Remortance, Revisited

or, This age hits home.

"Death. It's not so bad. It beats the alternative." -- Unknown

This year has been quite the year, it would seem. Most of you are familiar with the events which have inundated the world, the Nation, and California in particular. This piece addresses something a little closer to home.

A long running tradition, the Northern Renaissance Pleasure Faire, has closed its doors, much to the dismay of a good many of us. I was a visitor there in 1980 and 1981, and I became a participant in 1985, recruited into the Guild of St. Patrick, the Wild Irish. I owe my prowess on the mandolin and the guitar to this induction.

Like others, I made many friends there and have had the misfortune to lose at least one of them to the faded pall and the black shroud of Death himself. Like others, I wandered through several loves there, only to eventually wander out of them again. Like others, I have helped raise children there.

I will never forget the first threat of losing Black Point, watching RPFN go from the elder Pattersons to be bought by the Renaissance Entertainment Corporation. I will never forget the second attempt on Black Point, which ultimately succeeded after a lengthy battle.

I remember turning my back for ten seconds in front of New Irish Camp, and turning around again only to see someone hauling my baby girl out of the Washing Well (how DID she get there that fast!?).

...and we still have the flower wreaths, complete with ribbons, given to the girls in 1997.

Losing Black Point in 1998 was devastating; to hear that the Northern Faire has closed is a duller pain, but it is still there.

The friend of a friend has summed it all up well, and I shall include her missive here (with some formatting liberties):

"There was a time when the Faire was rich and alive
With demi-gods who swaggered through the crowds,
Plucking moments in time and making magic.
Their names were legend...St. Germaine, Kahn, Perry, Zepeda, Hall, Moore, Springhorn, Morales,
And the world was ripe with gigs.

The crowds were alive with eager hearts and minds
Hoping for a chance to make the dream come alive.
And we were all there to help them along.
Some of us sang,
Some of us brought the crowd to their knees with laughter,
Some of us just added amazing color and beauty to the background,
And some of us just stank to high heaven, but that was ok too....

We all were alive and insane!
The gig was all that mattered, not the politics, or the money or whatever.
We would have plucked out our eyes
Rather than break BFA, use an anachronism or
Wear something that was not allowed.
We were possessed with a need to create a world
Where we could gorge ourselves with ripe possibilities
For new and exciting things to do.
We were careless then. Like a kid in a candy store,
We would stuff ourselves and move on as if it would last

Then, something happened.

Perhaps we got bored or burnt out.
Perhaps we had our hearts broken one too many times, or
We started to let the "real" world in.
We got greedy, we got mean,
We started treating each other like the enemy
Or at least someone to keep a guarded watch on.
We put ourselves first.
We got lazy and made excuses,
And we let the show go...

Some of us went away,
Some of us passed on to a better place,
Some of us came every weekend
But just "phoned it in".

I am just wondering if maybe it is time to just
Let this all go.

My wish is that there will, once again, be a place
Where Bruno dance and girls run by, giggling and winking.
I dream of a place where there is music again in the streets,
And people laugh and greet each other with the fever of old friends
Meeting after a long absence and desperately missing each other.

I am tired of Patterson vs REC, of all the politics,
Of the drama and anger and angst and death and sadness.

I miss old friends who are gone and will never come back,
I miss old friends that stay away for stupid reasons
That really don't matter anymore.

Some of us will cry, some of us will get mad,
Some of us will say "ah ha! We've won!" or "I told you so",
And some of us will hold onto some meek hope that
Somehow it will all be like some weird dream where
"Bobby" isn't really dead, but just taking a shower
And this last year really didn't happen
(obscure Dallas reference-sorry-I'm an old broad, humor me)
And there will be a Northern next year.

I propose that, instead,
We try to get together whenever we can
And remember when it was good.
When we loved it and it wasn't some odd private D&D game
And audience-be-damned.

When my father died,
I built a new family from the people I knew at Faire.
They have (for better or worse) been in my life
And I have loved/hated/fought/shared a laugh/shared a drink/shared a life with them all.
I met and married my husband,
Felt the joy when dear friends got married,
Felt the pain when they divorced,
Brought my son here to grow up from a grub to a wonderful little boy,
Cried when friends died. Jocelyn, Larry, Damien, Am.
I will now have to make a life where something else defines me.
This is an odd thing for me.

No matter what else happens, keep the stories alive
And wherever you go, try to make the magic.

My hope is that we will meet again soon-

Sandra Cadell

Running events in life are very much like a school, I note. After the last day of being in school -- not just for the Summer -- you wake up and wonder, "Gods, what now?". Everything changes. Everything you have taken for granted over the last N years is gone, and no matter how much you may have tried not to take it for granted, you did anyway.

And it's all right if that happens after a fashion. We are all mortal.

Let us all meet again, soon and relatively often -- we from the Renaissance Faire, we from the College, we from the innocence of the neighbourhoods of our past.

