Category Archives: Satire

There’s no Beer in Heaven – Time to get Serious

[off the cuff by   ~Sha’Tara]
It’s time to get serious.  As most know by now, I was once a very religious person.  So religious, in fact, I became religious twice.  In politics that would be called going from a liberal stance to a conservative one, or is it vice-versa?  Doesn’t matter.  What matters is, I need to confess the real reason I left religion.  Starting at the start, we do religion because we want to go to Heaven, just like we go to work because we want a paycheck.  Pretty basic.

All was well until one day, thanks to radio, I heard a song so devastating, I never recovered – I even went to an upholstery repair shop, they couldn’t help me.  (Oh, aren’t I punny!)

Here’s that infamous song by Frankie Yankovic

In Heaven there is no beer

That’s why we drink it here
And when we’re gone from here
All our friends will be drinking all that beer

The moment I heard that song, I was convicted of its utter truth.  I knew then, and still do, that people who sing these songs never lie because they are the ones the corporations use to sing commercial ditties for them, and we all know, based on their success rating that commercials absolutely NEVER LIE.  So there I was, halfway through my Heineken and my heart didn’t just sink, it plummetted.  No beer in Heaven.  They still hold to prohibition there.  Of course I was in the Christian camp so slipping on a hijab I snuck in the Islamic side to see if Allah was more open than Jehovah on drinking.  No luck, except that Allah was willing to provide a number of nubile virgins for his chosen heroes (they call themselves martyrs but all fundamentally religious people believe they are being constantly persecuted so that doesn’t mean a whole lot).  Obviously virgins, particularly of the female kind, wasn’t what I was looking for, so I excused myself, said I was just browsing, and made a rapid exit – you might understand why.  But back to my side of the fence.

After the shock, and a very satisfactory emtying of my Heineken beer, little knowing it wasn’t bottled in Holland, but at the beer plant in town,  I began to think about this.  So I’m in Heaven. Let’s just say I spent the day looking after a kindergarten bunch of rowdies and I want to retire to my “mansion” (everybody has to have a mansion in Heaven, that’s the rule, it’s in the law book – it’s for the higher tax bracket but I’m not supposed to know that), pop open the fridge and draw out a first class beer.  It’s Heaven after all, would I be sold after market crap?  But according to this song I just heard, no such luck.  It doesn’t help that I can hear the groaning and moaning along with the odd girlish cries of protest coming from the other side of the partition where the Muslim boys are going at it full bore.  In fact, it makes my blood boil, or would, if Iwas already there.  But I’m thinking here. That cheapskate Jehovah.  Here’s Allah providing seventy virgins, count them, that’s right: seventy for each one of his hero-boys to rape and pillage, and I can’t even have one lousy beer?  I mean you believe in the guy.  You serve him all your life, which can be reasonably long if he doesn’t decide to have you burned alive at the stake at nineteen as he did for Joan…

There are lots of reasons to leave one’s religion.  You’ve been fondled after Sunday school by the assistant pastor, and later on, raped by the main pastor.  That’s one reason.  You’ve been passed over for a promotion to choir leader.  The church bus left without you that day the church team was playing a rival team and they won.  You can’t become a “real” pastor ’cause you’re a girl and girls are designed by God to serve their men masters.  If you don’t believe that just ask a judge, specifically you could ask Judge Roy Moore – he’s the expert on this at the moment.  Just don’t get too close, his hands are still quite active when he’s not holding a gun in the right hand and a bible in the left.  You might be unpleasantly surprised where those fingers land.

But this song, that was the very last straw.  What’s wrong with God, anyway?  Isn’t it enough he feels women’s lives should be made hell, physically, morally, socially, financially and in any other “ally” possible?  Now he’s going to deny me my one consolation at the end of the day?  I’m committing apostasy, over beer (I said to myself).
Over beer? You ask somewhat shocked.  You bet.  So that was it.  It’s my understanding that Hell has an ample and unrestricted supply of beer.  OK, it’s raccoon piss, i.e., Canadian and American beer, but beggars can’t be choosers.

