About the Author

Lloyd Bowers was born in Columbus, Georgia in 1952, graduated from Furman University in 1976, and has lived in Charleston, South Carolina since 2002.

The Results of Polar Bear Research is Lloyd's first novel and was published in 2007. Lloyd's next book, Keep These in the Family, is a collection of twelve stories and was published in 2010.

"I grew up in the South," says Lloyd. "The Southern Appalachians is a sort of fixed foot in my life, and the summer-time is a great time to gravitate unpredictably in social settings."

"Freedom is a Public Utility, published 2014, developed from the discovery of a stash of old family letters, dated 1812 to 1857, mailed to my great-great-grandfather John Siegling, who emigrated from Erfurt, Germany, and settled in Charleston in 1820. That he was en route, or 'unterwegs,' for five years impressed me. 

"Divide the Country! was published February, 2020. It reflects my concern about the disunity, and even partisan hatred, that plagues the U.S."

 


 

 

The Erfurt Synagogue Treasure

I am in Erfurt, Germany, again, my home-away-from-home. My Great-great-grandfather grew up here before going abroad about 1810, and finally settling in Charleston, South Carolina in about 1818. My mother found a bunch of his old family letters in an office-secretary, written by his father and his siblings still in Germany between 1812 and 1857. Among other things, I am impressed by Erfurt's long and complex history. During my very first visit in 1998, for instance, I read that a construction crew was clearing a site to prepare it for new buildings, and discovered a hoard of ancient artifacts hiding in the rubble.

The American Grumblers

Over the last twenty or so years, the level of resentment in American society has risen to a dangerous, or at least dysfunctional level, leading to destabilization in the balance of world power. When I read about the Russian invasion of Ukraine or Chinese aggression toward Taiwan, I see it as the fruit of American disunity.

Many Independent Centers of Power

As an American citizen, I prefer a government that permits and enables a freedom-loving, constitutionally-based society. I prefer it for one reason only--because it works better than anything else. It releases the energy, enthusiasm, and effort of thousands of people to build businesses and commercial networks to create wealth. A freedom-loving society releases man's potential.

A Question of Power: Feminism in Contemporary Germany

An eleven-page article titled "Die Machtfrage" (in English, "A Question of Power,") appeared in Der Spiegel, the German news-magazine, on January 31, 2011. The authors of the article, Susanne Beyer and Claudia Voigt, interviewed a dozen women who hold important positions in the German government, in German media, or serve in organizations. All of them have just one thing on their minds--hiring quotas to enable women to get positions on the board of directors of German corporations.

The Consequences of Intervention

As an American, I have watched as the court system fought a losing battle against quotas, and I have wondered why the people demanding these quotas don't create businesses of their own. The article's authors, Beyer and Voigt, complain that Der Spiegel employs only two female editors, among 28 male editors. But why can't Beyer and Voigt start their own magazine to benefit women readers?

A Brief History of Horror Movies

I have never cared for horror movies, and just as video shops began to open in force during the 1990s, the temper of horror movies reached a fever pitch. I didn't own a TV at this time, thank God, so I missed most of it, but when I cruised the "Horror Movie" aisle of the neighborhood Blockbuster Video, I could hardly believe my eyes and wondered, "Who in the hell wants to watch this shit?" I was travelling a lot for work and worried that I had to share the highway with the creeps who got off on horror movies.

Feminism in Horror Movies

In the 1990s, with the proliferation of video-rental shops, I noticed changes in the format of horror movies, mostly caused by the emergence of lady-cop types--young, attractive women who do not tolerate sexism from their male cohorts.

Sexual Equality in East Germany

Anna Kaminsky, in her interesting book about the women who lived in East Germany, writes that East Germany really had no choice about enrolling women into its full-time work-force. The number of killed and wounded men, sidelined by World War II, meant that the women had to take up the slack.

Feminism in East Germany

I don't know if any country attempted to introduce sexual equality before the 20th century. While feminist and suffragist organizations lobbied governments to allow women to vote, to get educations, start businesses, and advance in society, the first nation to actually make sexual equality an official priority was East Germany, also known as the German Democratic Republic.

Feminism as Viewed by Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem, now 88-years-old, emerged as the most popular Feminist in the U.S. during the 1970s when I attended college--assuredly more popular than the egregiously unattractive Betty Friedan, who allegedly even beat up her husband, from time to time.

The Reality of National Bigness

The authors Fletcher Knebel and Charles Bailey collaborated on a novel titled Seven Days in May that they published in 1962, right in the heart of the Cold War. It made quite a stir and appeared as a movie in 1964 starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. The film-script written by The Twilight Zone's own Rod Serling, moves the novel a good bit Left, focusing criticism on the military.

Nationhood or Emigration?

How much Americans need to think pro-actively about the conflict in the nation emerged after the election of President Donald Trump in 2016. Many Americans said they did not consider him the legitimate President and felt only disgust and hostility toward him. Democrat journalists published their personal feelings in magazine articles and on their blogs. Many admitted that they wanted to leave the country. A dozen or more prominent celebrities announced that they planned to leave the country. Most wanted to relocate to Canada, others to Australia.

The Erfurt Synagogue Treasure

I am in Erfurt, Germany, again, my home-away-from-home. My Great-great-grandfather grew up here before going abroad about 1810, and finally settling in Charleston, South Carolina in about 1818. My mother found a bunch of his old family letters in an office-secretary, written by his father and his siblings still in Germany between 1812 and 1857. Among other things, I am impressed by Erfurt's long and complex history. During my very first visit in 1998, for instance, I read that a construction crew was clearing a site to prepare it for new buildings, and discovered a hoard of ancient artifacts hiding in the rubble. [...]

The American Grumblers

Over the last twenty or so years, the level of resentment in American society has risen to a dangerous, or at least dysfunctional level, leading to destabilization in the balance of world power. When I read about the Russian invasion of Ukraine or Chinese aggression toward Taiwan, I see it as the fruit of American disunity. [...]

Many Independent Centers of Power

As an American citizen, I prefer a government that permits and enables a freedom-loving, constitutionally-based society. I prefer it for one reason only--because it works better than anything else. It releases the energy, enthusiasm, and effort of thousands of people to build businesses and commercial networks to create wealth. A freedom-loving society releases man's potential. [...]

A Question of Power: Feminism in Contemporary Germany

An eleven-page article titled "Die Machtfrage" (in English, "A Question of Power,") appeared in Der Spiegel, the German news-magazine, on January 31, 2011. The authors of the article, Susanne Beyer and Claudia Voigt, interviewed a dozen women who hold important positions in the German government, in German media, or serve in organizations. All of them have just one thing on their minds--hiring quotas to enable women to get positions on the board of directors of German corporations. [...]

The Consequences of Intervention

As an American, I have watched as the court system fought a losing battle against quotas, and I have wondered why the people demanding these quotas don't create businesses of their own. The article's authors, Beyer and Voigt, complain that Der Spiegel employs only two female editors, among 28 male editors. But why can't Beyer and Voigt start their own magazine to benefit women readers? [...]

A Brief History of Horror Movies

I have never cared for horror movies, and just as video shops began to open in force during the 1990s, the temper of horror movies reached a fever pitch. I didn't own a TV at this time, thank God, so I missed most of it, but when I cruised the "Horror Movie" aisle of the neighborhood Blockbuster Video, I could hardly believe my eyes and wondered, "Who in the hell wants to watch this shit?" I was travelling a lot for work and worried that I had to share the highway with the creeps who got off on horror movies. [...]

Feminism in Horror Movies

In the 1990s, with the proliferation of video-rental shops, I noticed changes in the format of horror movies, mostly caused by the emergence of lady-cop types--young, attractive women who do not tolerate sexism from their male cohorts. [...]

Sexual Equality in East Germany

Anna Kaminsky, in her interesting book about the women who lived in East Germany, writes that East Germany really had no choice about enrolling women into its full-time work-force. The number of killed and wounded men, sidelined by World War II, meant that the women had to take up the slack. [...]

Feminism in East Germany

I don't know if any country attempted to introduce sexual equality before the 20th century. While feminist and suffragist organizations lobbied governments to allow women to vote, to get educations, start businesses, and advance in society, the first nation to actually make sexual equality an official priority was East Germany, also known as the German Democratic Republic. [...]

Feminism as Viewed by Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem, now 88-years-old, emerged as the most popular Feminist in the U.S. during the 1970s when I attended college--assuredly more popular than the egregiously unattractive Betty Friedan, who allegedly even beat up her husband, from time to time. [...]

The Legacy of Tupac Shakur

This image of Tupac Shakur appeared on my Facebook page recently, twenty-five years after his death in a drive-by ambush. His loyal fan-base keeps his memory alive through thick and thin—through the discrediting of gansta-rap and the "Thug-Life" that Tupac exemplified, and in spite of changes in musical preferences and the emergence of younger talent. [...]

Tupac-All Eyez on Me

This second image, essentially a graffito, also came to me over Facebook. "All Eyez on Me" might be Tupac's best-known rap. It may also have got him killed. The lyrics are loaded with obscenities, delivered in a sort of fury, I just thought, "Come on, buddy. Get off your high horse." But most of his listeners probably don't understand the song in context. Tupac delivers his sneering, vindictive rant toward people that he knows: [...]

The Death of Tupac

Late in the evening, September 7, 1996, Tupac Shakur was ambushed in a drive-by and shot four times. After several surgeries, Tupac finally died on the afternoon of September 13. The obituary in the German magazine Der Spiegel for Tupac did not mince words about his activities. [...]

The Guinness Book of Poisonous Quotes

I received The Guinness Book of Poisonous Quotes as a gift, some years ago. As an educated man and a writer, I recognize most of the people who provide the quotes, as well as the targets of their insults, and am surprised at the viciousness of feeling. [...]

Generation Maybe quotes (Translated from German by me)

Hardly a day goes by without media outlets mentioning inequality and racism in America, Dogs in illegal compounds are chained-up and suffer beatings and starvation. Tropical settlers burn more of the rain forest every day, and what are the Whites going to do about it? [...]