Interestingly enough, we will probably find that we're not all that different than we used to be, and it will be this which will keep us all connected.

Memories are life. Pass them on. Bright blessings have visited those who have played. May they continue to visit us, and those who have yet to play.


Welcome to the Remortance

or, "I didn't think time could go backwards."

"What did I know? Those days are gone forever, I should just let 'em go."
-- Don Henley, "The Boys Of Summer"

"Alas, poor Yorick; I knew him...well..."
-- John McDill as Captain Hook in "Peter Pan"

What a time it was. Learning became available beyond the monasteries, trade flourished (pirates notwithstanding), artisanry abounded, music and dance came to represent life, and morale had never been higher.

I speak, of course, of the Renaissance. The more astute of you will query, "Which one?"

Good question, for we have had several in the history of this great planet. The first Renaissance began in Europe -- specifically in Italy, somewhere around the latter half of the fifteenth century, carrying forward and flowing outward to the borders of Europe and farther, covering France, Greece, Basque, Prussia, Spain, Holland, Ireland and, at long last, England. For various reasons, I am convinced that England was the distant last to become overwhelmed by the phenomenon which was to be the Renaissance -- the joys of which were over all too soon, thanks both to Elizabeth Tudor's stranglehold on Ireland and to her demise, which left many issues in Ireland unresolved.

There are also probably far too many countries left unnamed above. But I digress.

After the first Renaissance in Europe, the world would never be quite the same, although it would not find a true glow again until sometime in the nineteenth century, when an upsurge of creativity happened again during the Industrial Revolution. This Renaissance period would last until its death in 1929, when the Stock Market crashed quickly, suddenly, taking untold fortunes with it. Castles in the sand, and all that.

The third Renaissance would have to have been the 1960s -- still more creativity, more exploration, more music, more art, more expression, and we *still* got a man on the moon in spite of it all. The third Renaissance ended, near as I can tell, somewhere in the mid 1980s.

The fourth Renaissance to date was the Technological Revolution, and some might even say it was riding on the wave of its predecessor. I'd say it was intermingled with the third one, to be sure, but it was under its own power.

The next Renaissance has yet to happen. I'll be quite surprised if it happens in my lifetime, as the thumbscrews which have been emplaced after every outbreak of creativity, expression, outrage against authority, life, for heaven's sake! have been tightened down. We have been encumbered with more rules, regulations, laws, decrees, taxes, fees, policies, acts and constitutional amendments, all supposedly for the good of the people. This is also not to mention the amazing growth of litigation over creativity.

Oh, wait -- you're reading this. I must be preaching to the choir here.

The aforementioned outstretches of the human(oid) mind and spirit have been met with such amazingly hostile repressions of late that I fear we are in for a tragic reversal of events. True, our accomplishments cannot be taken from us, but we will be forced to rest on our laurels unless we can find a way to grow from beneath this ground cover under which we now find ourselves.

Music is meant to be enjoyed, and the people who make music should surely be paid for it, but the Recording Industry of America is ensuring that they get their percentage off the top, even if the musician must then pay the RIAA. This is an insult to the integrity of music, as much of it that remains, anyway. Several musicians have decided that sharing music is the best incentive for getting people to buy it. But the RIAA is probably searching for a way to circumvent this.

Of late, the Motion Picture Academy of America has voted not to accept for nominations movies which are sent directly to Academy members. This is going to severely restrict the exposure which independent filmmakers get.

Also of late, we in California have been unfortunate to acquire yet another actor in the position of Gubernatorial Marionette. And, of course, a Good Ol' Boy, in the political sense.

Do we see a trend here? The status quo is not going away, in spite of our best efforts, because the status quo keeps changing the rules by which they play. This leaves the rest of the people at a disadvantage.

Of course, if the boat starts rocking too much, it won't take too much more to help tip it over. The timing would be critical, though.

Yes, this is rambling. I apologise.

To go back to the Renaissance, though, something to take into account:
How much of the innovation, invention, exploration, creation of all that was would have come about had there always been such creatures as, say, patent lawyers hanging around?

Think about it. The patent process is heinous. Creativity has always been borne of improvements upon existing processes or machines. Hell, if the patent laws had been around at the time of Leonardo da Vinci (and carried forward), how much innovation would have been completed?

The current copyright laws (and resultant licensing agreements) are as horrid (look them up -- they're nasty). Michelangelo could have probably gone after a number of artists for painting in a similar style as he. By current laws, his family/estate could have gone after them for eighty years after his death.

If pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of congress?

I think it's ironic, incidentally, that the mechanisms of political interaction have outlived the mechanisms of social interaction. Socially, we've gone backwards. We entered a brief period of civilisation in which we actually learned to say hello to one another, and over the last thirty or so years, we seem to have forgotten it completely.

Music has gone dark. The arts and entertainment are attainable by and large only by the wealthy. Education, likewise. More people are working longer for less, and the price of living continues to rise. We have a cadre of people running the country who think, more than ever, that the genders do not deserve equivalent compensation for what they do, let alone equivalent consideration for who they are.

