Vision of the Future worth getting excited about. At some level it's even kind of
understandable. And HOT!
Our loyal and beloved commenter Mal wants hope. Excuse me. Hope with a
capital H, italicized and boldfaced. I'm not sure this qualifies but it
might, and mights are what hope is
all about. Everybody should tune in to Glenn Beck's TV show on Headline
News tonight to hear Ray Kurzweill discuss the coming 'Singularity."
This, then, is the Singularity. The
Singularity is technological change so rapid and so profound that it
represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. Some would say
that we cannot comprehend the Singularity, at least with our current
level of understanding, and that it is impossible, therefore, to look
past its "event horizon" and make sense of what lies beyond.
My view is that despite our profound limitations of thought,
constrained as we are today to a mere hundred trillion interneuronal
connections in our biological brains, we nonetheless have sufficient
powers of abstraction to make meaningful statements about the nature of
life after the Singularity. Most importantly, it is my view that the
intelligence that will emerge will continue to represent the human
civilization, which is already a human-machine civilization. This will
be the next step in evolution, the next high level paradigm shift.
Kurzweill is an optimist. He thinks it's all going to work out for the
best. By 2025, we won't be able to recognize the civilization we're
living in viewed from the standpoint of today. Which means that all the
issues which seem so critical and dark right now will probably be
wholly irrelevant. YAY! He foresees, in the very near future, human beings
who are trillions of times
more intelligent than we are.
Consider a few examples of the
implications. The bulk of our experiences will shift from real reality
to virtual reality. Most of the intelligence of our civilization will
ultimately be nonbiological, which by the end of this century will be
trillions of trillions of times more powerful than human intelligence.
However, to address often expressed concerns, this does not imply the
end of biological intelligence, even if thrown from its perch of
evolutionary superiority. Moreover, it is important to note that the
nonbiological forms will be derivative of biological design. In other
words, our civilization will remain human, indeed in many ways more
exemplary of what we regard as human than it is today, although our
understanding of the term will move beyond its strictly biological
Many observers have nonetheless expressed alarm at the emergence of
forms of nonbiological intelligence superior to human intelligence. The
potential to augment our own intelligence through intimate connection
with other thinking mediums does not necessarily alleviate the concern,
as some people have expressed the wish to remain "unenhanced" while at
the same time keeping their place at the top of the intellectual food
chain. My view is that the likely outcome is that on the one hand, from
the perspective of biological humanity, these superhuman intelligences
will appear to be their transcendent servants, satisfying their needs
and desires. On the other hand, fulfilling the wishes of a revered
biological legacy will occupy only a trivial portion of the
intellectual power that the Singularity will bring.
Needless to say, the Singularity will transform all aspects of our
lives, social, sexual, and economic...
Not only that. We're going to be richer than our wildest dreams. This
is a quote from the first paragraph of the piece:
You will get $40 trillion just by
reading this essay and understanding what it says.
Cool. There are some things I could do with $40 trillion. For one
thing, I'd buy a new air-conditioner for my office. One that
doesn't freeze up in July and August. (And on warm days in May.)
I also think the Singularity vastly simplifies the child rearing
challenge. Just teach them to be honest, virtuous, adaptable, and
good-humored. It looks like everything else will be taken care of.
Of course, this may be the kind of idea that's more acceptable to the
old than the young. For example, I'd probably have felt threatened in
my salad days at the prospect of being a trillion times dumber than the
smart ones. It doesn't bother me anymore. Something I learned from
dogs. After a childhood filled with scary-smart terriers and German
Shepherds, I've come to realize that greyhounds -- who are truly
deep-down dumb (something the
rescue organizations don't promote nearly enough) -- are much much
happier than the high IQ breeds like terriers, sheep dogs, retrievers,
and standard poodles.
In fact, when the Singularity comes, I'm going to have myself
remanufactured as an eternally four-year-old greyhound.
Me in my golden years. Which I expect
to last till the sun burns out.
The ladies only laugh when you stick your nose into the Singularity.
It's going to be great. And for once I'm not even being ironic. Irony
is totally lost on greyhounds.
A Tale of Two Rachels
so fearless we'll even jump into a catfight. Rich Rachael (left) and cool Rachel (right).
FAVORITE ELOISE. Michelle Malkin, bless her heart, thinks symbols
and images matter. Probably because she's an evil gook bitch. Here's
the current dustup as reported by Waterglass.com.
