The Goebbels Diaries

I learned about the Goebbels Diaries ("Tagebücher" in German) from a series of articles in the German news-magazine Der Spiegel. Spiegel must have received a heads-up about the publication of the diaries in book-format because the books (4 volumes) did not come out until 1992. The Spiegel articles, on the other hand, ran from 30 August until 21 September 1987.

The Resurgence of Marxism

Not a day goes by, that I don't check my Facebook page and find posts from FB bloggers extolling the virtues of Karl Marx and posting photos of him, Lenin, or the image of the red Hammer and Sickle, that defines the Communist Party to this day. The FB bloggers have appropriate handles like "Acid Communism" and "Democratic Socialism Now!"

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.

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.

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.

Read the File!

In 1980, PBS, the Public Broadcasting System broadcast the seven-part television-drama Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, based on the novel of the same name by the late John le Carré, and starring an all-British cast led by the late, great Alec Guinness and co-starring some of Britain's greatest acting talents of the day, like Ian Richardson, Michael Aldridge, and Ian Bannen.

America's Political Divide

Last year, on a whim, I googled the words "Divide the country." Google only gave me reasons for not dividing the country, most of them came from magazines like Time and Newsweek, who want no division. Many of America's citizens may want division; but it does not appear that the Google research-machine wants it."Think of the logistical problems it would cause," the magazine articles tell the reader.

Vaclav Klaus and Nationhood

Hardly any Americans remember this remarkable man, but he took over the leadership of the old, post-Soviet Czechoslovakia, in order to push it toward a Western-style democracy with a modern market-economy; but released from its Soviet yoke, the Czech-Slovak nationalistic rivalry that had existed before the World Wars came alive again and created political instability and public anxiety. The rivalries threatened the future of the nation and its ability to grow and prosper.

Hoffer and Conservatives

I had a curious feeling when I started studying the history of political philosophies and economic models. Most intelligent or engaged Americans identify themselves as "Liberal" or "Conservative", or politically Left and Right. But "Liberal" in the late-19th century referred to the burgeoning new class of wealthy entrepreneurs, who benefited from the capitalization of industry. Liberal politics defined the freedom of a citizen to start any business he wanted, without government permission. He only had to purchase a business-license.

Hoffer and Selfhood

I had a relationship with a woman a long time ago that sticks in my mind, as a determinant for a lot of my thinking about things. She picked quarrels with me out of thin air, on the flimsiest pretexts. She never trusted me, and I suggested several times that we break up. Each time I said it, she hit the roof with indignation, No matter what I did, she found fault with me—damned if I did, damned if I didn't!

The Goebbels Diaries

I learned about the Goebbels Diaries ("Tagebücher" in German) from a series of articles in the German news-magazine Der Spiegel. Spiegel must have received a heads-up about the publication of the diaries in book-format because the books (4 volumes) did not come out until 1992. The Spiegel articles, on the other hand, ran from 30 August until 21 September 1987.

The Resurgence of Marxism

Not a day goes by, that I don't check my Facebook page and find posts from FB bloggers extolling the virtues of Karl Marx and posting photos of him, Lenin, or the image of the red Hammer and Sickle, that defines the Communist Party to this day. The FB bloggers have appropriate handles like "Acid Communism" and "Democratic Socialism Now!"

Read the File!

In 1980, PBS, the Public Broadcasting System broadcast the seven-part television-drama Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, based on the novel of the same name by the late John le Carré, and starring an all-British cast led by the late, great Alec Guinness and co-starring some of Britain's greatest acting talents of the day, like Ian Richardson, Michael Aldridge, and Ian Bannen.

America's Political Divide

Last year, on a whim, I googled the words "Divide the country." Google only gave me reasons for not dividing the country, most of them came from magazines like Time and Newsweek, who want no division. Many of America's citizens may want division; but it does not appear that the Google research-machine wants it."Think of the logistical problems it would cause," the magazine articles tell the reader.

Vaclav Klaus and Nationhood

Hardly any Americans remember this remarkable man, but he took over the leadership of the old, post-Soviet Czechoslovakia, in order to push it toward a Western-style democracy with a modern market-economy; but released from its Soviet yoke, the Czech-Slovak nationalistic rivalry that had existed before the World Wars came alive again and created political instability and public anxiety. The rivalries threatened the future of the nation and its ability to grow and prosper.

Hoffer and Conservatives

I had a curious feeling when I started studying the history of political philosophies and economic models. Most intelligent or engaged Americans identify themselves as "Liberal" or "Conservative", or politically Left and Right. But "Liberal" in the late-19th century referred to the burgeoning new class of wealthy entrepreneurs, who benefited from the capitalization of industry. Liberal politics defined the freedom of a citizen to start any business he wanted, without government permission. He only had to purchase a business-license.

Hoffer and Selfhood

I had a relationship with a woman a long time ago that sticks in my mind, as a determinant for a lot of my thinking about things. She picked quarrels with me out of thin air, on the flimsiest pretexts. She never trusted me, and I suggested several times that we break up. Each time I said it, she hit the roof with indignation, No matter what I did, she found fault with me—damned if I did, damned if I didn't!

Hoffer and Minorities

In the old days, I used to stay at budget hotels on Interstate 26, between Greenville and Charleston, in South Carolina, and on Interstate 85, between Greenville and Columbus, Georgia. Nearly all of them were run by Asians. Immigrants. They also ran nearly all of the convenience stores that lined the interstates. In Greenville, immigrants ran many of the fast-food restaurants, tailoring shops, and liquor stores—many of them from Greece or Lebanon.

Eric Hoffer and the Dynamics of Hatred

In True Believer, Eric Hoffer studies the components of a mass-movement, in order to explain its origins, instigators, and intentions, and its role in rebellions and revolutions. True Believer deserves renewed attention in contemporary America, in light of the renewed risk of revolution shaking the earth under our feet, as we speak.

Eric Hoffer on the American Political Crisis

The longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer published his landmark book True Believer in 1951. Hoffer described it as his Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (in an under-title). For me, True Believer does more than that. He profiles the players in a political crisis, analyzes their intentions, and studies their motives. A reader has to understand his perspective on this subject—the atrocities of the Third Reich and the Soviet Union.

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.

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.

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.

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: 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: 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: 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:

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.

The Dual Face of Facebook

In the last couple of years, I have run into old friends whom I haven't seen in a while. Invariably, I tell them we could keep in touch better if they open a page on Facebook. So far, not a single one has followed my suggestion. They said they opened a page on Facebook when it first came out, but lost interest in it, over time, and closed it.

The Beatles and Drugs

The Beatles, that rock n' roll landmark-band that disbanded almost 54 years ago, keeps popping up in the news for various reasons, not least because their music continues to draw people, but also for the charm and sex-appeal they exuded--four working-class boys who had to teach themselves everything.

Vote with your Feet!

Politics in America has developed a moralistic, punitive fervor, loudly proclaimed by bloggers on Facebook and other places. Many politicians see this fervor as their ticket up the career-ladder, getting a foothold by finding an issue to champion, or by coaxing a constituency to regard them as their champion. They call on people to protest racism, sexism, and homophobia, who do a lot of marching and shaking angry fists. The politicians never miss a chance at more publicity.

America Needs a Divorce! What's Holding it up?

America is like a pair of stranded sailors who have escaped a sinking ship by means of a life-raft. They have only one bottle of water between them and a sandwich. A single person can survive on this, but if two hungry sailors have to share it, both will perish.

Feminists with Clout: Elke Büdenbender

I saw this article in Die Welt am Sonntag, from 10th March of this year. Most Germans know Elke Büdenbender because she is married to the Bundespräsident of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeyer. She also studied law at the Justus-LIebig University of Siegen, Germany. In her practice, Büdenbender concentrates on "Sozialrecht," the effort to create a more egalitarian German society--not surprising since both Büdenbender and Steinmeyer are Socialists.

The Art of Changing Currencies IV

This article appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, 17th March. Its title, "Help the Nation!", took me by surprise. The under-title reads: "Germany's economy is not moving forward enough, and the politicians can't fix it by themselves. Every German must ask himself if he has an idea about what to do."

The Art of Changing Currencies-3: The History Guy

I stumbled onto The History Guy (THG) last year and enjoy his videos on YouTube very much. THG speaks animatedly about events in history that interest him, stares with little visible effort into the camera, as if trying to convey to the viewer how interesting history really is, and he does not appear to use a teleprompter. If he did, the teleprompter would surely reflect off his huge glasses.

The Art of Changing Currencies-2

The leitmotif for nearly everything that I write nowadays grows out of a conviction that the United States should divide into two or three new countries that exist independently of each other. The stress, paranoia, and stasis that result from trying to govern three such restive, oppositional constituencies shows up in places like social-media outlets. They suggest that there is not enough compromise in the World to satisfy the combatants. Only a division into independent nations will resolve the core issues.

The Art of Changing Currencies

I saw this article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper in November of last year. The title of it, "Geht es auch ohne Notenbank?" translates roughly, "Can you govern a country with no central bank?" Observers monitoring conditions in the South American nation, Argentina, ask themselves this question. Argentina's leaders not only want to restructure the nation's Central Bank, they want to discontinue the traditional Peso in favor of the U.S. Dollar.

The Alger Hiss Case

The Alger Hiss Case of the late-1940s is simply the most interesting historical event that I have ever read about. The more deeply I have studied it, the more its complex intrigues captivate me. As an experience in American jurisprudence, it ranks as a defining case, complete with all the legal bells and whistles, fascinating maneuvers and parries. Perjury: the Hiss-Chambers Case really needs a glossary to help readers comprehend the many legal terms.

Participatory Democracy

I first heard the term "Participatory Democracy" when I took an entry-level political science course in college. Our left-wing professor considered it the going thing in politics. Wikipedia defines it as "any process that directly engages the public in policy-making and gives consideration to its input."