I’ll close this with the old truism on life.  In life, there are only two things to worry about: either you’re healthy, or you’re sick. If you’re healthy, nothing to worry about.  If you’re sick, there are two things to worry about: either you’re going to live or you’re going to die.  If you’re going to live, nothing to worry about.  If you’re going to die, there are two things to worry about: either you’re going to Heaven or you’re going to Hell.  If you’re going to Heaven, nothing to worry about (well, except the beer thing of course) and if you’re going to Hell you’ll be so busy entertaining and being entertained, you won’t have time to worry.
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Confessions on War Day

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Have you ever had those moments in time when you just can’t get out of your own mind?  It’s like those dreadful days at the corporation they call “stock taking” where the business is literally shut down and everybody is expected to become, if not an accountant, at least a counting machine.  The word “boring” doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Fortunately for some of us, we were the “cutting edge” of techie support, always on call and if Lady Luck was in the mood for granting us a boon, we’d get an emergency call, preferably from some McDonald restaurant with a problem that would take at least a day or so to resolve.  We’d make sure to call in the reserves on that day, make friends all around… I digress…

In the many pigeon holes that make up the mind, there’s one large one, generally and thankfully covered over with cobwebs where we file personal information we’re not so fond of, memories of less than scintillating performances among kin, clan, fellow and fellowette students, co-workers, and drib-drabs of conversations held after mass on the church porch while our priest walked around the disappearing crowd shaking hands and soaking up congrats on his sermon.

Taking a huge leap here: I’m in one of those “stock-taking” phases, so I may as well clear the cobwebs and start pulling out the scrolls, rolls and polls.  If you already know even just a little bit about me, you know I’m inclined to tell stories.  I’ve always been able to do that and convince myself that a well told story passed off as truth isn’t a lie, it’s a skill.  It’s art.  I figure that as long as I’m not using it to suck money from the unsuspecting, no one’s hurt.  Mostly it makes it easier to live with myself, whoever that is, I’m still looking for whomever stands behind the mirror.  I don’t like surprises so I cling to my stories so that I never realize that the character behind my mirror is a crazily grinning rattling skeleton.

Be that as it may, if I have to be honest here, after scanning through some of the memory rolls I have to admit that for about half of my life I was an insufferable egotist.  I enjoyed being “in charge” and calling other people short on their performance.  I’m being truthful now, the stories will resume again later.  For the second part of my life unto this day, well, despite a lot of life changing moves, I remain a driving bitch.  I get an idea, see?  I put it through the meat grinder, observe what’s left and woe unto my immediate world if anything remains that shows it’s a valid thought.  I say what I mean and mean what I say.

I did learn this though, and that is to not impose a “new idea” upon the world until I’ve fully tested it.  If it’s going to blow anyone up, it should after all be me, not some poor unsuspecting victim.  So, you’ll ask with bated (baited?  Nah, let’s stick with the other spelling), what’s the new idea then?

I’m going to close off the memory hole now, having taken stock and looking a bit green, and let’s talk about that new idea.

In keeping with the “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God” here, this isn’t a story.  The new idea isn’t new at all.  I’ve already been bashing all and sundry with for quite some time, and I call it compassion.  “Oh yeah… (yawn) don’t we know it.  All that stuff about compassion being the great idea to save the world, and how it is incompatible with love.  Can’t you talk about something else?”

I suppose I could but remember I said, “No story: the straight goods this time.”  Yes, I am being annoying.  Yes, I am proposing a world-changing concept that people in general will do all in their power to deny, refuse outright or insist on mixing with a whole lot of sugar so it tastes basically the same as any other world changing concept ever presented to be played with and dog-fought over and thankfully amount to nothing more than establishing another money-sucking group or collective with a colourful title and great mission statement.

The sugar in this case is called love.  A cornucopia of beautiful white granules that can be spread over, or melted in, just about any other idea confection to make it palatable or even a delicacy.  Love, man’s greatest of all feel-good drug.  A spoon-full before sex legitimizes a terribly taboo performance and makes it feel even better.  A meal or two of it just before plunging in the battle of the Somme or the Gallipoli campaign.

Yes, of course love is the great sweetener of war.  No one goes to war just to kill an enemy, or just to be killed.  There aren’t that many outright psychopaths out there, or assisted suicide hopefuls.  Of course not.  And we have, at least in the West, November 11 to be reminded that our wars were and remain wars of love.  Love is what made those “fools” rush in where angels would never tread.  Love in defense of the home land and to keep our loved ones safe from a barbaric enemy.  Does it matter if your commanders, your leaders, are themselves obvious psychos and often the real aggressors?  Ours is not to question why, ours is but to do or die.  We do it for love.  Then we die in love, in heaps and heaps of love.  What I don’t understand is, why are these heroes of love mourned when they should be cheered while we do all that we can to ensure we too get to embark upon another warring love adventure and die for love?  Could it be there’s something not quite right with the picture?

