Tuesday, March 31, 2009

French workers seize company HQ, take execs hostage

Every time the French get a little irked, they shout "To The Barricades!" and do stuff like this, while we get whipped and snivel "Oh please sir, might I have just a bit more gruel?" And that, my friends, is why the French have a 38-hour work week and get to spend the whole month of August lying on the Med beaches, while we have whatever the heck it is we have ....


Hundreds of French workers, angry about proposed layoffs at a Caterpillar office, were holding executives of the company hostage Tuesday, a spokesman for the workers said.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Spring

If you're a regular person, Happy Spring. If you're a starwatcher, Happy
Vernal Equinox. If you’re a pagan type, happy Ostara. And if you’re
going through a little Celtic phase like me, then it’s Latha na
, the day when Brighid finally defeats the Cailleach (the
"Crone" or "Hag", bringer of Winter) and begins her reign over the
warm half of the year. Give credit where it’s due, the Hag held on
till the bitter end this year. I’m still not 100% convinced she’s done
toying with us.

It’s a good time of year to smile and take comfort from the fate of
John Barleycorn, a very old symbol of the eternal recurrence of life.
Way back in November at Samhain they:

“... took a plough and plough'd him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they have sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead!”

Ah, but was old John really dead? Of course not. Everything always
comes back, nothing dies forever:

”But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,
And showers began to fall;
John Barleycorn sprang up again,
And sure surpris'd them all!”

Happy Spring, y’all. Give a wave and a howdy to Mister Barleycorn when
he comes striding through your fields. He has important work to do,
but he’s always willing to stop in for a cup or a pint of any
fermented barley-based beverages you might happen to have lying about.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

3 million hit the streets to protest the economy

Sorry to say, those 3 million people are in France, not the US. Why is it that the French hit the streets while we Americans don't? Like the writer of the piece says, "France is France." I wish Americans hit the streets more often. It might not fix anything in the long run (though it just might), but it sure beats huddling in front of our teevees and just "taking it," which is what we’re all doing now. If the AIG bonus nonsense was happening over in France, I guarantee there would be about 1.5 bazillion pissed off frenchies outside the corporate HQ setting up Madame Guillotine. As to why we Americans don't get out there like the French do, I suspect it's a side effect (a planned side effect?) of the whole "rugged individualism" myth, that toxic, retrograde aspect of the American character that says: I got mine, screw everybody else, and anyway "solidarity" starts with a "s" and so does that there "socialism", so it's gotta be bad fer ya.


Why is it only in France that such demonstrations are taking place?

After all, it is people the world over who are bearing the brunt of the recession. But they are not on the street.

The answer is simple. France is France. It has its own political and social codes, forged in the Revolution and over the course of two turbulent centuries.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Meditation on Succetus

I propose we rename March 17th "Saint Baldrick's Day". Instead of getting
hammered on “Saint Patrick’s Day” (and waking up disheveled, disoriented, and obscurely ashamed for reasons you pray you will never remember), do something nice instead and contribute a few pence at www.stbaldricks.org . Then go get hammered.

That is the only warm-fuzzy sentiment you will find in this piece, so enjoy it. On to the meditation ...

“Patrick” (real name, Magonus Succetus) was the worst thing that ever happened to Ireland and the Irish. Succetus was a cultural imperialist and bitter revanchist, an angry man who took a perfectly fine, vibrant culture and befouled the place with a weird, groveling, guilt-obsessed, master/slave middle-eastern death cult.

First let’s be clear. Succetus wasn’t Irish, he was a Romanize Briton. He came from privilege, but his life changed forever when, as a teen, he was captured by Irish raiders and dragged off to Ireland as a human slave. We can’t imagine the kind of life he would have led as a shepherd out in the hills. Often cold, usually wet, months at a time seeing not a single human being, no decent clothing to wear, very little food, and subject to random beatings and the hundred and one daily abuses and degradations to which human slaves have been subject throughout history. What did Succetus think about during those endless cold nights alone out on the pastures? The stories claim he thought about how, if he could just escape, he could bring these poor pagan Irish to The One True Faith. This is nonsense: it presumes a model of human behavior that has never been in evidence, especially among those known as “saints.” What Succetus thought about for those years in slavery was the same thing we would all think about in identical circumstances: revenge. Eventually making his way to the coast and from there back to home, he found the perfect weapon for his revenge: Christianity. This middle-eastern religion made it easy for Succetus, and when he returned to Ireland to “convert the heathens,” his quiver was full. The Celtic Triskellion? Why, that’s a representation of The Trinity! The god Lugh, born of a divine father and a human mother? Well, that’s none other than a pointer to Our Lord And Savior! Tir Na Nog, the blessed isles where the dead go to rest and refresh themselves? What else could that be but Heaven! My ancestors – very brave but perhaps not as intellectually gifted as one might like – fell for Succetus’ bullshit hook, line and sinker. And so the culture and the soul of Ireland were changed utterly.

Let me tell you about a place out in the west of Ireland, a place that shows exactly what Succetus did to the Irish.

Croach Aigle (now called “Mount Patrick”) is a small mountain or a big hill, depending on who you ask. In pre-Christian times, the people would dance and amble up the slopes singing their old songs. Once they reached the top, the pilgrims would have revels and celebrations in honor of Lugh (and before him, in honor of Crom Cruach). As one of his main orders of business, Succetus climbed the mountain and “exorcized” the “demons,” turning it into a Christian pilgrimage site. However, the Christians do not dance their way joyously to the top: they trudge up, flagellating themselves (verbally and physically), riddled with sin and guilt and terror of eternity in a lake of fire. Even today, many Christian pilgrims walk to the top barefoot; every now and then, one of them will crawl all the way to the top on hands and knees. All in the interests of degrading themselves before their god, who apparently is pleased by such behavior. If any single thing brings into sharp relief the difference between the old, indigenous faith and the new middle-eastern faith that Patrick brought to Ireland, the difference in attitude as the faithful climbed the holy mountain to meet their respective gods is it.

I plan to visit Ireland and walk up that hill before I die. There will be no flagellation or wails of guilt and cries for salvation to some alien middle-eastern sky god, I assure you.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Elf-spotting in Iceland

Don't mess with The Folk, or they'll delay your construction project.
Happens all the time in Iceland, apparently. Place seems
to be crawling with The Other Crowd. I wondered where they'd
relocated to after they got sick of dealing with the Irish.

An article on Iceland's de facto bankruptcy in the April issue of
Vanity Fair notes that a "large number of Icelanders"
believe in elves or "hidden people." This widespread folklore
occasionally disrupts business in the sparsely populated
North Atlantic country. Before the aluminum company Alcoa could erect
a smelting factory, "it had to defer to a government
expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were
on or under it." How do you find an elf?

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Inflection Is Near

Every time I see Tom Friedman's weasely, supercilious face on the TeeVee I have to quickly change the chanel before I succumb to the urge to startscreaming "SHUT UP! SHUUUT UUUPPPP!" at the top of my voice. (it scares the cats ...) Imagine my shock to see this NYT op-ed that is right on the money. The only point on which I disagree is with the bone he throws us at the end, where he claims that we'll all do the right thing, gird our loins, and fix this problem. The West's track record in loins-girding hasn't been real good the past half century. We''ve forgotten how.


What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.”