Why Divisions Work

At the Potsdam Conference in the last months of World War II, Britain, America, and the Soviet Union agreed to a division of Germany. The three nations termed the partitioning of Germany as "Administrative Areas". The U.S. administered three provinces, Bavaria, Württemberg, and Hessen in the south, and two Freistädte, Bremen and Bremerhaven in the northwest. Great Britain also administered three provinces, Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Nordrhein-Westfalen (Rhineland-westphalia), and Schleswig-Holstein, and France took the rest, Baden, Saarland, and Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland Palatinate). Their goal was the eventual reunification of Germany.

Joan Didion and Bishop James Albert Pike

In her book The White Album, Joan Didion includes a chapter on the former Bishop James A. Pike, who proposed fairly radical changes to the operations of the Episcopal Church, while battling the conservative hierarchy, who wanted to brand him a heretic, then left the Episcopal Church in 1968, before perishing in the Judean wilderness of Israel the next year, while exploring it with his third wife Jane Kennedy.

The Women's Movement

Joan Didion includes a chapter in her book The White Album, titled "The Women's Movement." Terms like "movement", in the human context, make me nervous. My father gave me my first copy of Eric Hoffer's True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements; so I don't like most movements. John le Carré's master spy-hunter George Smiley speaks his mind in the novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, that "a committee is an animal with four back-legs." I think that the description applies just as easily to big organizations. The people who join them are looking for a place to park a depleted ego.

Joan Didion and the Student Revolts

In the annals of student revolts in post-World War II Western societies, 1968 stands out as a sort of watershed year. Student groups in the U.S., in France, Germany, and other nations took to the street in staged strikes or occupations that sometimes lasted for months. They led to a siege-mentality at the affected colleges. One revolt occured at San Francisco State College and lasted from November, 1968, until March, 1969.

Joan Didon: The White Album

This post about Joan Didon reached me, courtesy of a blogger who regularly sends me stuff that he finds interesting. The photograph from 1967 shows Didion at the Golden Gate Park's "Panhandle".

Der Backfisch

After I graduated from college in 1976, I went to work for my father. It was a trial by fire from the start—from sequestered, under-developed college boy to my first real job—thrust out into the real world. I had a rough transition from the old, high-falutin' academic environment to the pedestrian world of a Southern town. A few days before Christmas, I attended a performance of Messiah at a local church. My sister sang alto in the choir, and her husband sang bass.

A Brief History of Suicide Literature

To recap, The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides deals with the deaths of five sisters in a family. The novel does not happen in real time—no linear plot nor enduring scenes. All the boys who grew up with the Lisbon sisters remember them into middle-age and mourn their loss, but they filter their mourning through sexual frustrations and a paraphilic kinkiness that still bothers me—voyeuristic and unwholesome. Eugenides is every Feminist's Sigmund Freud.

My Reservations about the Virgin Suicides

After the murder of little six-year-old JonBenét Ramsey in 1996, TV news and magazines worked the story to death. They shamelessly ran video-footage of her, dressed in her beauty-pageant finery, giving her a maturity and sexuality that worried me. Her mother Patsy basically exploited the little girl for all she was worth.

Comments on The Virgin Suicides

This article, titled "Die Selbstmord-Schwestern und ich" (The Virgin Suicides and Me), written by the novel's author, Jeffrey Eugenides, appeared in the German newspaper Die Welt during my visit to Germany, last December. 2023 marked the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Virgin Suicides, to great fanfare and a subsequent movie by that name.

What to do about the American Empire

The term "American Empire" has appeared in many left-liberal publications to describe the political structure and the imperialist intentions of the United States. They don't say much good about the U.S. Just out of curiosity, I decided to google "American Empire" to get the names of a few of the publications:

The Enigmatic Noel Field

Years ago, when I lived in Greenville, South Carolina, I patronized the main library at the corner of North Academy and College Street. The same building now houses the Children's Museum of the Upstate. As I walked up the paved path over the front lawn to the entrance, an old man approached me and offered to tell me about the Bahá'i Faith. I said no politely and continued on. When I looked behind me, I saw that he had already greeted the next person, fifteen feet behind me, with the same spiel. I encountered him perhaps a half-dozen times at this location.

A German Perspective of the White Malaise

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?

Making College a Mission-Possible

During college, we listened to Cheech and Chong's hilarious skit about "Dave" and "Man" doing a drug-deal late at night. Dave knocks on Man's door, and says, "Hey, Man, I got the stuff, let me in." From inside, Man calls out, "Who is it?" Dave repeats, "Man, it's Dave. Let me in. I got the stuff." After a long pause, Man replies, "Dave's not here." Dave yells to him, "Man, I'm Dave! Let me in!" "Who?" "It's Dave, Man! Let me in!" "Dave's not here."

Facebook and the Nazis

Seeing so many posts on Facebook condemning the wealthy in the U.S., I decided to compare that to Nazi propaganda condemning the wealthy in Germany. They follow similar lines, like a loathing for Capitalism and a demonization of the wealthy.

Politicians on their Best Behavior

George C. Wallace grew up in rural Clio, Alabama, in 1919. He realized early that he wanted a career in politics and moved gradually up the political chain of command until 1962, when he became governor of Alabama. He ran as a Democrat, or as a "Dixiecrat." Other prominent Dixiecrats included Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, Senator John Stennis of Mississippi, and Senator Herman Talmadge of Georgia. They practiced segregationist policies, a law-and-order administration, and a strong military. In 1968, Wallace decided to run for President and started with the Democratic primary. Unfortunately, a would-be assassin Arthur Bremer gunned him down. Bremer's gunshots ended Wallace's presidential bid and crippled him for life. He never fully recovered from the shooting.

Money at Work

First of all, smart, wealthy people do not hoard money. They put it to work by investing it. In fact, new business-owners commonly run into a problem when they neglect cash-flow. As soon as they make some money, they want to plow it back into the business; but when they need the money to cover a short-fall, they cannot access it.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk is one of the modern marvels of the Western World. His firm SpaceX runs about half of all satellites orbitting the Earth. His firm Tesla has sold over a million electric vehicles—50% more than its closest rival. His Boring Company builds tunnels that route auto-traffic under urban areas like Las Vegas.

How Well-Off is the U.S.? Some Facebook Opinions

I signed up with Facebook during the Lockdown of 2020, at first to create some publicity for my most recent book, Divide the Country!. Then I realized that I could keep up with old friends whom I will probably never see again, but still care about. Then I realized that Facebook also works as a sort of media-aggregate. Facebook-members around the globe publish personal accounts of events in their locales. They also upload videos and photographs; so why bother with TV when Facebook has it all?

Brahms and Beethoven

I remember when I first became aware of music playing in my head during the Summer of 1974, when I attended Harvard Summer School—jogging with some guys along the bank of the Charles River. I kept hearing Santana's "Soul Sacrifice,"—the Woodstock version—keeping time with my strides.

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.

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. . .

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.

Man! What a Spread!

Years ago, a friend from college told me his home had had a fire. Hot coals tumbled out of the fire-place and set the rug on fire. Before anyone noticed it, two stuffed chairs caught fire, too, and they had a time putting it out. Soot from the fire, rather than the fire itself, caused most of the damage. The coals from the fire also burned holes in the wooden floor. I saw the aftermath and realized that his family had had a close call. My friend said his family ran around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to figure out what to do.

From the Old Economy to the New Economy

I have an old friend in Greenville named Bill Gautsch. I speak German and recognized "Gautsch" as a German name. I also know that many Germans, and by extension, Americans of German descent, take their names from the professions that their ancestors practiced. A Gautscher in Medieval times participated in the manufacture of paper. John F. Goucher, founder of Goucher College in Maryland, descended from a German immigrant who gave his name to the immigration officer, and the officer spelled it phonetically on the immigration form.

America and Brexit

Great Britain's withdrawal from the European Union--known widely as "Brexit'--occured not quite four years ago, 31st January 2020--beating the onset of Britain's Covid Lockdown by only a month and a half. Among other things, the Lockdown delayed Britain's effort to disentangle its association with the EU, and allowed the lingering protests over the Brexit decision to create a problematic aftermath.

Barbour Clothing in Germany

During a Fall visit to Germany, perhaps ten years ago--and before I started carrying a lap-top and cell-phone, with which to keep myself informed--the weather suddenly turned cold, and I realized I needed warm clothes right away. I bought two sweaters, a coat, and a hat. Today, ten years later, I still have them. Of the four articles, I receive the most compliments for the hat, a so-called "cabby-cap."

How to Increase the Entrepreneurism of Women

This article appeared in the Sunday edition of Die Welt on 26 November, in a special section titled "Better Future Conference." The article bears the title "Wachsen aus eigener Kraft," which translated into English means "Growth Through our own Efforts." The Conference's promoters wanted to discuss the ways and means to involve more women in business start-ups and ownership.

The Course of Human Events

National Public Radio used to do its listeners a signal favor on 4th July. During the afternoon news program "All Things Considered," the staff would read aloud the Declaration of Independence, from beginning to end. It unsettled me to listen to it. Although the Declaration stands as one of the nation's defining documents, I realized I knew little about it--only that Thomas Jefferson wrote it, and the Founding Fathers co-signed it on July 4th.

Democracy: a Terrible Form of Government

The 1965 TV show Slattery's People ,starring Richard Crenna, always opened with a voice-over: "Democracy is a very bad form of government. . . . All of the others are so much worse." Crenna played a local California politician struggling with the human and structural problems of guiding society from a state legislature. Slattery's People won praise for its realism, but it lost out in the rating's sweepstakes and disappeared forever after just a season and a half.

Meet my New Friend/Lover

Consternation fills my heart every time I see a White man or woman pose with an animal--not with a lover, a spouse, or children. Humans should form deep attachments with other humans. You don't have to make a rule about it. Communication, mutual attraction--all those things work better with fellow humans, not with dumb animals; so we should gravitate naturally toward the humans. Animals can substitute only up to a point. That they have anyway suggests some kind of social dysfunction that has set in.

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?

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.

Re-examining 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.

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 Problems of Deception Part 1

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.