A difference is that we do not have a plague or a war or a blight reducing our numbers at any significant rate. Also, we have procedures in place to keep the stock market from dropping out of existence.

These, I feel, will hinder, rather than help the re-emergence of progress, creativity, life.

What we have now as a world is not life. It is existence. It is the journey, in the literal sense: Getting from day to day, hoping to see the next one, never mind the one after that.

What we have now is the Remortance: The re-death of that which was alive. No period after a Renaissance has been as dark as this.

The Great Depression left a scar on the financial optimism of this country, but that was overcome. The events which have transpired since 1980 have left more scars, and we have not yet borne them out. How will we overcome them? We will forget them, and that is the greatest travesty of all.

We must find our way through this and shine as beacons of light. We must give our children hope that the world can be better; if they enter the real world with the thought that it is hopeless, then the world is lost, and it will only be a matter of time.

Let us be light for our children. The world still has so much potential.


The Smoking Gun

(or, Where Did We Go Wrong?)

"Teach your children well
Their father's hell did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you'll know by

Don't you ever ask them why
If they told you, you would cry
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you."
- Graham Nash

"One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all
- and in the darkness bind them"
- J. R. R. Tolkien

Okay, it's been a while. Sorry about that.

I have a rant. Okay, I have several, but I'll start with one. This will probably not endear me to my Mom, but I need to hit on it anyway.

I'll start with smokers. Gods and Goddesses, just get me a fire extinguisher. Water will do fine. No blood, no foul, just let me douse each one of their flames into oblivion.

Some smokers are considerate, as much as they can be in relation to my point of view. They smoke outside the house, they field-strip their butts, and they dispose of them properly instead of leaving them for me to find later. Some of them even manage not to make my porch smell like stale burnt tobacco, which is a big plus (thank you, Mom; sorry I don't share or tolerate your habit in close quarters, but I had quite enough of it growing up. I'm grateful that you were considerate enough to ventilate the area while you indulged...).

Most of them, however, are truly cluelessly vile individuals who would just as soon breathe on you as look at you. Pity the one who breathes on the militant asthmatic gorilla. Evolution in action (film at 11).

I guess the ones I will hit upon are the ones I see every day over the couple of hours which constitute my daily journey from bed to waking indentured servitude and back again.

I'm talking about the ones in their cars. You know the ones. They hang their arms out the window with a lit cigarette firmly scissored between their fingers, they blow their smoke out the window and then -- this is the REALLY insulting part -- THEN they flick the lit butt out into the middle of the roadway where it becomes so much solid detritus.

Now, I won't argue against the fact that highways are litter themselves, but they're *useful* -- they let us get rapidly from one place to another (the "rapid" part is the subject of another rant, but I digress).

But if you're a motorcycle rider (I have several friends...) or a bicyclist (I have two bicycles), there is a danger in being behind someone who carelessly flicks a cigarette butt into the air without thought to consequence of their actions. If you're lucky, it will miss you; but anyone who's ridden a motorcycle to have a shower of sparks suddenly appear in the dark from some MORON who thinks that the world is their ashtray will tell you it's a very startling, if not frightening or potentially injurious experience. Something like that will send you careening off the road. If you're a bicyclist, you might also get hot ash in your eye. This is No Fun.

I'm just peeved that these people who fight so hard for their RIGHT to inhale burnt chemically-treated carcinogen-soaked tobacco-like fumes can't seem to keep it contained in their car while they drive. I mean, what are they trying to do, keep the car from getting cancer? If I'm sitting in rush hour behind a yutz like that, I sure don't want to smell the smoke! Keep it in your car. You wanted to be able to smoke freely, breathe it for a while. If you don't want to breathe it, STOP SMOKING, and think about how other people around you might have felt breathing in your noxious fumes.

The second deep thought to hit my mind this morning was triggered by the fact that higher taxes on vices do not reduce the committal of these vices; in fact, all the higher taxes do is increase the Cool Factor -- sometimes known as the Defiance Factor -- of the vices in question. In any case, the taxes don't work. They bring in money for who knows what (it isn't always going where I want it to go, to be sure, however noble the aim may be), but ultimately all it does, to put it politely, is to peeve them to the depths of the Underworld and several laps around the River of the Dead.

Tangent: If you're going to anger people, at least be prepared to tell them the truth about it; and if you're going to tell the truth, you should at least TRY to make them laugh. If you don't, they will kill you.

But I digress.

The tithes, tariffs and other devices on vices Do Not Work. I still buy beer as often as I ever did (which isn't much, to be honest), because I like a decent beer. I'm a bit incensed that a decent beer is so expen$ive because the H7C2OOH tax is so blasted high (and going up continually!), but I still buy it nonetheless. I'd really rather that the money didn't go to supporting the government, though.

