Jody speaks truths still all-too-relevant today in a searing, prescient essay penned during the Bush presidency.
It's the fight of the century ladies and gents!
In this corner at 440 pounds in brand new, designer satin red-white-and-blue trunks--AMERICA! And in that corner at 40 and one-eighth pounds, crummy, smelly, freezing to death with every rib sticking out, wearing a disgustingly dirty loincloth--AFGHANISTAN.
Oh boy, at last we're all happy. We love a good fight; a good fight proves how brave we are.
Without a good, exciting war our lives are suddenly seen to be empty, pointless, wearisome, unbearable and when you come right down to it--utterly meaningless, so thank God (or the tooth fairy) for this brave new war of ours.
We were all happy when our Leader announced "War is declared"--never mind that only Congress can declare war--never mind that The Enemy is not a nation but only a single, very rich hoodlum (a man we have yet to find).
And we were even happier in the act of dumping billions of dollars' worth of bombs (making munitions manufacturers even richer than they already were) on our enemy--
And never mind that after arming those people against the Russians a few years ago, instead of running out on them and ignoring them, we should have stuck around and begun the hottest red-hot advertising campaign in history, designed to sell them on how much better Our Way is, and with massive supplies and aid.
Aid that works--not dropping peanut butter on people who think peanut butter is either a toy, maybe it's paint? or maybe a scabies cure. They've never seen the stuff before. Their culture, surprise!, is totally different from ours.
In other words you can't just go in and use a people for YOUR purposes, then dump them cold and stupidly wonder "Goodness, why do they hate us? Golly, why do the crazies among these people want to hurt us?"--because that is just plain senseless.
Fed lie after lie, trivialized by constant advertising that adds fuel to the ever-expanding greed for material stuff, our people have become consumers and not much more.
At the top are the Bill Gateses and the computer-tenders and lawyers, the pols and the doctors (wildly highly paid and admired, these latter have killed more people than all wars and car accidents combined but are still worshipped by the peasantry).
I won't even mention the psychiatrists who, lacking a workable technology have hooked millions of children on "medical" drugs. (Note: medical drugs are the same as street drugs. Don't be fooled. A killer caste is a killer caste.)
Today, right now, thousands have been thrown in jail for the crime of being foreign. You think this won't come back like a boomerang and hit you in the teeth?
Our cowardly Puppetmasters LOVE to have a finger up your butt:
"It's war. Your rights are hereby suspended and we, the Government, can do anything we want to, to YOU, and make you eat it and then say how 'patriotic' you are being."
But you're not being patriotic, you are being irresponsible.
Governments do things to cause these wars so they can then strip all of us of our hard-won civil rights.
Don't fall for this oldest trick in the book. Stand up and demand that your leaders act in a sane manner (AND pronounce the word "nuclear" correctly).
I'm mistaken, you say? Read some history, read a book, do a little research, don't just swallow everything the Puppetmasters tell you.
Their first responsibility is to their own class, the people who got them elected, the 0.01% of the population that owns 99.99% of the world's wealth--think about this! What kind of compulsive maniac wants to get (and stay) rich by stripping bare his or her own society? These are not happy people.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all got together and waved our flags for something positive--something truly patriotic for a change; something (like word clearing for instance) that really promotes the common welfare?
The guy who keeps saying "We all must be happy to give up our rights for the duration"--this grim-faced, terribly serious and important fellow never gave up a "right" in his life. Servants, private jets, immunity from accusation no matter how justified, he doesn't have to wait in line with you! He is your Puppetmaster.
He needs that war to impress and oppress YOU, and to stay on top.
If you stop falling for all the codswallop they feed you, these damnfool wars of theirs would come to a flying whoa. The power is in your hands.
If there's a war it's because YOU want and will accept it.
War never does anything good. Not ever.
So get smart, people. Pull up your socks! You can turn this planet into a glass marble (look up "nuclear weapons" in your encyclopedia), or you can open your eyes before it's too late.
Or would you rather sit there eating french fries dipped in ketchup and calling ME a traitor for speaking the truth?
