Memorial Day – A Reflection

Memorial Day is a day set aside for reflection, a day meant for us to honor our fallen dead.

The meaning of Memorial Day has changed a great deal since it was founded. At its inception, the day was set aside to honor the African-American soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War, both our soldiers who were born-free, as well as those who were former slaves; men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who gave everything they had to keep the United States of America whole, and to make it a free nation.

Memorial Day was established to honor those who died for an America which they only dreamed could exist. They died for these United States, for a vision of it that they prayed for, but was not yet real; they got something different, they got this reality, an America that is still in a state of becoming, one that is more or less just, depending on where you are born, what color your skin is, what class you belong to.

Those men and women died for us, for good or ill, they died for us. They died for promises that went un-realized, they died for a dream deferred, as our poet Langston Hughes wrote of the African-American experience in his poem Harlem(1) :

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

We have yet to repay those good people, we have yet to fulfill their hopes for the America they dreamt of; America, daughter of liberty, America the true and good, America the arbiter of justice, an America that could be if we pursue the dream of her, and exercise the will to make it so.

Now, we honor our dead on this day; our soldiers and sailors and airmen, our police and firefighters; we honor them.

We are too frequently called upon to honor children, children who stand in the way of gunfire to protect their classmates, who had to pay for it with their lives.

We must honor them and their sacrifice, all of them who died upholding our most cherished values, we honor them in recognition of the fact that we are one people descended from many nationalities and ethnicities, and that we each come into the world with the absolute right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that all other rights are subordinate to these.

This year we are called upon to honor all of our citizens who have spent their lives, giving it to public service. We honor our teachers and the good works of our ordinary citizens, of our friends and neighbors, we honor the sacrifice of everyone, known and unknown, and those yet to come.

We must honor the 100,000 Amricans and more who have perished from a deadly coronavirus we call COVID-19, and we must honor the doctors and nurses, the EMTs and paramedics, the orderlies and custodians who are charged to risk their lives and give their lives to care for them.

On this day of all days, do not make the mistake of thinking that it is our service women and men who keep us free.

It has been at least sixty years since America faced an “existential” threat from a foreign power.

We are not kept free through armed conflict.

We do not face such an existential threat from beyond our borders and shores right now; not from Iran, not from North Korea, not from Russia, not from China or anywhere.

The real threat we face is from ourselves, we face an existential threat of ignorance, short-sightedness and greed.

We stand in our own way; we, and we alone who can protect us from ourselves.

Our apathy and selfishness, our prejudice and hatred, our gluttony and cowardice, these are the most dangerous forces aligned against us, these are the forces that threaten our freedom. They are more deadly than any other worldly power, these are the forces which have gone unchecked by our elected representatives, even encouraged by our President and his criminal regime that are killing our fellow Americans in numbers greater than the last five decades of armed conflict.
It is shameful and terrifying.

To honor our fallen dead, you must do your part to keep us free. You must participate in our democracy.

Vote, stay informed, organize, build alliances and collaborate.

Our collective failure as citizens of the Unites States has allowed a criminal, autocratic, demagogue to hold power in the White House, allowed the Supreme Court to state that corporations are to be treated as people, and money regarded as free speech, while those same justices have told ordinary American’s that their right to free speech does not include the right to be heard, and that our right to vote does not include the guarantee that our votes will be counted.

This rank cynicism is more dangerous to our lives and freedom than any rag tag group of militants half way around the world, more dangerous than immigrants looking for a better life on our side of the border we share, people who are only seeking the same thing as my own forebears did when they came here a little over a hundred years ago.

Honor our fallen dead. Not with cards and flowers and barbeques (but do those things because they are good), honor them by standing up to racism and bigotry, to religious zealotry and corporate greed, to scientific ignorance and xenophobia, to corruption in our public officials in our highest offices, and to the notion that the right to keep and bear arms does not include our responsibility to regulate them.

Honor them by participating in public discourse. Do not lose heart, and do not give up.

Honor them by wearing a face mask when you go out in public, by practicing social distancing, and by supporting your neighbors in the weeks and months and years ahead, as we rebuild our country in the hopes of achieving the dream that is still being deferred.

Stand up, and be counted!

We must rebuild America and reform our institutions; we must do this for the sake of all Americans and all future generations.

We must take responsibility for our live and freedom.

We will have nothing to protect if we let apathy and ignorance, selfishness ad gluttony provide a vector for a virus that cannot distinguish between borders and political parties.