The Problems of Deception Part 2

The history of contemporary cross-dressing must start with Bruce Jenner, who won the gold medal in the Decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics. Jenner became a household name in those days and joined other champion athletes of that era, like Mohammad Ali, Chris Evert Lloyd, and gymnist Mary Lou Retton, on the boxes of Wheaties breakfast-cereal.

The Problems of Deception Part 3

Some time ago, a woman-friend who worked in a nearby office-building told me that, the day before, she had taken a break from work and gone to the ladies' room on her floor. As she sat in her stall, a tall person entered the stall next to hers, wearing huge red high heels--that pointed toward the stall, rather than away from it. She was married and knew it had to be a guy. She asked around and learned that the cross-dresser wasn't even on the right floor. He wanted some government department to pay for his sex-change operation.

Aesop's Fables

Of course, I have heard about Aesop's Fables all my life, without knowing much about them. At the beginning of the new millenium, that changed. I read about a construction crew in my great-great-grandfather's hometown in Germany, Erfurt, that accidently dug up a treasure-trove from 1300 a.D. The construction workers turned it over to archeologists in Erfurt.

Office-Holders

The political journalist Ronald Brownstein has worked for the Los Angeles Times, CNN, and the Atlantic magazine. In his career, he has covered a number of beats: the White House, the national scene, and political strategic planning. He published a well-received book The Second Civil War in 2007.

Julian Assange: Politics in the Nursery

Julian Assange has attracted thousands of disaffected American well-wishers, who see his quest for truth and transparency as the antithesis to overly secretive American leadership. But the criticisms run deeper than simply a need for transparency. The disaffected Americans and Britons despise the everyday intentions and functions of their nations.

The Motives of Julian Assange

Wikipedia's 32-page article on Julian Assange reports that he started his computer-hacking career at age 16, using the handle "Mendax". In 1991, cyber-security at Nortel, a tele-communications firm headquartered in Canada, caught up with Assange. The Australian Federal Police arrested him and charged him with 31 counts on hacking and related crimes. He had to pay a fine and a penalty, but was not jailed because of "his disrupted childhood."

America's Foreign Relations

Maybe slowly but surely, Republicans are getting their brains around the limits of pluralism and the tolerance/diversity fraud. What the Democrats want in the way of a government should not interest Republicans, although we do suspect that whatever Republicans don't want, the Democrats do want. They define themselves principally by opposing us.

The Only Trillionaire

Scanning my Facebook page on any given day, I can't miss how much left-wing Democrats and Socialists complain about billionaire business-people. Citing their power and influence, they treat the wealthy as hardly less than enemies of the people, stunting the poor and enslaving the workers. Conservative-Republicans, on the other hand, wish that more entrepreneurs could achieve great wealth and add a thousand more billionaires!

Who is Anand Giridharadas?

I first came across Anand's name in an issue of Time magazine that featured his article on elitism as its cover-story. Once you see Anand, you can hardly miss his dark, hardened, resentful features, nor his salt-and-pepper pompadour. He is an American citizen with Indian parents. Wikipedia reported in its article on him that his visits to India gave him a new perspective about life, but he does not write about India's many problems. He saves all his hostility for this country, its wealthy, and the captitalist system.

The Decision-time Grows Nearer.

Let us take stock of some recent stories from the mainstream media, reported by the on-line news-outlet, The Hill, which keeps track of all the networks. On October 6th, The Hill reported that Greg Gutfeld, a Fox News reporter, stated on his show that the United States needs a civil war in order to bring peace. Not surprisingly, other broadcasters expressed consternation over Gutfeld's wanting to incite violence, at such a time.

De Tocqueville on Socialism

I have never thought of Socialism as anything but a swindle. Its pedlars promise a utopia on earth—fueled by the equality of all citizens—an end to economic oppression, a higher standard of living, and an era of good feeling, unlike any other. But study the details closely, and you wonder why in the hell anyone would want to live in such a place? Can humans make a living in the clouds? Can the clouds support their weight? Eastern Europe is still cleaning up the rubble from Socialism's last flirt with the clouds.

Alexis de Tocqueville

I find Alexis de Tocqueville's name mentioned by a variety of Facebook bloggers, from the political Left as often as from the Right. De Tocqueville appeals to bloggers for the same reason that George Orwell does. Both have a reputation as maverick thinkers. The Wikipedia article on de Tocqueville states that "the complex and restless nature of his liberalism has led to contrasting interpretations and admirers across the political spectrum."

A Special Teacher

I remember my childhood pretty well—a smug, indolent kid who spent long Summer days in front of a TV, munching on Butterfingers and Snickers bars, with few big ideas about anything. As time went on, wild hormones pushed me forward, more or less against my will. But hormones can only go so far in maturing a person. Something else has to defeat the child's passive-aggression and spur him to want something more.

A Nation of Shopkeepers

After college, I started working. I lived fairly quietly for 18 months, worked hard, started a savings- account, and learned German in the evening from an old Austrian widow. I already knew I wanted to go to Europe, and I intended to stay there for a while. After 18 months, I felt I had saved enough and quit work. I flew to Frankfurt-Main Airport in Germany aboard a military charter and stayed with relatives in the military who lived near there.

The Horrible Bret Easton Ellis

I found this article in the Sunday edition of Die Welt during my trip to Germany. The figure in the photo, Bret Easton Ellis, has published a number of celebrated novels and other works, but he is hardly your typical writer. In the photo, Ellis stares at the camera--and basically at the wider public--with controlled disdain. For the potential reader who sees it, the malevolent hauteur in his expression could not give his novels a better introduction. Just the subject matter and the presentation give me the creeps, so I have never tried to read one, nor have I seen any of the half-dozen or so movies derived from them.

More Diversity!

This article appeared in the August 17th issue of Die Zeit newspaper, written by Hannah Schmidt, a free-lance music critic. In English, the title of her article means, "More diversity! More people of color! Less ignorance!" She addresses her concern about racism and discrimination at one of Germany's notable music competitions. At the end of the first paragraph, she asks the question, "Who makes the decisions about how and why a particular performer wins a prize, and does this system keep up with the changing times?"

Participatory Democracy

During college, I took the introductory political science course from an instructor whose specialization was urban planning. During one class-session, he tried to explain to us the concept of "participatory democracy." I am sure I yawned a lot during his class, as I did during much of my college education, because I had so little sense of career-orientation. The instructor, as urban planner, considered participatory democracy a good concept, as the means to expedite solutions to urban problems. I consulted the Wikipedia article on "Participatory Democracy," which is also mostly favorable.

Battered Republican Syndrome

Human-kind's various arenas reveal a lot about us, how we agree and disagree, how we respond to crises, or don't respond, how we provide solutions to problems, or don't provide them, and finally whether we fight cleanly or ruthlessly to the bitter end. History suggests that human-kind responds slowly to crises, if at all, or procrastinates, then overreacts. We don't like to disturb our routine, no matter the circumstances. We employ palliatives that allow us to remain in denial, that's about all.

Marcus Garvey's Challenge

"Now is the chance for every Negro," Garvey writes, "toward a commercial, industrial standard that will make us comparable with the successful businessmen of other races. . . . All that Africa needs is proper education." At another point in his writings, he states, "If the Negro is inferior, why circumvent him? Why suppress his talent and initiative? Why rob him of his independent gifts?"

So, what is this Booshwahzee?

Americans have heard this term "Bourgeois" all their lives. We look at it as a derogatory description of the smug, complacent middle-class, invented by Karl Marx. Anyone who has ever flirted with Marx's nutty national concepts of government ownership of the means of production knows the term and has parroted Marx's contempt for the bourgeois-class and its wealth-oriented value-system.

Over-control

Former FBI-profiler John Douglas published his autobiography Mindhunter in 1995. It is irreverent as hell, so I knew I'd love it. He describes himself as a "blue-flamer," anxious to please his superiors. He also relates a few hard-edged college escapades that landed him in jail. He flouted authority during college, as often as he enforced it in his professional life. When his fiancee asked him to meet the priest scheduled to marry them, Douglas started running his mouth about meeting her in a topless lounge, where she danced with tassels over her nipples. When one of her tassels flew off, he happened to catch it and returned it to her.

Has the Republican Party become the Steer Party

In his novel The Sun Also Rises, the writer Ernest Hemingway relates how Jake Barnes and Bill Gorton take a train to Pamplona, Spain, to watch a bull-fight. During the trip, Jake explains how workers load the bulls into a truck to take them to the bull-ring. The bulls don't like the workers messing with them and enter the truck ready to butt heads with anyone or anything.

Things Kids Learn

Years ago, my parents put on a supper-party for close friends. Among them was an unmarried man, whom my father had known most of his life. He drank himself into oblivion and was obviously too drunk to drive himself home. Mother mentioned this to another guest who offered to take the drunk home as a passenger in his own car. His wife followed them and picked him up in the drunk man's driveway, after he had accompanied the drunk inside.

Walking in Step

A blogger in London recorded this film-footage on his cell-phone for his Facebook page. It shows a real crowd of tourists crossing the Thames River over the Millenium Foot-bridge on its first day of operation. If you cross the foot-bridge from south to north, St. Paul'sCathedral will loom largely in the foreground. If you cross from north to south, you will see a replica of the old Globe Theatre in Stratford upon Avon, where William Shakespeare staged his plays.

Marxist Celebrities

I have always voted Republican and have no use for Marxism, Soviet Socialism, or anything of that ilk. In a free-society, you can work as hard as you want and reap all the financial rewards, as long as you do it legally. With your earnings, you can also do anything you want, such as starting your own business. You can employ other people. You can look for outside capital and incorporate. It happens everyday in a free society; so wealth happens.

The Masks We Wear

Over the years, I have watched The Mask, starring Jim Carrey, a dozen times, since it appeared in cinemas in 1994. In the beginning, I just laughed myself sick watching Carrey interact with his dog Milo. The scenes of him going through changes in personality and intention, when he put the mask on, fascinated me. He had to try to persuade a psychiatrist that the transformation was real, but the psychiatrist was buying it.

Why Are They so Angry?