Schröder, Merkel, and Putin

German leaders like Conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Socialist predecessor Gerhard Schröder have come under fire, since Russian leader Vladimir Putin betrayed them, and forced them to share the responsibility for Putin's forces invading the Ukraine. The invasions started during my last visit to Germany, although Germany only felt the full effect of the economic sanctions against Russia after I left. But informed Germans had already started worrying about the ripple-effect of the War and the sanctions—primarily the availability of fuel for transportation and residential heating, and a shortfall of cereal grains for food-production, livestock feed, and so on. [...]

The Hiss Case After Putin

Film-critic Fox Butterfield writes in the New York Times, "Concealed Enemies does not provide any pat answers to whether Mr. Hiss was guilty or whether his accuser Whittaker Chambers framed him." [...]

Perjury: the Hiss-Chambers Case and the Truth about the Alger Hiss Case

The Congressional House Sub-committee for Un-American Activities, known as HUAC, conducted a public hearing into the sensational allegations of Whittaker Chambers, that a half-dozen important government officials had been members of the Communist Party in the 1930s. Led by the freshman congressman Richard Nixon, HUAC conducted a hostile, if not prosecutorial, interrogation of Hiss. Hiss, in his turn, behaved like a man on the witness-stand [...]

Whittaker Chambers and the Underground Conspiracy

Whittaker Chambers joined the Communist Party in 1925. His life as a communist started simply, first as a sales manager for the Party newspaper The Daily Worker, then as an occasional writer for the paper, then to more important positions. He survived the first major factional fight and purge at the Daily Worker in 1929, but resigned on his own terms shortly afterward and went to work for The New Masses, the Communist Party's art and literature magazine. [...]

The Book Market is Run by Capitalists

As a writer, I have participated in only one book-signing, and have never given a reading of anything I have written (four books and 108 blog posts). From listening to other writers talk about public appearances, I gather the politics of an appearance can get tricky, as readers want to know how you feel about their favorite writers--Rowling, Franzen, Eugenides, and so on. [...]

Where do you live?

Adventurous Republicans who want to stir up trouble for complacent Leftists, in the tradition of organizations like ACT UP, need but ask do-gooder Liberals one question: "Where do you live?" Chances are good that that loudmouth White Leftist lives with an inflated double-standard balloon hovering over her--like the author Jodi Picoult--that is just begging to get pricked. Picoult belongs to an organization called "VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts," which Wikipedia describes as a "pro-feminist organization committed to . . . amplifying historically-marginalized voices, including people of color." [...]

Stuck Ness Monster-part two

Whereas the majority of book-readers read a book once, then move on to something else, a writer will work on a book like a cow chewing the cud. He will mull endlessly over its internal movements, study alterations in its spiritual ambiance, ponder its dialogue-flow, and sort out its social logic--what works or doesn't work. [...]

Stuck Ness Monster - part three

I watched a couple of movies recently, Vertigo, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and released in 1958, and Contes de Printemps, A Tale of Springtime, directed by Eric Rohmer and released in 1990. Rohmer admired the older Hitchcock and even wrote a book about his work. [...]

The Writer as Prostitute

Every writer dreams of a movie deal. Can his writing persuade financiers to secure the rights to his book? And if they purchase the rights to it, what will they do to his story? Money alone cannot buy happiness for a serious writer. Some film-makers, like Sidney Pollack, mutilate the original story—Six Days of the Condor, for instance, and even John Grisham's The Firm—causing great anguish for the writer. [...]

The Third Man After the Fifth Reading

Even after reading The Third Man so many times, I still read the author's Preface. Graham Greene writes about the origin and inspiration for his book. He prefers to call it a screen-play, rather than a novel, perhaps because the man who directed The Third Man movie, Carol Reed, collaborated so closely with Greene. The story belongs as much to him as to Greene. You seldom find a writer and a director who get along so amicably. Greene speaks in his dedication about long days, working in the cafes of Vienna, Austria, while he and Reed worked over the script and the filming. [...]

Writers and Books

If I visit someone's home, I really feel more at home more if the home-owner has lots of books, and doesn't mind me browsing some of them. If I recognize a few of them, I will try to engage my host or hostess about them, signalling a nearly telepathic connection to them, whether they like it or not. Books give a person intellectual grounding and fight-power. We don't let ourselves get smothered by public stupidity. [...]

Hawking a Radical Idea

In October of this year, my alma-mater Furman University kindly asked me to attend a book-signing event for my latest book, Divide the Country, published in March 2020. The book-signing took place in the Barnes & Noble bookstore located inside Furman's Student Center. The B & N at Furman does not look like other B & Ns. Half the merchandise is either Furman sweats and T-shirts, or textbooks. [...]

The American Dictator Will Win in the Ballot Box

Americans don't have an informed sense about dictators—enough to save us from one, should he appear. They expect him to announce his intentions well in advance, which no dictator in his right mind would ever do. They expect him to introduce himself to the public with a mouthful of hate-speech, which is also unlikely. They also expect him to seize power in the tradition of a good-old street-fighting revolutionary; but why do that if he can stand for an election and win it the good-old democratic way? Winning the election gives him constitutional control of law-enforcement and the military services. It also avoids a lot of unnecessary bloodshed. [...]

Rexamining The Little Drummer Girl

The American novelist John Grisham has said that he reads John le Carre's The Little Drummer Girl every year or two to revitalize his own writing. I am sure most writers have a favorite older writer they turn to for inspiration. That a successful writer like Grisham reads le Carré should serve notice to the reading public. [...]

Sex and Political Power

Jean Anouilh published his four-act play Becket In 1960. Just four short years later, his play became an epic feature-film. The director and producers of the movie hardly waited for the ink to dry! Wikipedia portrays Anouilh's play and the 1964 movie as a "deliberately ficticious" work—which I suppose is a partisan attempt to water down the serious issues of the play and to salvage the reputation of monarchs—including presidents and their spouses. Becket plays up on the drama between two protagonists, the English King Henry II and Thomas of Becket, Chancellor and later Archbishop of Canterbury. The lively dialogue and the conflict between the main characters assures the play a measure of credibility. [...]

My Thoughts on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

When the movie version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest appeared on the TV for the first time, some years after it had finished up in movie theatres, I watched it for perhaps ten minutes, then switched it off. I had already read the novel and knew the whole story by heart. I could picture scenes from it in my mind—like live-action dramas. I could hear, so to speak, the characters' voices. [...]

The Failure of Independent Functioning

Years ago, when I was despondent over a failing relationship, I sought help from a licensed therapist. During our session, I couldn't help but notice that she had left a book on her desk, positioned just at the edge of my field of vision. It bore the title: I HATE YOU!—don't leave me. Understanding the Borderline Personality, by two doctor-types: Jerold Kreisman and Hal Straus. Curiously, I lacked the nerve, at that time, to ask the therapist about it. Did she want me to see it? [...]

CHAЯLY

Do you know about the Paris Commune? B. F. Skinner? The Children's Crusade, or Nietzsche? If you hang out with intellectuals in high school, they may expect you to know. You should expect these tests to go on from people who want to know if you are really "one of us." I hung out with intellectuals and had to anticipate the interests of the other guys and inform myself, so that I would know a thing or two about them when they asked me. [...]

Political Exit Strategies

Who still believes that the United States is truly "united?" Who really believes that Democrats and Republicans can work together? Who still believes that the Democratic vision of America lines up with the Republican vision? What Republican believes the Democrat vision lines up with that plan of the Founding Fathers? The division in the American electorate has created a real problem going forward that affects the functions of the society, the confidence of the public, and the security of the nation. [...]

Soviet Double Agents

Western societies have a significant structural Achilles Heel—all of them: the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, and so on—inasmuch as we value individual initiative, and nurture points-of-view based on the individual conscience. Occasionally, individuals use their outlier initiative to plot against the nation, to overturn it, and restructure it to suit their own views, Through charm and deception, they persuade others to follow them. A freedom-loving society permits this downside to individualism in order to profit from the upside, namely the ability of outliers to rise to the top of their professions and to improve the functions of the society with their creativity and innovative skill. [...]

Intimidation

George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 disturbed me more than any book I encountered during high school. The presentation of a futuristic, dictatorial society was a lot to swallow for an upper-middle class white kid who grew up in the South. Long torture sessions define the second-half of the novel with an immediacy that still gives me the heeby-jeebies when I read it. [...]

GENDER AND JENNER

Transparency vs. the "In" Doctrines
At a party, years ago, a friendly three-year-old asked me if I had a penis or a vagina. Her mother put her head in her hands, weak from embarrassment. Kids can say the darndest things, with no grasp of adult norms, pretense, or a political agenda—just wide-open wonder. At just three years of age, she had figured out that there are two sorts of people, male and female. [...]

A Room With a View

I went with a group of people to see the movie A Room With a View when it came out in 1985, and we were nearly the only ones in the theatre. We went during the afternoon, which is typically a slow time, but I doubt a British movie set in 1905 would draw much of an audience at any showing, even with discounted prices. The movie-title and story-plot come from a novel by the British writer E. M. Forster. [...]

A Feminist Contrarian

I came across the name of Susan Pinker from an interview in the German magazine Der Spiegel, that ran during the last week of September in 2008. Pinker had gained some notoriety in academic circles for her book Sexual Paradox that she published that year. Der Spiegel published its interview with her under the title "Männer sind extremer" (Men are more extreme). A curious thesis: people are extreme; men just more so. [...]

A Passage to India: Prelude to Civil War and Division

In 1984, I went with a group to see Passage to India, starring Alec Guinness, James Fox, and Peggy Ashcroft—based on the novel by the British novelist E. M. Forster, who published it in 1924. Guinness and Ashcroft were already long past their prime when they did Passage to India. Guinness first appeared in the 1946 movie, Great Expectations, based on the novel by Charles Dickens. Ashcroft had starred in Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps from 1935. Even James Fox appears too old to play Cyril Fielding. What they lack in youth, at any rate, they more than make up for it, with a relaxed professionalism. [...]

The Limits of a Democracy

For the last several days, impressions of William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies have circulated in my head. The novel tells the story of a group of schoolboys during World War II who escape the Japanese invasion by evacuating their school in a plane, but the plane crash-lands on a deserted island in the Pacific. [...]