My father, for all his faults, was a veteran of WWII.  He participated in the complete defeat of the French army in 1940, was finally captured and sent to a German prisoner of war camp.  There, despite unbelievable conditions and near starvation, he survived, met people from all over the conquered world and interacted also with German soldiers.  Surprise: they were no different than he was, if only better fed and better educated.  He rubbed shoulders with other Third Reich slaves: gypsies, not yet slated for the slaughter, communists, homosexuals, writers, philosophers, any sort the Reich saw as dangerous enemies and would squeeze to death in the war effort.  Dad, being a great communicator, made friends where it mattered and basically talked his way out of the camp and returned to Brittany to work the fields growing food for the German army holding the coast.  From there into the underground (tracer bullets, he said, are really scary shit) and from there to become a landless and penniless recently married family man forced to emigrate to Canada to try and make a living.  Love was in short supply in the real war and post-war world so maybe I learned to function without much of it myself.

So you see, I’m not the one who’s spreading bullshit stories by proposing we give “love” a break, cast it adrift, and look for something a bit more realistic upon which to build a future.  We’ve already spent all the love we could through our endless wars, and we’re expending a whole lot of that sugary nonsense in the Middle East right now.  We’re eager to cover North Korea with war-love sugar and those crazies don’t understand and want none of it.  Can’t they see how well our love has worked to this day?  Can’t they marvel at how our love wars have made the world a wonderful, humane, free, clean, safe, world where no one need ever again worry about waking up starving, to be blown up or on the wrong side of some great big beautiful wall?

Assuming I’m being just a tad sarcastic, do you see why I would propose we look at something else, something other than, something we’ve never, ever tried in its unadulterated state?  It’s so simple.
a) stop defending love as a legitimate form of interrelationship.  Admit it doesn’t work.  Let it go.  Don’t worry, it won’t go far.  It will keep braying at the barn door day after day to be re-admitted and fed in the hope of engendering new conflicts.
b) just think about compassion, nothing else, as the means to change the world.   Define it for yourself without, just this once, throwing a pinch of it in the mixing bowl amongst a heaping pile of sugary love and calling it compassion.  Try it raw, show your mettle.

That’s the challenge from this honest certifiable bitch.

The alternative is simple: find another means of change that can accomplish the same thing without all the bother of self empowerment, detachment and willingness to give to all who ask; or declare that it is preferable to stick with the tried and failed because, well, it’s what you’re used to and it’s comfortable this way.

Eduardo Galeano, Monster Wanted (a Tomgram article)

The following is a copied article from Tomgram (see links), there being no “reblog” button on that site.  It is an introduction to a book that sounds very intriguing.  ~Sha’Tara~

Tomgram: Eduardo Galeano, Monster Wanted
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: If you’ve never read a book by Eduardo Galeano, believe me, your life has been lacking. Read his first book, read his last book, read something he wrote anyway. I offer you the Engelhardt guarantee: you won’t regret it. Start, if you wish, with his final volume, Hunter of Stories, featured in today’s post and then work your way back through a writer to remember.  Tom]

I’m 73, which means that saying goodbye for the last time is increasingly a part of my life.  Today, with the deepest regret, I’m bidding a final farewell at TomDispatch to one of the more remarkable writers I’ve known, Eduardo Galeano. I initially got involved with him in the early 1980s. I was a young editor at Pantheon Books and, on some strange impulse, decided to publish Genesis, the first volume of his Memory of Fire trilogy, based on no more than a few sample passages translated by the remarkable Cedric Belfrage. Call it intuition when it came to a book that had already been rejected by a number of U.S. publishers. (Admittedly, at the time I proudly thought of myself as the “editor of last resort” in New York publishing.) That modest decision launched me on the print journey of a lifetime.

This was back in the days many of you won’t remember when a book was translated and edited, often over long distances, without benefit of the Internet or email.  Belfrage had been exiled to Mexico during the McCarthy years, so he and I worked together in the old-fashioned way: by mail. (I wouldn’t meet him until years later: a little grey-haired gent with a cane who — I was still young enough to be staggered by the thought — had covered Hollywood for the British press in the silent film era.) It took forever to produce Genesis, though the process had a certain beauty to it. That first volume came out to modest attention and reviews, but its life and influence and that of the whole Memory of Fire trilogy would continue to grow in a way that only books could in those years and perhaps even in these. Eduardo was the most dramatic and beautiful of writers and he caught history — the history of these continents and of so many of the half-forgotten figures who struggled for what truly mattered — in a unique fashion, often in little passages of hardly a page or more. (I can still remember reading some of the more wonderful of them to my children as they were growing up.) I once wrote of him, “You somehow take our embattled world and tell its many stories in ways no one else can.” How true.