Ray [sic] in Terror Scarf Scandal
The far-out space-nut bloggers win again! Rachel Ray [sic]
Dunkin’ Donuts advert pulled after bloggers complain:
The US chain Dunkin’ Donuts has pulled
an advert following complaints that the scarf worn by a celebrity chef
offered symbolic support for Islamic extremism. The online advert for
iced coffee featured the well-known US television chef Rachael Ray. She
was wearing a black-and-white checked scarf around her neck that
resembled a traditional Arab keffiyeh. This fashion choice incensed at
least one prominent conservative blogger, who said it evoked extremist
videos. The blogger called the garment “a regular adornment of Muslim
terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos”.
The blogger is Michelle Malkin. She says of the scarf scandal:
Left-wing bloggers responded with
complete scorn, deliberate mischaracterizations of the debate, and then
outrage when Dunkin’ Donuts commendably showed sensitivity to the
concerns and pulled the ad.
What crap, I say. Now, this past winter, early spring, living in
Warsaw, Poland as I do, just about every teenager I saw walking around
wore this same scarf. I noted this to my wife, saying that the
Warsaw are dressing like Yasir Arrafat. She saw this, too, but
that this is the style nowadays. They don’t know who Arafat was,
said. I agree. Let the kids wear the “terror
scarves.” Aparently [sic] our
European betters are not afraid of the terror scarf.
Hey. Waterglass. Was this cool?
But if enough people do it, and most of those people think it's cool,
it's basically okay, right? That's why we wrote this
post back in March of 2006. And this
update. And other closely related entries.
Actually, Waterglass, it does
matter. Some things are so simple they lose their impact as soon as a
talented intellect goes to work on them. The obviously insane becomes
somehow defensible, dismissible, no big deal.
That's why we continue to love the OTHER Rachel. The simplistic,
all-cards-on-the-table, ditzy one. She
knows what she thinks.
Halleluiah! (Yeah, she's disregarded our ecxcellent advice about
slimming down her ridgeback, but we're pretty sure she's at least
mulling it over.)
For example, this is a Rachel who has written the best policy about
reader comments I've ever seen on the Internet:
So: I said it in the comments and I’ll
say it again: if you can’t make your argument without using insults and
name-calling, then you need to shut the fuck up or take it to some
other blog where they get off on that sort of behavior.
That goes for BOTH SIDES. Even if you agree with me that the
won’t-vote-for-McCain folks have a bad plan, take a cue from me and
refrain from calling those people whiny titty-babies or any variation
thereof. They AREN’T whiny titty-babies, they are intelligent people
who have made a decision based on what they think is right, and if that
isn’t a good enough reason to afford them the respect of not calling
them names, I don’t know what is. The plan is what I am attacking, not
I’ve been doing this blog thing and reading other blogs for a long
time, and there are a handful of reasons I sometimes stop reading other
blogs even if I like the blogger. One of those reasons is when they let
their comment sections turn into dirty fights. That repels me like
almost nothing else and I simply won’t have it here on my own blog.
Also, it should go without saying since I’ve said it a hundred fucking
times, but any comment that insults me or calls me any sort of
unpleasant name WILL BE DELETED. I don’t give a flying turd if you want
to explain how you disagree with me, which is so massively obvious if
you’d just read all the other comments that very vehemently disagree
with me, but I do give a flying turd about providing you the bandwidth
to be an asshole to me on my own turf. This includes writing, “Rachel
you’re full of shit,” or “I don’t give a shit what you think so bite
me,” or “you are screeching spastically” and so on.
I don’t know how to be more clear about it: disagree all you want.
Question my conclusions, my logic, my facts, whatever, but do it in a
way that wouldn’t get you punched in the nuts by Rupert if you said it
to my face in his presence.
There. Perfect. My guess is, she would know that Rachael Ray shouldn't
be wearing a kaffiyeh to advertise an American commercial establishment
and, if she did, should apologize for having done so. It's NOT
complicated. It's common sense.
Like the way Rachel Lucas (the common sensical one) reacted to
discovering that muslims
hate dogs. She knew immediately that this was important information
and probably fatal to any policy of peaceful coexistence between them
(barbarians) and us (civilized people).
