Tip On Ambition and Intelligence from The Unemployment Corner

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Unemployment Corner: Tip on Ambition & Intelligence

by Unemployment Consultant David Arthur Walters

If you want to get off the Unemployment Corner, do not believe everything you hear from employers, for they tend to lie at least as much as prospective applicants. For example, you will hear calls for “ambitious” and “intelligent” people.

In any case of prospective employment, do not appear to be very ambitious or highly intelligent – above all, do not be a wise guy. Remember, high intelligence is rare and it is usually feared and despised. Obedience to authority and conformity to the average mentality are actually the rule with most outfits. Indeed, mediocrity is the norm and mediocre leadership is its model. Above all, do not let on that you are ambitious or intelligent enough to replace your interviewer and to do a much better job with human resources than she will ever do.

Of course there are brilliant exceptions, but it is best not to be one if you are seeking employment in a typical mediocracy. During job interviews, keep this advice from Arthur Schopenhauer in mind:

“Intellectual conversation, whether grave or humourous, is only fit for intellectual society; it is downright abhorrent to ordinary people, to please whom it is absolutely necessary to be commonplace and dull. This demands an act of severe self-denial – we have to forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to become like other people.”

If you want a really good job in good society, you might keep this observation by the same philosopher in mind:

“So-called good society recognizes every kind of claim but that of intellect, which is a contraband article; and people are expected to exhibit an unlimited amount of patience towards every form of folly, stupidity, perversity and dullness; whilst personal merit has to beg pardon, as it were, for being present, or else conceal itself altogether.”

The Delusion of Militarism

 
 
THE DELUSION OF MILITARISM
BY
DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
 
A fascinating article entitled ‘The Delusion of Militarism’ appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in 1908. It was penned by Charles Edward Jefferson (1860-1937), a New York author and minister. The first paragraph grabs the eye:

“The future historian of the first decade of the twentieth century will be puzzled. He will find that the world at the opening of the century was in an extraordinarily belligerent mood, and that the mood was well-nigh universal, dominating the New World as well as the Old, the Orient no less than the Occident. He will find that preparations for war, especially among nations which confessed allegiance to the Prince of Peace, were carried forward with tremendous energy and enthusiasm, and that the air was filled with prophetic voices, picturing national calamities and predicting bloody and world-embracing conflicts.”

As we know only too well from two world wars, not to mention several other major wars besides, the prophesies were self-fulfilling. The imagined violence and repeated affirmations of coming horrors were realized in fact, as if some sort of post-hypnotic suggestion were in force. Yet, at the same time universal calamity was being envisioned and professed, peace was being championed by world leaders and national statesmen, international workers’ organizations and peace leagues, conventions and courts. Indeed, we recall from our popular histories about the Great War that, prior to its outbreak in 1914, many experts considered international peace to be the foregone conclusion of economic development; after all, with the world inextricably linked by trade, what mammonist in his right mind would want to destroy accumulated capital and sever trade relations by waging war? Nevertheless, contrary to the proposition that perpetual peace was at hand, rumor had it that world war was imminent. As a matter fact, we know that generals had been preparing for 14 August several years prior to the invasion.

Confronted as he was with the contradiction between professed peace and the profession of war, with the “unprecedented growth of peace sentiment, accompanied by a constant increase of jealousy and suspicion, of fear and panic, among the nations of the earth,” Jefferson conducted an investigation, and tracked down the source of the war rumors to their origin: “(The) fountains from which flowed these dark and swollen streams of war rumor were all located within the military and naval encampments.”

Jefferson followed the flow of war talk downstream to legislative bodies where representatives had been convinced by the violent images and affirmations of the military experts, that war was in fact imminent, therefore their countries were really in grave danger. Hence an insane armament race around the world was launched. For instance, we recall the infamous Dreadnought race, between Germany with its Naval League, and Britain with its two-for-one policy, requiring it to have twice the naval power of any other two nations in order to secure world peace. The United States, also making a proactive suggestion along naval channels, sent a fleet of battleships on a peace mission around the world. Of course armies were enlarged accordingly and weapons improved and proliferated so that the world would have peace. But how absurd. The militant vision was driving men mad:

“(The) mere presence of the shining apparatus of death may have kindled in men’s hearts feelings of jealousy and distrust, and created panics…. It was only men who lived their life with guns who were haunted by horrible visions and kept dreaming hideous dreams and that the larger the armament the more was a nation harassed by fears of invasion and possible annihilation…. Was it a form of national lunacy, this frenzied outpouring of national treasure for the engines of destruction? Was it an hallucination, this feverish conviction that only by guns can a nation’s dignity be symbolized, and her place in the world’s life and action be honorably maintained?”

