25 February 2015

Fat Product Information

W
ell, I’ve got to say that things aren’t really working out. My living arrangements have abruptly become extremely unstable again, and it’s hard to focus. What was supposed to be a single entry on a familiar fake quotation has expanded into a six-part series with no end in sight, and no guarantee than any of it will be posted. (I had set Washington’s birthday as the outside limit for getting it out, and that has now passed.) I’m feeling depressed and discouraged and trapped.
Not that any of this matters—I learned long ago that my internal emotional landscape has virtually nothing to do with the external world. My roommate just asked me what I was doing, and I answered that I’m writing an entry. Why? he says. I reply by reading what I’m writing to him. This is how desperate I am for material. Or attention, my roommate says. Anything is possible, I suppose.
Words continue to fail me, but I keep putting them out. It’s a narrow line, between the hideous monsters on the one side and the clashing rocks on the other. Output versus putting out. That can’t be right. Quality vs. quantity. Yahweh vs. the serpent. Yin vs. yang.
More will probably follow. Or maybe not. If there are no more words, consider this my farewell.

15 February 2015

And Yet, It Moves



T
his is the celebrated Galileo, who was it in the inquisition for six years, and put to the torture, for saying, that the earth moved. The moment he was set at liberty, he looked up to the sky and down to the ground, and, stamping with his foot, in a contemplative mood, said, Eppur si move; that is, still it moves, meaning the earth.—Giuseppe Baretti
[From The Italian Library: Containing an Account of the Lives and Works of the Most Valuable Authors of Italy (A. Millar, London, 1757), p. 52. This is the earliest surviving account of this incident, published 115 years after Galileo’s death. It’s not likely to be true, but—happy Galileo’s birthday anyway.]

11 February 2015

Another Fake Washington Quotation (What God Wants)