It took me years to meet Eduardo, since I travel nowhere, though he voyaged endlessly. (A friend of his once told him, “If it’s true what they say about the road being made by walking, you must be the commissioner of public works.”) Never have I met a man of more charisma who seemed less aware of it. Being with him was an experience because people regularly approached him to tell stories about their lives that were… well, there’s only one word for it: Galeano-esque. I saw it happen.

I’ve featured his work many times at this site, always with the deepest pleasure. This, I suspect, is the last time for both of us. The passages below are from his final, touching volume published by Nation Books, Hunter of Stories. And so, let me take this opportunity, one last time, to say goodbye, Eduardo, and thank you for everything, especially for the worlds you captured forever in words. Tom

A Visit to Heaven and Hell
Mapping Planet Earth
By Eduardo Galeano

[The following passages are excerpted from Hunter of Stories, the last book by Eduardo Galeano, who died in 2015.  Thanks for its use go to his literary agent, Susan Bergholz, and Nation Books, which is publishing it next week.]

Free

By day, the sun guides them. By night, the stars.

Paying no fare, they travel without passports and without forms for customs or immigration.

Birds are the only free beings in this world inhabited by prisoners. They fly from pole to pole, powered by food alone, on the route they choose and at the hour they wish, without ever asking permission of officials who believe they own the heavens.

Shipwrecked

The world is on the move.

On board are more shipwrecked souls than successful seafarers.

Thousands of desperate people die en route, before they can complete the crossing to the promised land, where even the poor are rich and everyone lives in Hollywood.

The illusions of any who manage to arrive do not last long.

Monster Wanted

Saint Columba was rowing across Loch Ness when an immense serpent with a gaping mouth attacked his boat. Saint Columba, who had no desire to be eaten, chased it off by making the sign of the cross.

Fourteen centuries later, the monster was seen again by someone living nearby, who happened to have a camera around his neck, and pictures of it and of curious footprints came out in the Glasgow and London papers.

The creature turned out to be a toy, the footprints made by baby hippopotamus feet, which are sold as ashtrays.

The revelation did nothing to discourage the tourists.

The market for fear feeds on the steady demand for monsters.

Foreigner

In a community newspaper in Barcelona’s Raval neighborhood, an anonymous hand wrote:

Your god is Jewish, your music is African, your car is Japanese, your pizza is Italian, your gas is Algerian, your coffee is Brazilian, your democracy is Greek, your numbers are Arabic, your letters are Latin.

I am your neighbor. And you call me a foreigner?

The Terrorizer

Back in the years 1975 and 1976, before and after the coup d’état that imposed the most savage of Argentina’s many military dictatorships, death threats flew fast and furious and anyone suspected of the crime of thinking simply disappeared.

Orlando Rojas, a Paraguayan exile, answered his telephone in Buenos Aires. Every day a voice repeated the same thing: “I’m calling to tell you you’re going to die.”

So you aren’t?” Orlando asked.

The terrorizer would hang up.

A Visit to Hell

Some years ago, during one of my deaths, I paid a visit to hell.

I had heard that in the underworld you can get your favorite wine and any delicacy you want, lovers for all tastes, dancing music, endless pleasure…

Once again, I was able to corroborate the fact that advertising lies. Hell promises a great life, but all I found were people waiting in line.

In that endless queue, snaking out of sight along narrow smoky passages, were women and men of all epochs, from cavemen to astronauts.

All were condemned to wait. To wait for eternity.

That’s what I discovered: hell is waiting.

Prophecies

Who was it that a century ago best described today’s global power structure?

Not a philosopher, not a sociologist, not a political scientist either.

It was a child named Little Nemo, whose adventures were published in the New York Herald way back in 1905, as drawn by Winsor McCay.

Little Nemo dreamed about the future.

In one of his most unerring dreams, he traveled to Mars.

That unfortunate planet was in the hands of a businessman who had crushed his competitors and exercised an absolute monopoly.

The Martians seemed stupid, because they said little and breathed little.