I'm no traitor; I'm the biggest, gutsiest Patriot you ever saw and I'm telling you that only YOU can stop these junior highschool boys (your estimable leaders) from escalating this scuffle into a full-scale war with nuclear weapons.
Every war could be stopped years before it happens--and not by searching YOUR luggage for godsake! That sort of nonsense could go on forever without making YOU one bit safer; why not opt for a solution that works?
Something is very wrong here. You may not know it (because you didn't see it and cannot feel it) but the U.S. has gone down into a steep decline in the past 60 years. You've probably not been aware of the ebbing intelligence of the American reader, but you've surely seen the dehumanizing commercial exploitation of everyone including yourself and your family.
So when Bush says: "You are either with US or with the terrorists" I object to the bullying implicit in this "speechwritery" slogan.
And despite all the expensive help he can rely on, our President still says NUCULAR. Do you think mispronouncing an important word like NUCLEAR is a small thing? A gaffe we can (and must) overlook because we are so "patriotic"?
Let me tell you something: if that's what you think you are an ignorant, bloodthirsty barbarian who can only wind up getting us (as a species) wiped out.
Let me tell you something else, Oogala Caveman: if you mispronounce a word it means you do not have a correct definition for that word. It means you do not know what you are saying.
It's dangerous not to understand the words you use, my friend.
If you don't understand a word it will make you physically sick. You'll get angry. You'll have strange, spinny feelings and won't grasp anything you read about that subject from that point on.
But now we have Pres. Bush, the Commander in Chief of the Army and the Navy AND Education, who doesn't understand the very word upon which the end of our world is about to depend.
My God, do you frantic flag-wavers know what you're doing?
Now listen and listen closely:
It is NOT a small thing to mispronounce a word like "nuclear." If you think it is, obviously you were trained to be a moron.
Also obviously, the Govt does not want you to grow up intelligent. If you were truly intelligent they couldn't get away with half the stuff they always get away with--such as allowing (or encouraging) wars to break out.
War is only a confession that YOU cannot communicate.
Communication is based on words.
If you don't understand (and understand thoroughly) the words you use, you won't be able to communicate and will sooner or later get into serious trouble.
If you happen to be President and cannot pronounce the word "nuclear"--then God help this suffering, soon-to-be-dead planet!
Our whole culture is designed to make you weak, frightened, easy to manipulate. In my book, there is no moral justification for bombing children. Yet you follow blindly and passively and call it patriotism.
If waving a flag gives you the illusion of security, go ahead and wave one--but YOUR responsibility goes far beyond that.
Which brings us back to subliteracy. This same Pres is in charge of creating a new "educational program" to be used by every child in this country. And he hasn't the slightest idea of how to do it or what it means--need I say more?
"Sleep tight, ya morons!" Remember Holden Caulfield? That's what Holden yelled out when he left his dorm for the wild streets of NY, disgusted with his prepschool and all the rich, smug, self-satisfied students in it.
So, ladies and gentlemen, put down your bombers and go get yourself word-cleared so you can find out what the hell is going on on this planet we share. Before doing so is beyond our grasp. Forever.
I know that "forever" is a big word but careless people who say NUCULAR are just the ones to finish us off as a species--kaput, extinct.
"We'll meet again, don't know where don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day" as they all sang in Dr. Strangelove before the whole thing blew up...remember?
Dropping bombs after YOU mess up isn't what I'd call a heartwarming act of courageous American heroism; it's more like (not too put too fine a point on it)...the mind-numbing stupidity of the quasi-sane.
You can stop any war years before it breaks out--but only if you're sane, and sanity begins with a true understanding of WORDS.
This is the most important lesson you'll ever learn.
read all Jody's essays
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
by Becky Chambers
Ashby Santoso is the owner and captain of a space-boring ship, he's the contractor folks call when they need a wormhole drilled.
Ashby is a human, a minor race recently admitted to the Galactic Commons (GC). His crew is a melange of species that make up the GC. Their latest, very lucrative contract: a long normal-space haul to the distant Toremi territory to bore a wormhole back. But not all the Toremi are in favor of this new alliance and space, particularly out in the sticks, can sometimes be deadly.