I
‘ve got to say that sometimes it feels like you guys aren’t even trying. While looking for fake George Washington quotations I lurched into this one at a site called Ignorant Fishermen:
Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do—then do it with all your strength.[a]
This is wretched. Pitiful. And no, it’s obviously not Washington’s. Mind you, I went through the motions of consulting the varied online repositories of Washington’s writing. Nothing turned up. I searched on synonyms, combinations of words, phrases. Still nothing. If it’s a paraphrase of something he said, I didn’t find it.
Oddly enough, the oldest posting of this saying I could find anywhere online was at Free Republic on 25 February 2010.[b] The poster called himself The Ignorant Fisherman. When somebody asked him for a source for his quotations (there were several) he replied: Google it.
Never trust a jerk who gives you a Google It instead of a citation.
Out of curiosity I took a look at some of his other (alleged) George Washington quotations. Many of them are familiar, and most of them are legitimate—up to a point. The same goes for his fakes—except for this one, most of them are familiar at any rate. Anyway, here’s a rundown, starting with those that are substantially genuine.
The Ignorant Fishermen (TIF) quotes Washington as saying (sans citation):
I earnestly pray that the Omnipotent Being who has not deserted the cause of America in the hour of its extremist hazard, will never yield so fair a heritage of freedom a prey to “Anarchy” or “Despotism”.
And this is in fact the closing of a letter to James McHenry (17 July 1788), allowing for a word or two being off and the substitution of quotation marks for emphasis. (As usual bold indicates the portion used in the quotation.)
I earnestly pray that the Omnipotent Being who hath not deserted the cause of America in the hour of its extremest hazard; will never yeild so fair a heritage of freedom a prey to Anarchy or Despotism.[c]
The next two items come from Washington’s first inaugural address of 30 April 1789. Presidential speeches, like other official pronouncements, have difficulties of determining actual authorship—many of them are written by, or at least contain significant input from, people other than the person who delivers it. Ghost writing is an interesting occupation; the actual writer is not writing as himself but as somebody else. It lies somewhere in the hinterland between editing and parody, in that the object is to express the (alleged) author’s ideas in a way in which he would have expressed them given the time and the ability without slavish fidelity (as in editing) or outré exaggeration (as in parody). The actual author of Washington’s first inaugural address is believed to have been James Madison. This isn’t to say that it’s wrong to attribute them to Washington; only that the situation is likely to be a bit more complicated than that. Anyway, here is TIF’s version of this next item:
No people can be bound to acknowledge the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.
Other than the omission of the words “and adore” it’s pretty much what the inaugural address actually had:
In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either: No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.[d]
And likewise from that same address (again uncited) TIF has Washington say:
The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.
And here is the first inaugural address a bit further on:
I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my Country can inspire: since there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the œconomy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity: Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people. [d]
About this next one there are no (as far as I know) caveats or qualifications. TIF quotes Washington as follows:
I am sure that never was a people, who had more reason to acknowledge a Divine interposition in their affairs, than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that agency, which was so often manifested during our Revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God who is alone able to protect them.
This one is practically dead on, except for a couple of punctuation differences. Washington in fact wrote in a letter to John Armstrong (11  March 1792):
I am sure there never was a people who had more reason to acknowledge a divine interposition in their affairs than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that agency which was so often manifested during our Revolution—or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God who is alone able to protect them.[e]
Next The Ignorant Fishermen presents us with a handful of fragments, one taken from Washington’s General Orders, 9 July 1776, about chaplains, another taken from a routine reply to a church offering its congratulations (19 August 1789), and still another from his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 3 October 1789, written at the request of Congress.
A parenthetic note about military orders: I personally object to quoting them as the words of the officer involved, simply because they are often actually written by subordinates and merely signed by the guy in question. And they tend to be pragmatic instructions, not well considered expressions of opinion or the result of deep thought on a subject. You might as well quote interoffice memos or grocery lists. But anyway, TIF has a fragment (uncited of course) from Washington’s General Orders of 9 July 1776:
The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.
The subject of this section is chaplains; the full context is more or less self-explanatory:
The Honorable Continental Congress having been pleased to allow a Chaplain to each Regiment, with the pay of Thirty-three Dollars and one third per month—The Colonels or commanding officers of each regiment are directed to procure Chaplains accordingly; persons of good Characters and exemplary lives—To see that all inferior officers and soldiers pay them a suitable respect and attend carefully upon religious exercises: The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger—The General hopes and trusts, that every officer, and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.[f]