In other words, knowing fully well that war is butchery, murder, hell on earth, men built more guns, launched more battleships, recruited colossal armies and justified all this as peace-making with a pagan maxim in mind: “If you wish for peace, prepare for war.” What was the result of this mass delusion? Chaos and war. Imagine that. It is as if anxious people in want of peace were to join a perverse group therapy program, where, in session after session, they are firmly commanded to relax, to breath deeply as the group-affirmation is repeated: “The world is out to get us, the world is to get us….” Full attention is then directed at clear images of invading armies committing all sorts of atrocities, followed by images of glorious victories over the enemies of peace. If the therapy is effective, the subjects will be possessed by an unshakeable conviction in the patently absurd creed that peace is made by murdering other peace-makers. But this creed will be something different than normal dogmatism and fanaticism: if the power of suggestion in professional hands is as powerful as it is said to be, the subjects will eventually be rendered unable to believe in any alternative concept of reality. They shall begin to hallucinate, to see an enemy approaching where there is none, and no argument shall suffice to convince them otherwise: “A man who has the impression he is being tracked,” writes Jefferson, “by a vindictive and relentless foe, is not going to sit down and quietly listen to an argument the aim of which is to prove that no such enemy exists.” The group will take on an overpowering significance to which all ideas of persecution will be referred for the suggested response – killing people to save the world. It will be difficult to wrest the delusion of the supreme importance of the all-absorbing state from members of the group, because the delusion gives them a feeling of security. Jefferson duly notes that the militarist “is exceedingly impatient under contradiction; and, here again, he is like all victims of hallucinations. To deny his assumptions or to question his conclusions, is to him both blasphemy and treason, a sort of profanity and imbecility worthy of contempt and scorn.”

Delusions are usually individual mistakes, not mistakes held in common, such as the optical illusion that the world is flat. Jefferson poses the question, “Is it possible, someone asks, for a world to become insane?” He answers in the affirmative and provides several examples: the witchcraft delusion in Salem; the insanity associated with the Gunpowder Plot in London; the “hallucination” a thousand years ago that the world was coming to an end. We can think of many more cases. Mind you, Jefferson wrote his essay in 1908 – he did not have available as examples the mass insanity of the Great War and its devastating sequel, World War II.

We should ask ourselves today, Have we been hoodwinked or hypnotized into sailing on calm seas towards yet another holocaust by small groups of influential, paranoid, right-wing, regressive authoritarians at the helms of warships camouflaged as merchant vessels? Today a small fraction of the population does not have to have a legitimately defined state with armies, warships, and air forces to wage war in order to save the world from itself. Instead, a hijacked passenger airliner will do nicely, followed up by the deployment of compact weapons of mass destruction.

Alas, the great powers know not what they have done, hence they will continue to do it. Once in power, they manufactured enemies in their own image all over the world. They established themselves in power by revolutionary treason; and, if they win and prosper, they think they stand on higher moral ground, forgetting that the application of their original principle of liberty was treasonous. The implications of following suit are stupendous today. Now that much more can be done with much less, splitting a few atoms here and there can devastate a large portion of the world. A few men and women can destroy a city with a trunk if not a suitcase. Even a relatively small act of terror in comparison to the murder of millions can terrorize a paranoid populace into running amok in the name of global peace. Whether the force is exercised by a legitimate state or a group without a country, in both revolution and war we find a militant fundamentalist minority egging the masses on to chaos, They would soon make cannon meat out of millions of people. These neo-fundamentalists in state departments and remote caves preach the old doctrine, that life is a war of all against all; that might makes right; that life on earth, according to the old model of god, is meant to be hell on earth so that the fittest who obey god’s orders may survive, at least in the nebulous Hereafter. All those who die in battle are said to rest in Eternal Peace, or to have gone Home.

Proposals have often been made to liquidate the war-mongering minority at home and abroad: kill the enemy terrorists and kill one’s own leaders. Of course he who kills his own kind is evil, but killing another kind is fitting in the international jungle of anarchic natural right, where the natural law of reasonable society is not recognized. Of course there are exceptions to that rule: one may murder hundreds, thousands, millions of one’s own kind, providing they are sent off to war against the enemy. In any case, the burden of proof is always on the enemy, who is guilty until proven innocent, of doing what every egoistic leviathan has done or is doing: secretly preparing for war in order to secure the domestic peace.

A leader of the free world may not openly murder someone at home, but he may covertly authorize the assassination of alien leaders. He may for instance foster the rape and murder of “leftist” nuns and priests and the murder of countless “communists” in Latin America, sometimes whole native villages including women and children. He may deal drugs and arms, consort with international mobsters, and support the tyrants and terrorists he will later want to kill. He may have suspects murdered abroad without a trial; he may hold others in concentration camps for indefinite periods without legal process. And all this while preaching democracy to the world – at home he will be a great hero. The great democratic leader might condemn a diabolical man and his satanic generals for their mass murders, then offer them asylum somewhere. And knowing fully well that sanctions have never worked; knowing that sanctions have served only to enrich tyrants and aggravate the harm to their tyrannized subjects, who are not inclined to rise up against the tyrants unless they are promised military assistance; – the hero of democracy may impose and continue sanctions until at least one million innocent people have been killed, then point at the prosperous tyrant and say, “Look what he has done! Why didn’t the people rise up against him? Now I must save them.” And when people, thinking he is their ally, do rise up at his instigation against the tyrant, the democratic hero stands down while thousands of them are killed and buried in mass graves.

