.

2. Garbage plate: Before you think this dish has anything to do with dumpster diving, it's nothing that extreme. People at the time used to do lots of manual labor, and workers needed fuel to have the energy to do their jobs. Garbage plate was the name given to meals loaded with carbohydrates. They were built from the items each cook had in their kitchens. For example, they would place a giant scoop of macaroni salad onto a plate, then add a scoop or two of baked beans on top of that. Some fried potatoes or maybe a fried hot dog or two, or maybe fried bologna if it was available. To make it even more calorific, people added mustard, chopped onions, ketchup, and some chili - whatever was on hand, really. After eating a garbage plate, workers were ready to face long hour shifts to earn their living.

3. Prune pudding: This humble dessert became famous after First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt convinced her husband, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to serve the dish during a dinner event for international guests at the White House. Prunes were widely available at that time, much cheaper than many other fruits. They were easy to store and to make desserts with. On top of that, prunes are packed with nutrients, fiber, and vitamin K, making this a very popular recipe all across the country.

4. Mock apple pie: In the 1930s, the United States faced a nationwide shortage of apples, but that didn't stop hungry Americans from creating their own version of their cherished apple pie."

Discussed on the show:
'20 Signs Walmart is Falling Apart Before Our Eyes", Redacted with Clayton Morris
"Economic Collapse", Redacted with Clayton Morris
"It's Over", Redacted with Clayton Morris
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"15 Fast Food Chains Closing Stores This Summer"

Full screen recommended.
"15 Fast Food Chains Closing Stores This Summer"
by Epic Economist

"With Americans eating out increasingly less to save on costs, some of the biggest fast-food chains in the US are taking desperate measures to survive the ongoing recession. For many of them, that means conducting mass store shutdowns to improve their financial health and get rid of potential risks. Unfortunately, this also means that many of us will lose our favorite shops in the months ahead.

For example, in November 2022, Popeyes started closing a number of locations, and it seems like things haven’t changed in 2023. Newsbreak reports more permanent closings in the coming months as sales decline and profits shrink. In California, the chain is facing an even bigger challenge. Several locations may have to be shuttered after the company broke child labor laws. Teenage employees filed complaints accusing the outlet of forcing them to work long hours and late shifts. The minor employees were asked to skip school for shifts and work past 11 p.m., The Washington Post reported. California labor laws state that those under 18 years old aren't permitted to work more than four hours on a school day, nor work past 11 p.m. Meanwhile, one of its biggest franchises, Premier Cajun Kings filed for bankruptcy last month after its founder’s untimely passing coupled with a brutal operating environment left the company in limbo.

Similarly, Chick-fil-A is not showing the financial resilience expected from a chain of this size and scope. The company is amongst the 15 largest fast food chains in America, but that doesn’t mean it is standing on solid footing. The chicken shortage of the past few years has certainly caused some major headaches for Chick-fil-A, which increased prices three times in three years. Lower sales, higher costs, and supply chain disruptions continued to impact its bottom line, and now several shops are closing doors for good. On top of the shutdowns announced in Florida, Maryland, Alabama, Tennessee, and Missouri, the chain is closings its first-ever restaurant after more than a half-century in business. The company did not reveal the reason for the shutdowns, but CNN experts believe some of the locations haven’t been able to turn out a profit in at least four years.

Moreover, just like rival Starbucks, Dunkin’ is a coffee shop and bakery that offers locals a place to get their caffeine fix on every corner. But East Coast customers may be disappointed to hear that the chain is now closing 450 outlets in the region. An announcement from the company revealed that gas station’s Dunkin’ stores don’t generate much revenue, contributing to less than 0.5% of its sales. For that reason, the chain is closing such facilities and redirecting all maintenance funds to other successful locations. “We’re convinced that by leaving these locations with little financial impact, we’ll be better positioned to serve many of these trade regions with new Dunkin’ NextGen stores that have a wider menu in the future,” said chief financial officer Kate Japson. That's why today, we brought you an updated list of restaurants that announced store shutdowns in the months ahead."
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"Shocking Rent Costs; You Will Own Nothing; What Happens When The Dollar Collapses?"


