LET THEM EAT …

“So let them eat cake,” Marie said, merriment dancing in her eyes.

The peasants found her statement revolting. After all, they had no cake. Nor eggs, flour, sugar, or any of those cute little plastic cake decorations.

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Exécution de Marie Antoinette le 16 Octobre 1793

Instead, they made Marie eat her words. Alas, but they were not a tasty treat.

THE DAILY POST | CAKE

WHAT WILL THEY FIND?

When a thousand years has past and the archaeologists — or whatever they are called in that long distant future earth — stumble on the tel that was our home, what will they find?

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More remnants of dogs than people. Dog toys, dishes, food. Mountains of dog hair.

When they dig up our stuff, it will be a strange mix. Ancient and modern. Chinese and Asian pottery and artifacts. Toys from an earlier time and pottery from earlier millennium.

Technology. Digital imaging equipment, film cameras and computers in all shapes and sizes. Television and oil-burning lamps. A woodstove. Electric lights and oak floors.

Fireplaces and oil heating systems.

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Carved wooden cabinets. Sofas, rocking chairs, hand-hooked rugs. Pillows and blankets. Shoes. Boots. Pots and pans.

Glass and plastic bottles. Copper kettles that whistle, and microwave ovens. Cast iron door stops.

Musical instruments. Lutes. organs. A piano. Wood flutes, DVDs, vinyl records. Thousands of bound paper books. Bricks, stones, cement, steel and wood beams.

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No flying cars. Not one.

Millions and millions of aluminum cans.

And they will have no idea what it means. None whatsoever.

WITNESSING HISTORY

The odds favor that, if you life a full life, you will witness some event that’s historically important. Depending on your definition of “witness,” you’ll inevitably witness a lot of history. You can’t avoid it. Some is more dramatic and makes better stories. Even if your witnessing was accomplished via television and news reports, you are no less a witness.

My favorite “witness” experience was being in Israel when the Camp David Accords were signed. I had only arrived there a few weeks before. I was still trying to figure out what this place was about. It definitely wasn’t the romanticized venue in the novels I’d read … or even the idealized “homeland” my mother always imagined.

It was far more complicated, textured, and nuanced … which should not have been a surprise, yet sort of was surprising.

I bought a car shortly after I arrived. A Ford Escort. Ford had a little factory in Israel and Escorts were Everyman’s car. Small, and by American standards, under-powered, they were a “best buy” on Israel’s new car market.

The Ford dealership was directly across from the King David. And the King David was where Begin, Sadat, and Carter were meeting and deal-making. As fate would have it, it was also the day on which I was supposed to pick up my car. When I got there, it was obvious bigger events were taking place and my car would wait.

There were armed men everywhere. On the streets, the rooftops, and everywhere else you could look and probably thousands of places you couldn’t easily see. No one was getting assassinated on Israel’s watch. At least, not that day.

Around midday, to the enthusiastic cheering of the crowd, the official limousines swung past, each sporting the flags of its nation It was a sight to see.

There was much celebration and joy. It was one of the happiest, most optimistic times in Israel’s short modern history. Hope that finally, there might be a real peace. Hope that somehow, out of all the bloodshed and wars, this was a meaningful step forward.

Not long thereafter, back in Egypt, Sadat would be assassinated. Ten days later, Moshe Dayan who had crafted the accords, would die too. He had been sick with both cancer and heart disease for a long time, but, personally, I think he died of disappointment.

After that,the optimism faded. The joy was damped down and it was business as usual.

I was there for that brief, bright moment. A witness to one great moment when joy exploded in the streets of Jerusalem. No matter what anyone says nowadays about Israel’s intentions in the region, if you were there that day, you could not fail to see the foundation of everyone’s hopes, was peace.

WITNESS | THE DAILY POST

WHEN THE SYSTEM WORKS

A couple of nights ago, Garry and I watched an episode of “The American Experience.” It was part two of two and it focused on Lyndon Baines Johnson, Selma, Alabama … and the passage of the Civil and Voting Rights acts.