Little Nemo knew why: the boss of Mars had seized ownership of words and the air.

They were the keys to life, the sources of power.

Very Brief Synthesis of Contemporary History

For several centuries subjects have donned the garb of citizens, and monarchies have preferred to call themselves republics.

Local dictatorships, claiming to be democracies, open their doors to the steamroller of the global market. In this kingdom of the free, we are all united as one. But are we one, or are we no one? Buyers or bought? Sellers or sold? Spies or spied upon?

We live imprisoned behind invisible bars, betrayed by machines that feign obedience but spread lies with cybernetic impunity.

Machines rule in homes, factories, offices, farms, and mines, and also on city streets, where we pedestrians are but a nuisance. Machines also rule in wars, where they do as much of the killing as warriors in uniform, or more.

The Right to Plunder

In the year 2003, a veteran Iraqi journalist named Samir visited several museums in Europe.

He found marvelous texts in Babylonian, heroes and gods sculpted in the hills of Nineveh, winged lions that had flown in Assyria…

Someone approached him, offered to help: “Shall I call a doctor?”

Squatting, Samir buried his face in his hands and swallowed his tears.

He mumbled, “No, please. I’m all right.”

Later on, he explained: “It hurts to see how much they have stolen and to know how much they will steal.”

Two months later, U.S. troops launched their invasion. The National Museum in Baghdad was sacked. One hundred seventy thousand works were reported lost.

Stories Tell the Tale

I wrote Soccer in Sun and Shadow to convert the pagans. I wanted to help fans of reading lose their fear of soccer, and fans of soccer lose their fear of books. I never imagined anything else.

But according to Víctor Quintana, a congressman in Mexico, the book saved his life. In the middle of 1997, he was kidnapped by professional assassins, hired to punish him for exposing dirty deals.

They had him tied up, face down on the ground, and were kicking him to death, when there was a pause before the final bullet. The murderers got caught up in an argument about soccer. That was when Víctor, more dead than alive, put in his two cents. He began telling stories from my book, trading minutes of life for every story from those pages, the way Scheherazade traded a story for every one of her thousand-and-one nights.

Hours and stories slowly unfolded.

At last the murderers left him, tied up and trampled, but alive.

They said, “You’re a good guy,” and they took their bullets elsewhere.

***

Quite a few years ago now, during my time in exile on the coast of Catalonia, I got an encouraging nudge from a girl eight or nine years old, who, unless I’m remembering wrong, was named Soledad.

I was having a few drinks with her parents, also exiles, when she called me over and asked,

So, what do you do?”

Me? I write books.”

You write books?”

Well… yes.”

I don’t like books,” she declared.

And since she had me against the ropes, she hit me again: “Books sit still. I like songs because songs fly.”

Ever since my encounter with that angel sent by God, I have attempted to sing. It’s never worked, not even in the shower. Every time, the neighbors scream, “Get that dog to stop barking!”

***

My granddaughter Catalina was ten.

We were walking along a street in Buenos Aires when someone came up and asked me to sign a book. I can’t remember which one.

We continued on, the two of us, quietly arm in arm, until Catalina shook her head and offered this encouraging remark: “I don’t know why they make such a fuss. Not even I read you.”

Eduardo Galeano (1940-2015) was one of Latin America’s most distinguished writers.  He was the author of many books, including the three-volume Memory of Fire, Open Veins of Latin America, Soccer in Sun and Shadow, and The Book of Embraces.  Born in Montevideo in 1940, he lived in exile in Argentina and Spain for 12 years before returning to Uruguay in 1985, where he spent the rest of his life.  The passages in this post are excerpted from his final book, Hunter of Stories, translated by Mark Fried and about to be published by Nation Books.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, as well as John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Excerpted from Hunter of Stories. Copyright © 2017 by Eduardo Galeano. English translation copyright © 2017 by Mark Fried. Available from Nation Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc. By permission of Susan Bergholz Literary Services, Lamy, N.M., and New York City. All rights reserved.

Political Correctness in Sports

One cannot always be “serious” – there has to be room for humour, even in the volunteer trenches, and here’s a good example of such humour.  Just got this in an email from a friend who spends time in the same trenches.

I think all sports fans will get a kick out of this letter written to the Chicago Tribune…. 

if it really was. ….

Here is an e-mail sent to Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune after an article he published concerning a name change for the Washington Redskins.

