What’s with all the discouraging words? Home, home with the strange, where the crackpot politicians play, where seldom is heard an encouraging word and the skies are just cloudy all day.
Sow discord, reap the whirlwind. These gardeners have been tilling the soil with seeds of hate, envy, fear and loathing for so long, it’s hard to breathe with all these weeds choking the air.
Fortunately, there is a solution. Stop listening, for one. Much of their power is in the silver tongue of false promises and false prophecies. (”The world as we know it will end unless you give me more power!!!”)
Whatever is good – think on those things. Listen to those who add value to life: the builders, not the petty demolition experts. Turn off the noise …
It’s 300 or 400 years in the future, give or take. Robots are in charge, sort of, and people spend most of their time avoiding each other and popping pills that leave them pretty doped up most of the time. Close interaction with others, including eye contact, is strenuously discouraged if not outright illegal. Now and then two or three people get together and immolate themselves, for no readily apparent reason. Oh, and there don’t seem to be any children around. Continue reading “W.B.’s Book Report: Mockingbird”
Milton Mayer’s book subtitled “The Germans 1933-45” is a remarkable bit of work. Mayer lived in Germany for a few years after the close of World War II and wanted to know how ordinary folks could have allowed the oppressive regime led by Adolf Hitler to seize control of their country and their lives.
The title of the book says it all: They thought they were free.
Mayer writes about his friendship with 10 men and his conversations about their everyday lives in a relatively small town. He paints a plausible portrait of people only tangentially aware that their government was descending into totalitarianism and tyranny — because they were busy living their lives and it usually didn’t affect them directly. Continue reading “W.B.’s Book Report: They Thought They Were Free”
The door burst open and the uniforms swarmed in, surrounding the old man in his easy chair, who raised his hands with a calm bemusement on his face.
“How may I help you, gentlemen?”
“We’ve good reason to believe you’re storing explosives and incendiaries in this household.”
“As you can see.” Continue reading “Saturday Stories: The Raid”
I don’t know much about Seth MacFarlane – mainly that he has a different sense of humor than mine, because many of his jokes fall flat with me – but he seems to be an intelligent and talented man, so when the characters in his scripts say or do something, I think he knows what they’re saying or doing.
I’ve been mostly enjoying MacFarlane’s television show The Orville, his homage to Star Trek, but he stopped me cold last week with an exchange during the episode titled “All the World Is Birthday Cake,” written by MacFarlane, in which Capt. Ed Mercer’s crew makes first contact with a civilization much like ours but a century or two behind the enlightened Union space travelers.
During a banquet scene, one of the natives asks about the economic system of the visitors, saying, “I’m fascinated that there’s no form of currency exchange.” Continue reading “Slipping poison into a vial of laughter”
The notifications – the dings and chimes and beeps and boops – the shouts, the rhythms, the alarms – the clangs and flashing lights – all of these served to keep the people from thinking too hard, to blur their focus, to mesmerize them, and after a while they forgot.
They forgot why they had considered it so important to be free. It was more important to be secure, free from the valleys, all mountaintops for them, not touched by bad things, only safe and warm and comfortable.
And the safety net, built so meticulously to help the struggling and the poor and the old and the infirm, became just a net. Continue reading “How liberty died to thunderous applause”
Not long ago I was browsing through a book called The Essential Thomas Jefferson, a collection that – like all “Essential” albums – includes his greatest hits and a rich selection of deep cuts. The following is excerpted from the final entry in the book, a letter to Roger C. Weightman written June 24, 1826, two weeks before Jefferson died.
The letter leaves the old man feeling as if his mission was fulfilled and with the hope that what he and his fellows had accomplished 50 years earlier would continue to serve as a beacon to humanity. Continue reading “A signal to burst the chains”
Almost a month into my Year of Finishing, and I haven’t finished anything yet. Even the schedule of what to finish, and when, isn’t done. What gets finished first, hmm?
What time is now?
I’m amused by the new bosses who have spent the last eight years screaming in the faces of elected officials that their policies are shameful and hurtful and mean, and now, having succeeded in winning significant seats from those they have treated as mortal enemies, now call for civility and bipartisanship. Where was civility when their duly elected opponents were passing their legislation? Where was civility when they were shouting from the gallery and fighting to have courts declare their opponents’ laws illegal and immoral?
What time is now? Is it time for civility and bipartisanship – the latter a code word for “cave to my demands” – or is it simply time to resume the battle, with the battle lines redrawn? Continue reading “3 journal fragments: What time is now”