This is American history, but it’s also part of our personal histories. Those were titanic times. Garry was already a working reporter. I was finished with college and out in the real world.

We remember. It was a very big deal. It was a massive shift in our culture and the reality in which we lived. It was the consummation of centuries of racism and oppression plus decades of the ongoing battle for equal rights — still a work in progress. Of wondering, doubting, if change was even possible.

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Selma, Alabama, March 1965

After John Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson, a traditional Southern politician who had never shown any special liberal or progressive leanings, came forward and decided enough was enough. Of all the presidents I would never have expected to be the one who would make it happen, LBJ did it. He decided it was time, that this unfairness had gone on long enough.

Against all odds and current political wisdom, he succeeded. Not because he was the most honest politician. Not because he was the most popular guy on Capitol Hill. Possibly the reason he could get it done was because he was a practical, pragmatic, politician who did whatever he needed to do to get an enormously important task accomplished. A freshman senator or any of those idealistic pie-in-the-sky guys couldn’t have done it. A newbie wouldn’t even know where to start.

Later, after he’d gotten mired in Vietnam — huge mistake — he knew that his running again would blow up the party, so he did the unthinkable. He stepped aside.

Who in the modern political pantheon would do that? Is there anyone concerned more with America than with his or her own career? Do I hear any names?

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We don’t just theorize the possibility that it could work. We know it can. We’ve seen change happen. We’ve been part of that change.

We know politicians don’t have to be the most honest or idealistic to do great things. In fact, often the most effective people are the ones who’ve been around a long time — and know where the bodies are buried.

The system can work. It does work. It has worked. We’ve seen it at its best. Right now, I think we are seeing it at its worst.

That things are ugly is not a reason to give up. Exactly the opposite. Now is the when we need to put shoulders to the wheel and exert some effort to make things better. To elect responsible, intelligent, sensible, practical people who know how to get stuff done and have a grasp of what the issues are. And who believe their first loyalty is to the country and its people.

It’s not “outsiders” who accomplish great things. It’s insiders who care enough to do it.

WAR

As long as I can remember, there has been a war going on somewhere. I know because I’ve watched them all on television. It was the Korean war while I was very young, but after that … just a few years really … it was Vietnam and that was a big one and more personal. Many of the guys I knew in lived in fear of the draft. Nearly all were, in the end, drafted. Off they went to war.

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Most of my friends came back, but many came back different. They remained different for all of their lives.

Since our war in Vietnam ended, there have been continuous wars. Rebellions. Genocide. Tribal slaughter. In Africa, Asia, Europe. With spillover elsewhere. Have I missed a continent? I’m pretty sure there haven’t been any wars at the poles. I think Australia and New Zealand skipped most of it, though they may have participated as allies of some other nation. You need a score card to keep track of who is fighting on which side.

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My question is why? What’s the point? Assuming you “win,” what does that mean?

We were watching the latest out of Syria. I have no special love for Syria, but it’s hard to not be appalled by the devastation. Death, mutilation, destruction. To what end? What is left to win? Assuming victory is possible, by the time a victor emerges, there will be nothing remaining. Aleppo is scorched earth. Earth’s oldest city is rubble.

Why are they fighting? Because one group of people hates another group of people? Because one group is whiter or browner? A different tribe or religion? Or because they are the same religion, but one group doesn’t practice it fervently enough or practices too fervently — or just differently? All built on hatreds so old no one remembers when, why, or how they began. All we know is that they seem unlikely to ever end.

Each side points the finger at the other and they are right because everyone is guilty. Over the centuries and millennia, slaughters have been perpetrated by every player in the never-ending cycle of killing.

72-Uxbridge-GA-Downtown_040We watched a mini series for the past couple of nights. It was about the Spanish-American War, which my mother always referred to as “William Randolph Hearst’s war.” I’m pretty sure no one remembers what the war was about, if  it was about anything except corporate greed and land grabbing. Yet, we celebrate it anyhow.

Even World War II — arguably a “just war” — was born of the hatred, resentment, and grudges created by the first World War, which itself was born of the ancient hatreds between European nations.