Parents have to tolerate the actions of children, when they whine about being denied something, or when they browbeat us: "How can you be so cruel to me!" The arguments turn into tantrums as they try to gain power against us. They fixate on getting more stuff, fighting off our attempts to distract them: "Cookies, Mommy!" "Allowance, Daddy!" day after day.

Erfurt and the History of Capitalism

In 1993, my mother found a collection of old family letters in a shoe-box. She had studied German in school and recognized the peculiar "Gothic" script in most of the letters. She did not, however, speak German herself, so she handed them to me and asked me to translate them. I could not read the Gothic script at first, so I had to ask for help from German friends, and I was still working, so I had to steal time from work to translate the letters. As I read about my German ancestors, I knew I wanted to see Erfurt.

Marxist Bots and Salon Bolshies

I have seen so much revived interest, enthusiasm, or enrapturement for Monolithic Communism in recent Facebook posts. They claim loyalty to Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or various left-wing groups, too numerous to mention. It is, of course, possible that these bloggers represent nothing more than various, government-financed bot-bloggers based in Russia and China, that have nothing to do with their various namesakes. If that is the case, Americans really must compliment their mastery of the American idiom.

Angela Merkel

I think that the constitution of every country needs an amendment pertaining to the eligibility of its political candidates who run for the highest public office. To wit, eligible candidates must have a family—children. I believe this for two reasons. The leader has to see him or herself as a leader not just for the present but for posterity. The leader does not simply represent the nation to other nations of the world or act as arbiter and chief administrator, but also has a personal stake in the success of the country. The children hold the leader accountable as hostages to fortune. Their presence serves as parameter-setters for their parents' behavior and policy-making.

Lake Summit

I can no longer remember when I visited Lake Summit for the first time, probably at the end of my high school years. My family went through Tuxedo, North Carolina, every Summer on our way to Flat Rock, just a few miles farther north on Highway 17. As the car climbed up the steep, widing highway, I could feel the transition to a lower-humidity, mountain climate. From the highway, we could see the expanse of the lake. I remember the clear, cold, bracing water of the lake, and the tall, majestic White Pines and Tulip Poplars that grew around it.

Socialism Again?

An older friend once said to me that America's collective memory endures about twenty years, and then a new generation of events eclipses it and implants itself. The implosion of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall—the Marxist Last Supper—happened thirty-four years ago; so my guess is that few Americans today have enough recollection of those events to explain in detail how and why they happened.

Left-wing Bot-Journalism

In 2016, I published a book titled Freedom is a Public Utility, in order to quantify "freedom" as a public resource—a source of power-creation in a human society—like oil, natural gas, or uranium. Albert Einstein once described progress as a product of "divine curiosity" and the "play instinct of the tinkering and brooding researcher."

The Green Party Should Turn Red

I saw this article about Winfried Kretschmann in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper during my visit to Germany in June and July. In English, it means "In ttimes of crisis, we have to take risks." Kretschmann serves as Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg—the equivalent of a governor in Germany—for the Green Party, Die Grünen. The Greens have represented themselves to the public for years as the party of the environment for its advocacy for the end of nuclear power, militarization, and the production of toxic garbage like plastic containers.

Working Too Hard

I remember the time I was driving my mother somewhere and saw her glance out the window and wave at the son of a friend of hers. She looked wistful and said, "Isn't it a shame that D____ has to work in a clothing store?" Possibly she thought that D____ had had suffered a financial reverse and needed to work just to pay his bills.

Analog vs. Digital

I stayed in Germany for three weeks in June and July. Night-time temperatures were as low as 52F. Day-time temperatures sometimes reached into the 90s. I usually eat breakfast at my hotel and look at newspapers. For some reason, several articles made comparisons between "anolog" devices and "digital" devices.

Why Church Matters for a Writer

Years ago, I went to a literary symposium at Converse College to listen to some of the "Old Greats" of Southern fiction ramble on about their lives and defining influences. Historically poor as a result of the Civil War 1861-65, the South has overflowed with high-end literary talent. Most of the them, it seemed to me, grew up Episcopal or Catholic. I think I understand why. Both are "high-church," revelling in the holy mysteries of ritual and liturgy. I grew up Episcopal and learned first-hand an important lesson on this subject. Until 1979, we used the 1928 edition of The Book of Common Prayer (BCP). See below my Confirmation certificate and my personalized copy of the BCP, awarded to me after the service. After hearing the liturgy for years and years, I can recite much of it from memory. More importantly, I can hear it in my head.

Free at Last?

If freedom in America only means that we have bonded out of jail for a little while, the hilarious pathos of it should concern you. If you quote the Reverend Martin Luther King in the context of bonding out—you only stay free until someone revokes your bail? Shouldn't Americans have more expectation of freedom than that? So we need a reality-check to ask ourselves if we even understand the terms of a freedom-loving society. Do we need to examine the requirements?

The Dark Side of Life in Englewood

The rapper Lil Durk grew up in Englewood, a crime-ridden neighborhood of South Chicago. The Wikipedia article on Lil Durk describes his life as imbued with the culture of his neighborhood. During Durk's childhood, his father went to prison to serve a life-sentence for murder. His brother, other male relatives, and several rap associates have met violent deaths.

Money and Determinism

I remember watching the movie Office Space, filmed in 1999 and directed by Mike Judge. In one scene, three totally pissed-off office workers walk onto an empty field with their baseball bats, ready to kill something. But they wear pressed shirts and ties for their jobs at a software company; so the only thing they kill is the hated office photo-copier.

The Public Enemy Question

As a cultural dissident, I study a lot of what passes for art. Over the years, I have surveyed the angry defiance of Black Rap artists like Public Enemy and wonder to myself, "Why are we governing these people?" The videos of rap-songs like "By the Time I Get to Arizona," and "Shut 'em Down!" suggest a violent insurrection against the Whites.

Soaking up Temple Guilt

The Reverend Jim Jones, pastor of the Peoples Temple and later demented leader of the Jonestown community, clearly had a few things wrong with him psychologically. When he entered a hospital for treatment of stress, chest pain, and insomnia, a consulting psychiatrist described him as "paranoid with delusions of grandeur."

Crocodile Tears for the Boys

This article appeared in the New York Times on June 1st. It begins with the concerns of sociologists--"It's the problem that has too many names. 'Toxic masculinity'. 'The feminization of America'. 'The crisis of boys'. 'The end of men'. The state of manhood has become one more front in our culture wars, a debate that keeps breaking down along political lines."

The Facebook Revolution

I joined Facebook during the Corona Lockdown of 2020 to help publicize my new web-site, which I started after publishing my last book Divide the Country that same year. It was a busy year with the shorter hours for shops, the vaccinations, (I have had four!) and the extended closures of government offices. The employees and tourists stayed home, and in that vacuum, the character of street-traffic in the downtown area altered, as roller-bladers, skateboarders, and cyclists took to the street, turning it into a post-apocalyptic, alternate-reality.

The Politicians Failed Us on Jonestown

The history of Jim Jones, his Peoples Temple, and the settlement he started in Jonestown, Guyana, has interested me for some time. It happened in 1978, just a few years after I had finished college. At the time, I did not have a TV set, nor did I read any account of it in the newspapers. Jonestown the news-story came and went, and I mostly forgot about it. Work responsibilities in my first job and building new relationships were all I could handle.

Jim Jones: a Leftist Prototype

I watched an episode of NBC's Dateline TV show recently, about the Reverend Jim Jones and the mass suicide, or murder, of his followers in South America in November, 1978. Jones had led the congregation of his Peoples Temple from Indianapolis to California, before allegations about his behavior drove him to leave the U.S. And relocate to Guyana in South America. Until the death of Jones and his followers, they all lived in a remote jungle location—very remote.

The Enduring legacy of Jim Jones

At age 70, I finally realize that most people are attracted to someone who talks—guys, gays, girls, it doesn't matter. Mankind as a social animal wants to be talked to. The myth of the strong, silent type winning over a crowd does not hold water, in my experience. If you want my attention, you have to talk to me. If you talk to me, I will listen. I may not believe you; I may even hold you in a degree of contempt, but I will continue to listen.

Sally Perel's Interesting Life

This article appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper on February 5th, during my visit to Germany. It commemorates the amazing life of Sally Perel, who wasn born in Germany and died in Israel at age 97. First of all, Sally, pronounced "Zah-lee," is a guy, short for Salomon, and my reader can probably guess by now, his story concerns the life of a Jew in Germany during the Third Reich and the Holocaust.

The Jewish Difference

The movie Europa Europa came out in 1990, about the Jewish boy, Salomon Perel, a German Jew who survived World War II and the Holocaust by passing himself off as a German—first, by joining the German Army, then by joining the Hitler Youth. He did it as a matter of survival, because to tell the other soldiers that he was in fact a Jew would have meant instant execution by men brainwashed to hate the Jews. When all this happened, Perel was just 16-years-old.

Dissenting to the masquerade

I am a dissident to much that goes on in the modern society. I see entirely too much masquerading, and little self-evident intention. It has reached such a level that I consider the intentions deceptive.

Dissenting to the Masquerade-2

Dwayne Wong (Omowale) posted the notice of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's 85th birthday. I knew nothing about Omowale, so I consulted his Amazon home-page. It states that he was born in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1991.

Capital for Innovation

The title in English means "Billions for Innovation." The author, venture-captialist Klaus Hommels, warns Europeans that they have neglected investment for technological innovation and for start-ups. He reminds younger Germans that the "Wirtschaftswunder," the post-war reemergence of Germany, from the ruins of World War II into a modern super-power, depended heavily on capital-investment, to the tune of 4% of the nation's gross domestic product! Financing under the aegis of the Marshall Plan provided much of that initial financing.

The Disruptive Dynamic

Professor Milon Friedman and his wife Rose worked as economists in their lifetimes and published Free to Choose, like a personal memoir, in 1980. As the book grew in popularity, Friedman filmed explanations for the themes of the book. My reader can view them on YouTube. Friedman features topics like "The Power of the Market" and "The Tyranny of Control."

