Slipping poison into a vial of laughter

the-orville

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”

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How liberty died to thunderous applause

Gadsden flag dreamstime_s_76381771The 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”

A signal to burst the chains

a signal to burst the chains

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”

Wisconsin assimilation

snow day

It was 22 degrees below zero, officially, on Saturday morning in our neck of the woods.

I’ll always remember a sunny morning in Ripon, Wisconsin, my freshman year of college and my first winter in the state I made my home. The weather had been brutal for many days – my memory says it was below -10 for as much as two straight weeks, but that may be fuzzy recall – all I know is it was ridiculously cold for too long. Continue reading “Wisconsin assimilation”

A day lost and found

above the contrail

The day had come and gone without his notice. He had buried his face in the everyday and could not say whether the sun had shone all day or if snow had dusted the neighborhood. It was as if he had slept all day, but he remembered waking.

Outside, he knew, there was a cold colder than the coldest cold and a land anxious for spring, but he hadn’t glanced out the window, as far as he could remember, so he couldn’t say if the ground was softer or harder or ice-covered or some lingering grass was visible. He thought he may have communicated with the outside world but couldn’t remember the details. Continue reading “A day lost and found”

3 journal fragments: What time is now

willow 12-21-2018

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”

Lost in the flit

ohare

The thoughts bombarded him like an automatic machine gun spraying the yard like lethal missiles. Overstimulated, he folded into a stupor, unable to think straight enough to take a step one way or another. Sounds, blinking lights, and hundreds of people dashing or walking this way and that.

He knew he had somewhere to go but suddenly had no interest or memory of where that might be, only an overwhelming urge to process the scene in front of him. It was if he had been dropped into a teeming ant hill: Everyone about him knew where they were going and was going straight about their business, but it looked like chaos. He wanted to see the pattern, he wanted to see how it all fit together, the infinite combinations. Continue reading “Lost in the flit”

A premise in search of a story

press dreamstime_s_84073300

The Printer. The Librarian. The Disk Jockey. Three denizens of Sunset Electronica, a story or novel or series of stories or novels for which I have a premise, a setting, but no story to tell.

They all preside over electric or electronic devices but old ones, built before computers were installed and equipped with tracking devices. The press was just a big machine – so was the turntable, and the book.

We can add The Mechanic to our cast of characters. And The Tracker, a hunter who does not depend on electronics to find fish or deer. They are the Keepers of the Old Ways, regarded with awe now but once with bemusement, for of what use were the Old Ways in a digital utopia? Continue reading “A premise in search of a story”