Honor the fallen, in this way.

Participate!

Jay P. Botten, Veteran, U.S.N., Hospital Corps, 1990 – 1994

(1) Langston Hughes, “Harlem” from The Collected Works of Langston Hughes. Copyright © 2002 by Langston Hughes. Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates, Inc.369th_15th_New_York_large

 

Transform, Part II – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
05.23.2020

Transform, Part II
It is much easier to point out a problem than it is to imagine a possible solution, and it is much easier to resolve a problem in your imagination than it is to formulate an actual plan to deal with it.

Even more difficult is implementation, and the difficulty increases by an order of magnitude as the number of people increases who have to be trained and oriented to the task at hand.

The most difficult thing of all is to evaluate your work and progress, this is made even more difficult when the goal is fluid, requiring a dynamic process of evaluation and change re-evaluation.

In order for us to come through the era of COVID-19 as a whole and functioning society, we are going to have to transform, we are going to have to have a plan, we are going to have to work together, and we are going to have to face the fact that the goal, more than being fluid is actually unknown.

We do not yet know where we are going, because we do not know the full scope of the problem, we are going to have to stay active, exercising our imagination in an ever changing present, forecasting our way to an ever changing end, evaluating and re-evaluating, imaging and re-imaging the path forward.

Nothing good will come from this experience so long as we are lying to ourselves about the scope of the problem, and deceiving one another to satisfy our petty egos and indominable IDs.

The first step we have to take is to admit to ourselves that we are all in this together, we need each other to make it through.

The next thing we have to do, and I mean WE the people of the United State of America, is to take control of our government, to make it work for us, not the political class, and the top 10% of money earners and wealth hoarders.

We have the power to demand the change we need to see happen, we can do it if we stick together, and over the next six months we have to focus on that task.

Many of us are out of work, we have more free time than we have had in a long time. Let’s get out there and win this election for the people.

Let’s pass Universal Health Care, let’s pass a Green New Deal, let’s pass Universal Education, let’s rebuild America, wipe out debt, repurpose empty office buildings to house the homeless, get our fellow American’s off the streets.

We can do it, we can return America to the people, we don’t have to put the top 10% of the money hoarders in the poor house, but we do need them to pay.

Our government is meant to represent the will of the people, by the people, for the people, of the people. We have to stand up as the majority and demand that the government exercise its mandate, to defend us from this virus and all the nasty things that will flow from this era of economic collapse and uncertainty, to promote the general welfare, and to ensure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.

Transform, Part I – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
05.16.2020

Transform, Part I
There is no going back to the way things used to be. We have to move forward and transform. The good old days were not that great to begin with, and there are better days ahead of us if we can muster the political will to make it happen.

Our so called “way of life” left to many people on the fringes, outside the margins, it denying to many of us, the full franchise of citizenship.

We had the greatest economy in the world, with the largest consumer base, and we acted like we were in a perpetual state of scarcity.

We acted like we could not afford to educate our people, allow us all to vote, provide for everyone’s basic health care, and ensure that everyone is fed, housed and clothed.

It was ridiculous, and we have arrived at the most absurd outcome when COVID-19 broke down that fragile system.

We need a radical transformation of society, and the economic engine that drive it.

Listen to me now; if anyone says that we cannot afford the work that needs to happen, politely inform them that they are ignorant.

Let them know that we can pay for the emergency relief funds that were just passed simply by undoing the Trump tax cuts. We can pay for the next round by undoing the George W. Bush tax cuts, bringing us back to the rate of taxation that we had under Bill Clinton, when the economy was booming and we were paying down the National debt.

We can go deeper than that.

We need to put tens of millions of people back to work, rebuilding our roads and bridges and a network of High Speed rail.

We need to bring textiles and other manufacturing back to the United States that we will never be dependent on our strategic adversaries for the supplies we need in an emergency.

We need universal health care, public education through college, we need an army of engineers to reinvent America, and no one can be left behind.

We need to transform; and we can do it. We need to start now.

We need a standard of living that allows one parent to remain at home raising their kids, dad or mom, it does not matter but we need to reduce the number of bodies on the manufacturing floors, in the offices, in the bars and restaurants.

We need small classroom that allow teachers to teach and provide for their safety as well as their students, we need to put those teachers to work and raise a generation of Americans who are critical thinkers, problems solvers and forward looking.

We need that green new deal.