Triumph of Propaganda

Contemporary American leftists must believe that no one ever denounced Capitalism before they did; or maybe the denunciation of Capitalism by other groups does not interest them. Maybe they never studied capitalist attitudes in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. The leftists would demand to know "Denunciations of Capitalism by the Nazis? Impossible!"

Entrepreneurs

Seeing the degree of ongoing character-assassination, day after day on Facebook, directed against America's outlier entrepreneurs, concerns me. In earlier times, people hated Steve Jobs and Bill Gates the say way; but entrepreneurs express our nation's freedom-loving character better than anything. With all the trash-talking going on, why does no one explain why millions of people all over the world use every trick in the book to gain entry into this country?

Freedom to Choose

The phrase, "Freedom to Choose," defines more than anything the Republican ethos of governing a country. We like for a free-market to offer us stuff. We like to go in a grocery store, hardware store, computer store, and see rows and shelves loaded with merchandise—and we pay for it with money. The free-market exists in a state of constant, accelerated evolution. It has to evolve in order to keep up with, or outpace, the competition. Make it faster, better, and cheaper.

Reason as Logic? Or Reason as Motive?

The late John le Carré published perhaps his greatest spy-novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in 1974. In Chapter 11, the elderly spy-hunter George Smiley announces to his friend Peter Guillam that he has been "sacked," or forcibly retired. Smiley and Guillam visit a pub in Wardour Street, then go to a wine-bar near the Charing Crosss Road. Guillam asks, "Did they give you a reason?"

Movies on a Plane

I flew home from Germany on the 29th of May. I watched several movies, yawned a few times, then turned my attention to the movies that the other passengers watched. First of all, I was impressed at how violent their movie-choices were. When the plane landed, and we prepared to disembark, I had enough courage to ask two complete strangers the name of the movies that they had watched. They told me the names: Violent Night and Hell or High Water.

The Role of Resentment

I always liked the film The Manchurian Candidate, released in 1962, about the assassination of a U.S. President; but when the actual assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy took place the next year, the producers of The Manchurian Candidate pulled it from cinemas, and I did not get to see it until years later.

The Role of Resentment II

The Nazis have always interested me, for their ability to undermine German faith in representative government. The Nazi administration covered all the bases of a dictatorial leadership brilliantly, so that future dictators, and even Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin expressed their admiration of the Nazis. Heinrich Himmler covered the security for the Nazi-state brilliantly and ruthlessly; the "Führer," Hitler, directed military campaigns, while Joseph Goebbels distringuished himself as propaganda-chief, the manipulator of German public opinion.

The Battle for Turf

Most people credit a strange New Yorker named Eugene Schiefferlin (1826-1906) for introducing Starlings and English Sparrows to the North American continent, where they have multiplied beyond comprehension and become urban pests. Schieffelin, himself an ornithologist, had no idea about the damage he had done.

Overpopulation Case Study: Bangladesh

My first article about overpopulation, posted April 24th, concerned Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, situated on Africa's western coast. It appeared in 1987 in the German newspaper Die Zeit, authored by staff writer Ansgar Skriver.

Overpopulation: the Build-up

This article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper from February 19th, 2023, shows how the population problems of the World finally get the attention they need, although adverse publicity toward the overpopulated countries will probably not make them amenable to solutions that involve intervention by the West.

My Personal Path to Writer

By the early 1990s, I knew I didn't want to fool forever with real estate. I had put thousands of miles on my work-van; but after years of back-breaking work, and little to show for it, I knew I needed to make the transition to something else. I already spent more time writing than I should have; so I needed to make the transition to writer pretty soon.

Dizzy Gillespie

I attended Trinity School in Columbus, Georgia, from kindergarten until graduation from the eighth grade. Like many private schools, it ran an uneven but inventive academic program. I really decided to become a writer there, because my seventh grade English teacher Paul Mulkey read stories to us by O. Henry, J. D. Salinger, and Ambrose Bierce. The stories made me think.

The Mouse that Roared, a Review

The British movie The Mouse that Roared came out in 1959, and I still remember going to see it. I vaguely remembered the story about the tiny European Duchy of Fenwick, a principality like Monaco or Liechtenstein, invading the United States with an army of soldiers clad in Medieval chain-mail and carrying bows and arrows, but not much else. I remembered nothing about the reason for the invasion, or how the two nations resolved the conflict.

Community versus Autonomy

This article appeared in the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, February 25, 2018. The title, "Der Aufstand der Atome," translates to English as "The Revolt of the Atoms." The accompanying photograph shows a solitary man sitting in the shade at the edge of a city square. Like him, many Americans see themselves as atoms. The sub-titled text explains that government's intervening in the lives of citizens has superseded all other personal, local organizations, leaving Americans isolated and dependent on it.

German Journalistic Photography

During my college-years at Furman University, I spent an inordinate amount of time in the library. Furman has had to struggle to keep important alumni from focusing only contributions for athletic programs, and to maintain the alumni's focus on academics and the education of young people, as the University's main goal; so for years, I have earmarked my yearly contributions for the use of the library only.

German Newspaper Photos

If German-newspaper publishers obscured the text of their articles and revealed only photographs, the average American reader would not know what to make of them. German newspapers reaveal a consciousness of history. They take the reader back in time, so the reader knows where history has taken the nation. They keep us mindful of historical events and characters.

Divide the U.S.

All right, so we know that we need to divide the country. What's holding us up? What are we afraid of? The answer is that informed people know that a revolution, a reformation, or reorganization all develop a momentum of their own. Once the revolution-bug bites, the virus infects the thinking of normally reasonable people. The German Reformation initiated by Martin Luther, for instance, led as often to visions of hell as it did to visions of heaven.

How Long Do Republicans Wait?

Americans who vote Republican have to remember that, for people who work for the Republican Party, it's just a job. They may like their jobs. Mostly they prefer to keep their jobs. They may share the Republican sentiment for free-market principles and military readiness; but when someone like me comes along and suggests that Republicans petition for a nation of their own, they worry about things like job-redundancy and relocations more than they do about Democrat big-government and peacenik sell-out.

Release Grand Ole Prometheus!

Left-wing trash-talking of the GOP represents a concerted campaign that should concern its leaders. The scathing rhetoric suggests that the trash-talking will not end until the Left can make the GOP the permanent minority-party, and silence or discredit its associated media-organs. Older Americans familiar with the Nazi-smearing of the Jews should note the similarities in the left-wing method. Neither the Republicans nor freedom-loving people of any stripe should ignore the potential threat that these smear-tactics represent.

Republicans: a New Start

The Republican Party has a few tasks it needs to undertake. It needs to examine the philosophy it claims to represent and to take stock of its future, and stop thinking in terms of personal rivalries. We have more on the line than just choosing candidates and securing a victory in future elections. The GOP needs to regain a corporate sense-of-self. How can we move forward when we have deep doubts about the game, the rules, and not least the players?

The Importance of Money

I attended college in the first-half of the 1970s. After years of prosperous times, America faced its first really serious financial crisis, caused by the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973. The Arabs wanted to pressure the U.S. and Europe to drop their support of Israel; and when the two sides did not come to an agreement, the Arabs closed off deliveries of oil.

Republicans Need their Own Country

Nothing expresses the angst of contemporary Republicans like this CNN article, published just a day or two ago. The first sentence says it all: "Republicans hold a dour outlook on the country. . . . Just 30% of all Republicans say the country's best days are still ahead of it." No doubt, their Party leaders have also read this article and surmise that Republicans mostly feel afraid. I wonder what their leaders will say about it. First step: give the voters some reassurance.

Entrepreneurism in Nineteenth-Century Germany

In 1993, my mother told me that she had found a collection of letters in my grandmother's personal effects, perhaps five years after her death. Mother had studied German in school and knew that the letters were written in German. Since I speak German, she asked me to translate them. With the help of German-speaking friends, I did this.

The Revolution is Already Here on Facebook.

One afternoon, I nearly laughed myself sick watching short-videos on Facebook. The first featured a singing donkey; the next, an hysterical, talking Emu; and finally a dog who talked like the donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy) in Shrek. Other videos feature men in wing-suits, leaping from a cliff, accident-prone construction-workers, or chefs fixing steaks. Who wants to watch TV when you can look at Facebook?

What is a conservative?

The article "Was ist Konservativ?" appeared in the Sunday edition of Die Welt on February 12. The words of the title resemble the English so closely, no one should have a problem translating them. Trying to define "Konservativ" as a socio-economic concept should take some time, which most of my readers don't have. If they try to listen to the experts define it, they might find that the experts themselves can't agree on any but the most fundamental statements.

Humanitarian or Marxist?

Reading Wikipedia's article on Peter Kropotkin, I had to admire the author's clever use of Marxist euphemisms. He did not bother to think pink! Instead, he put a humanitarian halo over the Marxist tendency to nationalize industries and confiscate private-wealth in the name of the common-good. The Marxist, Robin-Hood principle of stealing other people's stuff, in order to squandor it in the public sector, makes wealth a non-renewable public resource. Once it's gone, it's gone!

Want to Become a Flight Attendant?

This article, "Ein Stewardess muss schwimmen können," (A stewardess must know how to swim.) appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper on February 19th and took up two full pages, with the image of stewardesses in life-jackets simulating a plane-crash in water. It also shows simulated a kitchen fire, a flaming lap-top computer, and smoke in the cabin—all of them situations for which a stewardess must train.

What Really Happened to the Class of '75? What really happens to any class. . .

Really, every college graduating class gets the same hype—new vistas, challenges, opportunities, and so on. Both the valedictorian and the guest speaker exhort the graduates to go out and conquer each new challenge. They make you feel like crusaders, as game-changers. It works until you try to get a job, find a place to live, and all that. The first challenges, then, make you feel like something less than special. So many less-educated people hate uppety college students.

The White Rose Conspiracy Failed

This article appeared in the February 12 edition of Die Welt, published in its Geschichte, or History section. Translated, it means "Long live freedom!" The article recalls for Germans the conspiracy of students at the University of Munich during World War II, who secretly published anti-Nazi leaflets and scattered them everywhere—hundreds of leaflets.

