In some aspects of life on this planet, history does not repeat itself. Rather, things never change over time.
One example of this is the (minor) disagreement between the various sects of the Muslim religion. They have been squabbling—sometimes verbally, sometimes violently—for centuries. At some point, there might even be a “World War” of Islam, with a battle to the death of one or the other group.
This came to mind—although news from the Middle East might ensure that it comes to mind every day, if one took the time to think about it—with news that Saudi Arabia will not permit Iranians to travel to Mecca for the Haj. This is sure to become inflammatory, as the Koran dictates that all believers must travel once in his or her life to visit the holy city. Denying anyone entry to the country in which Mecca is located is the equivalent of knocking down a hornets nest and then thumbing your nose at the violently upset residents of said nest.
If one considers numbers, there are more Sunnis than Shiites in the world. Like Chinese soldiers storming US machine guns in the Korean War, there are not enough bullets in the Saudi arsenal to kill the masses of Shiites that could be mustered to capture the holy shrine of Islam. Not that it will come to this…but, it could. Recall, for a moment, that Sunnis are the ones that beat themselves bloody on some holy day.
The first step, of course, will be a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. I am sure the some parties in the United States are rooting for this outcome, as well as actively stirring up trouble (ie. sellers of weapons and equipment).
When you think about it, there are equally divided voices in the United States. One group wants to turn the screws on Iran, while another wants to sue Saudi Arabia.
Some day, I will spend my time trying to figure out if there is a single issue on which all humans agree….
Have you ever thought about school? No, not the time you spent there, but the system; not micro, but rather macro...
The public education system is based upon preparing citizens for yesterday, not tomorrow. It takes so long to change a curriculum, that the world has change many times. Progress moves faster than committees. The average kid will not suffer: he or she is screwed anyways. And, then, you’ve got all the special interests groups (ie. religions) that want to be sure that pupils are brainwashed.
Schools should prepare children for the future, but they are run by conservative, unthinking dolts. They are interested in the status quo and not producing clear-thinking individuals. People that think might question those that decide. Ensuring ignorance is ensuring power to maintain unthinking, docile populations.
I noticed from a news report that today is the anniversary of something that happened at Verdun. A bunch of people died needlessly 100 years ago. In case you haven’t noticed, people are still dying heedlessly because of hunan nature and bad decisions by leaders of those humans.
I have been to Verdun. I recall visiting the fortress, which repelled all attacks for centuries: allegedly, it was never overwhelmed. One hundred years ago, the fortress was not attacked: people died in the trenches a few miles from the solid walls of the fortress.
People no longer attack fortresses or die in trenches; they have bombs dropped on them or are taken out by drones, manipulated by men in far away Nevada, before they go out to The Strip for fun.
I discovered the following passage in an excellent New Yorker article about the novel “The Sport of Kings”, which sound interesting, and it caused me to stop and reflect.
Females qua females do fine is this book, including fillies, but mothers, daughters, and wives--
women defined by their relationships to men—suffer silence, sickness, abuse, and early death.
I thought about women I know or have read about. Successful or famous ones are not defined by men, even if they are in the background, support, or accompany them. Angie’s husband might whisper in her ear, but she runs the show in Germany and Europe. The other Angie is her own woman, despite whichever actor she is married to. Hillary will always be defined by her relationship with her husband. Whoever heard of Christine Lagarde’s husband (or even knows who she is)? Oprah has a man, but he is a lapdog. I have no idea as to whether the female members of the Supreme Court are married. Olivia Pope is number one in her life.
Later, I discovered another line, this time from the Bible: “God hath made of one blood all the peoples of the earth”. You never hear bible-thumping evangelical hypocritical racists mentioning this bit from the book they constantly wave. And, similar words might appear in the US Constitution, but who pays any attention to that? The same people that wave (and) ignore the bible, also wave and ignore that document (except the bit about guns).
Life on this planet, perhaps even this universe, has been, is, and always will be about who has power over and control of others...