Another version of the text has “a Christian and soldier” in place of “a Christian Soldier”.
When Washington was elected the first president of the United States under the Constitution he received many congratulations from people and groups throughout the nation. It appears to have been his practice to reply briefly to each of these communications, recycling at least some of their content while putting his own spin on it. It is from one of these replies that TIF lifted the following phrase:
Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.
A communication of 19 August 1789 from the Protestant Episcopal Church had concluded “We devoutly implore the Supreme Ruler of the Universe to preserve you long in health and prosperity, an animating example of all public and private virtues—the friend and guardian of a free, enlightened, and grateful people—and that you may finally receive the reward, which will be given to those whose lives have been spent in promoting the happiness of mankind.” George Washington picked up on this wish in his reply:
The satisfaction arising from the indulgent opinion entertained by the American People of my conduct, will, I trust, be some security for preventing me from doing any thing, which might justly incur the forfeiture of that opinion. And the consideration that human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected, will always continue to prompt me to promote the progress of the former, by inculcating the practice of the latter.[g]
Official proclamations (like presidential addresses) have the difficulty of determining actual authorship in any meaningful way. Washington’s Thanksgiving proclamation of 3 October 1789 was ordered by Congress and is in the hand of William Jackson; how much of it is Washington’s is anybody’s guess. TIF gives this snippet from it:
It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.
This is from the first clause of the proclamation, which reads
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”[h]
I’ve dealt with this elsewhere, and I’ll probably write about it again some foul day. But anyway, the fragment is reasonably accurate, though it should have been presented as a fragment, not a stand-alone item. But whatever.
The next item is one of those “quotations” remembered by somebody else after a lapse of time. In this case the author is Gouverneur Morris, recalling something Washington supposedly said a decade before. TIF gives it like this:
If to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair. The rest is in the hands of God.
Now historians differ as to its authenticity. I’m inclined to reject it, myself, for two reasons—first, the lapse of time makes it unlikely that Morris would remember the exact wording of the thing. And second, it comes from a goddamn funeral oration. In my observation, funeral orations rank with sermons as unreliable vectors for accurate transmission of quotations. It’s like the rules don’t exist at such times. You say something nice about the guy even if you have to make it up. Maybe Morris remembered something of the sort—or maybe he flogged his memory until it produced something suitable. Anywhere, here is the context:
Americans! let the opinion then delivered by the greatest and best of men, be ever present to your remembrance. He was collected within himself. His countenance had more than usual solemnity; his, eye was fixed, and seemed to look into futurity. “It is (said he) too probable that no plan we propose will be adopted. Perhaps another dreadful conflict is to be sustained. If to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.” This was the patriot voice of Washington; and this the constant tenor of his conduct. With this deep sense of duty, he gave to our Constitution his cordial assent; and has added the fame of a legislator to that of a hero.[j]
The rest of the Ignorant Fishermen’s quotations are fakes. I have dealt with “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible” before, and am in the process of writing in excruciating detail on it again. This particular version goes back to Howard Hyde Russell, a lawyer and founder of an anti-saloon league, who published it in 1893. He gave no authority for it, and as he was born when Washington was cold in his Mt. Vernon grave can hardly have heard it himself.
You’d have to be an ignorant fool to believe that “What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ” was an authentic pronouncement of General Washington, and of course it isn’t. Its oldest appearance is in a 2006 book by Bob Klingenberg, entitled Is God with America? (p. 188). I’ve traced its course through a misunderstanding by David Barton of a passage addressed by Washington (though probably not written by him) to the Lenape in 1779 elsewhere, but as far as this particular fake is concerned, neither Barton nor Washington bears any responsibility for it.
The Weekly World News of 15 May 2001 is the only source I could turn up for this one, given by TIF in this form:
My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.
For the first sentence I turned up no earlier source. The second is a cliché, and it has been attributed (though on no authority I could determine) to Washington. It has also been attributed to Abraham Lincoln. The final sentence of this goes back at least as far as an 1887 anthology (Mile-stones of history, literature, travel, mythology, sculpture, and art) edited by Frank McAlpine. An anonymous piece called simply “Mother” quotes Washington as saying “I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education which I received from my mother.” Other sources indicate that this was a response from Washington when resolutions of condolence were passed on the occasion of her death, but still another account says that no such resolutions were passed.
And this brings us back to where we came in. TIF finally has something unique, a fake quotation that (as far as I can tell) originated with him:
Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do—then do it with all your strength.
It’s not great—but it’s something. Sources follow.