Dear Mr. Page: I agree with our Native American population. I am highly insulted by the racially charged name of the Washington Redskins. One might
argue that to name a professional football team after Native Americans would exalt them as fine warriors, but nay, nay. We must be careful not to offend, and in the spirit of political correctness and courtesy, we must move forward

Let’s ditch the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians. If your shorts are in a wad because of the reference the name Redskins makes to skin color, then we need to get rid of the Cleveland Browns.

The Carolina Panthers obviously were named to keep the memory of militant Blacks from the 60s alive. Gone. It’s offensive to us white folk.

The New York Yankees offend the Southern population. Do you see a team named for the Confederacy? No! There is no room for any reference to that tragic war that cost this country so many young men’s lives.

I am also offended by the blatant references to the Catholic religion among our sports team names. Totally inappropriate to have the New Orleans Saints, the Los Angeles Angels or the San Diego Padres.

Then there are the team names that glorify criminals who raped and pillaged. We are talking about the horrible Oakland Raiders, the Minnesota Vikings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Pittsburgh Pirates!

Now, let us address those teams that clearly send the wrong message to our children. The San Diego Chargers promote irresponsible fighting or even spending habits. Wrong message to our children.

The New York Giants and the San Francisco Giants promote obesity, a growing childhood epidemic. Wrong message to our children.

The Cincinnati Reds promote downers/barbiturates. Wrong message to our  children.

The Milwaukee Brewers. Well, that goes without saying. Wrong message to our children.

So, there you go. We need to support any legislation that comes out to rectify this travesty, because the government will likely become involved with this issue, as they should. Just the kind of thing the do-nothing Congress loves.

As a diehard Oregon State fan, my wife and I, with all of this in mind, suggest it might also make some sense to change the name of the Oregon State women’s athletic teams to something other than “the Beavers.” (especially when they play Southern California.
Do we really want the Trojans sticking it to the Beavers???)

I always love your articles and I generally agree with them. As for the Redskins name, I would suggest they change the name to the “Foreskins” to better represent their community, paying tribute to the dickheads in Congress.

Western Leadership does us Proud

                  [thoughts from    ~burning woman~    by Sha’Tara]

“History is the fiction we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable and that life has order and direction. That’s why events are always reinterpreted when values change. We need new versions of history to allow for our current prejudices.” ― Bill Watterson, Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat.

    When I wax philosophical in mind I immediately look around, within and without to discover the source of the unease.  I learned over the years that thinking of a philosophical bent is neither natural nor normal.  It doesn’t “just happen” because, say, you were born with a penchant for philosophy.  There is no such thing.
What I suspect there is, however, is awareness.  What is awareness?  It’s that which most people have no concept of, no clue about and would consider a great inconvenience, much like discovering a conscience in an age of decadence and moral turpitude.
“Everything I like is either immoral, illegal or fattening.”  That was one of those “cute” sayings of the 70’s.  Looking back on it, it wasn’t a cute saying at all, but a prophecy of the coming end of civilization.  Since that time it’s been nothing but a mad rush towards the abyss of inhumane and inhuman proclivities, particularly for the western world.
The western world has been a leader in many great things, like banking; like income tax; like false morality; like the making and breaking of laws; like the invention of chemicals to maximize monetary profits in, well, everything; like propaganda and advertising to make lies into tools of success and entertainment; like weapons of mass destruction and endless war.
Particularly, the western world has been a leader in decadence and the making of waste as well as the amazingly successful invention of state and personal debt, putting every nation on earth into hock (including the inventors, but let’s not go there right now).
I was raised within that unthinkable world of applied discipline, meaningful correction, punishment for breaking home and school rules.  I was told never to waste food (and when you work on a homestead as a kid you learn what that means: that waste translates into serious loss which everybody feels – it isn’t loss transferable to unknown denizens of “darkest Africa” or Asian slave pools.  We were our own slaves, and the “plantation” that grew our food was all too real; all too “in your face” and all too ready to turn on you and leave you destitute from one bad move or a turn of the weather.  “Waste not, want not” was our motto.  We didn’t have to like it.
Then came the miracle of corporate propaganda and purchased elections and elected representatives.  Overnight, while almost everybody was sound asleep, all of the western world’s values turned over and were summarily dropped into a “Glad” garbage bag and dragged to the curb for disposal.  America and its satellite states turned into national garbage dumps.  Open waters no longer safe to drink.  Foods that fattened and killed.  Air that poisoned lungs.  Anthropological climate change.  Resource wars.
And, that was that.  A few more years and a Donald Trump sat on the American throne spewing out his bile at the entire world and the people so dummied down over fifty years of living a complete lie, too stupefied to realize what had happened, or what should, or could, be done about it.
So this short rant is all about leadership, you see, because without leadership we could never have accomplished so much, and been such effective trendy leaders.
Isn’t it amazing what we have accomplished?  And to think we’re hardly done yet.  We still have coal, gas and oil to burn.  Weaponry to unleash upon a shocked world.   Bigger lies to spew.  Legitimate regimes and governments to overthrow.  Women to exploit, rape, oppress and beat up.  Blacks to exploit, oppress, disenfranchise, jail and kill.  We still have loads of immigrants who can be used, abused, enslaved, mistreated and deported when no longer of use as field and house slaves.
I can imagine all sorts of ways the western world can continue to lead by example.
Yes, we’re the West… we’re the Shit, man!