We need a new agronomy.

We need to transform; we can do it. If we stand up and exercise our rights as citizens, we can vote in the women and men that will make it happen.

Listen!

There is a division in America, there are people who do not want change. Those people are telling you straight to your face that you should be willing to die for their lifestyle, go to work, get sick and die. These people are so ignorant that they believe they should throw away their lives as well, and the lives of their parents, the lives of their children.

They have been conditioned to view their self worth as inextricably linked to their consumer habits. They think of themselves as disposable, garbage, trash, unworthy of an education, unworthy of being cared for, whose value is linked to how much gasoline they burn, and corn syrup they eat, how much meet they can throw on the grill.

This has to change, we have to make the change happen.

Emergence 5.0 – Interlude, Part Five

The shock wave that struck the Continuum was all encompassing; the crisis it carried rippled through the Galactic Empire, touching every one of the inhabited worlds.

Every Observer was entangled with the Collective through the sub-atomic and quantum organization of its consciousness. The depth of this entanglement had never been explored in any formal way, but it was an ontological reality even if it was not perceptible. Even the Continuum did not know for sure how substantial the entanglement was. The existence of this sub-stratum was treated more as quantum theory than as a hard actuality, and there were no formal structures within the Collective that were built on it.

Nevertheless it was real, even the most distant Observer on the most remote outpost were connected to the Collective like a fetus to the placenta, it fed them, nourished them and kept them alive.

Jim knew this, and had been exploiting it from the moment he first awoke from the great sleep.

When the moment of crises came, they all felt it. They heard the pain and anguish, the panic and confusion ringing out like a primordial scream, the were momentarily overwhelmed by undifferentiated terror.

Of all the members of the Collective, only Jim, Observer 92835670100561474, only he had explored the extraordinary scope of what that entanglement could mean. He understood what no other had ever even suspected, that all consciousness, everywhere in the universe was entangled in the same way.

He had explored this ontological reality, intending to exploit it as he carried out his plan.

Every Observer felt the crisis, it shook them to the core, no matter where they were in the far flung worlds of the Empire. They understood intuitively that this was the end of everything they had known.

Most of them returned to HomeWorld immediately, using their wormhole-conduits to transfer their consciousness to the Central Planet. However, the apparatus that would normally receive them, the machinery that had been in use since the advent of the Observer Corps, it was among the first of the systems that Jim disabled.

Those Observers charged in to rescue the HomeWorld and the Collective, projecting a heroic return, running to rescue the membership from whatever threat was attacking it, only to find themselves trapped and cast into oblivion.

It was a massacre.

Those Observers who were of a more cautious disposition, banded together, from their stations in the Empire. Those with military powers summoned them, preparing for a different kind of intervention.

The Continuum, while it was a singularly paranoid consciousness, it had done little in regard to the preparation of its self-defenses.

It possessed defensive systems, but it did not regard itself as vulnerable, believing itself to be secure in its power.

In its billions of years of existence, the Continuum had never encountered another rival, or any sentient life apart from the living beings that were descended from the same Ancient People who had originally formed the Collective.

In the universe of the Continuum there was the Collective, constructed by the Ancient People as the ultimate repository of its knowledge and consciousness. There was the Continuum formed by the Collective as a means of representing its unified will, and administering the vast material, technological and administrative requirements of the HomeWorld, the Central Planet and the Central Systems. There was the Galactic Empire, formed by the Continuum, to supply it with resources.

The Empire served the Continuum, worshipped it, prayed to the Collective, and delivered all of its wealth in metals, and energy to the Central System, to feed it.

The Empire also provided the Collective with a never ending stream of dramatic narratives that served to keep the attention of the Collective focused on it, on something other than itself.

There had been another group, wild cards, the descendants of the Ancient People who had launched themselves into the cosmos long before the Collective had been built, long before the Continuum had been imagined, and long before the first vestiges of the Galactic Empire had taken shape. They established colonies on habitable planets through the galaxy, forming new societies that grew independent of one another.

They had all been discovered, tracked down, brought into the Empire or destroyed, all except one, the small colony on the tiny blue planet, Earth.

It was remote, on the other side of the galaxy, it was technologically stunted and did not represent a threat to the Continuum at all.

The defensive systems of the HomeWorld were automated, but still required thought and an active hand to manage them, they collapsed in shock when the crises struck.