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There will never be an end to it. We’ll just keep killing each other, handing out medals, extolling our heroes, and vilifying our enemies. There has to be another way.

I don’t expect to live to see it.

DON’T DRINK THE KOOL AID – THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE

“He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon.” — Old English proverb, dating to the 14th century.


There has been yet another upsurge of interest in Jonestown in recent weeks. Which is not surprising given the current state of disunion in this country and elsewhere. Jim Jones and Donald Trump share many traits … and more importantly, so do their followers.

This is the most popular piece I ever wrote. It wasn’t a big hit when I first posted it, but it continues to collect views every day, year in, year out.

It is a cautionary tale, a warning for people who believe talk is harmless. To all who blindly follow, keep that long spoon handy.


If you are my age or near it, you remember the Jonestown Massacre. Even if you are younger, if in 1978 you were old enough to watch TV news, you could hardly forget it. Now that fundamentalism is enjoying a rebirth with well-known political and religious leaders (who ought to know better) urging others to murder or mayhem, it’s probably a good time to remind everyone where this kind of thing can lead.

There is nothing remotely amusing about this story. It was horrible when it happened and time hasn’t made it less so.

The Road to Jonestown

The phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” has become common parlance in American business and politics. Roughly translated, it means “to blindly follow.” It usually carries a negative connotation. The “Kool Aid” references go all the back to the 1950s when it was the typical drink for children on suburban summer afternoons. The origin of the saying is something else — darker, and different. It has become the kind of bland rhetoric about which we don’t give a thought, but its roots lie in horror.

Before we talk about Kool-Aid, let’s take a brief trip down memory lane to that particularly awful episode of American history.

Jim Jones, cult leader and mass murderer, was a complex madman. A communist and occasional Methodist minister, he founded his pseudo-church in the late 1950s. He called it the “Peoples Temple Full Gospel Church,” known in short as the “Peoples Temple.”

The lack of a possessive apostrophe was intentional. The name was supposed to be a reference to “the people of the world.” While Jones called it a church, it was closer to a warped version of a Marxist commune. Initially, it combined a hodgepodge of Christian references that Jones used in his diatribes … supposedly sermons.

It was never a real church. The Peoples Temple was a straight-up cult. It required a level of commitment and financial support from members plus a degree of obedience that’s the defining quality of a cult.

Read the whole story: DON’T DRINK THE KOOL AID – THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE

DARK AGES ROYAL PALACE DISCOVERED IN CORNWALL – LINKED TO KING ARTHUR LEGEND

Once upon a time, I wanted to be an archeologist.

I love still love archaeology and history, though I never did get to make a great discovery. I also love myths and legends, especially anything connected with King Arthur. When I saw this on Sue Vincent‘s site, I was absolutely thrilled. I have re-blogged it for you here, with (of course) a link to the full story on it’s originating site,

TheBreakAway – Seeking Ideas Beyond Conventional Thought


Dark Ages Royal Palace Discovered In Cornwall

In Area Closely Linked To The Legend Of King Arthur


Source: Independent.co.uk
David Keys
August 5, 2016

The mysterious origins of the British archaeological site most often associated with the legend of King Arthur have just become even more mysterious.

Archaeologists have discovered the impressive remains of a probable Dark Age royal palace at Tintagel in Cornwall. It is likely that the one-metre thick walls being unearthed are those of the main residence of the 6th century rulers of an ancient south-west British kingdom, known as Dumnonia.

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Scholars have long argued about whether King Arthur actually existed or whether he was in reality a legendary character formed through the conflation of a series of separate historical and mythological figures.

But the discovery by English Heritage-funded archaeologists of a probable Dark Age palace at Tintagel will certainly trigger debate in Arthurian studies circles – because, in medieval tradition, Arthur was said to have been conceived at Tintagel as a result of an illicit union between a British King and the beautiful wife of a local ruler.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE: Dark Ages Royal Palace Discovered In Cornwall – In Area Closely Linked To The Legend Of King Arthur