Tinkers and Tailors

Like a lot of other people, I discovered John leCarré in 1980 when PBS broadcast the British mini-series of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, featuring the late Alec Guinness in the lead role as spy-hunter George Smiley. As Guinness's biography relates the story, leCarré himself suggested Guinness and took upon himself the task of persuading him to take the role. The producers at BBC could not have chosen a better time to undertake the project. A labor dispute had closed London's famous West-End theatres, and actors were looking for work; so BBC and the film's director John Irvin signed up the cast, and filming started. [...]

Wikipedia and History-AIDS

There can be no doubt that the Covid-19 epidemic has been the shock of our lives! With pharmaceuticals, sanitation, and nutrition on our side, how could this happen? We humans thought we were close to invicible. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the deaths of 3,500 Americans also ranks very high in shock value; but the Covid virus killed an average of a thousand Americans every day from mid-March until the middle of the summer. [...]

Why I Wrote Polar Bear the Way I Did

In general, I like writers who create a social fabric with their characters. In a forward-moving society, people rub shoulders, and the ongoing relationships and spontaneous interactions tell a reader a lot about who they are. In a close setting, they confide to significant-others but no one else. A writer may direct the tale with an omniscient point of view, but he lets it unfold through the characters. [...]

Author Commentary on The Results of Polar Bear Research

Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, I spent a lot of vacation time in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Even as a little guy, I could spend an entire afternoon paddling around a lake. White pines and tulip poplars towered over the bank. Lake Summit was such a huge place, it never felt crowded. I was always discovering new places. [...]

First Installment

I finished Divide the Country! late in 2019, and it became available for purchase in mid-February of this year. I felt some trepidation about publishing it. I thought a division of the United States was too hairy a plan to make it an acceptable objective; and even now I can think of several reasons why not to do it. I do not even have to think very hard. [...]

A Review of The Best Years of our Lives

I enjoy "good" films. I don't like to call them "art films." They're just good. I have a collection of about fifty of them. The criteria for a "good" film varies among critics, depending on the personalities involved, the thematic intentions, and so on. For me, a good film defines and describes situations, predicaments, and crises in human environments. A "good" film contains many varied human interactions and lots of dialogue, though the human environments vary greatly in their focus. [...]

The Third Man After the Fifth Reading

Even after reading The Third Man so many times, I still read the author's Preface. Graham Greene writes about the origin and inspiration for his book. He prefers to call it a screen-play, rather than a novel, perhaps because the man who directed The Third Man movie, Carol Reed, collaborated so closely with Greene. The story belongs as much to him as to Greene. You seldom find a writer and a director who get along so amicably. Greene speaks in his dedication about long days, working in the cafes of Vienna, Austria, while he and Reed worked over the script and the filming. [...]

Fritz Lang and The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

Everyone ought to watch The Testament of Dr. Mabuse at least once. The Nazi Propaganda Chief Joseph Goebbels saw it once and immediately banned it from the screen, because it "showed that an extremely dedicated group of people are perfectly capable of overthrowing any state with violence." Maybe the intentions of that "dedicated group of people" reminded Goebbels too much of the Nazis' own intentions; but he also liked Lang's movie and kept a copy to show close friends. He must have thought the film made good art, bad politics. [...]

The Significance of Persona

I first saw Persona in college during an Ingmar Bergman film festival. I remember missing the first fifteen minutes, and I might as well have missed the rest of it. So Persona went in one ear and out the other; but I returned to Bergman's films after college, via PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service. PBS ran the series PBS Saturday Night at the Movies during the Winter of 1976, although exactly when I saw Persona again, I do not remember, now. [...]

The Third World Blame Game

The Iranian exile Navid Kermani published an editorial in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper on April 4, 2015, titled "Why Europe Needs the Migrants". (In German, "Warum Europa uns jetzt braucht.") Kermani should title the article, "Why Europe Needs More Immigrants," because Europe has already absorbed millions of them—many, if not most, from Muslim nations. [...]

An Echo of Theresa

After I finished college in 1975, I returned to my home in Columbus, Georgia, and started working for my father at his livestock feedmill. The first six months or so was pure hell for a guy who had studied literature in college, knew next to nothing about running a business, and I was spindly and out of shape from doing schoolwork continuously for four years. I walked a fairly steep learning curve for so long, I really don't remember when I finally settled into a routine. [...]

CHAЯLY

Do you know about the Paris Commune? B. F. Skinner? The Children's Crusade, or Nietzsche? If you hang out with intellectuals in high school, they may expect you to know. You should expect these tests to go on from people who want to know if you are really "one of us." I hung out with intellectuals and had to anticipate the interests of the other guys and inform myself, so that I would know a thing or two about them when they asked me. [...]

The Battle of Britain movie from 1969

I watched The Battle of Britain on YouTube recently. It stars most of Britain's best actors from the 1960s, among them Laurence Olivier, Robert Shaw, and Michael Caine. YouTube offers other free movies alongside its cheapie drama and sci-fi flicks: Terminator, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Mask, with Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz, and Fargo, with Frances McDormand and William H. Macy. [...]

The new Hollywood of the 1970s

During my college years in the early 1970s, everybody was raving about a new film, directed by someone with a funny foreign name, Peter Bogdanovich, called The Last Picture Show, that starred Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd, two unknown actors at that time. The critics hailed it for its realism, understated drama, and its portrayal of people living in a sad little town, Anarene, in semi-arid northern Texas—a town and people with no future. Northern Texas gets a decent amount of rainfall, but director Bogdanovich makes it look as windy and dusty as a desert. He filmed it in black and white, accenting the region's sterility and the colorless life. [...]

Secret Agent John Drake

I bought the Secret Agent aka Danger Man "Mega-set" from Amazon ten years ago. I did it after reading a line in Stephen King's novel The Shining. The novel concerns a six-year-old boy named Danny Torrance, whose Mom and Dad have taken a job as caretakers of a remote old hotel in the Rocky Mountains. Everyone should know the story by now. The hotel is haunted. Danny plays outside near the hedges, trimmed in the shape of animals, called a "topiary." In the corner of his eye, he can see the hedge animals silently moving toward him. They clutch at him, and it scares the wee-wee out of him, literally. [...]

Our Own Nation!

I watched the Ten Commendments movie last night, starring the late Charlton Heston and directed by Cecil B. DeMille in 1956. In one scene, the Lord God gives Moses the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. It ranks as one of the most moving and dramatic scenes in the history of cinema. The Lord God leads Moses up Mount Sinai and carves the Commandments from the stone wall with fiery fingers. DeMille had done his research and knew the fiery fingers would start from the right and write left. Biblical scholars will recognize the Hebrew text from the Gezer Calendar, circa 850 BC, the earliest known example of written Hebrew. The fiery fingers and the dramatic musical score make it a memorable scene, thrilling and triumphant. Then Moses descends from the high place. The few Israelites who have accompanied him up the mountain see him with the two tablets and bow almost involuntarily. The music becomes intimately quiet in tone, with an equally moving effect. [...]

Tinkers and Tailors

Like a lot of other people, I discovered John leCarré in 1980 when PBS broadcast the British mini-series of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, featuring the late Alec Guinness in the lead role as spy-hunter George Smiley. As Guinness's biography relates the story, leCarré himself suggested Guinness and took upon himself the task of persuading him to take the role. The producers at BBC could not have chosen a better time to undertake the project. A labor dispute had closed London's famous West-End theatres, and actors were looking for work; so BBC and the film's director John Irvin signed up the cast, and filming started. [...]

A Nation for Black People

During my lifetime, I would like to see the United States divide into two or even three new nations. In the Spring of 2020, I wrote up my reasons in a book titled Divide the Country. [...]

A Warning from Louis Farrakhan

The Internet has grown into such a sophisticated collosus, you can find updated information about nearly anything. If you hear a song and remember just one line from it, you can google that one line and find your song. I learned this from experience during the Summer of 2021 when I was visiting Germany. [...]

Trump and Putin

Donald Trump has taken a lot of heat for his positive comments on Putin and his invasion of Ukraine. His greatest sin consists of describing the invasion as "savvy and "genius." First of all, who really believes Putin's invasion was not a brilliant action? He has everyone a barrel! Thanks to Merkel's plan to shut down nuclear-power in Germany, at a time when Germany is still not in a position to rely totally on wind- or solar-power, leaves Germany vulnerable to Putin's threat to shut down deliveries of oil and gas. He has also threatened to shut down oil and gas for other former nations of the Soviet Empire. No matter if you love him or hate him, he has pulled the rug out from under everyone, showing a belligerent side that no one exprected. He rose through the ranks of the KGB and still has that Soviet preoccupation with empire-type activities. [...]

Who's Complaining

During the tenure of President Ronald Reagan, 1979-1986, the U.S. military invested heavily in new weaponry. Nothing captured the imagination of people like the "Strategic Defense Initiative," or SDI, the so-called "Star Wars" program. It provided for satellites in outer-space, equipped with lasers, to disable the enemy's incoming nuclear missiles. No one had ever done like that before, but the Reagan administration considered it the price we had to pay for security against our enemies, principally the Soviet Union. [...]

Revenue and Documentary Stamps

When I started collecting stamps, I discovered a category of stamps called "revenue stamps," also known as "documentary stamps." Essentially, the U.S. government decided it needed more money to cover its expeditures, so it started taxing everything. We modern Americans think we have such a tough time with the high taxes. In 1862, the Federal Government faced increased expenses related to fighting the Civil War against the rebellious Confederacy, so it taxed everything in order to cover the costs of fielding an army and equipping it. [...]

The Republican Laundry List

I notice numerous individual voices on the Internet saying we need to divide the country, and not a lot is happening with any of them. The voices wax and wane, depending on who reigns in the White House and the Congress. When Republicans reign, the Democrats' voicing a division plan becomes louder. When a Democrat reigns, the Republicans raise their voices. You never hear their voices at the same time. [...]

Gamblers and Johns

If prostitution is the world's oldest profession, then gambling comes in a close second. Both vices derive their impetus from more basic drives. In the case of prostitution, sex as the means to bond people and procreate. In the case of gambling, risk-taking as an aspect of commerce, of investment strategy. Both vices pervert and discredit essential activities within a society, making the legitimate uses as suspect as the perverted. Historically, both vices have relied on cash transactions under the table and a hands-off government. Not too surprisingly, they also hang out a lot together [...]

Fooled Again!