What hypocrisy! Well, then, why don’t the peace-loving people of the world rise up together and exterminate the war-mongering minorities of every nation? For one thing, that remedy would be a continuation of war as usual. Secondly, other licensed mass murderers would fill their bloody boots. Furthermore, the history of the Great War teaches us that, once war is started, internationalist pacifists take sides and become militant nationalists rallying around their respective flags, no matter what form of government the war banners symbolize.

Besides, it seems that people both male and female love to kill each other for the thrill of it or for no apparent reason at all – prosperity is no guarantee of peace. Zoologists tell us that even animals make war; alas, scientific experiments have yet to find the cause – there was plenty of things and space to go around, but one day some animals of the same kind showed up and all hell broke loose. The traditional justifications and rationalizations for war before and after the fact make ‘reason’ appear to be a mangy albeit logical dog dragged behind the war machine. Perhaps war, the greatest evil of all – some say it the greatest good – is caused by a virus or a bacterium; that is, if humans are not originally evil. Charles Edward Jefferson speculated on the possibility as follows:

“There are multiplying developments which are leading thoughtful observers to suspect that this pre-Christian maxim (“If you wish peace, prepare for war.”) is a piece of antiquated wisdom, and that the desire to establish peace in our modern world by brandishing the instruments of war is a product of mental aberration. Certainly there are indications pointing in this direction. The world’s brain may possibly have become unbalanced by a bacillus carried in the folds of a heathen adage. The most virulent and devastating disease now raging on the earth is militarism.”

Jefferson obviously resorts to metaphor: there is no such thing as an evil germ, bacillus, or virus in the microscopic sense. We might just as well say that peace causes war. We would not be the first to make the converse pronouncement that, “If you want war, prepare for peace.” This is not a mere play on words. Not only can repeated suggestions of war lead to war: so may repeated suggestions of peace made in the name of brotherly or neighborly love, accompanied by a vision of a definite utopias, lead to war – especially when someone wants to impose a particular visions. Militarists naturally imagine the violent means, and as ends in themselves if they love war enough. A warrior’s duty is not to question but to do his duty but to make war on command, even if that means, teaches the Gita, that one’s own relative will be killed. Now that war is not the occupation of a caste, it is no wonder that people at large who must dutifully die in wars want civilian control over the military forces – of course many soldiers once engaged in battle have often begged to differ with the principle of civilian control during the war itself. However that may be, politicians may dream of a certain universal peace to be had. Maybe they want to make the world safe for social democracy, or republican democracy, or national socialism, if not for brotherly love. Therefore they must make war to impose their version of universal peace onto the world.

Irving Babbit in his 1920 lecture, ‘Democracy and Imperialism’, points out that the masses have been sacrificed to the humanitarian theory of universal brotherhood:

“(This) particular ideal of union among men actually promotes the reality of the strife that it is supposed to prevent. One might without being too fanciful establish a sort of synchronism between the prevalence of pacific schemes and the outbreak of war. The propaganda of the Abbe de Saint-Pierre was followed by the wars of Frederick the Great. The humanitarian movement of the end of the eighteenth century, which found expression in Kant’s treatise on Perpetual Peace, was followed and attended by twenty years of the bloodiest fighting the world has ever known. The pacifist agitation of the early twentieth century, that found outer expression in the Peace Palace at The Hague, was succeeded by battle lines hundreds of miles long. The late M. Boutroux, whom no one will accuse of being a cynic, said to a reporter of the Temps in 1912 that from the amount of peace talk abroad, he inferred that the future was likely to be ‘supremely warlike and bloody.'”

Babbitt compares the clashes between states and alliances of states to clashes between Frankenstein monsters, and reminds us that Dr. Frankenstein’s monster had a beautiful sentimental soul, but he became ruthless when the beauty of his soul and his yearnings were not appreciated by others. Babbitt concludes his lecture with, “Here again the last stage of sentimentalism is homicidal mania.”