I Discovered Kurt Vonnegut

[thoughts from  ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Quote: “Most writers waste people’s time with too many words. I’m trying to reduce everything down to the minimum. My last work will be a blank piece of paper.” — Samuel Beckett

{did you say “typos”?  Ok, let me fix that, for the grouches and grammar Nazis…}

That’s right, that’s what the title says, I discovered Kurt Vonnegut.  I don’t mean by that that I never heard of him before, I’ve heard of Kurt Vonnegut since, well basically puberty, when politics, politics and politics became so important to me I started reading fiction in Earnest (a diner that used to belch barbecue exhaust on the eastern end of town), and then in my spare time as well.  (Yes, that is, indeed, a misplaced modifier – I just thought it looked better here than there.)

Having discovered Kurt Vonnegut, I thought I’d finally, finally, get to read Cat’s Cradle, which the entire world has heard of but few have read.  So I got that, but a few other books decided to tag along and now I’m reading “Breakfast of Champions.”  Ultimately, in this life (or the next, life’s funny that way) I will get to read Cat’s Cradle, honest, I will.

But this isn’t about Kurt Vonnegut, or Cat’s Cradle, or even Breakfast of Champions.  This is about writing… and reading.  So then, allow me (and how could you not? – got you there) to re-preface this with, “So many Writers, so Little Time (to Read them All!)”

In the worlds of writers and readers, I’m primarily a reader.  When I write it’s for the pleasure of reading the stuff for my own entertainment or edification.  Oh yes, forgot to mention that when I write I haven’t got a clue what I’m going to write about, or what I’m writing about, or where it’s all supposed to go, therefore there can be but one reason why I should write and that’s as already stated.

Having said that, I have a massive complaint, as a professional reader that is.  When I decided to become a reader, I naturally set upon the task of reading all that was ever written.  I mean, how to choose, right?  So grab something, anything, written, and read it.  I would eventually have read all that had ever been written still extant.  I was after all quasi-literate in 2.36 languages, already a huge head start.  I could multi-task, even reading while driving (that came later and it takes some getting used to by other drivers on the same road, but that’s their problem, right?  Just get with the program and all will be well) or doing other menial tasks for which AI’s hadn’t been invented yet.

But then came a heart-stopping, bone-jarring, mind-numbing realization: Writers!  Contrary to what my English and French teachers insisted upon, these critters weren’t all dead smart guys.  Some still lived and they still wrote!  Not only that but a whole swamp of wanna-bees hummed and buzzed in the undergrowth.  Books, books and more books were piling up and bookstores were graduating into high-rises.

Then came the computer age and… ahhh, a bit of respite as bookstores went broke and closed.  Newspapers thinned out.  Magazines became things you whispered about if you didn’t want people to guess how old you were.  For a few brief moments it looked like a recognized author could get by with writing a couple of novels in a lifetime and retire comfortably somewhere in Greece, preferably near a nude beach and a decent telescope – don’t assume I’m talking only of male writers.  After all, writers who become authors have imagination.

Anyway, I was getting nicely settled back down to my classical reading of Frank Herbert, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Canterbury Tales (just kiddin!) Isaac Asimov (Yawn!) and Alice in Greenland (well, why not?  Do YOU know where that rabbit hole goes?) as well as Little Women when there was a loud ‘bang!’ and just like that, there was an Amazonian Internet explosion and from it began to… you guessed it… ooze out more and more books, not from authors, but from writers!  Not only that, but as time went on, this Infernal Internet decided it could TRANSLATE books written in languages that sourced somewhere in the back of the Horsehead nebula, so that any and all books could be read by anyone with only a rudimentary grasp of her own maternal language.