Criminalisation doesn't work. To criminalise human(oid) nature is futile. You are not going to stop someone from doing something simply by punishing them for behaving in a certain way which is a part of who they are. All you are going to do is make them madder, and if there are enough people of like mind, you are going to find an unsuppressable revolt on your hands.

I really wish the powers that attempt to govern society would get that message through their heads, although it hasn't happened over the last couple of millennia (about five), so I don't expect it to change any time soon.

We live on a world chiefly governed in an authoritarian manner, and it is ever-present, no matter how much we would like to say it isn't. It's becoming more pervasive than it has been in recent years, though. The private schools are mostly parochial, and the learning material in the public schools is becoming so Bowdlerised and bland, I wonder that the kids are learning anything of substance.

There have been fad diseases over the last few decades; in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was ADD. Oh, my goodness, my child excels in only one area and can't focus on anything else -- we'd better medicate him.

Great. Now your child can't focus deeper than a gnat's wing on anything at all. You now have a "normal" child. Congratulations.

Then it was Asperger's syndrome, which was like ADD except a bit broader and a slight bit deeper, with socially repressed tendencies (gee, do we dare wonder on that one?). Oh, my goodness, we'd better medicate again.

Great. Your child is now not only socially repressed having suffered all the damage already, but can't grasp with the depth he used to on some of those wonderful things he used to do so well. You now have a "normal" child. Congratulations.

What is happening is these sparks, as irregular as they may seem, indicate a deeper perception, a propensity for investigating what is wrong and how to fix it, and a determination to be an individual instead of being stirred into the homogeneous ooze which coats us all to some degree.

But being that we live in an authoritarian society, we can't have individuals. Free thought is far too dangerous an anomaly to permit in a crowd. The few who still think on their own and make their way through are dismissed as radicals, crackpots, and eccentrics (the last one I proudly wear, thank you), and the authority attempts to stir the rest into the pot and plane them, shard them, prune them, melt them down.

Here are the multi-million-zorkmid questions: Why do we suppress or fail to encourage individuality, and why do we depend on authoritarianism?

Answer: Individuality and Freedom are not profitable.

Think about it. Corrections facilities generate an economy. The more jails are built, the more in tax money Corrections takes in. When the jails and prisons are full, they must build more, and so they take in more tax money. After a while, a constant is hit, which means that the profits they reap level off. So what do they do?

They find new deeds and practices to criminalise severely, dragging the net of the law as low as they can in order to catch more people so that they can justify more criminals.

(This next part is going to appear disjunct, but bear with me.)

We live in an economy of total artifice. Our economy as it stands has no viable basis for being an economy. This has been going on since at least the Great Depression era, likely before, when it was determined that the laws of supply and demand could be viciously manipulated by creating an artificial shortage. What makes it worse is that the farther up the chain of economic command you go, the easier it is for them to control the shortage. If some muckety-muck decides that they have a vendetta against a region (for example, California), they will pick something that region uses extensively (gasoline and/or energy) and then they will find some way to drive the price through the roof, usually by scapegoating just one of the many inroads the energy may have. It doesn't matter how readily the product is available -- if just one channel shuts down, it will spike the cost of the product in a severe way.

And then there's federal aid to the region which might be altered by said vendetta, which might contribute to the tipping of the budget balance, which paints its Governor in a very bad light, which makes the region rife for what is effectively a coup.

But I digress. I'm sorry. Do I sound bitter or cynical?

Supply and demand is no longer a valid system because all the checks and balances have fallen out, and supplies can be cut on a whim with no thought given by those who must afford the supplies.

In fact, the supply doesn't even have to be cut. The price can be raised on anything just by declaring a shortage, even if it doesn't exist.

The artificial economy is made even worse by the fact that the two-income household is now the status quo. Because there were some couples who dared to go out and break the one-works-one-raises mold in order to afford more, or to live a bit more comfortably, the fad caught on, and everyone started doing it. This, naturally, drew the interests of commerce who figured out, "Hey, everyone has more money, let's charge more and get more of that money."

And right there is where it went wrong. If commerce could have been content to sit back and just let it flow, they'd be doing fine. But they decided to get greedy, and that was ultimately the first straw.

Not that this hasn't happened before, but never mind that. Someone always has to have more, which gives them more control.

Because of this altered flow, we have found ourselves in a society in which both parents MUST work in order to make ends meet.

Because both parents must work, the City-State-Nation is now seeing after our children, because we the parents cannot. The children are not getting the education they deserve because it is not in the City-State-Nation's best interest to give it to them. Because they are not being educated, they will never see a decent-paying job in their lives. Couple this with the fact that most jobs which would carry a decent wage in this country are being farmed out overseas to people glad of the opportunity for the same jobs for far less than we will pay, and we have a total economic disaster on our hands, one which is going to cost us probably a generation and a half of some otherwise promising young people. What a waste of human(oid) life.