Hard-core militarists despise “feel-good” brotherly love as weakness or cowardice or stupidity, or they deny the possibility of a universal humanitarian brotherhood, preferring the clean love of barracks and trenches. The brotherly love of their fighting unit is better than any other brotherly love, especially the brotherly love of (expletive deleted) liberals who want to destroy the natural peace-making order of war; therefore, like other heretics and atheists, pacifists of all persuasions should be sent to the hell they are going to anyway lest they contaminate others. Like Carlyle, some conservatives accuse lovers of veiled hate: “Beneath this rose-colored veil of universal benevolence is a dark, contentious, hell-on-earth,” sayeth St. Carlyle. Be forewarned, then, that all efforts besides war to pacify the human race are doomed to failure. War is good and inevitable because men do not know what is good without submitting the important questions to the ultimate test. A life not worth dying for is not worth living. Long periods of peace corrupt and demoralize men. Peace is the cause of war.

We very well should be mindful of the dangers of making a universal out of a particular idea, of imposing a particular concrete utopia on the human race. But we are also mindful of the dangers of preaching violent means to achieve any sort of peace. We are but children grown up. Jefferson, speaking of the pageants of battleships given in his day, reminds us that children are most impressionable to our worship of violence and displays of weapons:

“Children cannot look upon symbols of brute force, extolled and exalted by their elders, without getting the impression that a nation’s power is measured by the calibre if its guns, and that its influence is determined by the explosive force of its shells. A fleet of battleships gives the wrong impression of what America is, and conceals the secret which has made America great. Children do not know that we became a great world power without the assistance of either army or navy, building ourselves up on everlasting principles by means of our schools and churches.”

War historians will beg to differ with Jefferson’s analysis. For example, after Geoffrey Perret graduated from high school in Wheaton, Illinois, he joined the U.S. Army. He is armed with degrees from the University of Southern California and Harvard – he studied law at Berkeley. His first book was about World War II. But I highly recommend his A Country Made by War, From the Revolution to Vietnam – the Story of America’s Rise to Power (1989). To wit: War makes America great. On the other hand, it behooves us to remember that there was a revolution within the American Revolution. The principles of the Declaration of Independence have still not been fully outlined by the U.S. Constitution. “Our fathers had an intuition,” says Charles Edward Jefferson, “that the New World would be different from the Old, that it had a unique destiny, and that it must pursue an original course.”

What Original Course does our author and minister recommend instead of the violent images and affirmations? “The deliverance will come as soon as men begin to think, and examine the sophistries with which militarism has flooded the world.” In other words, rather than leaving us with constructive images, perhaps with some quotes from the New Testament, he seems to recommend the talking-cure, the analytical method, in hopes that it will bring people to their senses, that it will wake people up to the truth. Think again and again. As previously noted, once war breaks out, pacifists tend to become patriots and internationalists become nationalists – or go into prison, into death camps, into exile. What truth should we wake up to? We are all by nature born imitators. What vision should we imitate? What affirmation shall we daily repeat? Should we raise up the Cross of Jesus and repeat the maxim unto our dying breath: “It is better to be killed than to kill.”

Does anyone have New World vision of peace to offer, one that the whole of humanity can believe is a realizable ideal? In 1908 Charles Edward Jefferson said that the Old World policy of militarism was dead wrong. He was proven right by the Great War, World War II, and every war thereafter. But, tired of waiting then, our minister finally capitulates, and plays an old tune: “It is possible to buy peace at too high a price. Better fight and get done with it than keep nations incessantly thinking evil thoughts about their neighbors.”

In want of a better model, we leave off here to search for one, with the beginning of Jefferson’s concluding paragraph in mind:

“Will America become a leader? At present we are an imitator.”

Sources:

The Delusion of Militarism, The Atlantic Monthly, CIII, 1908

Democracy and Leadership, by Irving Babbitt, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1924

Selected Quotations:

“The key to German historical teaching is to be found in Count Moltke’s dictum: ‘Perpetual peace is a dream, and it is not even a beautiful dream. War is an element in the order of the world ordained by God.’ ‘Without war the world would stagnate and lose itself in materialism.’ And the anti-Christian German philosopher, Nietzsche, found himself quite at one with the pious field-marshal. ‘It is mere illusion and pretty sentiment,’ he observes, ‘to expect much (even anything at all) from mankind if it forgets how to make war. As yet no means are known which call so much into action as a great war that rough energy born of the camp, that deep impersonality born of hatred, that conscience born of murder and cold-bloodedness, that fervour born of effort in the annihilation of the enemy, that proud indifference to loss, to one’s own existence, to that of one’s fellows, that earthquake-like soul-shaking which a people needs when it is losing its vitality.'” – The Outline of HIstory by H.G. Wells, New York: Macmillan 1921

Our World Brain – The Permanent Encyclopedia of H.G. Wells




 

OUR WORLD BRAIN
BY
DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

 

 

There will not be an illiterate left in the world. There will hardly be an uninformed or misinformed person. And the brain of the whole mental network will be the Permanent World Encyclopedia. H.G. Wells