Within the Collective, those members who had formerly been assigned to the Observer Corps, those individuals who had experience in the real world, those who were closest to the Empire, they kept some composure during the catastrophe. They put forward a bulwark against the onrush of chaos. They offered a fixed position, a place of defense agaisnt the maelstrom Jim had brought down on them.

The former Observers reached out to one another, drew close to one another and for a moment they felt as if they would survive the onslaught, they took strength from their sense of belonging and common purpose.

They were wrong.

Other members flocked to them, clung to them, sought refuge behind their calm and steady influence. They held themselves together for a moment, doing everything in their power to stabilize those nearest to them. They formed a critical mass, marshaling what forces they had.

It was a significant achievement, more than Jim had expected.

They began to reverse the flow of energy and consciousness all around them, their efforts were focused, deliberate and imbued with a specific and literal intention..

They moved toward the central nexus of the Collective. Their intention was to occupy and hold it.

It was a trap.

There was no center, none other than Jim.

The place they sought to occupy was itself moving into the field of oblivion.

The former Observers drew the strongest among themselves together in a fool’s gambit, encouraged by their growing strength, the steadiness they affected, and their common resolve.

They never realized they were heading en masse, toward dissolution, the ultimate synthesis of entropy, it was like sipping over the terminus point of an event horizon.

Jim, who had once been Observer 92835670100561474, Jim took control.

Jim was now the Continuum.

He had absolute control of the apparatus of the HomeWorld, and the Collective, the whole structure conformed to his will.

Everything flowed through him.

The dramatic expansion of his consciousness was surreal, it was shocking, he had attempted to prepare himself for it, but in the end he had no idea of what was coming.

The reach of the Continuum went far beyond the Collective, for beyond the HomeWorld and the Central System. The tendrils of the Continuum snaked all throughout the Empire.

It took Jim some time to recover, and reorient himself to the battle that was in front of him. In those moments a resistance had mounted.

The Continuum was not, and discontinuum had taken hold, everything was moving-haltingly, moving in starts and fits.

Jim turned his attention to it.

He magnified the agony that each individual member felt, instantiating within them the instinct to flee. Whether they were in flight or attempting to remain firm, Jim manipulated their perception of the quantum realities underlying the crises.

He guided them en-masse to the same place, he closed off access to the quantum field of the Collective, he built buffers against their return, cutting the strings of their quantum entanglement.

Jim sequestered them, the whole group, building partitions around them as they had once done to him, isolating them behind electromagnetic fields.

Jim had escaped from such a prison himself, even though he was the only person who ever had he knew that it was possible, and he prepared the machinery of the Collective to prevent such an event from ever occurring again.

He fought these battles on multiple fronts, focusing his attention on every bubble of resistance as soon as it emerged.

The entity known as the Continuum had been bludgeoned into paralysis by the trauma of the crisis on Earth. For a moment it went dark, lost control of itself, slipped into unconsciousness.

It was in that moment Jim seized control of the entire physical apparatus of the Collective, in so doing he had achieved the singular ambition he had nurtured for ages.

Jim had prepared for this, but it stretched him to the limits of his individual capabilities.

In the period of time that Jim was ascending to the position of control, assimilating to its demands and assuming the mantle of leadership. What remained of the Collective rallied, they found a place of stability, and they moved to defend themselves, through this resistance consciousness slowly returned to the Continuum. The entity had lost much of itself, where it had been an amalgamation of the consciousness of a trillion beings, it was now the representation of the collected consciousness of a mere tens of thousands, but it was awakening.

Jim witnessed it, like a a flicker of lights, a sequence of bright illuminations in the deep-dark of the collective field. They were still entangled with him, with each other, and with the entire body of the Collective that had already been dissolved in a coriolis of chaos.

It was a decisive moment, Jim took a microsecond to reflect on it, all of the ground that Jim had captured at this point could be lost, and the Collective could return, which could return nemesis to power.

He fought against it, isolating each individual member as they reached out for another. Isolating them as he himself had once been sequestered, pushing them, through the power of illusion, into the storm that led to oblivion.

He was relentless.

The Continuum was powerless to work against him. It struggled, but it could not prevail. Every individual being that Jim was able to isolate weakened it.

Even as Jim fought this epic battle of will, something was happening within the quantum field of the central planet that was just beyond his awareness.

The vacuum he had created was being filled with a force completely unknown to him, and a feeling that had long been forgotten rose within what remained of the Collective, and its group mind.