The 60s rock band The Who recorded a number of songs about the energy and insecurity of youth: "Young Man Blues" and "Summertime Blues"—two songs about young guys trying to gain some self-respect and to get a day off work to spend time with a girl, and "Magic Bus," about a nervous guy boarding a bus to go visit his girl. [...]

The 60s Counterculture

By the time I came of age—that is, in the mid-seventies—the countercultural glory of the 1960s had already crashed. The disastrous Rolling Stone Free-Concert at the Altamont Speedway in California signalled its end, hastened by drug-use and motorcycle gangs—ironically two icons possessing that 60s magic. [...]

The Skinny on Freedom (It's skinnier than you think.)

Everybody is talking about freedom these days. As a word, "Freedom" is like a store mannequin with a dizzying variety of hats. People use "Freedom" in conjunction with other concepts, to give those other concepts more street-cred--like the Nazi "Freiheit und Brot," the socialist "Freedom and Equality," and the 1960s radical student association, the "Free Speech Movement." The groups don't go into much detail about how freedom connects to anything else they believe, not that they can, really. [...]

The Discrimination Devil

In early September, 2018, President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for a seat on the Supreme Court, to replace the elderly Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was retiring. Justice Kennedy positioned himself as an independent, deciding on each case by his own legal compass, even siding occasionally with the liberal justices, Sotomayor, Kagan, Bader-Ginsburg, and Breyer. [...]

The European Migrations, 2016: a Critique

The human tidal wave that reached Europe from Africa and the Middle East in 2015 matches the human tidal wave that has reached the US from Mexico and other Central American countries in recent years. They present Europe and America with a moral quandary and monumental logistical headaches that trump political or ideological differences. [...]

The Third World Blame Game

The Iranian exile Navid Kermani published an editorial in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper on April 4, 2015, titled "Why Europe Needs the Migrants". (In German, "Warum Europa uns jetzt braucht.") Kermani should title the article, "Why Europe Needs More Immigrants," because Europe has already absorbed millions of them—many, if not most, from Muslim nations. [...]

The American Dictator Will Win in the Ballot Box

Americans don't have an informed sense about dictators—enough to save us from one, should he appear. They expect him to announce his intentions well in advance, which no dictator in his right mind would ever do. They expect him to introduce himself to the public with a mouthful of hate-speech, which is also unlikely. They also expect him to seize power in the tradition of a good-old street-fighting revolutionary; but why do that if he can stand for an election and win it the good-old democratic way? Winning the election gives him constitutional control of law-enforcement and the military services. It also avoids a lot of unnecessary bloodshed. [...]

The President as Monarch

On 19 July, I posted an article about Becket, a play by French dramatist Jean Anouilh. It concerns a British King Henry II and his boon-companion Thomas of Becket, who later becomes Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry was a typical despotic monarch with a yen for teenaged girls. Becket was his bosom buddy and went along with the monarch's shenanigans; but once Henry nominated him for Archbishop, he changed his tune and warned Henry that he no longer answered to the King but only to the Church. Becket became Henry's arch-enemy! [...]

The Liberal Church Monarch

In my post from 19 July, I wrote about a despot, the British King Henry II, and his predilection for teenaged girls, who called him "my Lord" even as he made love to them. Thomas of Becket tried to keep church law beyond the reach of the despotic king and to shield church personnel from secular authority. In so doing, he inadvertently helped modern church personnel evade civil law when they revealed their predilection for young boys. Hundreds of priests and lay-personnel went to prison for their crimes against juveniles. [...]

Sex and Political Power

Jean Anouilh published his four-act play Becket In 1960. Just four short years later, his play became an epic feature-film. The director and producers of the movie hardly waited for the ink to dry! Wikipedia portrays Anouilh's play and the 1964 movie as a "deliberately ficticious" work—which I suppose is a partisan attempt to water down the serious issues of the play and to salvage the reputation of monarchs—including presidents and their spouses. Becket plays up on the drama between two protagonists, the English King Henry II and Thomas of Becket, Chancellor and later Archbishop of Canterbury. The lively dialogue and the conflict between the main characters assures the play a measure of credibility. [...]

Political Exit Strategies

Who still believes that the United States is truly "united?" Who really believes that Democrats and Republicans can work together? Who still believes that the Democratic vision of America lines up with the Republican vision? What Republican believes the Democrat vision lines up with that plan of the Founding Fathers? The division in the American electorate has created a real problem going forward that affects the functions of the society, the confidence of the public, and the security of the nation. [...]

The Nazis and Socialism

Since the biggest and most destructive dictatorships of the 20th century used the word "Socialist" in their names, we need to understand what socialism really means. The Soviet nation identified itself formally as the "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics." The Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin caused the deaths of millions of Russians—ruthlessly crushing any dissent to his pathological leadership. After Stalin's death in 1956, Nikita Khrushchev continued Soviet repression when he crushed the Hungarian Revolt in 1956 and errected the Berlin Wall in 1961. [...]

Marxism Does Not Work!

Consider the psychological difference between the action-oriented philosophy of someone like Karl Marx, and the typical, bourgeois, static sense-of-self. Like Popeye the Sailor Man, working-people say, "I yam what I yam, and that's all what I yam." They can't tell you much more about themselves than that. That lack of a personal philosophy leaves a void in their character and makes them more vulnerable to the huckstering of an angry but focused man like Marx. [...]

Socialism and the End of East Germany

My immigrant ancestor from Germany, John Siegling, came to Charleston, South Carolina, in about 1818. Not more than a year after his arrival, he opened a music shop for instruments and supplies. How he—a foreigner—could do that so quickly amazes me. Where did he get his start-up capital? Why not start his career under the tutelage of an established shop-owner first, or find a partner to shoulder the responsibilities? He obviously had an outlier grade of self-confidence to take on all that, and make the business succeed as well as it did. He just had that entrepreneurial energy that immigrants bring to America. [...]

The Role of Wealth

Most of the people who supported Bernie Sanders's election-bid have little sense about the creation and administration of wealth. They have had wealth for so long, they take its existence for granted. But somebody has to create it, an event like a Big Bang. Someone has to cause wealth to happen in a society and maintain its rumbling bigness through the lean times. Most Americans forget that an intentional act caused the Big Bang, or do they doubt it ever happened? As far as they're concerned, maybe greed and racism created the disparity between our nation and other nations. [...]

Intimidation

George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 disturbed me more than any book I encountered during high school. The presentation of a futuristic, dictatorial society was a lot to swallow for an upper-middle class white kid who grew up in the South. Long torture sessions define the second-half of the novel with an immediacy that still gives me the heeby-jeebies when I read it. [...]

GENDER AND JENNER

Transparency vs. the "In" Doctrines
At a party, years ago, a friendly three-year-old asked me if I had a penis or a vagina. Her mother put her head in her hands, weak from embarrassment. Kids can say the darndest things, with no grasp of adult norms, pretense, or a political agenda—just wide-open wonder. At just three years of age, she had figured out that there are two sorts of people, male and female. [...]

Democracy—So Many Unknowns

I took a public-speaking class in high school. For one assignment, each student had to declaim from a published speech. I don't remember how I made my selection. I did a speech from the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. After the assassination of Caesar, Marc Antony eulogizes him before the Roman people, in Act III, Scene ii: "Friends, Romans, Countrymen! Lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. . . ." [...]

Why I Vote Republican

The RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel sent me a form and return-envelope to use to pay my Party dues and renew my membership. The form contains pep-rally language used by any democratic nation on the face of the earth to coax defeated believers into action. The "REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE" banner appears at the top of the page, and the image of an eagle beside it, with a beak big enough to bend steel. I hope it works to coax other believers. [...]

Alt-right, Alt-left, or Old Beer?

"Alt-right" is a sort of awkward hybrid, as words go. The first part, "alt," abbreviated from "alternate" has a modern technological application in aviation and in computers. "Alt" refers to alternate-flight-mode on some lines of aircraft—that offer two modes of flying: "Normal Law" and "Alternate Law." If the normal coputerized commands fail, the pilot has to switch to "Alt-Law" and manually fly the plane. [...]

The Elites

I do not remember when the word "elite" entered the lexicon of political terms. Journalists and pundits use it often to describe a class of Americans who "run things," who have special privileges and influence, sometimes far apart from public opinion—making things happen behind the scenes. [...]

The Limits of a Democracy

For the last several days, impressions of William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies have circulated in my head. The novel tells the story of a group of schoolboys during World War II who escape the Japanese invasion by evacuating their school in a plane, but the plane crash-lands on a deserted island in the Pacific. [...]

Alternatives for Black Social-Planners

The ability of people in a nation to set high goals for themselves and to reach them depends a lot on leadership. The leadership class has to institute a framework for progress. It has to study a problem, supply a solution, and direct it. People rely on their leaders, both for forward-moving measures, and a justification of those measures. The leaders do not rely soly on their own judgment. They also set up documentary parameters, that political people usually call a "constitution," that will continue to direct the nation after they are gone. The constitution teaches the people how to act like citizens by giving them a value system and a mindset that guides their actions. [...]

Wikipedia and History-AIDS

There can be no doubt that the Covid-19 epidemic has been the shock of our lives! With pharmaceuticals, sanitation, and nutrition on our side, how could this happen? We humans thought we were close to invicible. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the deaths of 3,500 Americans also ranks very high in shock value; but the Covid virus killed an average of a thousand Americans every day from mid-March until the middle of the summer. [...]

Wikipedia and History-Hiss

I inherited an interest in the Alger Hiss Case from my father. He had come home from Hawaii at the end of World War II, married my mother, and started a family. He did well in business, and life was good. Then in 1948, a complete unknown named Whittaker Chambers came out of the woodwork to accuse a former State Department official, Alger Hiss, of secret Communist Party membership. The Communist Party was a legal political organization and fielded candidates for the presidency of the United States, but government officials could not belong to it. [...]

Steering the Ship of State

Governing a country is like steering a ship. It requires a constitution and a man who knows how to use it to ply the political and diplomatic waters and promote the interests of the nation.. [...]

Suppose They Gave a War?

This “Suppose they gave a war” quote has served as the title of a movie and an anti-war song from the 1960s. It actually began life in a story told by the poet Carl Sandburg, and I am skeptical of its authenticity. Sandburg said he was talking to a little girl about the Civil War, and that she asked him, “Suppose they gave a war, and nobody came?” [...]

