Monday, July 20, 2009

Forty Years Past

Full forty years ago the giants leapt,
And made the moon a place that man can go;
The solemn glory that is science kept
All eyes focused on a black and white glow.

Though I was twelve and must have watched it too,
I can’t remember clearly if I did.
I took it all for granted, nothing new;
“Man on the moon? Of course” -- thus shrugged the kid.

For Asimov and Heinlein had my mind
Already colonized with flying ships,
And flown me to the farthest star to find
The galaxy in hyperspatial trips.

And Bob Kane, Gil Kane, Ditko, Kirby, Lee,
Buscema, Infantino, Gardner Fox,
Roy Thomas, Barry Smith: they gave to me
Imagination far beyond the box.

Now forty years have passed, and some I miss;
I look back at that triumph and I sing,
The man is still the boy except for this:
He nothing takes for granted. Not a thing.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I know that I shall never see
A vegetable as poetry.
To see some goddamned tree as art
Is hearing Mozart in a fart.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Shape of Things to Come

I missed the US Postal Service when they knocked on my door yesterday with an important package I've been waiting for impatiently. The postman left a note on my door that I could pick up the package at the post office on Saturday between 9-11am.

So today I went to the post office at 9am today to pick up the package before going to rehearsal at 10am. I waited until 9:30am, but the window that is supposed to be open from 9-11am never opened. I'll have to wait until Monday to get my package.

It says on the sign that the window is open from 9-11am on Saturday, but it takes a human being with initiative and a sense of responsibility to actually open the window and serve the public. This is probably too much to ask of government employees on many Saturdays. They're busy, life is rough, and customers suck, so if they just evade the window long enough, then they can do other things. It's not like they'll be fired for ignoring the public.

My local supermarket is open from 6am-11pm every day except for a few holidays. They always open at exactly 6am. The manager never says to his employees, "Let's open a hour late today. That way we can sit around out back and smoke cigarettes and gossip. Screw the customers!" They open at 6am because they don't want to lose any of their profits.

Government bureaucrats don't pursue profits. They follow regulations. The customer is just a nuisance, one of the many unpleasant obstacles to happiness they must deal with throughout the day. The supermarket manager delights to see more and more customers because it means more and more profits. The postal worker sees more customers as just more work, and he gets paid the same regardless of how many customers he makes happy.

When we socialize medicine in America, going to the doctor will be like a combination of going to the post office and the DMV. We're talking lines, bureaucratic procedures, and little incentive for government workers to give a damn. Imagine: doctors who resent every new patient as just so much more work they are forced by the system to do.

We're destroying our country, and when you ask Obama voters why they voted for him, they don't really know. He made them feel warm and fuzzy. That's good enough, isn't it?

UPDATE: Revision.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Land of Happy Slaves

Community is built around a lie
To shield the meek from looking to the sky.
Religion is a structure of excuse
To have believers tying their own noose.
The modern state’s a king without a throne
To stop free men from standing all alone.
The state’s a wiseguy nudging with his gun,
"You need protection; pay me and it's done."
And politics is nothing but a fog
Of words designed to make each man a cog,
An oiled function in the great machine,
All higher aspirations left unseen.
“Obama!” cry the million mindless slaves,
Their stunted, blighted lives like living graves.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

God Sees the Truth, But Waits

I read a short story by Leo Tolstoy called "God Sees the Truth, But Waits." Ghastly, just ghastly.
I will tell the entire plot. If you want to read it unspoiled, stop reading NOW.
You've been warned.
Ivan Dmitrich Aksyonov decides to travel to Nizhny Fair. His wife begs him not to go because she had a bad dream about this trip. He laughs her off and leaves anyway. Halfway to the Fair he stops overnight at an inn. He is awakened the next morning by the police because there has been a murder at the inn that night and he is a prime suspect. He is not worried as they search his things because he knows he did not not commit the murder. The police find a bloody knife in his bag.
Aksyonov protests that he is innocent, but no one believes him, not even his wife. Aksyonov is condemned to flogging with a knout and life imprisonment in the mines in Siberia.
After 26 years in Siberia Aksyonov's hair is white and his happy spirit is broken. He prays to God a lot and the other prisoners respect him.
A new prisoner, Makar Semyonovich, who comes from Aksyonov's hometown, arrives. After some discussion, Aksyonov suspects that Semyonovich is the real murderer. He finds Semyonovich digging a hole to escape in the night. The next day the authorities ask Akyonov who dug the hole. Aksyonov says he does not know.
That night Semyonovich falls to his knees before Aksyonov and confesses that he committed the murder 26 years ago and hid the knife in Aksyonov's bag. He begs for forgiveness and weeps as only guilty Russians can.
The last three paragraphs I must transcribe completely for them to be believed:
When Aksyonov heard him sobbing he too began to weep.
"God will forgive you!" he said. "Maybe I am a hundred times worse than you." And at these words his heart suddenly grew light and the longing for home left him. He no longer had any desire to leave the prison, but only hoped for his last hour to come.
In spite of what Aksyonov had said, Makar Semyonovich confessed his guilt. But when the order for his release came, Aksyonov was already dead.
Now, that's a Christian short story -- real, medieval Augustinian Christianity, not the watered down American stuff. Justice on earth is meaningless because God knows who is guilty and innocent. We humans should turn the other cheek and leave justice to God in the afterlife.
Tolstoy dramatizes his theme perfectly. It is a powerful story. But what a theme! Tolstoy's is not a philosophy for living on earth, but a philosophy of self-abnegation and renunciation of values and happiness. In every fundamental respect Leo Tolstoy and Ayn Rand are opposites, despite their both being brilliant writers of long novels who were born in Russia.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Great Minds of Western Civilization, Hollywood Series

Proof that one need not have even average intelligence to be a good actor:

"The title of the film is 'Public Enemies,' but I don't see John Dillinger as an enemy of the public," Depp told the Los Angeles Times. He noted that J. Edgar Hoover was the man who sent federal agents after Dillinger, and remarked, "I mean, who's the real criminal?"