That's why I continue to have hope for America. Because we've got a
good supply of Rachels who are better than what Waterglass calls our
"our European betters." [Scoff]
We're big fans here at Instapunk, Rachel. But please do schedule an
intervention for Sunny.
Now. As to the other Rachael.
STOP IT. You're cute. But not THAT cute.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
got the wherewithal to scribble* a book-length manuscript. Who knew?
AHEAD. It's the job of the media, left and right, to pound this McClellan item for
days. But it's not a story, just a postscript. We already said
everything that needs to be said long ago. Before the administration
belatedly fired this incompetent sack of shit, we wrote:
2005] George W. Bush doesn't like to fire people. It's his
weakness. If he wants to prevail in his most important policies,
however, it's time he overcame that weakness... [T]he
first three heads that must fall: Dan
Bartlett, Strategic Communications Planning; Scott
McClellan, White House Press Secretary; and Nicolle
Devenish, White House Communications Director.
These people assumed their current posts in the wake of the President's
highly successful campaign for reelection. Since then, they have
presided over one public relations debacle after another -- the
needless Schiavo brouhaha, the incompetently presented Social Security
reform initiative, the appalling failure to take credit for successes
in Iraq or to counter the MSM's "Vietnam quagmire" fantasy, the Cindy
Sheehan farce, the self-destructive Miers nomination, the Valerie Plame
fiction, the cone of
silence enforced while the Democrats screamed and shouted their "Bush
lied" lie into every network microphone for months, and the feeble
that led to the ridiculous playacting of John Murtha.
By any possible standard of competence in communications, these people
are miserably and irredeemably inept. If they were merely obedient
soldiers executing the instructions of the big boss, they should have
resigned en masse long ere this in protest at being deprived of the
opportunity to exercise their good judgment. If they actually concocted
the communication plans that responded to the crises listed above, as
seems more likely in the court of the Great Delegator, they should be
drummed out of the profession -- hollow square, buttons ripped off,
swords broken -- the works.
The one thing I can't understand is why more Republicans haven't
demanded exactly this step. It may be difficult to see into the
workings of Bartlett's and Devenish's jobs, but we see McClellan every
day. The picture shown here is typical -- hands up in surrender. He is
continually at a loss, defensive, borderline oafish, argumentative
when he should be cool, placating when he should be predatory. His
performance alone is enough to indict his communication superiors. He's
minor league and even his surname is unpleasantly evocative of the
blowhard general who was always piling up more resources for a battle
he could never bring himself to fight. Get rid of him. NOW.
2007] There has been a constant stream of
subversive, self-aggrandizing books by those whose whole power to serve
the U.S. government resided in their capacity to listen and speak
honestly to the President, whose confidence in their input rested
largely on the knowledge that candid conversations about matters of
state would not be spilled
into the public trough.
Thanks to the likes of George Tenet, Colin Powell, David Frum, Richard
Clarke, and God only knows how many other narcissistic crybabies, it
will never again be possible for a president of the United States to
converse with advisers without contemplating the self-serving books
they will write, and publish, while he (or she) is still in office.
Sorry. I can't forget what everyone else -- and I do mean everyone --
has forgotten. The United States of America is the most powerful and benevolent nation the world has
ever seen. The decisions that have to be made on behalf of our own
ctizens and the world are frequently difficult, complex, morally
contradictory, and nearly impossible to make. The leadership of no
other nation in history has ever voluntarily confronted the murderous
intentions of its rivals without permitting itself the option of
annihilating them by any means possible. Thus, the much pilloried Bush
adminsitration has continuously faced a situation without precedent in
human history -- fanatical, mortal enemies bent on the destruction of
the nation they serve, enemies who could be reduced to ash in
approximately 60 minutes without significant risk of retaliation, but
who will not be exterminated because we choose not to do so for moral
The question that must be asked is why this heroic moral choice should
lead to the end of the most basic principles of loyalty, honor, and
integrity by those who have been so privileged as to participate in the
The answer is apocalyptic. Such lofty expressions of merciful intent
lead inevitably to the lowest, most venal reactions by those who detect
the weakness inherent in mercy. They know they can get away with
personal treachery to further their own interests.
George W. Bush's real weakness is that he is not Hitler, Napoleon, Stalin,
Saddam, Castro, or Pol Pot. That he is far more like Portia than Caesar
is a promise of doom. In the days of Octavian, Powell, Tenet, Clarke,
and Frum would never have lived to write their whining memoirs about
their superiority to those from whom they took their orders. And the
citizens of the Republic would have been safer abroad as a result. But
there will be no American Augustus to lay the groundwork for a second
American Century. There will be, however, (count on it) an American
Cleopatra, Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero, and an inevitable sacking of
the capital of the world.