Most of us think of H.G. Wells as a science-fiction novelist, author of such entertaining works as The Time Machine and War of the Worlds. But Wells thought of himself, first of all, as a teacher. Zoology was the first subject he taught. While attending teacher’s college in South Kensington, young Wells was profoundly influenced by professor T.H. Huxley, zoologist turned propagandist, known as ‘Darwin’s bulldog.’ Having taken Huxley’s ‘Course on Comparative Anatomy’, Well’s believed that the study of biology was essential to the understanding of physical life and necessary for the unity of a comprehensive education. Biology placed man in time and space and studied him for what he is, finite but not final, a compromising and adapting being. From the study of biology, the student passes on to other subjects – psychology, philosophy, economics, and so on – best studied systematically according to an encyclopedic scheme: a circle of knowledge hierarchically arranged to suit the natural development of the student from ‘roots to branches’ – Wells particularly admired the system of John Comenius. In his book Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind, Wells stated that historical biology is a “prelude to history.” Biology is a branch of ecology, which is the science of the general welfare of the species. Economics evolves from biology and is the science of work and wealth. With the increasing coalescence of once independent human groupings, the general history of our species has become an ecological study outlining the history of socialization and communication.

Following Huxley’s lead, Wells viewed the human mind as an evolutionary cerebral development reaching far beyond biological evolution per se, to man’s ability to conduct himself ethically or unethically and to determine his own destiny. Nature is ethically neutral, hence it is up to man to strive for goodness while assuming the best possible outcomes will emerge from that ethical struggle. In The Fate of Man, Wells reminds us that the history of biological evolution is more of a history of failure, defeat, and extinction than of successful adaptation: the list of threatened species grows longer as we speak, and we are on the list. Our large brains provide an enormous social advantage, facilitating the accumulation, storage, manipulation and communication of knowledge. We are social creatures; as individuals we are far less free than we like to think. Wells wrote, “From the biological point of view all this cerebro-social accumulation of knowledge, beliefs and ideas, responsibilities and dependency, is as much a natural adjustment to needs and environment as a claw or a skill or a swimming bladder…. It is subject to the same ecological laws.” Furthermore, with his advancing socialization, man’s adaptation has become more of a struggle with himself than with the rest of the natural environment: “The essential story of history and pre-history is he story of the adaptation of the social-educated superstructure of the animal man to the novel problems with which his own enterprise and inventiveness have been continually confronting him. Law, religion, education, are from the ecological point of view, names we give to the cardinal aspects of the process of adaptation.” However, “there is no immediate survival value in truth. To this day the survival value of the critical habit of mind is questionable.” Myths and community mores used to be sufficient for survival. Now man has developed a complex cerebral culture encircling the globe. Nonetheless, the theory of evolution does not guarantee his success, nor does his present ethical stage; quite to the contrary: man is an intelligent brute whose progress is not inevitable: a mere ‘slip’ such as the detonation of a nuclear weapon could bring about an atomic war resulting in the premature extinction of the race as we know it.

Man’s adaptation to the environment and his struggle to survive by manipulating that environment resulted in civilizations, in common minds and cultures, the forms of which come and go but on the whole tend to coalesce over time as the world virtually shrinks with technological advances. Therefore every ethical human being who wants to consciously participate in this process for the best possible outcomes should study biological history. Wells complained of the “blackest ignorance” of university students who were studying ‘advanced’ history, philosophy and economics, yet general biology was being ignored. As for the subject we normally entitle ‘history,’ a comprehensive moral history should be mandatory; that is, not just any particular history of this or that should be a required study, but rather the universal history of mankind as a whole – the history of Everyman: where he came from, where he is at present, and where he is going.

We naturally want a meaning or purpose for life because we are self-conscious, purposeful beings. Of course individual interests vary and they range from short-term to long-term, yet our ideal universal history is a moral history, a history of the mental culture of humankind on its moral mission – incidentally, we do not have to worry about the traditional use of the masculine case here, for Wells was, according to even the most radical female equalitarians of his day, a real feminist. The universe we know is a continuous inorganic-organic relation existing for us through our intuition of the fundamental categories, time and space. Our universe in time, then, is historical in the most general sense, but it can be philosophically analyzed into broad categories for further study in mental space. For instance, the History of Life, the History of Matter, and the History of Man in his unique spiritual synthesis of animal life and inanimate material world. Wells the teacher preferred such a general view of things in contrast to the divisive attitudes and fragmented consciousness of his time. He purposed to teach us our progress from Beast to God by “twisting minds to a new set of values.”

As an author Wells could not help writing about current topics, therefore he considered himself to be a journalist of ephemeral news rather than the author of immortal works some of his critics – such as H.L. Mencken – wanted him to be. The great bulk of his work whether fiction or nonfiction was didactic. Take for instance the August 1937 article he contributed to the Encyclopedie Francaise, entitled ‘The Idea of a Permanent World Encyclopedia,’ and also the lecture, ‘World Encylopedia’, he delivered to the Royal Institution of Great Britain on November 20th, 1936: both are included in his book, World Brain.