Fill screen recommended.
Jeremiah Babe, 6/9/23
"Shocking Rent Costs; You Will Own Nothing; 
What Happens When The Dollar Collapses?"
Comments here:

"Information, Please"

"Information, Please"
By nkit

"When I was a young boy, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it. Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was “Information Please” and there was nothing she did not know. Information Please could supply anyone’s number and the correct time.

My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy. I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway.

The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear. “Information, please,” I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear. “Information.” 

“I hurt my finger…” I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough now that I had an audience. “Isn’t your mother home?” came the question “Nobody’s home but me,” I blubbered. “Are you bleeding?” the voice asked “No, “I replied. “I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.” “Can you open the icebox?” she asked. I said I could. “Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger,” said the voice.

After that, I called “Information Please” for everything. I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.

Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I called, “Information Please,” and told her the sad story. She listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her, “Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?” She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, “Wayne, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.” Somehow, I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone, “Information Please.” “Information,” said in the now familiar voice. “How do I spell fix?” I asked

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. “Information Please” belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me. Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, “Information Please.” Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well. “Information.”

I hadn’t planned this, but I heard myself saying, “Could you please tell me how to spell fix?” There was a long pause. Then came the soft-spoken answer, “I guess your finger must have healed by now.” I laughed, “So it’s really you,” I said. “I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?” “I wonder,” she said, “if you know how much your calls meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls.” I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister. “Please do,” she said. “Just ask for Sally.”

Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered, “Information.” I asked for Sally. “Are you a friend?” she said. “Yes, a very old friend,” I answered. “I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” she said. “Sally had been working part time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago.”

Before I could hang up, she said, “Wait a minute, did you say your name was Wayne?” “Yes.” I answered. "Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you." The note said, “Tell Wayne that there are other worlds to sing in. He’ll know what I mean.” I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant."

Musical Interlude: 2002, "To Touch the Sky"

Full screen recommended.
2002, "To Touch the Sky"

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Why isn't this ant a big sphere? Planetary nebula Mz3 is being cast off by a star similar to our Sun that is, surely, round. Why then would the gas that is streaming away create an ant-shaped nebula that is distinctly not round?
Clues might include the high 1000-kilometer per second speed of the expelled gas, the light-year long length of the structure, and the magnetism of the star visible above at the nebula's center. One possible answer is that Mz3 is hiding a second, dimmer star that orbits close in to the bright star. A competing hypothesis holds that the central star's own spin and magnetic field are channeling the gas. Since the central star appears to be so similar to our own Sun, astronomers hope that increased understanding of the history of this giant space ant can provide useful insight into the likely future of our own Sun and Earth.”

"On Your Own Terms..."

“If the sun is shining, stand in it – yes, yes, yes. Happy times are great, but happy times pass – they have to – because time passes. The pursuit of happiness is more elusive; it is life-long, and it is not goal-centered. What you are pursuing is meaning – a meaningful life… There are times when it will go so wrong that you will be barely alive, and times when you realize that being barely alive, on your own terms, is better than living a bloated half-life on someone else’s terms.”
- Jeanette Winterson

"Alea Iacta Est"

"Alea Iacta Est"
by Alexander Macris

"In the closing days of 50 BC, the Roman Senate declared that Julius Caesar’s term as a provincial governor was finished. Roman law afforded its magistrates immunity to prosecution, but this immunity would end with Caesar’s term. As the leader of the populares faction, Caesar had many enemies among the elite optimates, and as soon as he left office, these enemies planned to bury him in litigation. Caesar knew he would lose everything: property, liberty, even his life.

Caesar decided it was better to fight for victory than accept certain defeat. In January 49 BC, he crossed the Rubicon River with his army, in violation of sacred Roman law, and began a civil war. “Alea iacta est,” said Caesar: "The die is cast."
Full screen recommended.
Charles Bukowoski, "Roll the Dice"

The Poet: Galway Kinnell, "Another Night in the Ruins"

"Another Night in the Ruins"

"How many nights must it take
one such as me to learn
that we aren't, after all, made
from that bird that flies out of its ashes,
that for us
as we go up in flames,
our one work is
to open ourselves,
to be the flames?"

~ Galway Kinnell

"It Was Ironic..."