The Reality of National Bigness

The authors Fletcher Knebel and Charles Bailey collaborated on a novel titled Seven Days in May that they published in 1962, right in the heart of the Cold War. It made quite a stir and appeared as a movie in 1964 starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. The film-script written by The Twilight Zone's own Rod Serling, moves the novel a good bit Left, focusing criticism on the military. [...]

Nationhood or Emigration?

How much Americans need to think pro-actively about the conflict in the nation emerged after the election of President Donald Trump in 2016. Many Americans said they did not consider him the legitimate President and felt only disgust and hostility toward him. Democrat journalists published their personal feelings in magazine articles and on their blogs. Many admitted that they wanted to leave the country. A dozen or more prominent celebrities announced that they planned to leave the country. Most wanted to relocate to Canada, others to Australia. [...]

The Evil Empire Strikes Back!

Russia's invasion of the Ukraine has become a war of attrition--Russia stalemated on the battlefield, facing economic repercussions from Europe and America. If the Russians can't wind up the invasion soon, it becomes a question of which gets to them first, bankruptcy or participation from NATO on the side of Ukraine? Europe and America must continue pressuring Putin and his general staff. [...]

The Stuck Ness Monster-part one

Loch Ness in Scotland (Loch is the traditional Scottish word for "lake".) spans nearly the width of the nation, and flows diagonally between the Northern Highlands and Southern Highlands. The lingering rumor of a prehistoric creature that lives in the Loch, an aquatic monster of the Dinosaur-type--nicknamed "Nessie" by the locals--has supported a lucrative tourist-trade for generations, based on mostly discredited photos from the 1930s. [...]

Stuck Ness Monster-part two

Whereas the majority of book-readers read a book once, then move on to something else, a writer will work on a book like a cow chewing the cud. He will mull endlessly over its internal movements, study alterations in its spiritual ambiance, ponder its dialogue-flow, and sort out its social logic--what works or doesn't work. [...]

Stuck Ness Monster - part three

I watched a couple of movies recently, Vertigo, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and released in 1958, and Contes de Printemps, A Tale of Springtime, directed by Eric Rohmer and released in 1990. Rohmer admired the older Hitchcock and even wrote a book about his work. [...]

The Republican Laundry List

I notice numerous individual voices on the Internet saying we need to divide the country, and not a lot is happening with any of them. The voices wax and wane, depending on who reigns in the White House and the Congress. When Republicans reign, the Democrats' voicing a division plan becomes louder. When a Democrat reigns, the Republicans raise their voices. You never hear their voices at the same time. [...]

Fooled Again!

The 60s rock band The Who recorded a number of songs about the energy and insecurity of youth: "Young Man Blues" and "Summertime Blues"—two songs about young guys trying to gain some self-respect and to get a day off work to spend time with a girl, and "Magic Bus," about a nervous guy boarding a bus to go visit his girl. [...]

Trimming our Neighbors' Trees

The Left wants to trim the wealth of all private institutions and citizens. The only entity it does not want to trim is the federal budget, nor the debt level it attains. The Left prefers government wealth and influence over private wealth and influence, while the Right prefers for wealth to stay in private hands. That should explain for most people why we have disunity in this country. Think of disunity as neighbors wanting to trim each other's trees, while not trimming their own trees. Neither side can trim without repercussions from the other. [...]

The 60s Counterculture

By the time I came of age—that is, in the mid-seventies—the countercultural glory of the 1960s had already crashed. The disastrous Rolling Stone Free-Concert at the Altamont Speedway in California signalled its end, hastened by drug-use and motorcycle gangs—ironically two icons possessing that 60s magic. [...]

Man vs. Spitting Goat

People and goats aren't all that different. If you get in my face and hector me, I will bray at you in protest. I probably won't understand half of what you are saying, anyway. If you keep on hectoring me, I may spit at you as a warning. You can run your mouth all you want; you won't get anywhere with me! [...]

New Credo stamps: Jefferson

I collected stamps through most of my childhood. The variety and utility of stamps amazed me. People use postage stamps for mail. Until the middle of the twentieth-century, the Post Office Department printed a "Postage Due" stamp for their use, if a letter or parcel did not have enough stamps on it. In addition to that, the Post Office Department issued "Documentary Stamps," or "Revenue Stamps," affixed to official documents, like contracts, deeds, treaties, hunting licenses, and so on. The variety, design, and importance of stamps did a lot to mature my little mind. [...]

Founding Father Credo: George Washington

George Washington spent much of his life commanding the Continental Army against the British and keeping the fight alive, and then leading the young United States as its civilian President; but the quote attributed to him, selected for the Credo stamp series—"Observe good faith and justice toward all nations."—fails to sum up the man, his beliefs, or gravitas. The quote is too generic, too laid back. Any moralizer could talk about "good faith and justice." We hear stuff like that everyday. I prefer this quote from Washington, from a letter to James Madison: [...]

Founding Father Credo: James Madison

Benjamin Franklin's credo sounds like a generic, laid-back aphorism, spoken from a rocking-chair by someone's retired, church-minister uncle. Numerous academics try to paint Franklin as a sort of hippie-prototype, and he wasn't like that at all. You get a better idea of his personal convictions in Poor Richard's Almanack, published in 1733. [...]

Founding Father Credo: John Adams

When I think of the important persons who helped found our nation, who did the fighting to free the nation from the British, who studied the lessons of history in order to build a hugely successful land of opportunity, and undergird it with first-rate foundational documents, I do not think right away of fFrancis Scott Key. He played an important role aguing cases, including many before the Supreme Court, and functioned as a sort of attorney general in the government of the young nation. [...]

Founding Father Credo: Alexander Hamilton

Abraham Lincoln more or less lucked into the Presidency—or unlucked into it, depending on how you view his career as President. His rugged looks and rural, ax-wielding background lent more to his reputation than it should have. The level of destruction caused by the Civil War suggests that he did not have the right credentials to help the nation avoid the catastrophe—enough education, basic diplomatic or social skills enable him to jaw instead of war. Lincoln was too much a creature of his political party—in debt to the political bosses—rather than the leader of it. [...]

Founding Father Credo: Immanuel Kant

Patrick Henry had his fifteen minutes of fame when he said, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" Many people since his day have made similar statements in support of political or ethnic causes. Military leaders have uttered a variation of his ultimatum: "Victory or death!" The succession of ultimata have eclipsed Patrick Henry's. He is too generic to carry weight in the world of competing causes. [...]

Hawking a Radical Idea

In October of this year, my alma-mater Furman University kindly asked me to attend a book-signing event for my latest book, Divide the Country, published in March 2020. The book-signing took place in the Barnes & Noble bookstore located inside Furman's Student Center. The B & N at Furman does not look like other B & Ns. Half the merchandise is either Furman sweats and T-shirts, or textbooks. [...]

The Discrimination Devil

In early September, 2018, President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for a seat on the Supreme Court, to replace the elderly Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was retiring. Justice Kennedy positioned himself as an independent, deciding on each case by his own legal compass, even siding occasionally with the liberal justices, Sotomayor, Kagan, Bader-Ginsburg, and Breyer. [...]

Yay God! Boo Devil!

I notice that fewer cars wear bumper-stickers now, and I conclude that no one wants to offend other drivers and cause a road-rage incident. Most road-rage incidents, I am guessing, actually start with passive-aggressive behavior designed to taunt rather than confront. That road-rage has increased in recent years suggests greater sensitivity and resentment concerning racial issues, gender issues, and political issues. Since all those issues have seen greater polarization in recent years, one has to ask what risks they represent for our nation, going forward. [...]

Chris Hedges: The End of America

This issue is actually a no-brainer. The philosophy of the Left and the Right no longer have enough inclusivity and congruity to give America a secure future. We are coasting on the achievements of earlier generations. Everyone has to admit we can't go on much longer like this. We need a plan for the future that resolves the disunity, replacing it with renewed unity in separate nations. Take these thoughts into the silence and isolation of your bathroom and ask yourself if you want the nation to continue its present course. [...]

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson, a scholar and fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, presents a view of America that has a lot in common with Chris Hedges, even though Hedges stands to the left of even the Democratic Party. Both writers tell anyone who will listen that America is taking its last hurrah and will collapse soon. [...]

The Republican Imaginary

Maybe I should explain why I use "imaginary" as a noun. Actually, I will let social scientists from the University of Nottingham in the U.K. do the explaining: The word "imaginary" used as a noun is a jargon term that has been gaining currency in a number of social sciences. . . . "The imaginary or social imaginary is the set of values, institutions, laws, and symbols, common to a particular social group and the corresponding society through which people imagine their social whole." [...]

The Failure of Independent Functioning

Years ago, when I was despondent over a failing relationship, I sought help from a licensed therapist. During our session, I couldn't help but notice that she had left a book on her desk, positioned just at the edge of my field of vision. It bore the title: I HATE YOU!—don't leave me. Understanding the Borderline Personality, by two doctor-types: Jerold Kreisman and Hal Straus. Curiously, I lacked the nerve, at that time, to ask the therapist about it. Did she want me to see it? [...]

Why I Vote Republican

The RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel sent me a form and return-envelope to use to pay my Party dues and renew my membership. The form contains pep-rally language used by any democratic nation on the face of the earth to coax defeated believers into action. The "REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE" banner appears at the top of the page, and the image of an eagle beside it, with a beak big enough to bend steel. I hope it works to coax other believers. [...]

Alt-right, Alt-left, or Old Beer?

"Alt-right" is a sort of awkward hybrid, as words go. The first part, "alt," abbreviated from "alternate" has a modern technological application in aviation and in computers. "Alt" refers to alternate-flight-mode on some lines of aircraft—that offer two modes of flying: "Normal Law" and "Alternate Law." If the normal coputerized commands fail, the pilot has to switch to "Alt-Law" and manually fly the plane. [...]

The Elites

I do not remember when the word "elite" entered the lexicon of political terms. Journalists and pundits use it often to describe a class of Americans who "run things," who have special privileges and influence, sometimes far apart from public opinion—making things happen behind the scenes. [...]

Our Own Nation!