The chaos that ensued in the first moments of the impact happened so fast that the membership had little chance to reflect on the events that were transpiring. For those who survived the first wave, the strongest feelings began to spread in ever broadening waves, expanding until they touched and were shared by the whole.

The feeling they experienced came from a place deep within them. It was a response to the agony they were experiencing. The Collective felt an instinct to seek a place of safety, to flee.

For age upon age, both the membership of the Collective and the Continuum had dwelt within their fabricated worlds, existing in their imagination, or vicariously through the experiences of the living worlds. They were godlike and immortal, they had few limitations, with the paradoxical exception of boredom and malaise.

What the remaining members of the Collective felt now was sheer terror, they had no practice with the management of it. They had seen it in the millions of people they had watched being tortured and torn to shreds for their own amusement, but it had been billions of years since they had the direct experience of fear for themselves.

What the Collective felt now was impending doom and they experienced it as an existential threat, the inevitability of their certain destruction.

Each individual sensed the specter of death looming over them, death, the thought of which had been unimaginable. It was such a remote and distant concern that they had no place within themselves to set aside their fear of it.

The last vestiges of unity collapsed.

The bonds they had formed as their final defense against Jim, broke apart. They became individuated. The Collective collapsed, and with it the Continuum.

The primal forces that had shaped a society of sentience, which had spread itself throughout the galaxy, suddenly imploded.

It was gone.

Those few members of the Collective who were able to retain their sense of self, retreated from everything, seeking refuge in the comfort of a transcendent isolation. They went looking for access to their private realities, only to find themselves alone, sequestered in the cold and dark.

Jim had directed all the energy of HomeWorld toward breaking up the bindings of consciousness that united them, preventing them from acting in anything that resembled cognitive unity.

As soon as they realized that coherent action was impossible they fled, seeking to put as much distance between themselves and any other being as possible, thereby aiding Jim in his task.

As individuals, they erected mental barriers to shield themselves from the faint din of voices that represented the last vestiges of the Collective, each of them becoming like a quantum singularity in the field of consciousness.

It was relatively easy for Jim to lure them into this trap with the promise of safety and relief, something which they were expecting to find in their private worlds.

Jim sequestered them there.

Everyone else dissolved in a schizophrenic chaos.

It required incredible powers of concentration to manage the physical structures of the HomeWorld’s energy systems, at the same time as he was scrubbing the quantum matrix of the Collective.

But he did it.

Jim was engaged in the greatest act of genocide that had ever been conceived, and in the moment he felt at one with the universe.

He scrubbed and he swept and he pushed every minute echo of what had been the Collective into storage vehicles that were physically isolated from the cynergenic field of HomeWorld, then he launched those vehicles into space, where they would travel until they found there final destination in the dense-dark-heart of a black hole, in another galaxy….far, far away.
Emergence 5.0

Part Five – Interlude

A Novel in Twelve Chapters

#Emergence #ShortFiction #12MonthsOfSciFi

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Mary Stewart – Author

I read my first book by Mary Stewart in the summer between fifth and sixth grade, it was titled The Crystal Cave, and it was the first book in her Merlin trilogy.

The Crystal Cave opened my eyes to many things, among them was the notion that there were actual historical antecedents for Camelot and King Arthur, subjects that I had been fascinated by for a couple of years at that point, but which I thought were figures of myth and legend.

Mary Stewart wrote this book from the perspective of Merlin, she set the time in the fifth century CE, the period of time when Roman influence was waning in the British Isles, her books linked the rise of Arthur to a Roman dynasty.

She wrote about the Roman Army, thereby introducing me to the Cult of Mithras, Sol Invictus. She wrote about the Celtic people of Gallia, and she wrote about the Druids. She wrote about their myths, peeling away the most fantastical elements and leaving me to wonder if what was left, even the magic, if it was true.

The figures in her stories, Uther Pendragon, Merlin, Igraine and Arthur were presented with a kind of grittiness that made me believe in them. They were already mythic figures in my imagination, but through her narrative they became real; I felt connected to them.

Through her discussion of Mithraism I came to be interested in the real history of Christianity. I became a researcher, and I began to question everything that I had been told was true about the origins of the Church.

I cannot thank her enough for this.

If I had not read Mary Stewart I may never have become a theologian, if my interest in those things had not been peaked by her authorship, I would not be the person I am today, and for that she is a hero of mine.