Rejoice, all you nihilists. Your fondest, deepest wish, the slashing of
your self-hating throats by oppressed barabarians, is one step closer
than it was yesterday. Happy?
That about does it. Nothing to add.
*What he did it with. It'll probably sell
for thousands on eBay. Unless it's subpoenaed by the Pelosi/Reid Congress first.
at 8:30 in and listen as long as you can stand it.]
Last night I had the privilege of attending a corporate
function, a dinner honoring a high-tech business unit's employee
I was there as a guest and had no personal knowledge of the people who
were being celebrated for 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 years of service to
their company. I did know the executive who emceed the rite of
recognition. He's a 40-year-old man (a kid by my reckoning) engaged in a constant battle to apportion his
time appropriately to his job, his family responsibilities, and his
volunteer efforts for the working-class Catholic parish he was born
into. Not for the first time, I found myself awed and humbled by his
ability to excel at these overcommitments. During the past year, he has
managed a painful reorganization (and RIF) of his workforce without
losing their dedication or affection, seen his eldest daughter blossom
into a devoted nursing student with a work-study schedule as consuming as
his own, and acquired a fluency in Spanish that enables him to keep up
with the changing demographics of the parishioners he helps in his
I know him to be, as well, a loyal lifelong Democrat. So as I watched
him graciously honoring his company's employees for their longevity and
achievements on the job, I couldn't help thinking about Obama's
Wesleyan address. The ringing call to "public service" sounds good and
even inspiring, but in the context of what I witnessed last night it is
also ignorant, narrow-minded, and insulting to a huge percentage of the
American populace, whether they choose to recognize the insult or not.
was a corporate function, but as I listened to the well crafted
summaries of individual careers, accomplishments, and personal traits
of the honorees, I saw -- even as an outsider -- that they hadn't given
all those years to one organization because they were in thrall to
Obama's contemptuously labeled "money culture." They had committed
their lives to exacting and difficult disciplines they were good at,
and along the way they had undertaken serious risks to accomplish goals
they believed to be important. (In fact, by any objective standard, the
goals were important, to all
of us, but to say more might make it possible to identify them, and
that I won't do.) Yet in our uniquely American way, the tributes
to each person mingled memories of extraordinary brilliance and
principle on the professional level with anecdotes about personal
foibles and -- a constant thread -- all the other things they somehow managed
to do for family, charities, and each other. Those in attendance
understood all the nuances. They laughed, they applauded, they chimed
in with their own approving comments, and they were respectfully silent
when the weightiest accomplishments were being described. They were a
community and, though I hate to utter a cliche that was
repeated several times without irony or any expression of dissent, a
I'm not being saccharine. There are bad companies as well as good.
are corporations in which people are valued exclusively for cutthroat
devotion to profit. But in my own personal experience I have observed
that bad companies, like bad people, eventually get what's coming to
them. And there are good companies that forget the need to make a
profit and so expire at great personal cost to the people and families
who depended on them. It's important to remember, though, that the
historic success and affluence of America lies in the fact that so many
companies of all sizes are very much like the one I'm telling you
about. Unlike Wall Street money machines or Ivy League law firms, most
corporate entities in America exist to provide goods and services that
people need, want, or depend on without knowing how or why. And
regardless of the profit motive built into the capitalist economic
-- the most successful economic model ever discovered -- the people who
make it all work are in "public service" to a much greater degree than
any not-for-profit example cited by Barack Obama at Wesleyan.