So, I read (make that past tense) and read (still past tense) and read (now in the present) and it’s the punishment of Sisyphus all over again. It’s the 13th Labour of Hercules.  I will drop dead one day soon, and my face will fall and be absorbed inside the FBReader library.

Imagine this: A couple of days ago I innocently took on a landscape job in Yarrow (that being a little town S-W of here, and yes it is named after that weed).  There was a nastily overgrown backyard in a corner of which was a cute little cabin.  Mystified, I looked through the one window and there, at a desk, facing a computer, was a person, a people of the Earth variety, engrossed and staring at the screen, and the fingers tapping out a dance on a keyboard.  OK, thought I, must be an accountant or some such person working from home.

Imagine my crest fallen chagrin when the people person stepped out of the cabin with a frown, but also a hopeful and winning smile, and asked me if I’d seen her kale plant.  ???Say what?  I looked over the gargantuan infestation of weeds… “It’s around here somewhere” says the person, and by pulling at the weeds with a hoe, sure enough, I uncovered a starved, skeletal pale kale thing which beheld the sunshine for the very first time in its short and now totally traumatized life.  “Could you place it out of harm’s way while you clean out the weeds?” added the person.

By then I was getting very suspicious about the person’s computer activity, meaning, who asks to have a 97.2% dead kale thingy transplanted – in the middle of September?  (Keep in mind I’m writing from the Northern hemisphere here and even if Climate Changed temperatures insist on hovering in the 80’s F – and who knows what Celsius would make of that, silly Roman, it’s practically winter here.) 

I said to myself, I know what sort of people person this is… I just know.  So I slyly asked, “How did your garden end up like this?”  If only I had just shut up and stayed with my first assumption!  Stupid me: the mental grenade exploded:  “Oh, I’m a writer, an author actually, and I’m behind on a deadline so no time for gardening this summer.”

Aaaaarghhhh!  #@%#!!! Another writer!!!  It’s like they’re literally coming up out of the weeds and woodwork.  And I had her within reach of my various implements of destruction too!  Good ground a-plenty for a decent burial, and all the necessary tools at my disposal.  Yes, although it’s pure cowardice on my part that that writer is still alive and clacking away to her deadline, I am proud to say that I did not attack her, or otherwise attempt to do her in. 

With total self-control I turned around, slowly, counted to 13 in both directions, and turned back with the fakest smile ever produced and said, “Ah!”  Needless to say, but I’ll write it anyway, just in case, she assumed I was expressing appreciation at the thought of another book on the ether-shelves and smiled broadly and boldly.  Don’t people ever realize when they’re this close to death?

But the books… well, they keep piling up, and up.  As the Preacher observes wryly in Ecclesiastes,  (that would be from the Judaic-Christian bible for those of you who forgot and remain disconnected) and I quote: “Of the making of many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.”  Even then, thousands of years ago in what was practically prehistory, when they hadn’t even invented paper, someone was already in my predicament.  Faced with such impossible odds, it’s really no wonder people turn to God in despair.

Nature must go

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

By way of introduction, a telling quote:

“…   you can
drip with despair all afternoon and still,
on a green branch, its wings just lightly touched

by the passing foil of the water, the thrush,
puffing out its spotted breast, will sing
of the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything.”

— Mary Oliver, “The Poet With His Face in His Hands,” New and Selected Poems, Vol. 2 (Beacon Press, April 15, 2007)

A brilliant observation, that. 

Nature doesn’t care how you feel, or what you’re personally going through. 

You cry, its song continues.

You lose, it neither wins nor loses. 

You twist your ankle on the tennis court, it flies above your head, laughing in the wind.  

You tear it out of your precious garden, it returns with a vengeance after the first rain of August. 

Your car breaks down on the side of the mad-rush freeway

(and although it’s quite OK that no passing human should care and offer to lend a helping hand – after all, you have your cell phone)

it is galling that a crow should laugh from a lamp post or that a red-tailed hawk should circle the open skies above and not even see you. 

Man, the penultimate narcissist can’t abide nature’s uncaring attitude. 

It’s fine for man not to give a damn about nature,

(to harness it, exploit it, torture it, kill it, consume it, whether for pleasure of profit)

but for nature to be so uncaring of man’s problems,

is not acceptable.

Something must be done.

There is but one solution:

if man is to truly rule,

nature must go.