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Since I Never Get the Last Word

Tuesday, August 30, 2005
The Historical Comedy

When the History Channel provides its daily glimpses of the past, you don’t expect to be amused as well as educated but consider that on this day in history Cleopatra committed suicide. Despite popular belief, she did not commit suicide because the Oracle at Delphi told her that Elizabeth Taylor would portray her life in a movie named for her. No, she committed suicide because the ploy that had worked on Caesar and Mark Antony did not work on Octavian. Predictably, there are those who cast aspersions on Octavian’s character whispering suspicions and limp accusations about his sexual preferences while, instead, it can more plausibility be attributed to Cleo being over the hill – she was 39 to his mere 33. Either that or he just wasn’t up to Cleo’s life style. He would have known that “Cleopatra sought to seduce Antony, as she had Caesar before him, and in 41 B.C. arrived in Tarsus on a magnificent river barge, dressed as Venus, the Roman god of love. * Successful in her efforts, Antony returned with her to Alexandria, where they spent the winter in debauchery.” On the other hand, what else was there to do in Alexandria in the winter time? They had not yet invented water skiing, you know.

Spending an entire winter in debauchery when you are intent on making yourself the first emperor of Rome just didn’t fit in withOctavian's time table. Cleo did not take rejection well. One of the little known hysterical tidbits is that not only did she commit suicide rather than admit she’d lost her charms, she used the occasion to coin a now clichéd phrase. After allowing the snake to bite her, she told her maid to tell Octavian “ since he will not have me he can kiss my asp.”

* The History Channel seems to have adopted the usage that ‘god’ is a neuter noun applying equally to male and female deities. Unless, of course, the noun is capitalized. In that case, as the civilized world is all too aware, God is male and a misogynist to boot.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2005-08-30 10:24:16

Monday, August 29, 2005

We have asked many times why people choose to live in Florida or California andtoday New Orleans. Annual weather patterns seem to dictate moving to somewhere safer but that is a foolish prejudice of a person who lives where water could disappear tomorrow or the bicentennial earthquake could come early. The Eagles sang the truth: every form of Refuge has its price. People must live where they can and Mother Nature be damned. All you can do on a day like today is exercise all the compassion you have. Technology may have made awesome advancement, but Ma Nature stills rules the roost and the best we can do is re-build when she gets done venting.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2005-08-29 09:34:50

Friday, August 26, 2005
The Harshaw Unrealities of Life

In earlier blogs I have accused poor old Ugh of being a lazy butt and now I’m forced to look at myself and wonder. It occurs to me I must be a direct descendant of old Ugh because I know of no one lazier than moi. Ugh at least invented labor saving devices to permit his laziness whilst I just sit around playing. Must have inherited the lazy without the willing-to-do-something-about-it. Two and a half novels of my own; two more with Sue, bits and pieces of others laying around and what do I do? I write blogs and keep two more stories running on sffworld. The fun part is the writing; the editing and whipping into shape for a publisher or an agent is the hard part. It’s down right work! Us retired folk abhor work in all its many forms. Since no one is after me to get published so I can be the next sensational prodigy on the market, I suspect I will never get any work done on all this. What I need is a set up like Jubal Harshaw’s. Where are Anne, Miriam, and Dorcas when you need them? Why, if someone was willing to do the hard part, I’d split the proceedings 40-60 with them -giving them the 60%. After all, they’d be doing the work. Then, I could go on being lazy and having fun and, in between rounds of golf, get more stories completed. Seems like heaven to me.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2005-08-26 09:47:38

Thursday, August 25, 2005
Modesty Blazing

“What men want is not complicated. Ask any man and he’ll tell you ‘I want a beer and I want to see something naked.’” Jeff Foxworthy

“Say to the believing man that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands... (Qur'an 24:30-31)

“If a certain kind of dress constitutes a grave and proximate occasion of sin, and endangers the salvation of your soul and others, it is your duty to give it up.” Pius XII to Catholic Young Women's Groups of Italy

"In like manner women also in decent apparel: adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety, not with plaited hair or gold, or pearls or costly attire." 1 Timothy 2, 9

“Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.” 2521. Catechism of the Catholic Church

The things I wonder about these days includes the concept of modesty of dress. Why is it that only the Prophet thinks modesty applies to men as well as women? And how did the Taliban and other fundamentalist Islam sects distort the Prophet’s words into the burqa and hajib? How did Ali ibn Abu Taleb arrive at “Almighty God created sexual desire in ten parts, then he gave nine parts to women and one to men.”? Yes, I know that in my lifetime women were required to cover their heads in Catholic churches and I know that comes from Paul. But that went the way of the Dodo and now folk are blaming the current state of the world on the fact that it did. In fact, if you look hard enough, I figure you’ll find a direct relationship from the elimination of the requirement for female head covering to the molestation of altar boys.