Where do you want the most talented mathematicians, chemists,
engineers, biologists, computer jocks, and managers to spend their
time? In a lifelong feel-good allegiance to some vast international
Peace Corps, unloading sacks of U.N. flour in
third-world nations? Or pushing themselves to wring every last
productivity out of the one supreme talent they were born with and
educated to use?
dust is the illusion that we can fix everything if everyone tries to do everything
Last night I saw the America that Obama knows so
little about he feels
free to piss on it. And, yeah, it really does look something like this:
don't know their faces. They won't be on TV or in the White House. But you owe them
For a while there, it made me mad at Obama, for his blindness, his
arrogance, his half-baked experience of the country that's given him so
much opportunity, his wife's pampered resentment of things no one
should take for granted. But then I had a different thought. I realized
that he is one of the clearest examples we have yet had of the
emergence of an isolated aristocracy reminiscent of the Brits' class
system. Eton, Harrow, Cambridge, Oxford,
and ultimate divorcement from the vitality and creative
accomplishments of real life. When they realized that their inbred, genetically
damaged, and over-educated gang
of dukes and earls and "honorable" untitled younger sons couldn't ever
achieve anything of value, they consigned them to careers in
you just love to see a like competition for the Harvard Law School class of [fill
in an apt year]? Think Schumer, the SENIOR Senator from New York.
Perhaps Wesleyan grads should
all join the Peace Corps. And take their
Williams and Amherst chums with them. And the graduates of all the
Ivy league colleges and graduate schools, and Stanford and Berkeley and
Brandeis and the University of Chicago and everywhere else 1400 SAT
scores guarantee colossal mis-education. Ship them overseas. Put them
to work vaccinating famine victims against chlamydia. Teaching
tribes how to put condoms on bananas. Building mud-brick government
offices for the distribution of welfare checks people could cash
if they ever learned how to write their names. Would it do any good?
Yes. It would keep the fairy-dust fanatics away from the rest of us.
All that's left is convincing Obama to go with them. Overseas. To right
all the wrongs of a world he hasn't taken even the first step toward
What's that he's dusting off his shoulder? Nah. Not the fairy dust.
All the kiddies are saying they want CHANGE. Of course,
there's nothing new under the sun, and the would-be agents of change
usually trying to turn the clock back to a time they liked better. For
example, this site has already had occasion to warn you about the
nature of the change promised by the Hillary campaign when it was still
high and not in fear of Obama. Part of Hillary's fall from grace is no
doubt due to the large number of people who still remember the
so-called "Golden Age" of the Clintons. Thus, the Democrat electorate
has decided to look even further back in time -- to the Seventies --
which are being recreated for us at frightening speed by the power of
No, dears, it's not just the
cyclical nature of world events. It's the fulfillment of a deep
subconscious yearning of long standing by the Democrat power structure.
They're obsessed with returning to the days before the Reagan
Revolution, when they owned the presidency and overwhelming control of both
houses of Congress. The last time that state of affairs existed was in
the Carter administration. Note how many current circumstances reflect
the conditions that were either immediate precursors of Carter's
election or concomitant with his presidency:
1. The rash, irrational, and self-destructive determination by a
head-in-the-sand Democrat Congress to defund a vulnerable ally we had
spent much military blood and treasure supporting as part of a global
foreign policy strategy. (THEN: S. Vietnam; NOW: Iraq.)
The Fall of Saigon. The Pelosi/Obama
Vision of Departing the Green Zone.
2. The refusal to deal with a crisis in energy supplies -- and
consequent runaway pricing -- by authorizing more nuclear plants and
freeing the hated oil companies to develop new domestic sources of
petroleum and more domestic refinery capacity. (THEN: The preferred
socialist solution, a "windfall profits tax" that raised gas prices
higher while all nuclear plant projects were stopped in their tracks.
NOW: The preferred solution, a windfall profits tax that will raise gas prices even higher
while still prohibiting domestic drilling, refinery expansion, and new
nuclear plants in favor of the food-destroying ethanol boondoggle
and various windmill/solar/hydrogen/Learjets-for-the-rich "alternative"
approaches that will punish the poor for the purpose of "saving" a
planet which is more-or-less impervious to our existence.)
GAS LINES. A good thing we ousted the Shah and ushered in the age of Ayatollah
Khomeini and a far more stable & devout muslim leadership
Everything's been so much cooler ever since, right?
we were taught to think of it. Of course, nobody took a big toothy bite out of the cooling
tower and nobody died. Except for the American troops who
have had to keep the mideast oil flowing to electrify your
3. A Democrat "change strategy" for the future based on lowered
expectations, draconian dis-incentives for consumption and economic
growth, and a concerted effort to blame the capitalist system and
ordinary Americans for the leadership's impoverished vision of the
future. (THEN: Carter's "malaise" speech. "NOW: Obama's "we can't eat
all we want" speech.)
Yes, we really can have it all back again -- the whole
liberating idea that what really REALLY sucks isn't
the Democrat in charge but US. READY, SET, GO...