The Spit and Shit Terrorists

The title of this article from the February 14 issue of the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper translates into English "The Tyranny of the Virtuous." I think the title is beautiful! It hardly needs an introduction. We all know about moralizers trying to boss around other people by browbeating them into submission, reproving them for their shortcomings, or accusing them. Every generation has to deal with moralizers. Christian moralizers in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance spent lots of time admonishing and guilt-tripping other Christians for their shortcomings. Aside from Christian functions, they used these tactics to gain power over others and increase their standing.

National Divisions: a Brief History

I will state my position at the outset. If the United States has already split apart, why try to hold it together? The divisions have demonstrated plainly irreconcilable differences. The U.S. needs to divide into three new countries. How much violence and intimidation do the citizens need to experience before they deal with the inevitable? Perhaps I can persuade my readers of the urgency of our present situation by offering an historic view of disunity and intimidation.

Berlin's Polarized Voters

The Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper reported on February 14 about the recent election for seats in the House of Representatives in Berlin, Germany. Berlin had held this same election in 2021, but the election experienced numerous logistical problems, so that the Constitutional Court had to intervene and declare it invalid.

Working Overtime in Germany

The German newspaper Die Zeit ran an interesting article in its February 2nd edition, titled "Über Stunden," about working overtime in Germany. The article by Kim-Melina Bertram and Daniel Sander contains just a little text. It consists mostly of charts pertaining to the average German's work-week, whether he works full-time or part-time, at home or in an office, how closely his employer monitors his hours, and how much he actually puts in each week. Sticklers for uniformity, the average German works 40.5 hours--right at center of the European average. Critics judge the 40-hour work-week too long and push for a 38-hour week. Not surprisingly, the fiscally healthiest nations in Europe, Austria and Switzerland also have the longest work-weeks.

War and Peace and Social Networks

The BBC mini-series production of Tolstoy's War and Peace wrapped up in 1972 and arrived in America in 1975, thanks to the Public Broadcasting System. Many viewers consider the mini-series very good because its extraordinary length, about eighteen hours, allowed it to develop the sub-plots, give the characters depth, and even to explore the characters' thoughts when they were alone.

The Limitations of a Political Party

I had a crazy idea a few days ago: Hoist a Republican and a Democrat over a large sack, with holes cut into the bottom for two sets of legs, and set them down into the sack. The Republican will face Right; the Democrat Left. Have them take a step forward. I reckon they won't get far, trapped inside the sack. If they continue to step forward, one or both will fall down. Frustration will mount, and they will pull so hard against each other, they will start scuffling, as each tries--short of committing violence--to pull the other in his direction.

The Prisoner Runs for Mayor

Maybe the War in Vietnam brought the Counterculture into existence. The War had cost the lives of Americans since early in the 1960s; and it just went on and on. More than that, the War led to doubts about the political status quo, the wisdom of our leaders, and the goals of their policies. Artistic types expressed their angst and skepticism in movies and TV shows of extremely variable quality.

The Real Cost of Treason

Like a lot of Americans, I discovered John leCarré in 1980 when Public Television ran the BBC mini-series of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I thought it was so good, I decided to read everything that leCarré wrote, starting with Tinker, Tailor, since the mini-series had given me a head-start on it, and I knew how it would end.

Existential Angst-Personal and Political

Let's face it. Most people live more or less perennially maxed-out. They have credit-card debt; they don't get enough sleep; they're on the hook to so many other people; so they cannot sleep anyway. The explanation for that kind of behavior? Go for the gusto! Apologize for nothing! Why bother to live, if you don't try to have your cake and eat it, too?

Susan Pinker, Author of Sexual Paradox

One day, years ago, during a visit with my parents, they showed me a long thank-you letter written to them by their five-year-old granddaughter, my brother's child. Lo and behold, she had written it backwards! I literally had to hold the letter in front of a mirror to read it. I could hardly believe my eyes!

John leCarré: Call for the Dead quotes

I started reading everything by John leCarré after watching the 1979 mini-series of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. His level of success varied, like any writer, but he turned out some of the best stuff I have ever read; and he did not just write outstandingly; he was also very quotable.

The Debate Over Constitutional Originalism

I first saw a reference to "constitutional originalism" when it appeared on my Facebook home-page last year. Facebook Friends sent me posts from left-wing bloggers who complain that constitutional originalism limits the government's ability to assist the poor; it ensures that people with wealth will control people who are poor; and also it hinders social equality. One blogger sent me a review of a book published in 2011, titled Constitutional Originalism, a Debate, written by two American law professors with opposing views on it.

False Reconciliation

Today is January 15, 2022. Glenn Beck posted this video on YouTube ten days ago, on January 5th. First of all, I think Beck looks terrible—his face puffed up from medications he takes for macular dystophy, an unnamed auto-immune disorder, and since last year, for his Covid illness. His ability to carry on despite his health problems deserves praise; but the problems clearly hinder his critical thinking.

Pluralists versus the Zealots

I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal, published January 3rd, 2023, and written by Ben Sasse, a Republican United States Senator from Nebraska. Sasse's article occupies the top-half of the WSJ' opinion-page, while an opposing opinion-piece, written by Gerard Baker, the WSJ's former editor- in-chief, occupies the lower-half.

Competing Ideas

Gerard Baker, former editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal wrote an opinion piece on the same page as Senator Sasse's article. Gerard starts his article by stressing intentionality and positiveness. The start of the New Year, Bakcer writes, should give us "optimism, that timely annual infusion of resolve." But Gerard has passed the age of sixty now, "and the iron of realism has take up residence in the soul."

Happy Singles

Anna-Elisa Jakob published an interesting article, "Danke, mir fehlt nichts," for the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine, October 22, 2022. Translated in context, the title means, "Thanks, I'm not lacking anything." The title and the subject-matter suggest that someone has asked a young woman, "Don't you dislike being single?" Is something wrong with young people, who don't want to get married?

Sexual Alienation

Men take viagra to encourage and improve sexual performance. A doctor prescribes fitness-training as a cure for obesity. A therapist prescribes meditation or Tai Chi to improve job-performance and reduce stress. A dictator tightens his hold by propagandizing against his enemies; and if that doesn't do the trick, he subdues or even eliminates them.

Life is Personal

I remember well the old Simon and Garfunkel song "Mrs. Robinson," which Paul Simon wrote for the movie The Graduate, directed by Mike Nichols. He and Garfunkel also included the song on their 1968 album Bookends. Simon changed the name of his song from "Mrs. Roosevelt" to "Mrs. Robinson" to fit the movie's main character, played by Anne Bancroft. The third stanza of the song deals with bourgeois futility and ennui:

Do You Want to be Included? The Drawbacks of an Inclusive Society

When I think about the modern America's preoccupation with"Inclusion," I think of the nightmare in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel Crime and Punishment. Rodion Raskonikov dreams that a drunken peasant invites people to sit in a horse-drawn wagon, and takes a whip to the poor horse to make it pull the wagon. No matter how the horse struggles, the wagon barely budges. The cheeful, drunken peasant includes even more people in the wagon and beats the horse mercilessly for failing to pull them forward. The people in the wagon also mistreat the horse. "She'll fall in a minute, my friends!" the peasant shouts triumphantly. "That'll be the end of her!" With continued beatings and curses, the horse finally collapses and dies.

Spam Before Computers

Most people today know the word "Spam" as a computer-term—the mass e-mailings that computer- users hate. Most users would love to unsubscribe themselves, but the spammers just keep sending the e-mails. I get between fifteen and twenty a day. Users call them "spam" because they are worse than useless. In a similar vein, Gary Larson published a "Far Side" cartoon about "Spamalopes," a specie of antelope that lions won't eat, even if they are hungry.

The History of Chef Boyardee

My family grew up with Chef Boyardee. We saw his face on the wrapper of every can of spaghetti, ravioli, and beefaroni that we ate. We never associated him with a real person who had a real life. He was just a cartoon-like character in a toque blanche, about as real as Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck to a pre-teen.

A New Life for Hostess Twinkies

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus went on record in 535 B.C. with the truism "Change is the only constant." Any educated person in this country has heard this a hundred times. No one pays it much attention to it—neither our partisan and petty-minded politicians, stodgy public-education officials, nor most of the population—with the result that the nation does not keep pace with changes in the world. If we want to criticize the "Establishment" for being out of touch, we really ought to start with the government.

Strengthen yourself with dissent!

Strengthen your personal knowledge with some contrary ideas. Teach yourself to flirt with dissent. Keep your spiritual fontanel open. As you get older, the fontanel—the fibrous tissue that separates the bones that make up your skull—starts closing, never again to open. Before that happens, you need to cultivate the new ideas that normally do not fit in with your preconceptions. Look in the mirror and let the reflection play devil's-advocate to your point-of-view. At least, you can establish the foundation of a contrary culture, a counterweight that will defeat the blinders most Americans start wearing in their adult lives.

Black Fragility: Why It's so Hard to Talk about Nationhood

The appearance of Robin DiAngelo's book White Fragility: Why it's so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism rankles a lot of Whites who feel they have created the greatest country on the planet. It has become a victim of its own popularity. A quarter of the World's population would like to settle here. They arrive no matter how hard we try to keep them out.

How are American school-children performing?

This subject came up in a guest-article by Maurice Washington, Chairman of the Charleston County Republican Party, and published in the Charleston Mercury for its October 2022 issue. Washington titled it "The Conversation We Can no Longer Ignore," meaning Democrats and Republicans have ignored the "Conversation" about failing school-children long enough.

King Charles III

King Charles III visited my mother's hometown Charleston, South Carolina, just before his 29th birthday, in October, 1977, as the Prince of Wales. One day during his visit, Charles led a procession down Meeting Street accompanied by the leaders of Charleston's city-government and their respective entourages.

Adrian Daub

The German writer Adrian Daub lives and works in the U.S. At this time, he serves as Professor for Comparative Literature at Stanford University in California. His latest book Cancel Culture Transfer came out in November of this year and has not yet received an English translation, so I have not seen it. His position at Stanford suggests aptitude on this subject, so I expect a translation soon.