"It was the essence of life to disbelieve in death for one's self, to act as if life would continue forever. And life had to act also as if little issues were big ones. To take a realistic attitude toward life and death meant that one lapsed into unreality. Into insanity. It was ironic that the only way to keep one's sanity was to ignore that one was in an insane world or to act as if the world were sane."
- Philip José Farmer

The Daily "Near You?"

Machias, Maine, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

Mark Twain, “On The Damned Human Race”

“On The Damned Human Race”
by Mark Twain

“I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the lower animals (so-called), and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me. For it obliges me to renounce my allegiance to the Darwinian theory of the Ascent of Man from the Lower Animals; since it now seems plain to me that the theory ought to be vacated in favor of a new and truer one, this new and truer one to be named the Descent of Man from the Higher Animals.

In proceeding toward this unpleasant conclusion I have not guessed or speculated or conjectured, but have used what is commonly called the scientific method. That is to say, I have subjected every postulate that presented itself to the crucial test of actual experiment, and have adopted it or rejected it according to the result. Thus I verified and established each step of my course in its turn before advancing to the next. These experiments were made in the London Zoological Gardens, and covered many months of painstaking and fatiguing work.

Before particularizing any of the experiments, I wish to state one or two things which seem to more properly belong in this place than further along. This, in the interest of clearness. The massed experiments established to my satisfaction certain generalizations, to wit:

1. That the human race is of one distinct species. It exhibits slight variations (in color, stature, mental caliber, and so on) due to climate, environment, and so forth; but it is a species by itself, and not to be confounded with any other.

2. That the quadrupeds are a distinct family, also. This family exhibits variations (in color, size, food preferences, and so on; but it is a family by itself).

3. That the other families (the birds, the fishes, the insects, the reptiles, etc.) are more or less distinct, also. They are in the procession. They are links in the chain which stretches down from the higher animals to man at the bottom.

Some of my experiments were quite curious. In the course of my reading I had come across a case where, many years ago, some hunters on our Great Plains organized a buffalo hunt for the entertainment of an English earl. They had charming sport. They killed seventy-two of those great animals; and ate part of one of them and left the seventy-one to rot. In order to determine the difference between an anaconda and an earl (if any) I caused seven young calves to be turned into the anaconda’s cage. The grateful reptile immediately crushed one of them and swallowed it, then lay back satisfied. It showed no further interest in the calves, and no disposition to harm them. I tried this experiment with other anacondas; always with the same result. The fact stood proven that the difference between an earl and an anaconda is that the earl is cruel and the anaconda isn’t; and that the earl wantonly destroys what he has no use for, but the anaconda doesn’t. This seemed to suggest that the anaconda was not descended from the earl. It also seemed to suggest that the earl was descended from the anaconda, and had lost a good deal in the transition.

I was aware that many men who have accumulated more millions of money than they can ever use have shown a rabid hunger for more, and have not scrupled to cheat the ignorant and the helpless out of their poor servings in order to partially appease that appetite. I furnished a hundred different kinds of wild and tame animals the opportunity to accumulate vast stores of food, but none of them would do it. The squirrels and bees and certain birds made accumulations, but stopped when they had gathered a winter’s supply, and could not be persuaded to add to it either honestly or by chicane. In order to bolster up a tottering reputation the ant pretended to store up supplies, but I was not deceived. I know the ant. These experiments convinced me that there is this difference between man and the higher animals: he is avaricious and miserly; they are not. In the course of my experiments I convinced myself that among the animals man is the only one that harbors insults and injuries, broods over them, waits till a chance offers, then takes revenge. The passion of revenge is unknown to the higher animals.

Roosters keep harems, but it is by consent of their concubines; therefore no wrong is done. Men keep harems but it is by brute force, privileged by atrocious laws which the other sex were allowed no hand in making. In this matter man occupies a far lower place than the rooster. Cats are loose in their morals, but not consciously so. Man, in his descent from the cat, has brought the cats looseness with him but has left the unconsciousness behind (the saving grace which excuses the cat). The cat is innocent, man is not.

Indecency, vulgarity, obscenity (these are strictly confined to man); he invented them. Among the higher animals there is no trace of them. They hide nothing; they are not ashamed. Man, with his soiled mind, covers himself. He will not even enter a drawing room with his breast and back naked, so alive are he and his mates to indecent suggestion. Man is The Animal that Laughs. But so does the monkey, as Mr. Darwin pointed out; and so does the Australian bird that is called the laughing jackass. No! Man is the Animal that Blushes. He is the only one that does it or has occasion to.

Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it. It is a trait that is not known to the higher animals. The cat plays with the frightened mouse; but she has this excuse, that she does not know that the mouse is suffering. The cat is moderate (unhumanly moderate: she only scares the mouse, she does not hurt it; she doesn’t dig out its eyes, or tear off its skin, or drive splinters under its nails) man-fashion; when she is done playing with it she makes a sudden meal of it and puts it out of its trouble. Man is the Cruel Animal. He is alone in that distinction.

The higher animals engage in individual fights, but never in organized masses. Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and with calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out, as the Hessians did in our Revolution, and as the boyish Prince Napoleon did in the Zulu war, and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.

Man is the only animal that robs his helpless fellow of his country, takes possession of it and drives him out of it or destroys him. Man has done this in all the ages. There is not an acre of ground on the globe that is in possession of its rightful owner, or that has not been taken away from owner after owner, cycle after cycle, by force and bloodshed.

Man is the only Slave. And he is the only animal who enslaves. He has always been a slave in one form or another, and has always held other slaves in bondage under him in one way or another. In our day he is always some man’s slave for wages and does that man’s work; and this slave has other slaves under him for minor wages, and they do his work. The higher animals are the only ones who exclusively do their own work and provide their own living.

Man is the only Patriot. He sets himself apart in his own country, under his own flag, and sneers at the other nations, and keeps multitudinous uniformed assassins on hand at heavy expense to grab slices of other people’s countries, and keep them from grabbing slices of his. And in the intervals between campaigns, he washes the blood off his hands and works for the universal brotherhood of man, with his mouth.

Man is the Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion, several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself, and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven. He was at it in the time of the Caesars, he was at it in Mahomet’s time, he was at it in the time of the Inquisition, he was at it in France a couple of centuries, he was at it in England in Mary’s day, he has been at it ever since he first saw the light, he is at it today in Crete (as per the telegrams quoted above) he will be at it somewhere else tomorrow. The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out, in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste.

Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal. Note his history, as sketched above. It seems plain to me that whatever he is he is not a reasoning animal. His record is the fantastic record of a maniac. I consider that the strongest count against his intelligence is the fact that with that record back of him he blandly sets himself up as the head animal of the lot: whereas by his own standards he is the bottom one. In truth, man is incurably foolish.

One is obliged to concede that in true loftiness of character, Man cannot claim to approach even the meanest of the Higher Animals. It is plain that he is constitutionally incapable of approaching that altitude; that he is constitutionally afflicted with a Defect which must make such approach forever impossible, for it is manifest that this defect is permanent in him, indestructible, ineradicable. I find this Defect to be the Moral Sense. He is the only animal that has it. It is the secret of his degradation. It is the quality which enables him to do wrong. It has no other office. It is incapable of performing any other function. It could never have been intended to perform any other. Without it, man could do no wrong. He would rise at once to the level of the Higher Animals.

Since the Moral Sense has but the one office, the one capacity (to enable man to do wrong) it is plainly without value to him. It is as valueless to him as is disease. In fact, it manifestly is a disease. Rabies is bad, but it is not so bad as this disease. Rabies enables a man to do a thing, which he could not do when in a healthy state: kill his neighbor with a poisonous bite) one is the better man for having rabies: The Moral Sense enables a man to do wrong. It enables him to do wrong in a thousand ways. Rabies is an innocent disease, compared to the Moral Sense. No one, then, can be the better man for having the Moral Sense. What now, do we find the Primal Curse to have been? Plainly what it was in the beginning: the infliction upon man of the Moral Sense; the ability to distinguish good from evil; and with it, necessarily, the ability to do evil; for there can be no evil act without the presence of consciousness of it in the doer of it.

And so I find that we have descended and degenerated, from some far ancestor (some microscopic atom wandering at its pleasure between the mighty horizons of a drop of water perchance) insect by insect, animal by animal, reptile by reptile, down the long highway of smirch-less innocence, till we have reached the bottom stage of development (namable as the Human Being). Below us, nothing.”

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