The higher-paying jobs are disappearing. Housing prices are not dropping, nor is the cost of living. Now both parents must work more than one job in order to make ends meet, or be relegated to depressed neighbourhoods with higher violent crime rates.

And we, the nurturers, the upbringers of children, are losing time with them which we shall never recover, because in order to even maintain a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, shoes on our feet and food in our bellies, we are spending fully three quarters of our lives working to bring in profits to people who have enough money in their personal accounts to purchase a small depressed Third World country or two.

Think also of this:

  • The government aids the corporations in this country by giving them tax breaks which, if distributed amongst the workers properly, would allow regular people to breathe.
  • These same corporations, by sending their services overseas, are biting the hand of the government that feeds them, but they don't feel it yet.
  • Two Words: Credit Debt. Need I say more?

The real question, of course, is what can we do about it?

Not much. Appreciate what we have, and keep only what we need to stay truly sane. Vote, no matter how futile it seems. It is the ONLY way you will be heard right now.

Spend time with people who are important to you.

Love your Mother. Those of you who are fortunate enough to have a corporeal one, whether adoptive or biological (or both!), love them, too.

Teach your children well.

I don't know about you, but it won't take much for me to do this. I'm doing my part, and I'm going to be happy, and raise smart kids, and live without material excess. The world will be a little better for it.

And Mom: I love you to pieces. Thanks for letting me use you as a classroom example of a considerate smoker.


The Roman Empire, Version 2.0

(or, "The State Of The World: F. U. B. A. R.")

You don't get something for nothing,
You can't have freedom for free.
You won't get wise with the sleep still in your eyes,
No matter what your dreams might be.
-- Neil Peart, 1976.

"The time has come", the Walrus said, "to speak of many things..."

[This is going to be somewhat of a rambling rant, although I will try my best to put it into some semblence of order. Bear with me (I really gotta get rid of this damn bear!). Anyway...]

We are the Empire of Rome, Version 2.0. And we are going to go down in the same way unless we make a quick 180. Since I don't see that happening, all I can do is wait for the fires.

What do I plan to do about it? Nothing. My plate's full. I expect that everyone else's is, too, except for the robber-barons running the world's governments.

It's all about grabbing territory to further our own causes for our wealthiest people instead of working together to further everybody.

I was saddened to read about the book-burning going on in Iraq. Now, the library there may not be as diverse, but its fate is the same as the Great Library of Alexandria under EoR v1.

No matter how you slice it, it is Wrong. Censorship is Wrong. "Protected Speech" (i.e. the exceptions to Freedom of Speech) under the First Amendment to the Constitution is Wrong. The destruction of historic documents is so Wrong it makes Wrongness look almost Right.

However we may disagree with the religious doctrines in Iraq, we cannot accept those which we practice and preach (in a large sense) as being any more right.

I am dismayed to hear of the "Faith-based" Correctional CRAP that is happening in our country. There is a separation of Church and State which is GUARANTEED by our Constitution, and Congress shall make NO LAW abridging that.

I am also dismayed to note that the Oldest religion/spiritual practice is not recognized legally as a religion. I rather suspect that it has something to do with empowering women at the very least in their own right, if not in a larger scope. I think it also has something to do with the fact that it promotes cooperation with Nature and harmony, as opposed to pitting Man against Nature.

If you are a Christian, and you consider yourself a good person, you need to go research the missing books of the bible. They are there, they are just not published in a bible, for obvious reasons. You owe it to yourself, and if you have any faith whatsoever in your God, you will research it to the point that it will shake the very foundation of your Faith. It shouldn't destroy you spiritually, but it should open your eyes enough that you might think twice about abdicating your responsibilities to Man's interpretation and perversion of something which really had been started with good intentions before it turned into the most massive profitable non-profit non-taxable corporation on the face of the planet.

I'm an eclectic agnostic. I'm Pagan, by and large. Yes, I wear a pentacle. Proudly. Do I follow the Wiccan religion? Not precisely. It appears as though I do, to a degree, because my path just happens to match what they practice. I've never been too comfortable with ritual, and I should probably give more back to the world than I take, and certainly more than I have, but by and large their viewpoint just makes sense.

And if we are not careful, the Empire of Christendom is going to try and tromp it into the ground, just as they did with the Inca, Maya, Aztec, Celtic, Viking and Native American ways of spirituality.

You don't believe me? Look it all up.

What's the common theme? There are several. Among them:

  • True Equity. Females had equality, if not power, and they were respected, if not revered. Some bunch of misogynistic apes got the idea that the women were a threat to their way of life, and so they stirred up the pot and subjugated the women to a demoralizing and dehumanizing extent. Thus was the Patriarchal society born.
  • Unity with Nature. They respected their environment and worked with it in harmony in order to feed and protect their people and to ensure their continuity. They listened to the forces around them. They were in tune with what was happening, and they were better prepared to deal with any natural tragedies which came their way. We are not separate from Nature. We are a part of it, and it's time to re-recognize that fact.