I notice with appropriate cynicism that Pius XII addressed his remarks to women; he either must have read Ali ibn Abu Taleb or, which is more likely, Timothy. With even more cynicism, I note good ole Timothy continued his above discourse on how women should pray with the ever memorable “I never let women teach men or lord it over them. Let them be silent in your church meetings. “Why?” Because God made Adam first, and afterwards he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was fooled by Satan but Eve, and sin was the result.” Adam, you see, knew that it was wrong to eat the apple and the fact he did so was Eve’s fault. Adam was not responsible for his actions because Eve was running around naked and any man with an erection is not capable of rational thought and not responsible for anything he does.

Sounds like I’m against modesty, doesn’t it? I don’t know if I am or I’m not, I’m still trying to understand its purpose. I wonder if the men and women who frequent nudist colonies spend all their time in heat. If the men do, I think they ought see a doctor because the commercials for ED meds say that longer than 4 hours is dangerous. Mostly, what I think I know so far is that the concept of modesty is another proof that old men should never be allowed to run anything without the advice, consent, and control of young men and women, particularlyreligions.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2005-08-25 11:24:50

Wednesday, August 24, 2005
The Root of Evil

I am one to revel in life’s little mysteries like why the other lane of traffic is always moving faster or, as I wrote in my first blog entry, why the ratings fixation of network news. Imagine my delight then to discover the Greeks were way ahead of me in studying such phenomena. Being much wiser than I, they were able to segregate the mysteries into Lesser and Greater, a feat I had not even dreamed. In their fashion, they assigned goddesses to each category, Persephone and Demeter, and wound up discovering the meaning of life in the process. Evidently the Mysteries explain how and why the soul submits to incarceration in flesh and blood and what it must do to return to its source. The Greeks could even wax poetic over the whole thing: "It is death to the soul," Plotinus wrote, "to be wholly immersed in a body and wholly subjected to it." That’s what I keep telling my soul, that it is subject to my bodily whims and desires but I haven’t been able to discern whether it is listening or not. Sure wish the Visible Goths hadn’t destroyed that Eleusian temple. I’d pay a couple of dollars admission fee to learn how to communicate productively with my soul.

When I look at life’s little mysteries, I never discover the meaning of life and I I generally end up laughing but when the Greeks looked at them, they wound up blaming Orpheus. That’s my problem; I don’t pay enough attention to who is to blame for these mysteries. Never too old to learn, I sat down to ponder the blame issue.

The networks blame everything they do on their damned investors. Why, by the goddess, if they weren’t required to please their investors we could have a ten minute news story instead of a ten second news bite. But the ten minute news story, right and good in itself they might agree, just doesn’t sell. When things don’t sell, investors quit investing. So, investors wishing to make a profit are the reason we get sound bites and news media feeding frenzies.

Next logical question: who the hell invented profit, anyway? I suspect it was our good friend, Ugh, the botanist, who invented grafting. It’s just exactly the kind of labor saving device he’d be enamored of, isn’t it?

So, there it is, reduced to bare essentials: Network news is Ugh’s fault.

Now, to take on traffic. Why are there so many people on the roads and why are the slow ones always in my lane? At first blush, I’d blame a mystical force inherent in the traffic divider paint that sorts people by their Kirian auras. All the folk hating to drive slow but feeling the compulsion to do so anyway are channeled into one lane. That means the folk who have no compulsions at all are channeled into the other lanes and they go fast not because they want to but because everyone else is.

At next blush, I’d blame Pontiac., not the automobile builder but the original namesake of that automobile.If he and his kind had been more forceful, more technologically inclined, more cruel and blood-thirsty, more willing to deal in ethnic cleansing, there wouldn’t be so damned many Americans around to buy the cars. That would clear the roads all by itself. But, Pontiac was who he was and he didn’t know Detroit was around the corner from where he lived so I can’t really blame a guy for being himself.

I guess we must go deeper. Who the hell invented the wheel? That’s the guy! Without the wheel, there’d be no improved roads much less cars. The wheel being a labor-saving device, we can pretty much figure who invented it; can’t we?

You can see where this is going. Ugh is the root of all evil and that’s only because he was a lazy butt.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2005-08-24 15:22:18

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