I watched the Ten Commendments movie last night, starring the late Charlton Heston and directed by Cecil B. DeMille in 1956. In one scene, the Lord God gives Moses the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. It ranks as one of the most moving and dramatic scenes in the history of cinema. The Lord God leads Moses up Mount Sinai and carves the Commandments from the stone wall with fiery fingers. DeMille had done his research and knew the fiery fingers would start from the right and write left. Biblical scholars will recognize the Hebrew text from the Gezer Calendar, circa 850 BC, the earliest known example of written Hebrew. The fiery fingers and the dramatic musical score make it a memorable scene, thrilling and triumphant. Then Moses descends from the high place. The few Israelites who have accompanied him up the mountain see him with the two tablets and bow almost involuntarily. The music becomes intimately quiet in tone, with an equally moving effect. [...]

Why Martin Luther is Important for Americans

America's warring sides have been at each others' throats for so long, they have become wedded to the conflict, like supporting an athletic rivalry. Instead, they should concern themselves with the political rivalry, the growing division, and its threat to our national preparedness. When the warring sides tire of the rivalry, they may want to acknowledge the threat that it poses and settle the conflict with a division of the country. [...]

Alternatives for Black Social-Planners

The ability of people in a nation to set high goals for themselves and to reach them depends a lot on leadership. The leadership class has to institute a framework for progress. It has to study a problem, supply a solution, and direct it. People rely on their leaders, both for forward-moving measures, and a justification of those measures. The leaders do not rely soly on their own judgment. They also set up documentary parameters, that political people usually call a "constitution," that will continue to direct the nation after they are gone. The constitution teaches the people how to act like citizens by giving them a value system and a mindset that guides their actions. [...]

Fixing the Bi-polar Nation

Alfredo Zotti, an Australian psychiatrist, published Got Bi-Polar? in January, 2018. Nowadays, everyone knows a little about the symptoms of bi-polar disorder: the sadness and euphoria, the anxiety and exaggerated optimism. [...]

Antiques Roadshow

First of all, few Americans know that the Public Broadcasting Corperation (PBS) basically pinched the format for the show from the British, who had their own Antiques Roadshow going long before the Americans started theirs; but my guess is that Britons prefer the American programme over their own original. The British show is too tepid and sedate for Americans. It also appears out of focus or "pre-exposed." Film-makers sometimes pre-expose film to wash out some of the color and give the images a somber or colorless tone. [...]

Lord Vinheteiro

The Lord's real name is Fabricio André Bernard di Paulo, and he was born in São Paolo, Brazil. His name sounds Italian. His ancestors may have been among the European immigrants who swept into Brazil in the late-nineteenth century—millions of them. The Lord regularly posts his piano-videos on YouTube, where I discovered him. I found him the way I have found other things on the Internet, by cruising sort of absent-mindedly. Before long, the Internet intuits things about me and guides me to the things that I want to watch. TV is so yesterday. . . [...]

For-profit vs. Non-profit.

When I travelled to Germany a few years ago, I parked my car at the local airport, went inside, and asked at the information-counter if the airport had deposit-boxes where I could leave a car-key and personal papers until I returned. The airport had no such place. I wasn't looking for freebies. I just didn't want to put the car-key in my luggage, or carry it half-way across the globe in my pocket, and risk losing it along the way. [...]

The Influence of the German Mark

I was amazed to see this video. In late 1989 and early 1990, East Germany was still a separate nation. Even the government of West Germany urged the East Germans to remain in the East. The Easterners however replied that, if West Germany did not bring the Deutsch Mark currency to them, they would go to the West and get Deutsch Marks themselves. This impressed me deeply. [...]

Orlando di Lasso and the Music of Royalty

The Belgian composer Orlando di Lasso was born Roland de Lassus in Mons, Belgium, in 1532. Like so many gifted Belgian musicians during that time, Lassus could write his own career-ticket. The Habsburg administrators in the Low Countries decided, if young Lassus had musical gifts, he must go to Italy to learn the trade. So Lassus spent much of his youth in Mantua studying music in the court of Ferdinand of Gonzaga, who had himself spent much of his youth in Spain serving as a page to the future Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Interaction between royals in different empires did happen, but mostly in the realm of art. As a young man, Lassus apprenticed at several churches in Italy. [...]

The Gold Standard

In 1927, an American aviator Charles Lindbergh made history when he flew across the Atlantic Ocean in the “Spirit of St. Louis.” He lifted off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island on May 20 and landed again 33.5 hours later at Le Bourget Aerodrome outside Paris. The flight covered an astounding 3600 miles. [...]

The new Hollywood of the 1970s

During my college years in the early 1970s, everybody was raving about a new film, directed by someone with a funny foreign name, Peter Bogdanovich, called The Last Picture Show, that starred Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd, two unknown actors at that time. The critics hailed it for its realism, understated drama, and its portrayal of people living in a sad little town, Anarene, in semi-arid northern Texas—a town and people with no future. Northern Texas gets a decent amount of rainfall, but director Bogdanovich makes it look as windy and dusty as a desert. He filmed it in black and white, accenting the region's sterility and the colorless life. [...]

Wealth in American Society

Lennon apparently wrote “Baby, You're a Rich Man” about himself. All of his mature music, say the musicologists, is “self-referential.” Lennon asks himself wryly, “How does it feel to be/One of the beautiful people?” By the time he wrote this song, he and his band-mates had topped the charts for several years with their music, had sold millions of records, both in the UK and the US, and become extremely wealthy. [...]

Putin and Merkel

Here in Germany, it seems that former Chancellor Angela Merkel and the people who served under her are coming under criticism for their handling of relations with Vladimir Putin--more so than even Trump has in America. In an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper on Sunday March 13, titled "Zeitenwende," the author Patrick Bernau makes the following statements: "During the General Assembly of the United Nations, four years ago, President Donald Trump warned German leaders that Germany was becoming too dependent on Russian natural gas." [...]

Putin and Schröder

Along with former Chancellor Angela Merkel, former President Trump, and sitting President Biden, former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder comes in for blame for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Could he and Merkel, Trump and Biden have done more for world-peace if they had been more skeptical of Putin? I suppose they could have, but Western nations don't like to stay on a war-footing, or treat other nations as a threat to world-peace, any more than they have to. [...]

The Book Market is Run by Capitalists

As a writer, I have participated in only one book-signing, and have never given a reading of anything I have written (four books and 108 blog posts). From listening to other writers talk about public appearances, I gather the politics of an appearance can get tricky, as readers want to know how you feel about their favorite writers--Rowling, Franzen, Eugenides, and so on. [...]

Who's Complaining

During the tenure of President Ronald Reagan, 1979-1986, the U.S. military invested heavily in new weaponry. Nothing captured the imagination of people like the "Strategic Defense Initiative," or SDI, the so-called "Star Wars" program. It provided for satellites in outer-space, equipped with lasers, to disable the enemy's incoming nuclear missiles. No one had ever done like that before, but the Reagan administration considered it the price we had to pay for security against our enemies, principally the Soviet Union. [...]

Societal Evolution, 17th Century

"Vom Kollektiv zum Individualismus" appeared in the magazine of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper March 13, 2022. Not many people should require a translation, From Collectivism to Individualism. Since the two philosophical poles help to identify the disunity in America, the article should interest us very much--equality in the Democrat de-facto socialist tradition, versus the Republican historical reliance on individual initiative and private wealth. [...]

Newspapers in Germany1: Holy Trendiness

The next several posts concern newspaper articles that I gleaned from my daily take of newspapers while I stayed in Erfurt. Sadly hotels and restaurants do not stock newspapers as often as they used to. The first article appeared in the Sunday edition of Die Welt on December 5. "Heiliger Zeitgeist" plays on the word Heiliger Geist, German for "Holy Spirit." In English, Heiliger Zeitgeist means "Holy Trendiness." The article says that Lutheran Church officials, faced with declining attendance and defections, decided they had to do something to bring in more people. [...]

Newspapers in Germany3: Woody Allen in Annie Hall

This article appeared in the Sunday edition of Die Welt on November 28. It shows Woody Allen on a couch with a psychiatrist complaining about his girlfriend, played by Diane Keaton. This scene is actually filmed split-screen, with Keaton complaining to her psychiatrist about Allen. In Germany, Annie Hall was released under the title Der Stadtneurotiker, or "The Urban Neurotic." The way the film plays out, the neurotic could be either of them, if not both. [...]

Newspapers in Germany4: Cherchez la Femme!

Napoleon busts were all the rage, at one time. Arthur Conan-Doyle penned a Sherlock Holmes story titled "The Six Napoleons." In it, a seemingly crazed young Italian breaks into people's homes and smashes their plaster Napoleon busts on the floor. In the Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Tandem Target," a would-be assassin mistakenly shoots a Napoleon bust, instead than his intended human target. [...]

German Newspapers

Few things motivate me like German newspapers. They are factually informative, cleverly written, and reflect an educated perspective. Each morning in Germany, I wake up as early as I can, in order to get a copy of choice newspapers before they sell out. I cannot think of a better way to spend the morning than to drink tea and read Germany newspapers. Unlike the US, where newspapers dumb down their copy in order to not intimidate or offend low-brow readers, German newspapers rejoice in haute culture and impress me with their knowledge of events and trends in the US, as well as in Germany. They also have a reflective spirit about German history. Over the years, I have collected articles to add to my periodical library—just a crate full of manila envelopes with press clippings. Nothing fancy about it. [...]

The Erfurter Ressource

In May, 2019, the Bauers invited me to a formal dinner at the old Schauspielhaus, Erfurt's dramatic theatre. Since the construction of a new theatre, the Schauspielhaus has fallen into disuse and faces certain demolition. It has turned into a hangout for vandals, and even served police-SWAT teams as a training-ground, causing some damage to this wonderful old art-nouveau building. [...]

New Credo stamps: Jefferson

I collected stamps through most of my childhood. The variety and utility of stamps amazed me. People use postage stamps for mail. Until the middle of the twentieth-century, the Post Office Department printed a "Postage Due" stamp for their use, if a letter or parcel did not have enough stamps on it. In addition to that, the Post Office Department issued "Documentary Stamps," or "Revenue Stamps," affixed to official documents, like contracts, deeds, treaties, hunting licenses, and so on. The variety, design, and importance of stamps did a lot to mature my little mind. [...]