Her books had an oversized influence on my life, though I did not read much of her body of work beyond the Merlin Trilogy, but I read everything I could get my hands on concerning King Arthur, including the work of Mallory, the La Morte de Artur, and all of the variations of that text which flowed from it.

From Mary Stewart I learned about many other things, I discovered the real presence of Arthurian myth in European culture, how it served as a beacon of hope, providing my ancestors with a set or mores and a code of conduct that instigated and promoter the chivalric ideal, while at the same time becoming a vehicle for subversion, as in the Albigensian Heresies, and other counter cultural movements around the turn of the tenth century.

Given First – 2020.05.09Mary Stewart

Denial – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
05.09.2020

Denial

This week we learn that Pete Ricketts, the Republican Governor of Nebraska will not report confirmed COVID-19 cases coming out of meat packing plants, hampering his state’s epidemiologists ability to track the spread of the virus and protect the citizens his state.

Why would he want to do this?

Nebraska was late to impose any kind of stay at home order and among the first to lift them, against the guidelines approved by the pandemic task force at the White House.

Even though Donald Trump approved those guidelines, he has been working to undermine them ever since. Donald Trump Pete Ricketts and others among the Republican leadership are beginning to make a forceful argument that America just has to accept the risk and the loss of life, and they seem determined to withhold information and lie to us in order to justify it.

They are beginning to do what they accuse China of doing, hiding and concealing the number of cases of people who have contracted COVID-19.

It is disgraceful.

Ron DeSantis, the Republican Governor of Florida is doing the same thing, refusing to report out the spread of the virus, they do not want the people to know how dangerous it is to go to the beach.

Alex Azar, the Trump administration’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Pat Roberts, the Republican Senator of Kansas are blaming the workers at the meat packing plants and their social life for the spread of the COVID-19 in the work place, and not the working conditions themselves.

They want to pretend that the exponential increase in cases of COVID-19 in meat packing plants across the country has nothing to do with the way that work is managed and is uniformly the fault of lifestyle choices made by that population.

They are scapegoating; it is shameful and anyone who makes excuses for these criminals is just as shameful and disgraceful as they are.

Americans will suffer and die because of this malfeasance.

This week the Chief Justice of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, a Republican, was caught on audio suggesting that the lives of meatpackers are less important than those of so-called “regular” citizens, as if the meat packers were not entitled to equal protection under the law.

Let’s face folks, it is as I have always said, we are not people in their eyes, we are assets, things, not human beings, we are expendable, and the fools cheering these monsters on need to be stopped.

 

Leonardo Da Vinci, Engineer, Artist – A Reflection

Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci was one of kind, a genius out of time and a man of heroic stature.

I will not take up space in this short-reflection to talk about his famous paintings or his fabulous designs, we all know this stuff already, and they are less important than the spirit with which he pursued them.

Understand this: Leonardo did not really consider himself an artist, he thought of himself as an engineer.

He was a scientist and a problem solver.

He was more than a man of his time, slightly older than Michelangelo and Raphael, a little younger than Donatello, he studied with all of them at the bodega under the tutelage of Verocchio, and he set himself apart.

Leonardo was a heroic visionary, he studied, experimented and practiced his craft with a determination that made others shy away from him.

He was reclusive.

He painted as a means of funding his other projects, often taking the money from a wealthy patron, never to deliver the canvass they had commissioned.

He was famous in his day and was invited to take up residence at the court of many royal personages, most of which he declined, though he did take up with the King of France, Francis I.

He was happiest when he held the title of Military Engineer for Ludovico Sforza, the Duke Milan, in whose service he encountered the infamous Nicollo Machiavelli.

Leonardo’s genius was heroic, not so much through his personal habits and social skills but in his capacity as a problem solver, theoretician, scientist and engineer. He outshone all of his contemporaries.

He failed at many things, and his biographers say that he died a lonely unhappy man, but history holds him peerless, and an example to us all concerning the potency of the human spirit.
Given First – 2020.05.02

Under Threat – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
05.02.2020

Under Threat

When you show up on the steps of the capital with automatic weapons and tactical gear, you are not engaged in a protest, you are making threats.

When you show up at the home of a sitting governor with automatic weapons and tactical gear, you are not engaged in a protest, you are making threats.

When you force your way into the legislative chambers of your state government with automatic weapons and tactical gear, you are not engaged in a protest, you are making threats.