We must keep in mind that H.G. Wells and his contemporaries had just experienced the devastation of the Great War and the poverty of the Great Depression, soon to be followed by World War II. Wells believed the disintegrative evils of his age were due to an incoherent and divisive education that should be replaced by a wholesome education. Therefore one crucial instrument the world required for the perpetuation of peace of mind and body was a Permanent World Encyclopedia for universal education; Wells recommended that an institution of leading experts be organized to create one.

“Both the assembling and distribution of knowledge in the world are extremely ineffective,” Wells wrote, “and thinkers of the forward-looking type… are beginning to realize that the most hopeful line for the development of our racial intelligence lies rather in the direction of creating a new world organ for the collection, indexing, summarizing and release of knowledge, than in any further tinkering with the highly conservative and resistant university system…. These innovators, who may be dreamers today, but who hope to become very active organizers tomorrow, project a unified, if not a centralized, world organ to ‘pull the mind of the world together’, which will be not so much a rival to the universities, as a supplementary and co-ordinating addition to their educational activities – on a planetary scale.”

Continuing with his prophecy of an Information Age, Wells proceeded to discuss the work of American microfilm experts who were making facsimiles of texts and pictures for viewing throughout the world, a technology he calls a “fact of tremendous significance… (that) foreshadows a real intellectual unification of our race…. There is no practical obstacle whatever now to the creation of an efficient index to all human knowledge, ideas and achievements, to the creation, that is, of a complete planetary memory for all mankind.”

The Permanent World Encyclopedia envisioned by Wells is “compact in its material form and… gigantic in its scope and possible influence.” Of course the gigantic mass of information must be organized by professional editors, teachers, and educators for its multiple uses, “into a series of summaries of greater or less fullness and simplicity, for the homes and studies of ordinary people, for the college and the school…. These “condensations and abstracts incorporated into the world educational system, will supply the humanity of the days before us, with a common understanding and the conception of a common purpose and of a commonweal such as now we hardly dare dream of.”

Wells dreamed that the Permanent World Encyclopedia would cause world peace to “imperceptibly” creep up on conflicting parties and deprive them of their present reality of violent conflicts. “A common ideology based on this Permanent World Encyclopedia is a possible means, to some it seems the only means, of dissolving human conflict into unity.” He knocked on many doors to sell his encyclopedia; he wrote an enormously popular universal history as his contribution to the salvation project, Outline of History, followed by a short summary book, but he did not persevere with the encyclopedia project; he believed it was premature and thought it would have to be preceded by the formation of a socialist association of bourgeoise experts he called the ‘Open Conspiracy’ – H.G. was not a class-conflict Marxist – who would be responsible for the formation of an “organized civilized world state.”

Sixty years later, following in the footsteps of H.G. Wells and other, ancient, medieval and modern encyclopedia salesmen, we still entertain projects for the universal organization of knowledge and therefore of a utopian world order if not the Restoration of the Golden Age. Some encyclopedias were gazed upon as divine mirrors during the Middle Ages; since man was created in God’s image, by studying the reflection of God’s mind in the encyclopedia in conjunction with God’s two other books, Nature and the Bible, man could rid himself of distortions and be God’s true image. With that picture in mind, we can better understand the statement of Well’s socialist friend and critic, Beatrice Webb, about the fanatic faith socialists had in science as salvation; that science, especially sociology, would transform man into what vulgar people worshiped as God.

We might inquire why universal peace would necessarily follow from common knowledge. After all, people who have the same education and who profess the same beliefs have been known to behave differently and even to kill each other. On the other hand, we know of people whose education differs and who have different beliefs yet they behave the same way in respect to the same situations. No doubt the sociologists will write a cogent article answering that question in our new encyclopedia. And we may come across an answer to that question when we discuss Wells’ New Bible of Civilization elsewhere – he used the Bible as his model – his encyclopedia upgrades and updates the Bible.

At present our dreams are postmodern: they are not as well defined or Cartesian as those entertained by Wells. Nor do many of us wish for his kind of freedom-in-order today. Of course we do not blame him for wanting a peaceful order. Wells the socialist was confronted by world in chaos, by devastating disorders all around; he became so desperate during the Great War that he even turned to God for awhile.

Now that ‘socialism’ has become synonymous with Communism, it might be best to say Wells was a ‘utopian’ socialist, a kind of socialism we students of history should study intensely now that Red Communism is rapidly becoming moot: many of us ‘alienated’ beings would certainly appreciate some sort of meaningful outline of our bright future, no matter under what colors it might fly. We can see from his writings that the ‘utopian’ label irked him; we don’t blame him: the Communists laid claim to being the sole social science, and anyone who varied from the party line as to the inevitable future envisioned by scientific materialism was scoffed at as an ivory-tower dreamer of impossible utopias. Wells’s scientific mind rebelled against political dogma. He believed true socialism was scientific, therefore subject to critical methodology. Socialism is an open cooperation of social scientists who collaborate to create a “constructive design” for a social “garden” where living things grow, and not the horrible totalitarian utopias presented by science fiction. As it is now, under irrational notions such a the pseudo-Darwinian liberalism with its reliance on the Invisible Hand and libertarian non-intervention, people are leading wasteful lives and are themselves being wasted by war, disease, starvation, and so on.