Change is gonna be
so goddam great, ain't it?
4. A weak economy created by Democrat
market interventions and
non-productive tax-the-rich schemes in the name of "social justice,"
whose destructive effects are nevertheless blamed on everyone and
everything but socialist Dem policies. (THEN: the inflationary effect
of ballooning Democrat entitlements cut loose from government budgeting
authority -- Medicare, Medicaid, and a raft of "Great Society" giveaway
programs. NOW: The collapse of the housing market and real estate
equity created by Democrat programs designed to pressure private
lenders into writing mortgages for people who couldn't qualify for
them, plus the reckless insistence on adding still another socialistic
and ungovernable entitlement, "Universal Health Care.")
Index. Just gotta love those Carter Seventies. Of course, we've
done what Wikipedia won't do: highlight
the later rather than the
higher or average index number.
5. A de facto -- and grossly hypocritical -- "Two Americas" approach
for transferring the costs of Dem-created shortages and
environmental impacts to ordinary Americans who are supposed to be
grateful for government controls spun as egalitarian reforms. (THEN:
the passage of CAFE standards which led to the manufacture of unsafe
automotive junk called Pintos, Vegas, Mavericks, Chevettes, Pacers, and
Gremlins for folks who could no longer afford to gas up Cadillacs and
Corvettes. NOW: a nonstop propaganda campaign against SUVs and trucks,
plus a renewed legislative push for stricter CAFE standards designed to
push those who can't afford big Benzes and Bimmers into brand new
high-tech, unsafe automotive junk that will get them killed saving 10
percent more gas.)
Less is more.
Even if it's a lot less.
Like with this little "green" hottie
for us masses.
6. A truly perverse (and, yes, absolutely
unpatriotic) ongoing effort to reduce, marginalize and even criminalize
the military so that it cannot be used in future to impress America's
supposedly corrupt will on the superior barbarians who hate us. (THEN:
a post-Vietnam military so politicized, under-funded, and demoralized
that it failed humiliatingly to rescue 52 hostages in the FIRST Iran
crisis. NOW: The vaunted Obama's stated policy of disarming
nuclear capability and destroying the greatest military force in
recorded human history by decreeing surrender and abject withdrawal
from a war already won under almost impossible and absolutely unprecedented political
Carter's Iran Rescue Mission. It'll
be so gratifying to get back to THIS level of competence by the
U.S. Military, won't it? Eh?
Yes, we're ramping up for the big throwback. Kids who have always had
everything they could possibly want are bound to just love the hell out
of being told they're selfish little pigs who need to be punished. (SQUEAL! The new metrosexuality!) I'm
not going to try to disabuse them of the joy the return of the
Seventies will bring them in that respect. They're probably even too
sunk in their bored ADDS stupor to realize just how fatal the new double-nickel speed limit will be
to people who have a hard time staying awake despite the simultaneous
inputs of iPods, iPhones, and MySpace transactions. That argument will
have to wait for the grim new statistics about how many indispensable "Millennial
Generation" centers of the universe have been scraped off the
nation's roads after falling asleep at the wheel on highways designed
for 70 mph cruising.
But what I can do is offer a
glimpse of the sartorial hell that went -- and undoubtedly will go --
with the Neo-Seventies Obama Era. Actually, I can do that with a single
I can also offer them an anthem (ref. audio file). Maybe they can
figure out some way to
. Nobody else pay any attention to this. The apprentice is in
pain. The Boss is obligated to help.
This (above) is an exact replica of the machine 'Kinesis' was first
typed on. Nobody hates typewriters more than I do. (Nobody!) I'm
not even going to say it's good for you. It isn't. Typewriters are
responsible for more bad writing than any invention since the
ball-point pen. Just hang in there.
There's a poem that sometimes helps some poeple. (Well, not usually.)
But it's all I can come up with.
Often the lone-dweller waits for favor,
mercy of the Measurer, though he unhappy
across the seaways long time must
stir with his hands the rime-cold sea,
tread exile-tracks. Fate is established!
So the earth-stepper spoke, mindful of hardships,
of fierce slaughter, the fall of kin:
Oft must I, alone, the hour before dawn
lament my care. Among the living
none now remains to whom I dare
my inmost thought clearly reveal.
I know it for truth: it is in a warrior
noble strength to bind fast his spirit,
guard his wealth-chamber, think what he will.