[a] The Ignorant Fishermen, “Christian Quotes from President George Washington,” The Ignorant Fishermen Blog, 4 July 2013.
[b] The Ignorant Fisherman, “A Few Quotes from George Washington,” Free Republic, 15 February 2010.
[c] “From George Washington to James McHenry, 31 July 1788,” Founders Online, National Archives (last update: 2014-12-01). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Confederation Series, vol. 6, 1 January 1788 – 23 September 1788, ed. W. W. Abbot. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997, pp. 409–410.
[d] “First Inaugural Address: Final Version, 30 April 1789,” Founders Online, National Archives (last update: 2014-12-01). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 2, 1 April 1789 – 15 June 1789, ed. Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1987, pp. 173–177.
[e] “From George Washington to John Armstrong, 11 March 1792,” Founders Online, National Archives (last update: 2014-12-01). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 10, 1 March 1792 – 15 August 1792, ed. Robert F. Haggard and Mark A. Mastromarino. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2002, pp. 85–87.
[f] “General Orders, 9 July 1776,” Founders Online, National Archives (last update: 2014-12-01). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 5, 16 June 1776 – 12 August 1776, ed. Philander D. Chase. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993, pp. 245–247.
[g] “From George Washington to the Protestant Episcopal Church, 19 August 1789,” Founders Online, National Archives (last update: 2014-12-01). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 3, 15 June 1789–5 September 1789, ed. Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989, pp. 496–499.
[h] “Thanksgiving Proclamation, 3 October 1789,” Founders Online, National Archives (last update: 2014-12-01). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 4, 8 September 1789 – 15 January 1790, ed. Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993, pp. 131–132.
[j] Oration upon the Death of General Washington, Delivered at the Request of the Corporation of the City of New York On the 31st of December, 1799, by Gouverneur Morris.