Angry Planet is a character-driven story about an ordinary, likable crew doing an ordinary, yet kind of thrilling spacer job. The depictions of different species, their viewpoints, and how they manage to get along and function together is very well drawn; Chambers is an excellent writer, delightful to read. The story is quite human-centric, and so we get a skewed view of this Galactic Commons, in which the human species is but a minor player, but this is a small quibble.
Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended! 4 out of 5 stars.
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The Diary of an Immortal
by David J. Costello
A medic involved in the liberation of Dachau concentration camp discovers a cache of pills with the astonishing claim that, taken daily, they will confer immortality.
Steven begins taking pills as a panacea to the brutal reality of war and the camps.
From Germany to New York to to China and Tibet, Diary of an Immortal takes us on a greatest-hits tour of many of the major historical happening post WW2, as the protagonist seeks first the truth behind the immortality formula and its origin, and then to stop the forces that seek to use it to unleash another evil messiah unto the world.
Early on the novel asks "How does it change one's perspective and reality to become immortal?" and a connection between music and extra-sensory states of awareness is postulated, but these fertile novelistic questions are soon abandoned for what is essentially a cops-n-robbers tale with an overlay of eastern mysticism.
The author is a talented writer and the storytelling compelling enough, but I was disappointed by the theme tease: 3 out of 5 stars.
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The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino
In an act of rebellion the son and heir of an 18th century Italian nobleman climbs into the trees of his family's estate and refuses to come back down. Thus opens Italo Calvino's The Baron in the Trees.
Aided by his brother Biagio who narrates the novel, Cosimo spends the rest of his life off-ground. He scouts arboreal routes throughout the surrounding countryside, interacts with townspeople, befriends a brigand, adopts a dog, fights pirates, becomes baron himself, has love affairs, reads widely, finds and loses the love of his life...
It is the time of Voltaire and Rousseau, the age of enlightenment, and Cosimo is enthralled with the new ideas of equality, fraternity, liberty and reason. These emergent ideals, as it turns out, are unequal to transforming human nature and society, but Cosimo has been changed, and throughout his life, and death, he defies convention and remains that rarest of birds, an individual. ("'I too,' replied Cosimo, 'have lived many years for ideals which I would never be able to explain to myself; but I do something entirely good. I live on trees.'")
Fantastical and yet mundane (after all, a life is a life, full of the usual ups and downs, even when that life is lived in the trees!), Baron is a celebration of the individual in the sense we think of that, as sovereign of one's own life.
Although very different in style, in Italo Calvino and Jody Scott, born the same year, I detect a similar moral compass, for Baron is morality tale (as perhaps all fairytales are), but one that can also be read and enjoyed just for its sheer quixotic whimsy. Highly recommended.
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War With the Newts by Karel Capek
(Trans. by M. & R. Weatherall)
Giant Newts are found in the south seas. It's observed they're intelligent, capable of speech and using tools. How to exploit the Newts for human gain is soon discovered. Said "discoveries" spread across the planet and a period of unprecedented prosperity for humans ensues, "The Age of Newts." Various societies to improve the lot of the Newts spring up, schools for Newts are opened. Newts multiply and multiply, eventually finding themselves requiring more habitat to support their growing population. Newt habitat are the shallow coastal shorelines of the world and Newts begin a campaign to increase those. It doesn't end well for humanity.
Capek is a social satirist in the same vein as George Orwell, Jonathan Swift and (yes) Jody Scott, but very much a pessimist. The only ray of hope, of redemption in Newts is the postulated possibility that the Newts too will eventually destroy their civilization, for reasons similar to the cause of humanity's downfall, namely "human nature."