H.G. was not a Bolshevik but he did have his sympathies. His political idol was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whom he thought might be an Open Conspirator. He corresponded and met with Roosevelt, Lenin and Stalin; the recorded meeting with Stalin is particularly interesting. We have noted above that Wells – the ‘vulgar’ generalist with a holistic vision of the world – would rely on experts to put together our World Encyclopedia and World State. During his meeting with Stalin, Wells argued that large-scale planning was necessary for any modern system to succeed, hence politicians would have to rely on the Open Conspiracy of experts and intelligent workers from science, business and industry who shared a common vision of a peaceful world state – most would of course be from the bourgeoisie. Stalin countered that experts are not a class unto themselves but are merely hirelings of the conflicting classes. Furthermore, experts had stood in his way, sabotaging his reforms; then he chided Wells for believing men, particularly the bourgeoisie, were innately good. In any case, the proletariat must be served. But Wells believed the ‘proletariat’ is a political fiction akin to ‘the People.’ Nonetheless, He got the impression that Stalin was a “candid, honest and fair man.”

Now, then, the memory of our own relatively peaceful generation is rather short; we might enjoy the entertaining war movies, but few people care to study our racial history; that is, the history of human race, and how we must progress to a global order. In fact, the world is all too integrated and orderly for the liking of many ‘post-modern’ people, some of whom hate the very idea of a global order – I myself have literally raved against it at length, urging people to refuse to ‘adapt and adjust’ to ‘neo-liberal corporatism.’ Culture is of course mental, and multi-culturalists, sometimes unfairly associated with “the forces of darkness, tribalism, anarchism, and the Oklahoma bombing,” do not appreciate the supposedly Western ideal of universal truths for everyone. Again, we notice that Wells’ encyclopedia is to be composed by the leading authorities – we might worry about how “imperceptible” its imposition might be if people do not accept the ideological brainwashing the select experts have conceived in their highly educated minds.

Humans are indeed social animals, but each individual is a rebel, especially the red-blooded, U.S. American individual. Americans, for example, did not support President Wilson’s League of Nations; without the might of the United States backing it, the League folded when major problems emerged. Several European committees had formed during the Great War to advocate a league of nations; Wells was a foremost advocate for such a league, but he did not like the League of Nations as it was established, because his version of a league would have been a world state with a monopoly on violence. In his lecture to the Royal Institution, he quoted Maynard Keynes statement, in Keynes’The Economic Consequences of the Peace, to the effect that the politicians and statesmen responsible for making the peace were ignorant and incompetent to do the business at hand.

“The same terrifying sense of insufficient mental equipment,” Wells remarked, “was dawning upon upon some of us who watched the birth of the League of Nations. Reluctantly and with something like horror, we realized that these people who were, they imagined, turning over a new page and beginning a fresh chapter in human history, knew collectively hardly anything about the formative forces of history. Collectively, I say. Although the had very considerable amount of knowledge, unco-ordinated bits of quite good knowledge, some about this period and some about that, but they had no common understanding whatever of the processes in which they were obliged to mingle and interfere.”

It seems that even a cursory study of world history would make it self-evident that long-term peace can only be secured between states that are subject to an overwhelming power, either by mutual agreement or by conquest. The United States is a case on point, a federation voluntarily constituted, but one that had to be sealed in blood because no adequate provision was included in the Constitution for the peaceful settlement of the slavery controversy. Or, consider that the Warring States Period of China was gradually brought to end by the dominating power of the Ch’in state (from which the West derived the name ‘China’) and a two-thousand year empire was finally instituted by the military and diplomatic efforts of King Chao of Ch’in, who then named himself Ch’in Shih Huang Ti (Zhuangdi: First Sovereign Emperor)- Chairman Mao, in turn, emulated Zhuangdi.

Wells referred to the federal union of the United States in his April 15, 1929 speech before the Reichstag in Berlin: the lesson from American history “is that an enduring Pax is only to be obtained by pooling sovereignty in relation to the main causes of stress between the originally separate communities. Every stop you make towards peace therefore means a loss of separateness, a loss of independence. Peace and national independence are incompatible – our world is refusing to see it.”