Mentoring Women

The above-article appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper on October 2nd of this year, translated loosely as "Don't fall into the woman's career-trap!" by the journalist Carolin Wilms. The sub-title reads "How can more women advance in the financial sector?

Short history of Courthouse Square, Charleston SC

The Charleston County Courthouse at 83 Meeting Street started life in about 1790, replacing the previous building that burned in 1788, that had served as the South Carolina State House, just a year following the ratification of the young nation's Constitution. People interested in architecture can find similar buildings in Dublin, Ireland, and Chelmsford, Essex, UK.

Julian Rappaport: Giving Socialism a New Spin

Julian Rappaport is only one of dozens of modern scholars who try to breathe life into the morabund socialist ideals of the nineteenth century. Such high-brow, quasi-psychological terminology to justify repressive government intervention in the daily life of Americans.In the insular environment of a university or safe networks like CNN and MSNBC, his ideas will likely go unchallenged. In an open marketplace for ideas, I hope someone has the courage to call this guy out.

The Republican Party going forward

The Republican Party faces a number of challenges, moving forward. The Trump-camp will likely split from the mainstream-Party before the next election. Even without a split, the division in the Party and racor among its leaders do little to make the GOP look attractive to voters, and the polling numbers offer little encouragement. The party of the Silent Majority might move forward as the Silent-voter Party. The protest directed as much against the Party leadership, as against the Democrat opponent.

How do you value yourself?

I saw this article in Die Welt am Sonntag during my visit to Germany in late September. I spent 24 nights in Germany, longer than I ever have. The weather started out fairly cold, then warmed to the mid-seventies before cooling off again. I spent long leisurely breakfasts reading newspapers to get their takes on current events in America and Europe, evolving social trends, and for their informed opinions about politics and the economy.

Call for the Dead

I remember watching a British film, whose title I did not bother to learn, during the late 1960s, in my parents' home in Columbus, Georgia. Mostly, I remember the last scene where two old friends, who have become reluctant enemies during the Cold War, fight on a pier beside the Thames River in London. One man falls off the pier, and the river-current pushes an old barge over him, crushing him brutally against the pier.

The Importance of Chess

My father turned me on to chess when I was just a boy. He and most of his friends had taken part in World War II, and he knew I read war-comics like Sergeant Rock, Johnny Cloud, the Navajo Ace, and Tank Commander Jeb Stuart, who talks to the ghost of his Confederate General ancestor—all published by DC Comics.

Freedom for Women is Fragile

Dr. Marie-Luise Goldmann teaches in the Department of German Studies at New York University. Besides occasionally writing for newspapers, she also publishes high-end academic articles. Though their subjects vary widely, they mostly concern German-language literature:

Wolf and Wanger

This article appeared in the Die Zeit newspaper during my visit to Germany in September and early October. It concerns three successul female writers in the former East Germany during the 1960s: Christa Wolf, Brigitte Reimann, and Maxie Wander. The photograph shows the crowded lunchroom at the factory where Brigitte Reimann worked, making charcoal briquettes. Not exactly the setting for a famous writer, where you would expect to see a nice desk and walls lined with books.

Give More Nobel Prizes to Women!

The Die Zeit newspaper in Germany takes up an entire page to make the point, that the Nobel Prize winners in every category are predominantly white men: 947 white men versus 17 men of color and 59 women of any race. An obvious instance of sexism and racism, says the article, written by two women, Jelka Lerche and Alena Weil. The Nobel Prize selection committee selects prize-winners on an "einseitige," a one-sided, basis, that favors mostly males.

The Evolution of New Yorker Cartoons

This cartoon came to me over my Facebook page, posted by the cartoonist herself, Teresa Parkhurst Burns, from the New Yorker magazine. It received the usual likes and comments from like-minded Facebook Friends. I studied the cartoon for a few minutes and realized, it wasn't funny. It will elicit anti-Republican titters but lacks the depth to hold a reader, who will then scroll on to look at other posts. Burns's cartoon stokes a reader's political convictions, rather than his sense of humor.

Why the AfD?

Five years after the Berlin Wall came down—during the mid-90s, let's say—broadcasters in West Germany started asking their politicians some hard questions: "Have you visited the new provinces in the East?"

Populism Makes Poor

Thanks to Donald Trump in America and the Alternative for Germany, the word "populism" has a new mostly negative application. Calling a politician a "populist" will never fail to rile him, if he is worth his salt. But the new attention has ironically obscured the meaning; so I went on-line to look up the meaning of "populism" on Wikipedia. As near as I can, it has not changed:

Do You Know the AfD?

This photo of German politician Bernd Lucke makes an unfortunate impression on a viewer, inasmuch as he waits in the background, looking like a golf-ball that lands in the rough, while the white poodle prances past in the foreground. The photo reminds me of Bernd Lucke's political career. He was an economics professor who helped to found the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) political party—a protest party that split right-wing voters in Germany the same way Donald Trump split the Republican Party in the U.S. After infighting, Lucke lost his hold on the directional agenda of the AfD. He resigned to start his own political party, the Liberaler-Konservative Reformer, and almost disappeared from the political scene.

Democracy Will Win! Won't It?

Frido Mann, the grandson of German writer Thomas Mann, bases this article on his father's own proclamations, delivered in the U.S. during war-time. Thomas Mann had written critically about Nazi-Germany since the mid-thirties, and he had a Jewish wife. Mann warned that the U.S. could only save the democratic nations of Europe if it dropped its isolationist stance and entered the war against the Nazis.

A Nation on Paper

The nation of Tonga sits in the remote vastness of the South Pacific. It claims jurisdiction over 171 islands, of which perhaps 45 are inhabited. Many of the "islands" are hardly more than coral-reefs that remain submerged for part of the year. It is an odd location for a nation on paper—just to show that it can be done.

German photo-journalists

Should newspaper journalism aspire to be an art-form? German journalists apparently believe they should—part informational digest, part geographical or sociological fact-machine, and add to that an intelligent, literary use of the language, they leave their American counterparts—so caught up in partisan politics—far behind.

A 1 Horse-power vehicle

The Frankfurter Allgemeine published this image from 1973, which shows the effect of the Oil Embargo of that year, initiated by the OPEC nations against Western nations and America for their continued support of Israel. The Embargo crippled western economies for several years afterward.

Revolution: Sometimes a Great Notion; Sometimes not so Great

Germany is an interesting country. That could sound bland or ironic, but Germany is an interesting country, and the more I learn about it, the more intriguing it becomes. In the 20th century, for example, Germany has shown breathtaking dynamism (1890-1914), at other times a horrendous cruelty (1933-1945), and always renewing itself, so that it has another go at life's challenges. Germany provides an almost exaggerated example of humanity's struggles with good and evil.

Revolution, part II, Changing the Ground-rules

The above magazine article appeared in January 2020 in the monthly magazine of the City Archive (Stadtarchiv) of Erfurt, Germany, called Stadt und Geschichte, written by Dr. Horst Moritz, a local historian. As the official repository for government documents and correspondence, the archivists can speak with authority about historical events in Erfurt, and inferentially about most of Germany.

Revolution, part III: The Ultimate Gamble

Our recent presidential candidates have faced unprecedented criticism: 1. Hillary Clinton, outwardly liberal, inwardly too tight with Wall Street operators; 2. Donald Trump, womanizer and all-around arrogant hard-ass with no tact and a take-no-prisoner attitude toward associates, as well as enemies; 3. Joe Biden, a confessed plagarist and dishonest self-promoter who faces declining mental-health; America needs better leadership than this, but we have to ask: who but amoral outliers wants to be President of the United States? Normal, decent Americans don't want the hassle of constant criticism and back-stabbing that characterize politics in our modern nation? As a result of all this, I have become, at heart, a revolutionary in regard to the future of my country. I want to launch a revolution, not to overwhelm my enemies, impose my will on others, or confiscate anyone's wealth and power, but to allow the opposing sides to function independently of each other. I want to do what the Founders did, step away from the oppression caused by the status quo and create a new nation that reaffirms the Founders' own intentions.

Revolution, part IV: German Revolution, 1848

The American revolutionaries who penned newspaper articles during the Pre-War ferment, advocating independence, who signed onto documents that explained the reasons why they wanted independence, and finally who crowded into Constitutional Hall in Philadelphia during the hot Summer of 1787 to hammer out the structure of the new government, have endured their share of criticism from a number of sources.

Spiritual Stasis in the West

This interesting article, Ökonomie und Versöhnung," by a Professor Nils Goldschmidt, appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper during my trip to Germany in July. It impressed me so much, I knew that I had to write about it and to recap its important points. The accompanying photograph shows sheltered, willowy young women dressed casually for a protest in the middle of a city-street, while police officers figure out what to do with them.

Rolexes and Wealth

I remember the day my eighth-grade teacher arrived at school wearing his new wrist-watch. We saw this guy for the 180 days of the school-year and knew him pretty well--as well as anyone did. We noticed that, among his other mannerisms, he tended to look often at the watch during class. We thought he was keen to know the time on a regular basis. Now, I believe he was just admiring his new watch.

Family-life is not a Democracy

I ran into a problem yesterday when I returned to Germany. On my first evening, I wanted to slake my thirst for German beer, big-time! So I ordered a liter-serving right off the bat; but I knew I also wanted some wine and ordered a carafe of it, as well. Shamefully, I have to admit to not finishing either. I slaked my thirst, but had to leave some of it undrunk. I hate wasting anything, but I had work to do and wanted to operate on all my cylinders.

Violence in the Real

This article appeared last July in the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, by the newspaper's expert on hip-hop music, Florentin Schuhmacher. He regards gangsta-rap, and its sub-genre Drill, as a legitimate art-form. He can understand the reservations that law enforcement, parents, and teachers have toward music that glorifies gang-life, describes the rush of killing one's enemies, the pleasure of drugs—as a source of wealth—and demeaning women; but Schumacher also says the police cannot simply censor it. They must distinguish between art and criminal acts, shooings, and robberies.