In the concluding chapter, The Author Talks with Himself, Capek summarizes the internal dilemma of his own pessimistic prescience, and makes the moral case for social satirists:
"Don't ask me what I want. Do you think that through my will human continents are falling to bits, do you think that I wanted this to happen? It is simply the logic of events; as if I could intervene. I did what I could; I warned them in time... They all had a thousand absolutely sound economic and political reasons why it's impossible. I'm not a politician or an economist; I can't change their opinions, can I? What is one to do? The earth will probably sink and drown; but at least it will be the result of generally acknowledged political and economic ideas, at least it will be accomplished with the help of the science, industry and public opinion, with the
application of all human ingenuity! No cosmic catastrophy, nothing but state, official, economic, and other causes. Nothing can be done to prevent it."
Written in 1936 War with the Newts may seem a tad slow in places for readers of today, weaned as we are on multiple, simultaneous, attention span-eroding streams of constant external input, but the reader willing to enter into the pace of Capek's novel will be rewarded with a story that is funny, sometimes horrifying, often thought-provoking, richly satisfying and still very much relevant, Recommended!
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Hung around house writing short stories, all bad. Mom knew a salesman (a pig but she didn’t know that) at Kemper Insurance. Got a job there. Had no idea what to expect. There were eight floors to Kemper Insurance with a dumbwaiter running up through them and on each floor, crouched around the dumbwaiter and waiting for mail, was one boy and one girl. The girl was supposed to sort incoming mail, the boy to deliver it in a handcart but we switched around and had a fabulously FUN time sending shoes up and down the d’waiter and like that..
But on the day the job started: I walked in (in my HS clothes, plaid skirt, sweater, bobby sox, saddle shoes) and here was this handsome & fabulous creature, gorgeously dressed like a boy model of 18 years old, even the gold watch would knock your eyes out. This was Don, far too sophisticated to play the baby games the rest of us played, and we got to be good friends, long phone talks mostly about politics and my favorite subject “How can suicidal humanity be helped out of the pit it wallows in?”; in another couple of years we’d be running around with a Chicago Ultra Sophisticated Crowd, going to the ballet and like that—um, let’s see, one of them was Edward Gorey, and snobbish Joan Mitchell who stayed home and painted. And so on. Anyway, 1940 morphed into 1941 and September came and Dad died. I remember that night, the midnight phone call, the horror, the silence. (Frank would love it.)
Mom went insane. I have no other word for it. She played “Gloomy Sunday” night and day. It was awful. I had no skills to handle this at the time—then it was January, 1942, Don and I were hatching a scheme: we wanted to hitchhike on Route 66 all the way from Chi to L.A.! Wow! What an adventure, so we got ready to take off and Mom said, “You can’t do it unless you get married.”
Married? What the f—k for? But her mantra was, “What will the neighbors say?” This was all-important in my mother’s mind and she couldn’t be talked out of it so I figured, what the hay, if it makes her happy. So we went downtown to the Justice of the Peace’s office and paid $2 to “get married,” and Mom and the neighbors lived happily ever after, until they died. And later I got “divorced” and married fabulous but crazy O.T. Wood which is a whole other story which I can’t tell yet because it may hurt the innocent. (Suggestion to the past: forget about “married,” it’s nothing but Police State Suppression. Up the Revolution! Whatever that means.)
Next: to L.A. on Route 66 with hardly any money, ending in getting arrested in Texas. (Which is also another story. Stay tuned!)
Read more from Jody about her life
I am not a fan of books in a series that do not also work as stand-alone novels, which Freshmen (The Felix Chronicles Book 1) doesn't quite. But up to that disappointing fact at the very end, and after the too-long prologue, I enjoyed it very much.
Felix Chronicles is a YA novel about Felix and his gang of pals during their freshman semester at Portland College. Felix, who recently lost his parents in a tragic accident, discovers his true identity as the Belus, a mighty sorcerer charged with saving the world from the evil Drestianite sorcerers and the Protectors, assassins pledged to destroying all sorcerers. Add to this the pressure of finals, a serial killer stalking only children, a crush he's afraid to pursue and the mystery of nearby Ashfield Forest, where people go in but they do not come out, and what a semester it turns out to be!
That may sound overwrought, but author R.T. Lowe (@TheRTLowe on twitter) is a skilled writer and manages it all well, the story carries one along and the characters are likable. With the caveat mentioned above, recommended.
(I received a free copy in exchange for writing an unbiased review.)
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