  • Social openness. They shared amongst themselves. There were still differences in wealth but they were not as extreme as we see today. If you chipped in to the best of your ability, you would be taken care of. If not, well, you learned that you weren't taken care of. Everyone looked after everyone else, because survival depended on it. This is not to say there wasn't conflict, but the closeness was much more pervasive than it is now. We are not an open society. We are very uptight, withdrawn, private, paranoid -- in short, we are an extremely and overtly hostile society.

  • Absolute wrong. Maybe this is a large turn-off for most people, but the attitude that we have achieved from the forgiving of extreme wrong is that of, "Oh, well, I've killed someone or two, God will forgive me in the end, so who cares? I mean I'm sorry, but not really." Sin is one of those forgiven things. I think if we had a lot more Taboo -- a wrong which is NOT forgiven EVER -- than Sin, we would probably have a lot less which was egregiously considered to be morally Wrong, and we'd address the serious issues, and people could get on with their lives. As far as I am concerned, the government of this country has committed no sins but one LONG list of taboos, for which I do not think they should ever be forgiven, let alone forgotten.

  • Sexual openness. This is the big one. Sex was treated as power not in the power-trip sense, but as in a necessary sense. The release and respect of energy, and the recognition of its ability -- not its certainty -- to create life. There were no moral issues hovering around polygamy if that was what you were in to (I'm not, for my own personal reasons), and there was nothing considered to be "borderline public lewdness" (i.e. "Oh, look. It's a topless lady. Nice day, isn't it?"), and the like. Exploration which is considered to be "perverted" or "kinky" in our views was looked on more as something by which a pair or so might establish a ritual, a stance; relative station by consent rather than by decree.

We are SO WRAPPED UP in ourselves as a society that we have completely forgotten where we came from, and thus cannot see where we are going. We constantly deny our nature, and we are doomed if we continue in this way.

We are the Empire of Rome, version 2.0. And even if it means the demise of a lifestyle to which I have become accustomed, so long as it will give us a means of reconstruction and an opportunity to build the future in a better way, I say: "Bring on the flames."


If You're Part Of The Solution, You're The Problem

(or, "There will always be bullies.")

A bumper sticker says it best: "It will be a great day on Earth when education has all the funding it needs and the military will need to hold bake sales to build a bomber."

"Heads, I win; tails, you lose." -- Anonymous

I am sitting here reflecting on the state of the world, the state of the union, the state of the state of California, the state of the San Francisco Bay Area, and, perhaps most importantly, the state of my own household, the last of which I will probably spare most of you the details.

We are destined for war. This country is about to be plunged directly into what I'm sure the Christians are wailing as the Apocalypse. The war to end all wars. It says so in the Bible that the war will be fought in the Middle East, where the "Holy Land" originated.

I think it's been subconsciously planned that way for the last dodecade. Mr. Bush, Jr., says that he does not want to go to war, and yet here we are, not backing down. He says that Saddam Hussein and Iraq represent a direct threat to the United States of America and we need to disarm them.

Now, the logic as I understand it regarding the approach to Iraq (i.e., "bomb the hell out of them") versus the approach to, oh, let's say North Korea for the moment (i.e. "Hey, let's talk.") is that Iraq has been asked to disarm for the last twelve years and Gen. Hussein has not been exactly what I would call compliant.

Normally, I think I'd object to this behaviour on our part except that we're stepping in to enforce a treaty which was signed at the UN in 1991. Had that treaty not been signed on by the majority of the UN, I would go so far as to say we really do have no business going after Saddam Hussein.

I'm disturbed, though, by our ****less leader's approach. He evaded the question regarding removing Hussein from his position. He doesn't want Hussein taken out as much as he wants Iraq disarmed. I disagree with this. No country should be disarmed, or all of them should. They have the right to defend their own country, more so once they get a saner government in place.

But Mr. Bush wants them to completely disarm, ousted Hussein or no.

I think we are losing sight of the issues. What is our goal in completely destabilising the region? What is the point?

Another approach was brought up to me regarding this whole thing: What right do we have to play Big Brother and Moral Dictator, Inc. to the entire world? Where do we get off stating what is uncivilised? Where do we get the right to decide what is right and what is wrong in the world? Of course it's wrong according to us. But we don't live there. We don't have our history steeped in that culture; in fact, one would look at us and say we've had our history steeped in oaken casks filled with various fermented liquids, of which most of us have probably had more than enough.

But I digress.

Yes, the treatment of the citizens in other countries (Iraq, just to pick one) is abhorrent BY MOST STANDARDS. The dominant figures of the country don't see that they are doing anything wrong, and until we can convince them that they are doing something truly wrong by means of logic and deduction, we don't have the right to march in and put our foot down and say "Stop that."

It is not our job.