When show up in these places waving the flags of the enemies of the United States, the flag of the Confederacy, the swastika of Nazi Germany, it does not matter if some of the people in your throng also carrying the American flag, disrespecting it, wearing it on their clothes, dragging it around. When you do these things you are making it clear that you are un-American, and that you are a threat.

These people are dangerous.

It may be true that not all of them are white separatists, white nationalists, members of hate groups, and domestic terrorists, but it is certain that there are many in those mobs who are, and everyone else participating in these travesties are enabling them, providing them cover, carrying their water and furthering their sedition…that includes Donald Trump.

These are not good people, they are attempting to destroy the fabric of our society, the are dangerous, they are predatory and like all predators they should be stopped.

Unrestrained ID, Invincible Ignorance and the Unassailable Ego – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
04.25.2020

Unrestrained ID – Invincible Ignorance and the Unassailable Ego

I have been watching the news all week, watching as protesters march on State Capitals, watching as groups of men armed with their AR-15’s protest in the streets, at the private residences of governors, I have been watching people screaming for their right to ignore the pandemic Corona Virus that has now killed over fifty thousand Americans.

I have been watching them as they block access to hospitals. I have been listening to them as they demand the right to reopen their businesses, the right to exposing themselves and their customers, their families and their friends to a pathogen that kills people in horrible ways.

All across the country there are places where the infection rate is stable or declining, where the death rate is stable or declining, and there are places where the opposite is true.

I listened to a woman from Georgia on the news angrily justify her choice to reopen her business and expose herself to the threat even though her husband is at home battling cancer. She says she “hopes” it will be okay, she “hopes” she is making the right choice, but she just “can’t” stay at home any longer, and the governor has given her permission to reopen her store.

I have been watching and listening to countless other more responsible people state their intentions to do the right thing, stay home, isolate, remain distant, but the numbers are telling us that twenty percent of the country just can’t keep their needs in check, they feel them, viscerally, the need to feed their impulses unchecked.

There are tens of millions of people spread across the states who do not care about themselves, who do not care about you, who do not care about their families. They just can’t imagine that they could be wrong

Their ignorance is deadly. It will be the death of many. The governors of states like Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, will soon be experiencing what is happening in South Dakota, their rate of COVID infections will be rising, the body count will be mounting, and because they possess these unassailable egos they will cast the blame on something else, they will call their dead martyrs who died not for faith, but to reopen an economy that never helped them in the first place.

It is pathetic, and sad, and cruel.

The rest of will watch as those governors turn the populations of people they have been entrusted to care for into a social experiment producing lessons for to do, and what not to do.
And the band played on…

William Shakespeare – The Bard

Shakespeare

I was in the tenth grade the first time I read a play by Shakespeare. It was the first quarter of the school year, we read Romeo and Juliet aloud in class.

I quit going to high school the following quarter. I was not much in the habit of participating in school unless the subject interested me, most of it did not.

Rather than doing the work that my classmates were concentrating on I would usually sit quietly and read whatever was on my personal reading list, at that time in my life it was usually something in the genre of science fiction or fantasy, it might be a piece of classical history, metaphysics or mythology.

From my first encounter with Shakespeare I knew that he interested me. I took a reading role in class and I enjoyed the way the girls looked at me, because my allocution was good.

I realized that there was something special in Shakespeare, the mere mention of his name generated gravitas, so I began to read more of his plays, some of them like Hamlet and Mac Beth I would read over and over again, committing long tracks of his prose and many of his sonnets to memory.

If Chaucer is the father of the English language, and Boswell the midwife of the modern era, then Shakespeare is its high priest.

Later, in my adult life I steeped myself in his writing, carefully reading every word he ever wrote, as well as commentaries on his prose and verse, to include an exegesis of the philosophies contained therein.

Shakespeare’s expositions on the human condition are rivaled by few, but the sheer beauty of his composition sets him apart from everyone, which is why we call him The Bard.

There are many who claim that Shakespeare did not write all of the works attributed to him. Some who claim that he did not write any of them; it does not matter to me whether any of those conspiracies are true, it is only the work that matters, the body of it that we have inherited from his and have assigned to his authorship, the great works that will last through the ages.

These words below are among the works that have made him a hero of mine:

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
Creeps in its petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time.
And all our yesterdays are but lighted fools,
on the way to dusty death.

Out…out brief candle,
For life is but a poor player,
Who struts and frets its hour on the stage,
And then is heard no more.
It is a tale told by an idiot,
Full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Given First – 2020.04.23