Life isn't about finding yourself.
Life is about creating yourself.
George Bernard Shaw
I admit to being strange, but now I have some numbers to prove my point.
When I watch a movie, I like to check Box Office Mojo to see how well it did at the box office. Prizes for the film or the actors have little impact on sales, despite the hopes of producers. I can see if I have followed the crowd or belong to a select group by virtue of ticket sales.
Today, I watched The Danish Girl, which I enjoyed. The cinematography is excellent; the acting is superb. The story is interesting and enlightening (as much as possible for such a subject).
Checking the box office results, I learned that there were only $11 million is ticket sales in the United States (foreign sales were five times that amount). Perhaps, because there were no guns and no violence, US viewers were not interested. The standard fare of US viewers takes in more that total sales of The Danish Girl on a poor opening weekend. Beautiful movies with a difficult subject do not stand a chance. And, who knows where Denmark is? The girls in Pitch Perfect 2 did not…
I believe that, in the past, I have mentioned finding high speed trains in Europe (there are none in England) to a civilised way to travel. One arrives shortly before departure and strolls to the train, unimpeded by irritating lines at security checks—unlike at airports or museums, there are none. Seating is always comfortable and spacious, even in second class (so I’ve been told). There is a restaurant/bar, but the conductor will serve you at your seat.
I find the the old-fashioned punching of tickets by a conductor to be a comforting reminded of times past. Although he carries a machine to read bar codes on a passenger’s phone, I prefer the paper ticket. Slow can be better.
The speed—which is proudly display on monitors—is such that it makes little sense to fly between many points in central Europe. The train leaves from the centre of the city, or even the airport, and arrives in the centre of the city. Hassles, unlike with air travel, are few and far between. Flying is only better for long distances.
Unlike on trips for the past twenty-five years, police strolled through the carriages as the train crossed the border each way. They boarded at the last stop in each country and disembarked at the first stop in the next, retracing their “steps”. Unlike in the past, they did not check passports or search for items needing to be declared for customs duties or contraband. They did not confront any passengers in first class, but I had spotted no one looking suspicious. Perhaps, this “show of force” was a show; perhaps, they had reason to be vigilant. This did not bother me nor comfort me; I merely took in the unusual spectacle. I will have to spend the rest of my days with the knowledge that the relaxed days of “unified” Europe have been disrupted by a few idiots wanting to return to the Middle Ages, Darks Ages, or even more-distant past.
Best to ask someone that lives in the city or town, but also fun to take a chance on a place that looks interesting.
The first night we wanted seafood. I recalled seeing restaurants with oyster displayed on mountains of ice outside the door. This is surely to attract customers, but also to keep the vagrant odor of the sea outside. Some poor soul gets to shuck the oyster for each order, which is carried in ceremoniously by a waiter.
Before entering the restaurant recommended by the hotel, we spotted a long line waiting outside a restaurant across the street. The name, L’Entrecot, suggested a steakhouse. All the maitre d’ at our choice said was something about some steak with some special sauce. The next day, I asked friend, who explained that the restaurant had one item in a single size on its menu: entrecot, which was served with potato, a small salad, and a secret sauce. They did, however, offer a selection of deserts.
The next night, we tried our luck at a tiny restaurant recommended by a long-time resident of Paris. First of all, we never would have found the place to consider, as it is tucked away on a tiny street behind a church with no other shops or restaurants nearby (unlike a lot of streets in Paris).
Secondly, we never would have gotten in without having had a table reserved by my friend. Although tiny, it was packed. The French love to go out and to eat. And, the do not eat in silence. Only Chinese restaurants are more noisy.
Finally, we might not have ventured in, because of the size, the spartan decor, and the crowded seating plan.
Two cooks, who had practiced their choreography, stood behind the stove and counter in the dining area. Our seats provided a good view of the show. The food they produced in the tiny cooking area was excellent, aided by the fact that they used only excellent ingredients. Service was friendly and efficient: no sign of the surly French people keep complaining about.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.