Weary mind never withstands fate,
nor does troubled thought bring help.
Therefore, glory-seekers oft bind fast
in breast-chamber a dreary mind.
So must I my heart--
often wretched with cares, deprived of homeland,
far from kin--fasten with fetters,
since long ago earth covered
my lord in darkness, and I, wretched,
thence, mad and desolate as winter,
over the wave's binding sought, hall-dreary,
a giver of treasure, where far or near
I might find one who in mead-hall
might accept my affection, or on me, friendless,
might wish consolation, offer me joy.
He knows who tries it how cruel is sorrow,
a bitter companion, to the one who has few
concealers of secrets, beloved friends.
The exile-track claims him, not twisted gold,
his soul-chamber frozen, not fold's renown.
He remembers hall-warriors and treasure-taking,
how among youth his gold-friend
received him at the feast. Joy has all perished!
So he knows, who must of his lord-friend,
of loved one, lore-sayings long time forgo.
When sorrow and sleep at once together
a wretched lone-dweller often bind,
it seems in his mind that he his man-lord
clasps and kisses, and on knee lays
hands and head, as when sometimes before
in yore-days he received gifts from the gift-throne.
When the friendless man awakens again,
he sees before him fallow waves,
sea-birds bathing, wings spreading,
rime and snow falling mingled with hail.
Then are the heart's wounds ever more heavy,
sore after sweet--sorrow is renewed--
when memory of kin turns through the mind;
he greets with glee-staves, eagerly surveys
companions of men. Again they swim away!
Spirits of seafarers bring but seldom
known speech and song. Care is renewed
to the one who frequently sends
over the wave's binding, weary, his thought.
Therefore, I know not, throughout this world,
why thought in my mind does not grow dark
when the life of men I fully think through,
how they suddenly abandoned the hall,
headstrong retainers. This Middle-Earth
each of all days so fails and falls
that a man gains no wisdom before he is dealt
his winters in the world. The wise man is patient,
not too hot-hearted, nor too quick tongued,
nor a warrior too weak, nor too foolhardy,
neither frightened nor fain, nor yet too wealth-greedy,
nor ever of boasts too eager, before he knows enough.
A warrior should wait when he speaks a vow,
until, bold in mind, he clearly knows
whither mind's thought after will turn.
A wise man perceives how ghastly it will be
when all this world's weal desolate stands,
as now here and there across this Middle-Earth
blown on by wind walls stand
covered with rime, the buildings storm-shaken.
The wine-halls molder, the wielder lies down
deprived of rejoicing, warband all fallen,
proud by the wall. Some war took utterly,
carried on forth-way; one a bird bore off
over the high holm; one the hoar wolf
dealt over to death, one a warrior,
drear-faced, hid in an earth-cave.
Thus the Shaper of men destroyed this earth-yard,
until, lacking the cries, the revels of men,
old giants' work stood worthless.
When he with wise mind this wall-stone
and this dark life deeply thinks through,
the wise one in mind oft remembers afar
many a carnage, and this word he speaks:
Where is the horse? Where the young warrior?
Where now the gift-giver?
Where are the feast-seats? Where all the hall-joys?
Alas for the bright cup! Alas byrnied warrior.
Alas the lord's glory! How this time hastens,
grows dark under night-helm, as it were not!
Stands now behind the dear warband
a wondrous high wall, varied with snake-shapes,
warriors fortaken by might of the ash-spears,
corpse-hungry weapons--famous that fate--
and this stone-cliff storms dash on;
snowstorm, attacking, binds all the ground,
tumult of winter, when the dark one comes,
night-shadow blackens, sends from the north
rough hailstorm in anger toward men.
All is the earth-realm laden with hardship,
fate of creation turns world under heaven.
Here goldhoard passes, here friendship passes,
here mankind passes, here kinsman passes:
all does this earth-frame turn worthless!
So said the one wise in mind, at secret conclaves sat him apart.
Good, he who keeps faith, nor too quickly his grief
from his breast makes known, except he, noble, knows how beforehand
to do cure with courage. Well will it be
to him who seeks favor, refuge and comfort,
from the Father in heaven, where all fastness stands.
