Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Public Trials

Big day for our struggling Republic. Wind chill, technical issues and snow blindness, so not sure what might be happening in the Halls of Power. Possible of course there'll be the beginnings of an orderly and sensible discussion around whether our president has behaved in a disgraceful and disgusting manner and should be removed from high office, marched to the scaffold, make it a TV Spectacular, have little boys throw rotten eggs at him, sell tee-shirts and beaky hats. The scene reminds me a little of the 12 formative years I spent within the boundaries of English Boarding schools, which were about as far from a Republic as you can get, inspired as they were by the Spartan's treatment of their own youth, who at the age of seven were forced from their homes, out into the world, where they were to fend for themselves through brigandage and theft. A character building exercise apparently, a sorting of the political chaff, I guess. Speaking of which, kind of hoping to again witness a little chaff sorting, but you kind of need your own backbone to do that, none of this what do the polls say nonsense.

Back in the formative years we too had our factions and we had a few totally inadequate high office holders, Head of House they were called, horribly obnoxious spotty faced, entitled delinquents, one of whom wore a cravat at the supper table. We on the lower tables had a visceral reaction to this particular Head of House, his every word and movement, and the prime object of our lives was through acts of aggravation that made his life a living hell, he was big on what was called Dumb Insolence, not saying anything but looking at him funny, the punishment for which was three days calling. You got up, you had cold bath, you dressed, you reported your presence for inspection to him as he lay in bed and you had to do that three times. Tie out of place, and whoop another days calling, your correspondent has seven days straight in his permanent record. The Head of House was found one early day light savings morning beating his own bloody head against the bathroom mirror, it was self centered and very thoughtless of him to get so worked up about his exams, make such a mess of the bathroom just before breakfast. He disappeared from our midst, and much grumbling as it took around two weeks for our House Master to get our mirror replaced. The Assistant Head Boy was promoted and for the rest of that year you could smoke in the toilets whenever you damn well wanted to and some of us, to test the new boundaries, started walking around with our hands in our pockets.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Tapestry

In every possible configuration of a society there are flaws, many of them unseen, unpredicted and invariably those flaws set the scene for a societal change of some sort. What might be called Modernists reckoned it was possible to do something about those flaws, and when you're talking Modernists you're really talking from the Age of Reason to not so long ago. Modernists have an understanding of truth, it's got a capital T and it's out there even if it might be just beyond grasping in an absolute and certain way.

Post Modernists agree with this, but for Post Modernists one of the flaws in society was the capacity of powerful interests to control how truth was perceived. Indeed it wasn't the Post Modernists that caused the current conundrums, rather, from Tobacco is Good for You all the way to Climate Hoax their suspicion around the motivations of sources of information is demonstrably justified. Short term, the whole thing's a sort of basic hedonistic idiocracy stumbling toward extinction, but long term we learn our painful lessons. Small comfort it's all part of the tapestry.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Winter

Your correspondent will not be waxing on about the the many flaws in the design of our species, certainly won't mention the tragedy of not having been blessed with a capacity to hibernate through the shorter and more pointless days.

And the reason he won't be suggesting that a couple of months of total absence from consciousness might benefit us all in unimaginably wonderful ways, everyone gone for a bit, "Have a Happy Hibernation" cards, balloons and so on, is because, apparently, it's a boring subject.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Customer Relations

Gormenghast has changed a little, and the reason it's changed a little is because I have no memory of what I was planning for N-Scale this winter. I have stared at the project, but not actually touched it yet, so it's a confusing time and the last thing you really want to hear from a Telephone linesman is that the frigid temperatures and horrible little wind in the outdoors suits him fine. "Perfect Weather," he called it. I did raise an eyebrow, and he explained "I'm big." It's not the telephone line I tried to be helpful, "so no need to spend the next seven days looking for a fault in the line," and I went on about flashing modem lights, and how traditionally the modem at this end of the telephone line continually dropped if the speed of electronic packets being blasted down the line was too fast, the delicate system couldn't take it and neither could I, the whole streaming movies thing was a total waste, and anyone who played games on line had something seriously wrong with them, when all a person really asks from his internet connection is that it doesn't have the electronic equivalent of a nervous breakdown every ten minutes...