10 February 2015

Fake History: George Washington's Prophecy

D
id George Washington foresee a United States of Europe modeled after the United States of America?
No. Not as far as we know, anyway. Obviously many things are possible, but all other things being equal, we have to stick with what the historical record shows. And the record shows that in this case the whole idea came from a common error—assuming that something put in quotation marks is actually a quotation.
I can’t help but feel that there should be a quasi-quotation mark or something—a way of indicating a degree of removal from the original, a warning that the material enclosed lies in the hinterland between the words of the present writer and those of the original. Evelyn Hall could have used it when she wanted to describe Voltaire’s attitude during a trying episode, and came up with that whole disagree and defend to the death bit.
For this story, however, we need to back up a little, if we want to keep things coherent. Specifically we need to set the wayback machine to 15 August 1786 when George Washington wrote Lafayette about the economic future of their two countries. “Altho’ I pretend to no peculiar information respecting commercial affairs,” he wrote, “nor any foresight into the scenes of futurity; yet as the member of an infant-empire, as a Philanthropist by character, and (if I may be allowed the expression) as a Citizen of the great republic of humanity at large; I cannot help turning my attention sometimes to this subject.” He goes on to reflect that commerce connects mankind “like one great family in fraternal ties” and suggests that “the benefits of a liberal & free commerce will, pretty generally, succeed to the devastations & horrors of war.” He doesn’t, however, have any particular thoughts about a potential United States of Europe.
This letter, however, is only one strand in our story. Another is a book written by Joseph Fabre, a French politician and historical writer: Washington, libérateur de l'Amérique: suivi de Washington et la revolution Américaine, published 1882. In Chapter XI, on the “Bienfaits Dus À La Constitution Américaine” Fabre writes:
Washington et ses amis disaient:
      « Notre exemple prouvera aux hommes qu’ils ne sont pas condamnés à recevoir éternellement leur gouvernement du hasard et de la force, et qu’ils sont capables de se donner de bonnes institutions par réflexion et par choix.
      » Nous avons jeté une semence de liberté et d’union, qui germera peu à peu dans toute la terre.
      » Un jour, sur le modèle des États-Unis d'Amérique, se constitueront les États-Unis d’Europe. »
Yes, there’s going to be French in this account. I couldn’t find an English translation, so you’re going to have to put up with my lame efforts. This translates something like this:
Washington and his friends were saying:
      “Our example will prove to men that they are not condemned to eternally receive their government by chance and force, and that they are capable of giving themselves good institutions by reflection and choice.
      “We have cast a seed of liberty and union, which will grow gradually through the whole earth.
      “One day the United States of Europe will be formed on the model of the United States of America.”
Now the key thing to note here is that the material above is not a quotation, despite being between quotation marks. The words are simply (and this should be obvious) Fabre’s rhetorical device for expressing his views of the significance of the American constitution. But the trouble is—and this is why it would be nice to have some alternate punctuation symbol for this situation—when people see something between quotation marks, they tend to assume that it is in fact a quotation.
In this case the guilty party was Gustave Rodrigues, in a 1917 book entitled Le peuple de l'action: essai sur l'idéalisme américain. On p. 207 he wrote:
Washington écrivait à La Fayette qu'il se condérait comme « citoyen de la grande république de l'humanité » et ajoutait : « Je vois le genre humain uni comme une grande famille par des liens fraternels ». Ailleurs il écrivait, prophétiquement: « Nous avons jeté une semence de liberté et d'union qui germera peu à peu dans toute la terre. Un jour, sur le modèle des Etats-Unis d'Amérique, se constitueront les États-Unis d'Europe. »
Fortunately this time I have a translation available, by Louise Seymour Houghton:
Washington wrote to Lafayette that he considered himself a “citizen of the great republic of humanity,” adding: “I see the human race a great family, united by fraternal bonds.” Elsewhere he wrote prophetically: “We have sown a seed of liberty and union that will gradually germinate throughout the earth. Some day, on the model of the United States of America, will be constituted the United States of Europe.” [pp. 209-210]
In both the original and the translation the notes (which I have omitted) refer back to Joseph Fabre’s book, and it will be observed that the first two quotations are in fact from the letter to Lafayette referenced above (as translated into French), while the “Ailleurs” portion is from the pseudo-quotation expressing Fabre’s own views of what “Washington and his friends” had accomplished.
I don’t know who it was who took the final step of combining this material into a single quotation and referring the whole to the letter to Lafayette, but it turns up so combined (and with a final sentence whose source I have not identified) in a number of French sources. Here it is quoted on page 421 of Christian Godin’s La totalité, Volume 6 (2003):
Je suis citoyen de la Grande République de l'Humanité. Je vois le genre humain uni comme une grande famille par des liens fraternels. Nous avons jeté une semence de liberté et d'union qui germera peu à peu dans toute la Terre. Un jour, sur le modèle des Etats-Unis d'Amérique, se constitueront les États-Unis d'Europe. Les États-Unis seront le législateur de toutes les nationalités.
And here it is in an English (translated?) article by André Fontaine, “Farewell to the United States of Europe: long live the EU!” (21 November 2001) at Open Democracy:
I am a citizen of the greatest Republic of Mankind. I see the human race united like a huge family by brotherly ties. We have made a sowing of liberty which will, little by little, spring up across the whole world. One day, on the model of the United States of America, a United States of Europe will come into being. The United States will legislate for all its nationalities.
George Washington envisioned (though disclaiming any insight into the future) a world in which increasing commercial ties among nations would make war too unprofitable to pursue—a prediction, given the fact of at least three world wars and a host of lesser conflagrations between his time and ours, that proves him as bad a prophet as Alfred Nobel. Joseph Fabre’s enthusiasm made him see the US Constitution as a model for a future Europe, something that (so far anyway) has failed to materialize, as André Fontaine’s article gleefully observed. It was only a misreading by Gustave Rodrigues that created the impression that Fabre’s vision was also Washington’s, a misreading made possible by Fabre’s use of a common rhetorical device. (Which again is one reason I think that a pseudo-quotation mark would be a useful addition to our punctuation arsenal.)
 So, anyway, no—George Washington did not envision a future United States of Europe. What he did envision—a world increasingly interconnected by ties of commerce—has indeed come to pass, and it has perhaps made war less profitable, as he thought. But sad to say “the devastations & horrors of war” have not been eliminated, and while the world may well indeed be in some respects “much less barbarous than it has been” (e.g. the elimination of slavery in many countries of the world) in others (Auschwitz, Nagasaki, ISIL) it is, if anything, more barbarous.
I am reminded of G. K. Chesterton’s description of the game Keep Tomorrow Dark, or Cheat the Prophet. Clever men explain what will happen in the future, and the “players listen very carefully and respectfully to all that the clever men have to say”. And once the prophets have died the players “then go and do something else. That is all. For a race of simple tastes, however, it is great fun.”
[A blogger at race/history/evolution notes arrived at these same conclusions about the history of this pseudo-quotation on 30 January 2010.]