In fact, doing so as we are trying to do is a direct violation of the Prime Directive. For people unacquainted with the Prime Directive, it is summed up as such: "There shall be no interference with the progress of other cultures in such a manner as to be completely disruptive to the flow of events." At least this is as I understand it. Educate them, show them why it is horrible. I think if we are to do something like that, perhaps we should at least invert the power pyramid and put the overlords in the position of the subjugated and give them something to think about. But that will take the effort of the subjugated, and it will take some thought and consideration on their part. That said, I think it would not be a bad idea to educate them. This will take probably ten generations of constant effort to get them out of that situation, and I think it's probably a good idea to start.

But bombing the hell out of them is not going to achieve this. It will be like kicking a hornet's nest. There are probably hundreds of nationals over here who are ready at the drop of the first bomb to take out our centers of communication, thus rendering most of us by and large cut off from each other. I guarantee it would not take much to cause mass chaos in the area. A couple of guys driving around in an SUV loaded with Molotov Cocktails at 3 in the morning and tossing them out the window in random wooded areas and places where we have built our homes in natural -- and highly flammable -- settings. It would only take a single catastrophically scaled fire in any given area to draw out most of the reserves in a region. Imagine what happens if there are MANY of them.

And there are not enough funds given to the states to cover this because it's all gone to war; what remains to be given is not given because the government is deciding to punish the states that did not elect them.

But I digress.

On to North Korea. Why are we not demanding that North Korea disarm? Why are we not using strong-arm tactics against them? Because they would kick our butt through the ceiling on the way down. They have nuclear weapons capable of a first strike on the left side of this country. What are our defenses? If we have a means of disarming them, perhaps we should, but it is very clear that we will not be able to do so by force.

The difference between North Korea and Iraq is pretty simple:

  • Daddy didn't start a war with North Korea.
  • North Korea doesn't have a heck of a lot of liquid petroleum investment fodder.

It is all about the money, folks. Wake up.

This brings me to the state of the union.

We're sitting here on the brink of war, with our economy in the toilet and the scum still clinging to the rim. We have NO reserves for our states. We were, at one point, in a true recovery, potentially able to keep ourselves from going into debt. We were able to begin to rebuild educational standards, and we were making some serious headway after a long ethical recession.

And now, thanks to all the money being sunk into this war, we the people are paying out of our lower intestines for something most of us do not want to pay for, and this is just the tip of the ice cube.

Why are we doing this? Is an oil field in the Middle East really that much of an answer to the energy woes of this country that it will prove to bail us out once we reclaim it? I seriously doubt it.

Speaking of energy and money (the two do, after all, seem to go hand in hand), get what's going on in Sunny California.

The state wants to surcharge customers who provide their own power, whether by the Sun or any other means.

They insist it is the duty of the customers to pay for the shortfalls and the mistakes and the federal screwovers (thank you, Enron and Govt.). What is up with this? The corporations cannot be made to be accountable for their own actions? It always gets passed down? This is horse hockey, folks. This is NOT the way it needs to work.

If anyone out there has a solar-assisted energy solution, and you find yourself with a surcharge, I would urge you to fight it. Take it as far into the system as you can. It is not right that we are researching ways to decrease our dependencies on the corporations, on the pollutant fuels, and ways to reduce our strain on the energy grid and still being penalized for it.

This has got to stop. (You have no idea of the restraint with which I am currently authoring this article.)

In the meantime, the Public Utilities Commission has voted that the public will not get relief from the higher rates, that the power companies will be bailed out at our expense. This comes as no surprise, really, considering that the Federal Energy Commission would not pay us restitution for the bilking that happened in 2000. Thank you, ****less leader, for your oh, so unprejudiced approach to government. Thank you, o administration, for your willingness to run the country instead of paying off your own self-interest.

Where does it stop?

More to the point, where can We The People start to make it stop?

There will always be the bullies, but it has been shown that sheer numbers of lesser beings can overpower them.

We're already in this war thing. Since we've already invested the money, we might as well go. Make it fast, take out the target, and get us back here in our respective individual pieces.

Oh, and without going into too much detail, the Total Information Awareness act and the Homeland Security Act can just take a long trip into a deep sewer.

To the soldiers fighting this war: Keep in mind that you are doing a job. I do not fault you, but I will remind you that you are no longer fighting for the America for which your forefathers fought. You are now fighting for an empire with a dubious lifespan unless we can seriously address the way in which we behave.

You are fighting for a dying way of life, but you are also fighting for the possibilities which come with a new way of life. This country must open its eyes and take care of its own before it can even consider taking care of anybody else.

Regime change begins at home.


The Game Needs To Be Called

(or, "Next, Please.")

By and large, life is good, except for this excuse of a shadow of the ghost of the dream which used to be America...

"If his reign goes unchallenged, then everything that is green and growing and good in this world will be destroyed. There won't BE a Shire anymore, Pippin!" -- J. R. R. Tolkien, "The Two Towers"

I may be a bit skittish. Perhaps I frighten easily. Either that or I'm one of the (apparent) twelve percent of the people who has some sense in his head.

May I ask, please, just what in the world the current government of this country thinks they are doing?

