Monday, November 9, 2009

Let the Blinged See

"Then the eyes of the blinged shall be opened." - Bible, Isaiah 35, 5

I just spent two weeks constructing the index for a book for administrators of Windows Server, latest version. I did some recreational reading, news scanning, and thinking in the slim cracks that my schedule allowed. Today, rather than writing a coherent essay, I will try to recap as many of my findings and thoughts as I can. Hopefully some will appear in fuller form in future blog entries.

Just last night I finished reading The Sand Pebbles by Richard McKenna. This is a book that should be on the college literature short list, but it is way too real and not sufficiently literary for that, so it is already half forgotten. The movie, staring Steve McQueen as the anti-hero turned hero Holman, is available for rental; movies, sadly, now live longer than books. The movie is good, but the book is great. It came out in 1962, and should have been a warning about U.S. intervention in Vietnam. It is about U.S. military operations in the interior of China in the 1920's, when Calvin Coolidge was president and Chiang Kai-shek was still suspected of being a communist. I always thought of President Coolidge as a sort of nothing President who merely presided over the American prosperity of the 1920's. Now, finally, I have cause to look at his presidency in more depth and write an essay about it.

Not entirely coincidently, I also finished reading Chinese Communism and the Rise of Mao
by Benjamin I. Schwartz, originally published in 1951. I wish I had read it back in the 1970's when Maoism was more popular in the U.S. (and around the globe). There were a number of interesting points in the book, and strangely they explained many of the scenes depicted in The Sand Pebbles. Certainly China would not be the great nation it is today if it had not been for the blood spilled by the ordinary peasants of China in the 1920s. Although it has drifted from its original conception, to understand the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government of today, it helps to understand its birth in Hunan Province in the 1920s.

Back in these United States, the Democratic Party politicians continue to disappoint almost everyone who is paying attention. The illegal, unjust, criminal war against the people of Afghanistan is now just background noise to most people. The medical "reform" bill about to be passed looks pretty bad, on the whole, to me. The economy, however, is reviving and might even be in good enough shape by November 2010 to allow the Democratic Party to hold onto Congress and all the perks that go with it. As to the Republicans, even that mass murderer Lincoln would turn in his grave. They are becoming a parody of a parody, so out of touch with reality that they should be laughed off this stage of history. However, they are tapping into the anger of frustrated Americans, and it is a deep anger. The Republican leadership will misdirect it as best they can.

Thank nature for small victories. The Green Party just won a majority of the seats on the town council of Fairfax, California. You may laugh, but this is a victory deep, deep in the Democratic Party heartland. In your heart, you know you are Green, so why not join our party?

Elsewhere in sunny California, where the climate is nice but we serfs are subjected to taxes that would have been deemed cruel even by Catholic bishops in the Dark Ages, life seems to go on. Belts have been tightened, and many have been forced to move into Obamaville homeless encampments, but people are bucking up pretty well. Laid off engineers are tinkering with the next generation of labor and energy savings devices. Laid off office workers, women and men, are setting up small businesses of all sorts, and prices are falling in the recreational drug and sex-for-hire industries. Perhaps the apocalypse is just around the corner, perhaps the light can finally be seen at the end of the tunnel, but rest assured, life in some form will go on. If not here, then on some other planet, perhaps in some other galaxy. Something is making me wax galactic ... it must be Jerry Brown's run for governor. Back to the future, indeed.

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