Founding Father Credo: George Washington

George Washington spent much of his life commanding the Continental Army against the British and keeping the fight alive, and then leading the young United States as its civilian President; but the quote attributed to him, selected for the Credo stamp series—"Observe good faith and justice toward all nations."—fails to sum up the man, his beliefs, or gravitas. The quote is too generic, too laid back. Any moralizer could talk about "good faith and justice." We hear stuff like that everyday. I prefer this quote from Washington, from a letter to James Madison: [...]

Founding Father Credo: James Madison

Benjamin Franklin's credo sounds like a generic, laid-back aphorism, spoken from a rocking-chair by someone's retired, church-minister uncle. Numerous academics try to paint Franklin as a sort of hippie-prototype, and he wasn't like that at all. You get a better idea of his personal convictions in Poor Richard's Almanack, published in 1733. [...]

Founding Father Credo: John Adams

When I think of the important persons who helped found our nation, who did the fighting to free the nation from the British, who studied the lessons of history in order to build a hugely successful land of opportunity, and undergird it with first-rate foundational documents, I do not think right away of fFrancis Scott Key. He played an important role aguing cases, including many before the Supreme Court, and functioned as a sort of attorney general in the government of the young nation. [...]

Founding Father Credo: Alexander Hamilton

Abraham Lincoln more or less lucked into the Presidency—or unlucked into it, depending on how you view his career as President. His rugged looks and rural, ax-wielding background lent more to his reputation than it should have. The level of destruction caused by the Civil War suggests that he did not have the right credentials to help the nation avoid the catastrophe—enough education, basic diplomatic or social skills enable him to jaw instead of war. Lincoln was too much a creature of his political party—in debt to the political bosses—rather than the leader of it. [...]

Founding Father Credo: Immanuel Kant

Patrick Henry had his fifteen minutes of fame when he said, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" Many people since his day have made similar statements in support of political or ethnic causes. Military leaders have uttered a variation of his ultimatum: "Victory or death!" The succession of ultimata have eclipsed Patrick Henry's. He is too generic to carry weight in the world of competing causes. [...]

Lawn-chair Larry

During the Summer of 1982, I lived with two other guys who graduated from Furman after I did. We did not keep a TV in the house, and didn't subscribe to any newspapers, so we missed the story about a man named Larry Walters, who tied 40 weather-balloons to a lawn-chair, hung jugs of water from it for ballast, turned himself loose, and sailed into the stratosphere. The lawn-chair didn't even have a seat-belt. [...]

The Skinny on Freedom (It's skinnier than you think.)

Everybody is talking about freedom these days. As a word, "Freedom" is like a store mannequin with a dizzying variety of hats. People use "Freedom" in conjunction with other concepts, to give those other concepts more street-cred--like the Nazi "Freiheit und Brot," the socialist "Freedom and Equality," and the 1960s radical student association, the "Free Speech Movement." The groups don't go into much detail about how freedom connects to anything else they believe, not that they can, really. [...]

Monty Python Argument Clinic

Monty Python, the English comedy team provided viewers during the 1960s and '70s with some of the best TV skits money could buy. [...]

Willy Brandt in Erfurt

On 19 March, 1970, West German Prime Minister Willy Brandt visited Erfurt in Soviet East Germany. Like any politician anywhere, he was surrounded by photographers and other politicians, both Western and Eastern, both local and national. [...]

Mr. Gorbachev! Tear down this wall!

During my first visit to Erfurt in the former East Germany, I struck up a conversation with a waitress in a restaurant. When she learned I was an American, she said, "I don't know the English language. The only sentence I know is 'Mr. Gorbachev! Tear down zeess vall!' [...]

Path to Freedom-Prague Embassy

In the Autumn of 1989, East Germans heard rumors that they could get visas to West Germany through the German embassy in Prague--at that time called "Czechoslovakia," the Soviet-era name for the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Hundreds of East Germans crowded the grounds of the German Embassy in Prague, then thousands. They wanted so desperately to get out of East Germany, they waited in the cold and the mud for the West German government to make up its mind to take them. This video is one of the most moving things I've ever seen. [...]

Beethoven's 9th

On Christmas Night, 1989, Leonard Bernstein led the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, celebrating the collapse of the Berlin Wall, a restoration of unity to the Divided Germanies, as well as a sense of reconciliation between former enemies. [...]

Meditations on Freedom 1

I graduated from college in 1976, and if my reader graduated a few years on either side of 1976, I would like to ask them a basic question: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT IN YOUR LIFETIME? [...]

Meditations on Freedom 2

At Christmas-time, 1989, corporate life in Berlin was still in a euphoric state, even if the logistical problems of Reunification had already reared their ugly heads. Reconstruction engineers from the West had taken a look at conditions in the East and determined that much of the infrastructure was hardly better than scrap. West Germany would have to completely rehabilitate the East. It cost the Westerners a fortune, perhaps three trillion dollars. [...]

The President as Monarch

On 19 July, I posted an article about Becket, a play by French dramatist Jean Anouilh. It concerns a British King Henry II and his boon-companion Thomas of Becket, who later becomes Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry was a typical despotic monarch with a yen for teenaged girls. Becket was his bosom buddy and went along with the monarch's shenanigans; but once Henry nominated him for Archbishop, he changed his tune and warned Henry that he no longer answered to the King but only to the Church. Becket became Henry's arch-enemy! [...]

The Liberal Church Monarch

In my post from 19 July, I wrote about a despot, the British King Henry II, and his predilection for teenaged girls, who called him "my Lord" even as he made love to them. Thomas of Becket tried to keep church law beyond the reach of the despotic king and to shield church personnel from secular authority. In so doing, he inadvertently helped modern church personnel evade civil law when they revealed their predilection for young boys. Hundreds of priests and lay-personnel went to prison for their crimes against juveniles. [...]

Orlando di Lasso and the Music of Royalty

The Belgian composer Orlando di Lasso was born Roland de Lassus in Mons, Belgium, in 1532. Like so many gifted Belgian musicians during that time, Lassus could write his own career-ticket. The Habsburg administrators in the Low Countries decided, if young Lassus had musical gifts, he must go to Italy to learn the trade. So Lassus spent much of his youth in Mantua studying music in the court of Ferdinand of Gonzaga, who had himself spent much of his youth in Spain serving as a page to the future Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Interaction between royals in different empires did happen, but mostly in the realm of art. As a young man, Lassus apprenticed at several churches in Italy. [...]

Soviet Double Agents

Western societies have a significant structural Achilles Heel—all of them: the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, and so on—inasmuch as we value individual initiative, and nurture points-of-view based on the individual conscience. Occasionally, individuals use their outlier initiative to plot against the nation, to overturn it, and restructure it to suit their own views, Through charm and deception, they persuade others to follow them. A freedom-loving society permits this downside to individualism in order to profit from the upside, namely the ability of outliers to rise to the top of their professions and to improve the functions of the society with their creativity and innovative skill. [...]

The Battle of Britain movie from 1969

I watched The Battle of Britain on YouTube recently. It stars most of Britain's best actors from the 1960s, among them Laurence Olivier, Robert Shaw, and Michael Caine. YouTube offers other free movies alongside its cheapie drama and sci-fi flicks: Terminator, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Mask, with Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz, and Fargo, with Frances McDormand and William H. Macy. [...]

The Nazis and Socialism

Since the biggest and most destructive dictatorships of the 20th century used the word "Socialist" in their names, we need to understand what socialism really means. The Soviet nation identified itself formally as the "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics." The Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin caused the deaths of millions of Russians—ruthlessly crushing any dissent to his pathological leadership. After Stalin's death in 1956, Nikita Khrushchev continued Soviet repression when he crushed the Hungarian Revolt in 1956 and errected the Berlin Wall in 1961. [...]

Marxism Does Not Work!

Consider the psychological difference between the action-oriented philosophy of someone like Karl Marx, and the typical, bourgeois, static sense-of-self. Like Popeye the Sailor Man, working-people say, "I yam what I yam, and that's all what I yam." They can't tell you much more about themselves than that. That lack of a personal philosophy leaves a void in their character and makes them more vulnerable to the huckstering of an angry but focused man like Marx. [...]

Socialism and the End of East Germany

My immigrant ancestor from Germany, John Siegling, came to Charleston, South Carolina, in about 1818. Not more than a year after his arrival, he opened a music shop for instruments and supplies. How he—a foreigner—could do that so quickly amazes me. Where did he get his start-up capital? Why not start his career under the tutelage of an established shop-owner first, or find a partner to shoulder the responsibilities? He obviously had an outlier grade of self-confidence to take on all that, and make the business succeed as well as it did. He just had that entrepreneurial energy that immigrants bring to America. [...]

The Role of Wealth

Most of the people who supported Bernie Sanders's election-bid have little sense about the creation and administration of wealth. They have had wealth for so long, they take its existence for granted. But somebody has to create it, an event like a Big Bang. Someone has to cause wealth to happen in a society and maintain its rumbling bigness through the lean times. Most Americans forget that an intentional act caused the Big Bang, or do they doubt it ever happened? As far as they're concerned, maybe greed and racism created the disparity between our nation and other nations. [...]

The Gold Standard

In 1927, an American aviator Charles Lindbergh made history when he flew across the Atlantic Ocean in the “Spirit of St. Louis.” He lifted off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island on May 20 and landed again 33.5 hours later at Le Bourget Aerodrome outside Paris. The flight covered an astounding 3600 miles. [...]

Why Martin Luther is Important for Americans

America's warring sides have been at each others' throats for so long, they have become wedded to the conflict, like supporting an athletic rivalry. Instead, they should concern themselves with the political rivalry, the growing division, and its threat to our national preparedness. When the warring sides tire of the rivalry, they may want to acknowledge the threat that it poses and settle the conflict with a division of the country. [...]

Wikipedia and History-Hiss

I inherited an interest in the Alger Hiss Case from my father. He had come home from Hawaii at the end of World War II, married my mother, and started a family. He did well in business, and life was good. Then in 1948, a complete unknown named Whittaker Chambers came out of the woodwork to accuse a former State Department official, Alger Hiss, of secret Communist Party membership. The Communist Party was a legal political organization and fielded candidates for the presidency of the United States, but government officials could not belong to it. [...]