08 February 2015

A Petition


I believe that through mutual consideration and the revival of civility as a shared medium of dialogue we are better equipped to reconstructing a more enlightened society.
I believe that murdering people for expressing an opinion you dislike, or for drawing a fucking cartoon for god’s sake, is the height of incivility. If civility is to be enforced by gun-wielding thugs and beheadings and crucifixions I believe I’ll pass, thank you very much.
I endorse emphatically the Declaration of Global Civility
I don’t. It is an empty document of meaningless phrases that nowhere spells out why some people should have the right to, however politely, tell me to shut the fuck up about things that matter to me. “We recognise that individual or collective human dignity is a fundamental right and that the desecration of such through insult, denigration or humiliation is morally and ethically wrong.” And how does my pointing out that an allegedly historical figure may not match the depiction preferred by some group of Islamic pundits masquerading as “scholars” (but holding actual scholarship in contempt) turn into “insult”, “denigration”, or “humiliation”? “Passionate emotions must be harnessed and channelled through good manners and etiquettes [sic] to civilise any debate in our diverse society.” How does the murder of cartoonists and filmmakers square with “good manners” and “etiquettes”? If murder and civility walk together hand in bloody hand then I want nothing to do with either of them.
I call upon the British Parliament to table a debate in both Houses of Parliament to discuss the endorsement of the Declaration of Global Civility.
Not being British I don’t call on the British Parliament to do a goddamn thing, but I do hope it will treat this call with the silent contempt it deserves.
I call upon all civilised people and institutions globally to disassociate themselves from any actions that are an affront to global civility.
I absolutely disassociate myself from this petition and the murderous thugs (or “scholars” as they like to call themselves) promoting it. I absolutely disassociate myself from any organizations supporting its criminal objectives. Talking about “civility” with people who think it is compatible with shooting and beheading people is not only futile—it is tacitly supporting them in their criminal delusions.
I denounce the actions of all those people who are connected with the production of the film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ and the publishers of the cartoons of the Holy Prophet Muhammad peace be upon Him and believe that these actions are an affront to the norms of civilised society.
I actually do denounce the actions of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula—not for putting together a film depicting the imaginary prophet Muhammed as a real buffoon, but for tricking actors into taking part in something they were opposed to, and for claiming that unnamed Jewish backers were behind the thing. That was both unethical and despicable. Not absolutely vile like shooting a cartoonist or murdering a filmmaker—but definitely despicable. But that has nothing to do with this apology for thuggery and murder, and I absolutely denounce the people who are connected with the “Declaration of Global Civility” and this dumbass petition. And while I have respect for the accomplishments of the historical figure (whoever he was) responsible for the cultural constellation that is Islam, I have nothing but contempt for the imaginary prophet Muhammed (fuck him and the horse he rode off on) of these "scholars" and their idiot followers. To them I say Mend your ways.

04 February 2015

Rented Pain and Borrowed Poverty


I
 feel sick. There is no future. We have blown it all on partying like there’s no tomorrow—and damned if there isn’t.
Tomorrow is a state of mind, anyway. It never comes, as the old song has it. Or is it a proverb? I can’t be bothered to check. Life continues—today turns into tomorrow as inevitably as the Jurassic turns into the Cretaceous, or lime turns into chalk.
Tag ends of old commercials run through my mind—the result of being immersed in radio and television during my formative years. They don’t even make the products any more, but I still know the words to the Ipana jingle. The Great American Soup. The multituburculates of my mind. Long extinct critters that only exist as shadows.
Coherence is a chimera. Cimmerian darkness? Generations of critters that lived their tiny lives leaving nothing behind. Gondwanaland rafting towards oblivion, like those monotremes and flightless birds whose ancestors chose to settle on the future site of Antarctica. Might as well buy waterfront property at Spirit Lake or a condo in pre-war Nagasaki.
Prosperity is just around the corner? Don’t give me that. I live too close to the razor’s edge.
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