The Nehemiah Action Alliance Confronts Mayor Riley

This article appeared in the April 30. 2014 issue of the Charleston City Paper, one of Charleston, South Carolina's free newspapers, and described a meeting at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, between the Nehemiah Action Alliance, led by a delegation of area religious figures, and the mayor of Charleston, Joseph P. Riley. The article reports that the delegation stepped into the "bully pulpit," against the mayor, "calling for social justice."

The Rise and Fall of Sima Nan

I can no longer remember the first time I heard someone called a "two-faced hypocrite," or in what context the hypocrisy occured. Maybe we use the term "hypocrite" so often, it has lost gravitas as a personal stigma. In Christian circles, you hear that "Death has lost its sting." For whatever reason, hypocrisy has lost its sting, too. We need to dust off the old sins once in a while, to bring the sting back, to hold our leaders and fellow citizens to a stadard of behavior.

A Retrospective of the Movie Badlands, 1973

Badlands tells the story of a violent man with no conscience committing murders in South Dakota and Montana. So I can't really recommend Badlands, except to say that I liked it. I don't remember when I saw for the first time—perhaps years ago when my alma mater Furman University hosted a relevant film series and showed it then, or perhaps I saw it in conjunction with my literary-criticism course.

German Newspapers, part I

During my college years in the early-1970s, few figures in national politics stirred more controversy than Dr. Henry Kissinger. His presence in the Nixon and Ford administration carried more influence than any other official. His high-handedness made him plenty of enemies, but he accomplished so much during his tenure at the State Department and the National Security Agency.

German Newspapers, part II

This article appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper during my visit to Germany last July. Just think of it. In some countries, people would rather sit in an outdoor cinema and just watch the ambient scenery, than sit through another damn movie. This particular outdoor cinema, perched on a mountainside, stands in the Tirolese Alps of northern Italy, near a tiny hamlet Vöran bei Lana, close to the Austrian border. Seriously, journalists and media-watchers have worried over the decline of movie-attendance since the onset of the Covid-epidemic in 2020 and the subsequent lockdown. The title of this article "Das war schon der Todeskuss" translates into English, "That Was the Kiss of Death," meaning the effect of the Corona pandemic on the German film industry. With the re-opening of cinemas, attendance has increased, but has a ways to go before it reaches the 2019 niveau.

German Newspapers, part III

I grew up in a neighborhood full of children who were in and out of our house all day, so that none of the mothers locked their doors. We played games all day during the Summer and got our share of scrapes and bruises, but we grew up with a social consciousness—social in the sense of, or opposite to, a solitary consciousness. Baseball and football games were fun and sweet, even if they did not amount to much. Dad played football coach. My mother's cook worked as pitcher. If I feel an ease about dealing with people, it must grow out of my experience of growing up so socially.

Go Back to Church, part I

This article appeared in a newspaper during my visit to Germany in July of this year. It refers to the increasing number of Germans who declare themselves non-believers, withdraw their membership from the church, and opt out of paying a church tax for the maintenance of religious buildings and schools. To exempt themselves from the church-tax, they receive a Kirchenaustrittsbescheinigung, a certificate from the government that declares them officially unchurched. If an official catches them attending church anyway, can the government invalidate the Kirchenaustrittsbescheinigung? Will you have to start paying the church-tax again? The article does not say.

Go Back to Church, part II

In the old days, the television journalist Mike Wallace ranked as the most important news reporter for CBS News. He had a singularly confrontational style of interviewing guests and made himself many enemies for extracting confessions. He held the evidence of malfeasance in front of his guests like a damn prosecutor. The higher-ups at CBS sometimes winced if he skewered important public figures, but they said nothing publicly about Wallace until after his death. His confrontational style did not appear again until Tim Russert started hosting Meet the Press.

Caviar Gauche, part I

Among leftists and Marxists, the term "Caviar Gauche" or "Gauche Caviar" (translated literally as "Left-wing Caviar") denotes a measure of contempt toward wealthy people who affect a left-wing political stance, but live a life of wealth and leisure. Germans define the same personality as "Salon Bolschewist." The British use the term "Smoked-salmon Socialist."

Caviar Gauche, part II

In its obituary for actress Betsy Blair (real name Winifred Boger) a British newspaper wrote that Blair "stayed true to her left-wing ideals." But by her own admission, she self-effacingly described her allegiance as that of a "Gauche Caviar," literally a leftist who eats caviar. Blair said she wanted to join the Communist Party, but the Party said not to, that it gained credibility by her marriage to actor Gene Kelly, at that time one of the highest paid actors in the business.

The Manchurian Candidate, part I

The Manchurian Candidate, published by Richard Condon in 1959, had a lot going for it. For one thing, it tells a very topical story for 1959, a conspiracy by Soviet and Chinese intelligence officers to steal the U.S. Presidential Election of 1960 and substitute their own safe-candidate to become the next President.

The Manchurian Candidate, part II

Remaking older movies is nothing new. No sooner had the movie industry taken hold in the early 20th-century, producers and directors wanted remakes of existing movies. For detailed information about the business of remakes, consult Wikipedia's article. It actually runs in two parts, because so many movies have undergone remakes—A-M and N-Z. Examples include Seventh Heaven—made first in 1927, then again in 1937, and Back Street—made first in 1932, then again in 1941.

Political Manifesto: Part I

Steering a ship, flying a plane, or just hiking through the woods requires a compass. The outdoor use of a compass recreationally goes by the name "Orienteering." Steering a nation also requires orienteering, although it requires two compasses, one to navigate the external environment using constitutional coordinates, the other to negotiate the political environment—using any means at our disposal to win elections and stay in office.

Political Manifesto: Part II

My knowledge of the splitting of the atom comes from two sources, The Curve of Binding Energy, published by John McPhee, a staff-writer for the New Yorker, in 1974, and The Griffin, written by a nuclear-physicist Arnold Kramish and published in 1986. I recommend both to my readers.

Political Manifesto: Part III

Poetic sentiment has its limits. Most Americans don't read poetry. They have probably never even heard of Henry W. Longfellow. They only hear about this poem in school, where it goes in one ear and out the other. If we want Americans to connect to nationhood, to a "union," to the idea that we share ownership of a nation, and fate has entrusted its welfare to us, then the best approach has to involve money. Corporate ownership of something involves shares of stock, which have monetary value.

Political Manifesto: Part IV

"Ohnmacht" is a scary word in any language. In a military context—like that of the Süddeutsche Zeitung article by that name—Ohnmacht means that the leaders of a city or country look through binoculars at the front positions of the enemy, at the columns of troops arrayed against them, and at the rows of artillery pieces and rocketry to support the troops. The leaders' stomachs turn cold, their scrotums shrink, and they whimper in despair, "We're done! We have to give up."

The Stats on the NORC poll, June, 2022

A poll conducted in June of 2016 by NORC-AP asked American voters for their opinions about the upcoming Presidential Election, scheduled for November of that year. The results, published on the NORC website in August 2016 should not have surprised anyone, but I admit the data surprised me. NORC-AP reported that "Eighty percent of Americans say the country is greatly divided when it comes to the most important values, and 85 percent say the United States is increasingly divided by politics."

The Malaise of Being White, part II

My Facebook correspondents rail a lot about narcissists and nacissism, and post trendy precepts by people like Maria Consiglio. That narcissism attracts so much attention and gets so many pithy put-downs suggests that the correspondents are clutching at straws after a failed fourth or fifth romance, and want to give up on it altogether. Narcissism has become the FB bête noire, since it evolved into a channel for the lovelorn; but the lovelorn need more input before they give up.

A Glance Back at 2016

The U.S. Presidential Election of 2016 will not simply go down in history as its most contentious election; it may actually go down as the straw that broke the American camel's back. After the Election, articles appeared in major magazines and newspapers for the first time to introduce the idea of dividing the US.

The Results of the Trump 2016 Election

For a moment, put everything you know about former President Donald Trump on the back shelf, and remember the most important thing that his presidency accomplished--something no other President has done. He revealed the level of division in the American public. He brought it to the forefront, revealing how the conflict stymies the nation's forward movement, gives it a zig-zagging sense of direction, and diminishes its ability to achieve its goals and solve its problems.

My Suggestions to Americans

I am thinking in terms of two nations, now. These are my suggestions to the two political parties who have done so much to make a division inevitable.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

Re-examining 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.

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 Problems of Deception Part 1

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.

The Problems of Deception Part 2

The history of contemporary cross-dressing must start with Bruce Jenner, who won the gold medal in the Decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics. Jenner became a household name in those days and joined other champion athletes of that era, like Mohammad Ali, Chris Evert Lloyd, and gymnist Mary Lou Retton, on the boxes of Wheaties breakfast-cereal.

The Problems of Deception Part 3

Some time ago, a woman-friend who worked in a nearby office-building told me that, the day before, she had taken a break from work and gone to the ladies' room on her floor. As she sat in her stall, a tall person entered the stall next to hers, wearing huge red high heels--that pointed toward the stall, rather than away from it. She was married and knew it had to be a guy. She asked around and learned that the cross-dresser wasn't even on the right floor. He wanted some government department to pay for his sex-change operation.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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 Problems of Deception Part 1

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.

The Problems of Deception Part 2

The history of contemporary cross-dressing must start with Bruce Jenner, who won the gold medal in the Decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics. Jenner became a household name in those days and joined other champion athletes of that era, like Mohammad Ali, Chris Evert Lloyd, and gymnist Mary Lou Retton, on the boxes of Wheaties breakfast-cereal.

The Problems of Deception Part 3

Some time ago, a woman-friend who worked in a nearby office-building told me that, the day before, she had taken a break from work and gone to the ladies' room on her floor. As she sat in her stall, a tall person entered the stall next to hers, wearing huge red high heels--that pointed toward the stall, rather than away from it. She was married and knew it had to be a guy. She asked around and learned that the cross-dresser wasn't even on the right floor. He wanted some government department to pay for his sex-change operation.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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?”

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.

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.

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.

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: 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: 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: 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:

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.

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?

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!

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. . .

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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: 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: 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: 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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A German Perspective of the White Malaise

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?

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.

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