Steering the Ship of State

Governing a country is like steering a ship. It requires a constitution and a man who knows how to use it to ply the political and diplomatic waters and promote the interests of the nation.. [...]

Suppose They Gave a War?

This “Suppose they gave a war” quote has served as the title of a movie and an anti-war song from the 1960s. It actually began life in a story told by the poet Carl Sandburg, and I am skeptical of its authenticity. Sandburg said he was talking to a little girl about the Civil War, and that she asked him, “Suppose they gave a war, and nobody came?” [...]

Return to Erfurt, Nov-Dec, 2021

I flew to Germany again, just after Thanksgiving. Delta could not fly to Munich, so I flew directly to Frankfurt-Main, believing that simpler would be better. When I visited in late August, I had to fly to Amsterdam, change planes, and fly on to Munich with KLM. [...]

Ballenberger's

Another restaurant that I go to often is Ballenberger's located in the Gotthardstraße, a cobbled cul-de-sac. Like the Güldenen Rade, the owners and staff renovated Ballenberger's during lockdown. Ballenberger's has a warm, intimate charm. The charming waitresses pitched in, which gives the interior its feminine sweetness. [...]

Restaurant Classico

The last place I will talk about is the Restaurant Classico at the Radisson Hotel Blu. Like the Haus zum Güldenen Rade and Ballenberger's, the Classico underwent renovation during Covid. Note the muted color scheme and the musical motifs. The Classico hadn't opened when I visited in August. It only opened after I arrived in November. What a relief! [...]

Newspapers in Germany1: Holy Trendiness

The next several posts concern newspaper articles that I gleaned from my daily take of newspapers while I stayed in Erfurt. Sadly hotels and restaurants do not stock newspapers as often as they used to. The first article appeared in the Sunday edition of Die Welt on December 5. "Heiliger Zeitgeist" plays on the word Heiliger Geist, German for "Holy Spirit." In English, Heiliger Zeitgeist means "Holy Trendiness." The article says that Lutheran Church officials, faced with declining attendance and defections, decided they had to do something to bring in more people. [...]

Newspapers in Germany3: Woody Allen in Annie Hall

This article appeared in the Sunday edition of Die Welt on November 28. It shows Woody Allen on a couch with a psychiatrist complaining about his girlfriend, played by Diane Keaton. This scene is actually filmed split-screen, with Keaton complaining to her psychiatrist about Allen. In Germany, Annie Hall was released under the title Der Stadtneurotiker, or "The Urban Neurotic." The way the film plays out, the neurotic could be either of them, if not both. [...]

Newspapers in Germany4: Cherchez la Femme!

Napoleon busts were all the rage, at one time. Arthur Conan-Doyle penned a Sherlock Holmes story titled "The Six Napoleons." In it, a seemingly crazed young Italian breaks into people's homes and smashes their plaster Napoleon busts on the floor. In the Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Tandem Target," a would-be assassin mistakenly shoots a Napoleon bust, instead than his intended human target. [...]

Palaces in Erfurt

The press-officer for the city of Erfurt took this photo of me at the Fischmarkt during my first visit, in the Summer of 1998, wearing my Springbok rugby jersey. Behind me to the left is the Haus zum Roten Ochsen, one of the most interesting buildings in town. It houses Erfurt's Handwerkskammer, an educational center for artisans—masons, metal-workers, glaziers, and so on. [...]

Johannesstraße 163

During my visit in Nov-Dec, I noticed that someone had finished restoring Johannesstraße 163 and turned it into a mixed-use building: businesses on the ground floor, residences on the upper floors. The sheer massiveness and stateliness of this Renaissance palace caught my eye when I saw it for the first time in 1998. Living in Charleston, SC, has given me an interest in old buildings. [...]

The Regierungstraße

And look at palaces in the Regierungstraße. "Regierung" in German means "government," so one would assume that the departments of Erfurt's local government had their offices there. Like all of Erfurt's other important structures, the buildings in the Regierungstraße had been neglected by the bankrupt Soviet government. [...]

Willy Brandt in Erfurt

On 19 March, 1970, West German Prime Minister Willy Brandt visited Erfurt in Soviet East Germany. Like any politician anywhere, he was surrounded by photographers and other politicians, both Western and Eastern, both local and national. [...]

Mr. Gorbachev! Tear down this wall!

During my first visit to Erfurt in the former East Germany, I struck up a conversation with a waitress in a restaurant. When she learned I was an American, she said, "I don't know the English language. The only sentence I know is 'Mr. Gorbachev! Tear down zeess vall!' [...]

Path to Freedom-Prague Embassy

In the Autumn of 1989, East Germans heard rumors that they could get visas to West Germany through the German embassy in Prague--at that time called "Czechoslovakia," the Soviet-era name for the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Hundreds of East Germans crowded the grounds of the German Embassy in Prague, then thousands. They wanted so desperately to get out of East Germany, they waited in the cold and the mud for the West German government to make up its mind to take them. This video is one of the most moving things I've ever seen. [...]

Beethoven's 9th

On Christmas Night, 1989, Leonard Bernstein led the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, celebrating the collapse of the Berlin Wall, a restoration of unity to the Divided Germanies, as well as a sense of reconciliation between former enemies. [...]

The Influence of the German Mark

I was amazed to see this video. In late 1989 and early 1990, East Germany was still a separate nation. Even the government of West Germany urged the East Germans to remain in the East. The Easterners however replied that, if West Germany did not bring the Deutsch Mark currency to them, they would go to the West and get Deutsch Marks themselves. This impressed me deeply. [...]

Meditations on Freedom 1

I graduated from college in 1976, and if my reader graduated a few years on either side of 1976, I would like to ask them a basic question: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT IN YOUR LIFETIME? [...]

Meditations on Freedom 2

At Christmas-time, 1989, corporate life in Berlin was still in a euphoric state, even if the logistical problems of Reunification had already reared their ugly heads. Reconstruction engineers from the West had taken a look at conditions in the East and determined that much of the infrastructure was hardly better than scrap. West Germany would have to completely rehabilitate the East. It cost the Westerners a fortune, perhaps three trillion dollars. [...]

Return to Erfurt

Starting on 26 August, I had my first visit to Germany in two years. I had kept my fingers crossed until I actually boarded the plane. It took off from the airport, and I was on my way. With America's Covid cases skyrocketing again, I had wondered whether I would get to go, at all. I also had doubts about the wisdom of such a trip, but it went off without a hitch. I did everything the airline and the German government wanted me to do, as regards the Covid epidemic—vaccinations, a molecular Covid test, and enough masks to last me a year. [...]

German Newspapers

Few things motivate me like German newspapers. They are factually informative, cleverly written, and reflect an educated perspective. Each morning in Germany, I wake up as early as I can, in order to get a copy of choice newspapers before they sell out. I cannot think of a better way to spend the morning than to drink tea and read Germany newspapers. Unlike the US, where newspapers dumb down their copy in order to not intimidate or offend low-brow readers, German newspapers rejoice in haute culture and impress me with their knowledge of events and trends in the US, as well as in Germany. They also have a reflective spirit about German history. Over the years, I have collected articles to add to my periodical library—just a crate full of manila envelopes with press clippings. Nothing fancy about it. [...]

Meals in Erfurt

During the Summer of 2015, I spent an evening eating supper in my hotel room in Erfurt, Germany, so that I could watch the Tour de France, and see the Briton Chris Froome successfully defend his Tour de France title. He makes a curious figure on a bike, pale, skinny arms and legs, and his head moving like a bobble-headed doll. Froome has said that, during a race, he does not notice it. [...]

Dr, Antje Bauer

Dr. Antje Bauer, director of the Stadtarchiv (City Archive) in Erfurt, Germany, looks over the pile of projects that she oversees. The challenge of sorting them out does not seem to faze her. As director, she wears many hats—event-organizer, publicist, publisher, cultural custodian, historian, librarian, lecturer, and of course as a writer. My reader can detect the variety of challenges in the desk-clutter. In the next photo, she delivers a lecture in a reception room at the Erfurter Rathaus—in English, the City Hall. [...]

The Erfurter Ressource

In May, 2019, the Bauers invited me to a formal dinner at the old Schauspielhaus, Erfurt's dramatic theatre. Since the construction of a new theatre, the Schauspielhaus has fallen into disuse and faces certain demolition. It has turned into a hangout for vandals, and even served police-SWAT teams as a training-ground, causing some damage to this wonderful old art-nouveau building. [...]

The Guinness Book of Poisonous Quotes

I received The Guinness Book of Poisonous Quotes as a gift, some years ago. As an educated man and a writer, I recognize most of the people who provide the quotes, as well as the targets of their insults, and am surprised at the viciousness of feeling. [...]

Generation Maybe quotes (Translated from German by me)

Hardly a day goes by without media outlets mentioning inequality and racism in America, Dogs in illegal compounds are chained-up and suffer beatings and starvation. Tropical settlers burn more of the rain forest every day, and what are the Whites going to do about it? [...]


Blog

June 27, 2022

The Erfurt Synagogue Treasure

I am in Erfurt, Germany, again, my home-away-from-home. My Great-great-grandfather grew up here before going abroad about 1810, and finally settling in Charleston, South Carolina in about 1818. My mother found a bunch of his old family letters in an office-secretary, written by his father and his siblings still in Germany between 1812 and 1857. Among other things, I am impressed by Erfurt's long and complex history. During my very first visit in 1998, for instance, I read that a construction crew was clearing a site to prepare it for new buildings, and discovered a hoard of ancient artifacts hiding in the rubble.


June 26, 2022

The American Grumblers

Over the last twenty or so years, the level of resentment in American society has risen to a dangerous, or at least dysfunctional level, leading to destabilization in the balance of world power. When I read about the Russian invasion of Ukraine or Chinese aggression toward Taiwan, I see it as the fruit of American disunity.


June 24, 2022

Many Independent Centers of Power

As an American citizen, I prefer a government that permits and enables a freedom-loving, constitutionally-based society. I prefer it for one reason only--because it works better than anything else. It releases the energy, enthusiasm, and effort of thousands of people to build businesses and commercial networks to create wealth. A freedom-loving society releases man's potential.


Lloyd Bowers

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