In the back of my mind as I rambled on, I was very aware of my own cruel experiences of the customer class, yet I seemed quite incapable of reining myself in. Poor chap must have been warned, "You want it slowed down?" "Yes please," I replied and off he went. In the aftermath of the exchange I thought back to the years I spent delivering milk to door steps. When new management arrived to boost our productivity, all kinds of absurd enthusiasms, like glossy pamphlets offering door step delivery of eggs, cheese, bacon, something called yogurt, one of our number who'd grown up in the coal valleys, a card carrying member of the communist party and our union representative called a meeting. "Kapital doesn't know the job," he said. "Gets this Bee up it's trouser leg, and you just got to let the Bee run it's course. I can't do it because, you know why, but you can." And he pointed at innocent me. I had the Cogan run, poorest part of the city, row houses, front door steps. And indeed absolutely no one in their right mind in the early hours of the morning would have left six eggs, or even a yogurt, on the door step of a house in Cogan. That month our Milk Yard won a great victory, sales were up, receipts were way down. "What can I do?" I explained. "Customers say it keeps getting stolen." And our lives quickly got back to normal

Friday, November 8, 2019

Greater Good

Given the current circumstances, well worth recalling Plato's contributions to public discourse. One of the things we snowflakes have to remember is that we people have been at this for a very long time and one of the things we have learned is that Onions don't grow on trees. And it's true, as you age, and forced to experience something like the dawn of a new fascist state, you acquire a new appreciation of those thinkers you might once have big time sneered at. Plato reckoned that we people in the majority were good at dreaming, we had all sorts of ideas, and when someone came along who promised us the earth we were prone to believing them even if what they promised was almost absurd. And indeed Plato's ideal state was not the chaos of democracy but a Good Tyrant. As well, Plato was well aware that Good Tyrants were very few and very far between, and in the meanwhile recovering from a Bad Tyrant could take generations of thunder and lightening.

What Plato wanted was wisdom in our political leaders. Wisdom is fundamentally an understanding of past, present and future as it is, not what you'd like it to be. Plato's experience of the public square was many bad ideas followed by very few good ideas, and all of them contributing to mostly unsatisfactory and half baked solutions. What was needed, he argued. was a system that plucked the more studious minds from the populace and gave them the opportunity to study the realities of what was known about us people and from these People of Gold the ruling class would be chosen. And even today, you can see the sharp distinction between those who have obedience to the Constitution of the USA, they took their oath and role in society seriously, and those for whom maintaining personal power and privilege could well be more important than the greater good of the three hundred and sixty odd million people who make up these here United States.  In the end Socrates was the wisest of men because he freely admitted without others he didn't know anything.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The New Governor

 In the latter part of the 18th Century, which is like the 1700's, 1776 and all that, the British had a Prime Minister who came to be called Pitt the Elder. Pitt the Elder was a strong Prime Minister, who held the always quarreling Parliament together through the power of his oratory and his capacity to debate. Pitt the Elder was followed by his son, who came to be called Pitt the Younger. And Pitt the Younger has, if you like the idea of a colonial empire, been deemed a very, very fine Prime Minister indeed. I mention this to remind myself that not always do the offspring of those born to or who climb the slippery pole fall to a sort of pointless, nepotistic and corrupt existence. Here in Kentucky, the new governor elect if he survives the challenges to his election by a majority of the vote, is a man called Andy Beshear. His father Steve Beshear served as Governor of Kentucky from 2007 to 2015.

One of the things about the more conservative mind, is its relationship to that Old Testament rabble rouser Ezekiel, I guess. He was asked "Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?" These days everyone knows that the son should be innocent until proved guilty, it's the only decent and Christian thing to do. Yet far too often we people find it difficult to be decent. And indeed in these parts we're all frightfully decent, yet woe unto he who trusts, let's call them the Pudesduckles, because it's a well known fact that all Pudesduckles are thieves, brigands, bandits and adulterers. Same thing with the "virtues of the father." Andy Beshear, his father was deemed a good and popular governor, an upright and respectable man, he served two, four year terms as Governor and might very well have been elected to serve a third term had State Law allowed it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Governor

One of the things about our hopefully soon to be ex-governor here in the State of Kentucky is that he's a truly unpleasant person, his qualities Skunk and Porcupine. We're talking rude, mean, selfish, totally uncouth in an entirely charmless way and a classic so called successful businessman from New Hampshire.

 All very well for something like firing factory workers without turning a hair, ripping-off contractors and so on, but none of them qualities one should really look for in a high political officer where a degree or two of prescience is a necessary quality for leadership. Otherwise you got yourself just another loudmouth know it all. Two a penny in the political class at the moment.