We were on the brink of an educational recovery which had the potential to get us back to being one of the best places in the world to get an education. Now we are facing federal fund shortages which are being diverted to a war over something of little consequence, and they will toss our educational potential into the toilet.

The President has issued such promises as money for the prevention of the spread of AIDS. Ordinarily I'd say this is laudable except that he is sending the money abroad to Africa instead of keeping it here, where it would be better put to use, oh, say, looking for a cure.

Our borders remain open to illegal aliens who are coming in through the national parks which hug the borders because we can not afford to staff them because of all the money being poured into the Military effort. And now we, the taxpayers, have to shoulder the brunt of their weight on our system with the multi-lingual invasion which has taken over California and threatens to undermine the rest of the nation.

Please don't mistake me as a cultural bigot, because I am not. But when you go to a foreign country, you HOPEFULLY have learned something about speaking their language, and something about their culture. And you typically don't intend to stay there and leech from them. If you're going to live here, please be prepared to learn to FLUENTLY read, write and speak ENGLISH!

But I digress.

The current total government scheme in place seeks to undermine everything this country was built upon. We are being rocketed back to the middle ages in terms of our rights concerning freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press. Our economy is in the tubes because all the available funding is being redirected to this War over the biggest oil field in the country. Instead of researching alternate energy, we are still fighting over oil. Instead of looking for ways to energise our people and make them into a nation of the most positive minds on the planet -- which would eventually find a way to reason their way through the BS borders which separate our nation from other people (not national borders or cultural ones, but other illogical ones) -- our Republic is keeping us all in the dark, inciting Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt and Despair (FUDD).

Wow. Hi. Please keep all arms and legs inside the handbasket at all times.

I offer up a solution to this madness, and it is as such:

Mr. President, 

I call upon you to do the right thing for this country and resign your
office immediately.  Please remove your Vice President, as well as all
UNelected officials you have hand-chosen to serve as your Cabinet.

I am calling upon you to resign based on the lack of competence you have
demonstrated as the leader of the people of this country.  You have done
nothing to mitigate the influx of illegal aliens, nor to ease the minds
of the people of this country, nor anything worth a positive note regarding
domestic policy.  Indeed, you are treating the citizens of this country
-- SOME OF WHOM ELECTED YOU -- tantamount to criminals.

I and many others grew up in a time when Nuclear War was a threat to this
world for the third time and the fourth time.  We remember when the Cold
War was still going on.  I personally know someone who was one button-push
away from starting World War III while your father was running the country
through Ronald Reagan.

That was 20 years ago, and the threats were very real.  We do not forget
that easily.

Many others remember Viet Nam, and the Bay of Pigs is a documented
failure.  There is a common theme here:  These conflicts arise without the
true support of the people.  If you really believe that 88% of the people
out there really want a war, you are deluded beyond reason and are hence
incapable of running this country competently.  There is more to our
lifeblood than oil.  There is more to our existence than money and
conspicuous consumption.

We have had to continuously import talent from other countries because
we do not have the educational system present and sufficiently affordable
to produce this talent domestically.

And with everything which has happened to the economy in this country --
which your decisions and policies affect a great deal -- our companies are
not only reducing permanent work forces and forcing families to pay
astronomical health care out-of-pocket, but they are opening offices
abroad because they can recruit the talent locally to the company's new
office and not have to suffer the rigmarole of bringing them into this
country.  We are losing our hold on the world.

I and many others have watched this country slide from a country which
could have been recovered to greatness in perhaps half a lifetime to
one which will never again be great in my life.  We are but an excuse
of a shadow of the ghost of a memory of the dream which used to be
America.  We are no longer the America for which millions have fought
and died over the years.  Those millions did not set their lives forfeit
for this country as it stands now.  This administration is running this
country into the ground in an iron-fisted attempt to lay down the laws
in the name of God, and this makes us no better than any of the countries
we have attempted to destabilise, past or present.  In fact, we are
becoming very much like the Soviet Union we so much feared.

Unless you can prove that you are wise enough and mature enough to LET GO
of the hold we have on the world and retreat and rebuild internally, heal
and progress, I am of the opinion that you are no longer sufficiently of
sound mind to run this country, and I suggest that you step down from
office and let a more forward-thinking soul begin the true healing process
and rebuilding of this nation so that it can become the shining beacon it
once was.

It is the FUDD which will drive us down. One does not run a truly great nation through the ultimate control of the people. It is the people who make the nation great, through their own individual strengths, not vice versa. One cannot have a great nation without the people.

So if I'm a bit skittish, or a bit frightened, or a bit angry because I am skittish and frightened, over this issue, I am certain I am not the only one.

Fifty-five percent of our population support a war on Iraq? I don't think one can even take a poll of fifty-five percent of the population, considering that barely half of us vote, and that's in an important election.

And I can guarantee that the people who were polled -- and recorded -- were not a representative slice of the people of this country.

Next. Please!