Yes, it's sad, and even sorrowful, and tragic, and moving, and immersed
in searing desolation. But it can't compare with the agony of the man
who has lost his computer, and must now bleed his soul's blood onto
lined paper, with mechanical keys, or even a Bic pen. Yea, the path is
dark, and it is my own dim memory I quote, when I repeat these dread
[T]he wise one in mind oft remembers
many a carnage, and this word he speaks:
Where is the horse? Where the young warrior?
Where? Up shit creek. That's where.
I couldn't be more sympathetic. Not without a flagon of Colt .45 mead
Uh, get back to work. Wandering is for post-modern silly-asses.
. It's the day we remember those who made the greatest
sacrifices in uniform for our country. As I thought about it, I
couldn't imagine a better year in which to highlight Proud, a modest movie from 2004
about the USS Mason, a WWII destroyer escort whose enlisted crew of 160
men were African-American. I saw it about a week ago, stumbling into it
on a cable channel so that I missed the beginning and had a deal of
catching up to do, because while it has a none of the cinematic
brilliance of Glory, it has
an altogether different quality which you have to watch through to the
end to discern: a kind of innocence that contrasts sharply with the
sometimes bitter subjects it relates.
The USS Mason was assigned to the North Atlantic convoys and
experienced the danger of both U-boats and the extremely severe weather
that brought many naval vessels to grief during the war. Ossie Davis
(the last film project of the late actor-director-WW
II veteran) narrates the experiences of the crew, and it takes a
while to realize that this is not simply a filmic device but an
authentic memoir of what occurred. The action proceeds not as a plot
but as a series of anecdotes, mingling events of war with the
characters and conflicts of the men involved.
I kept thinking as I watched, "This is not a good movie. What a shame."
The interactions between characters are stilted, stagey, at their worst
like a bad play, and all our glimpses of the families back home seem
glossed with an overdone prettiness, which results eventually in a
sense of unrealism and sentimental excess. "This could -- should --
have been so much better," I thought.
But I was wrong. I won't reveal the cleverest devices of the movie, but
I will tell you that anyone who's had a close relative who was a
wartime veteran will recognize at last the validity of the chosen
narrative technique. The men who commit their own war experiences to
paper as a memorial -- not as a bid for some Mailer-esque heavyweight
writing championship -- tend to do it just this way. With the idealized
eye of those who look back from far more experienced old age and see
the good in the friends of their youth, the unforgivable acts of
certain others, smoothing some of the rough spots along the way and
spotlighting some of the key events, which are known to be key because
they have been remembered and learned from throughout a long lifetime
This movie dramatizes the memory
of a virtuous and humble man, one who loved his country and wanted to
serve her despite many provovations to the contrary. In the end, what
appears in the telling to be a certain cleaning up of the facts
actually confirms the solid values and honor of the narration. It's
like listening to your own grandfather -- what he wants you to take
from his hard-won experience, without all the clutter of real-world
complications that so often obscure what's truly important.
Go find this movie and watch it. Note that I haven't given away any of
the details. Behind the pride there is real courage, both physical and
moral, real racism that had to be contended with, valorous behavior by
black and white men, and a
realization of casualties deserving of remembrance on Memorial Day that
go far beyond flesh-and-blood wounds to encompass lifelong hurts which
may or may not be salved by memorializing their pain with almost
A CBS DISGRACE. Last Veterans Day, 60 Minutes chose to ignore
any recognition of the U.S. military and focus instead on the
twenty-something brats who are joining the white collar workforce. We
noted it at the time as a suspiciously
ill-timed story. Now, 60 Minutes has run exactly the same story this
Memorial Day weekend. There can be no possibility that it's a
coincidence. It is a deliberate, malicious slap in the face of our
armed forces. The only mention of Memorial Day on the Sunday program
was a self-absorbed reminiscence by Andy Rooney that dealt exclusively
with the friends he lost in his own WWII experience, with no mention of
the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan who represent the strongest antidote
to the emerging plague called the "millennial generation." To CBS and
the other sick narcissists of the MSM, the brave young men and women
presently serving in uniform don't exist at all. (Oh yeah, there was a mention of Iraq -- another bad
news story about the peril of Iraqis who "collaborated" with the
U.S.) Andy Rooney wants a "new religion" that does away with war. It
appears that until this ridiculous dream is realized, he prefers to
stare haughtily down his nose at all things military, just like his
corrupt fellow-travellers at CBS. All we can do is call them on their
arrogance and their dishonorable omissions. And remember what they