But the United States is an empire unto itself and its leaders are disinclined to subordinate the national interest to the various machinations of an international tribunal. The United States follows the more scientific or sociological approach within its own borders, but maintains a selfish approach in respect to the rest of the world, where the law of the jungle tends to prevail instead of the law of a world state with a monopoly on violence. When one has more power, one might not want to merge with a lower power: witness what Entropy did to Germany when East was unified with West; that is the least severe case of what might happen when wealth and poverty are merged – a hot economy and a cold economy equals a luke warm economy. Returning to the United States, we note for instance that the United States refused to pay its debt to the United Nations for some time, and that President Bush recently thumbed his bellicose nose at the U.N., saying if it does not go along with the U.S. plan, the U.S. will proceed without its blessing.

No, unless people are terrorized into drawing their wagons into a circle, they and their minds would rather run free. It is highly unlikely that a universal encyclopedia, either a hierarchy or a circle of knowledge or both, will ever be accepted as a World Brain, except perhaps in heaven. If the end of education is utopia, we might not like any particular definition of heaven imposed on Earth. T.H. Huxley’s grandson, Aldous, grew cynical in that respect, wrote Brave New World, turned to meditation and hallucinogens, and proclaimed pacific love to be the true path to world peace. In The Outlook for Homo Sapiens,Wells scoffed at the sort of man who took the passive approach to the world’s problems: “He is likely to fall back at this stage upon that Bible of the impotent genteel, Huxley’s Brave New World, and implore you to read it. You brush that disagreeable fantasy aside and continue to press him. He says that nature made man unequal, and you reply that that is no reason for exaggerating the fact….”

Permanent World Encyclopedia: without a common mind we can hardly obtain a commonweal. The concept of some sort of universal mental agreement will always have its appeal, and especially so when the neo-liberal as well as the neo-Darwinian life seems disoriented, purposeless, meaningless, and stagnant, now that every neo-liberal democrat is a frustrated neo-Darwinian aristocrat struggling in the war of all against all for survival of the fittest, who evolve to survive on inherited power even if their descendents are effete degenerates, that the rest of humankind may have something intentionally made scarce to strive for. A few outsiders will successfully adapt and find themselves circulating in the winning circle. But so what? Is the human race a vicious cycle going nowhere? We hope not, therefore let us not throw away our dreams of a Permanent World Encyclopedia – our libraries and universities are existing encyclopedias, circles of knowledge or curriculums: would we throw them away because of their defects? We have managed to defy gravity and manage our own evolution; perhaps we can invent a new educational wheel that moves forward in history for the sake of universal human progress. In fact, Wells says that is the only way to travel if our species would survive the evolution of its brain:

“I am not saying that a World Encyclopedia will in itself solve any single one of the vast problems that must be solved if man is to escape from his present dangers and distresses and enter upon a more hopeful phase of history; what I am saying – and saying with the utmost conviction – is this, that without a World Encyclopedia to hold men’s minds together in something like a common interpretation of reality, there is no hope whatever of anything by an accidental and transitory alleviation of any of our world troubles…. Never was a living species more perilously poised than ours at the present time. If it does not take thought to end its present mental indecisiveness catastrophe lies ahead. Our species may yet end its strange eventful history as just the last, the cleverest of the great apes. The great ape that was clever – but not clever enough. It could escape from most things but not from its own confusion.”

The United States has experienced several wars since World War II. Many of us grew up with the threat of nuclear war – the rich kids I knew had bunkers in their yards. However, the generation now peaking recently felt quite safe in the United States, impervious to the world history that is mankind ‘s tragic criminal record. The nuclear threat seemed to disappear with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since the Vietnam war, our advanced technology has saved us from suffering many casualties. Many of us fell asleep at the wheel of history; now our slumber has been interrupted by a new kind of war, a war with a few terrorists who could take millions of our lives. The leaders of Islam say many of their people lack a good education, not only a technical education but the liberal education the old encyclopedias used to be organized around. Now we are again in a precarious position, on the verge of unimaginable horrors, but our leaders call us only to the continuation of the old processes protected by the making of war, not to the establishment of an enduring world peace.

Alas, we might have avoided our current predicament if only the people of the world had remembered the terrible accidents of the past, had kept their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road laid out ahead. But there was no road laid out ahead. The rule became, “Go forth and multiply, produce and consume and much as you can.” Few leaders had a broad vision of where humankind came from or where it is going. Indeed, if a leader does not have a map and a compass and a vision of where he is taking his followers, he is a charlatan: he should be fired before it is too late.

Indeed, we should all have a copy of the map and the vision. Public education does not provide us with a universal education, not even at the university level where collegial unity was supposed to be inspired by liberty from the selfish narrow-mindedness as the root of violent conflicts. But the university is becoming more and more specialized, fragmented and disjointed every day, and serves the military-industrial complex. Too many students care less about the subjects studied; they attend only because they must attend to get a higher income; their unity is centered around sports instead of liberty. Pigskins are awarded instead of lambskins. Life for many graduates is a corporate football game where coaches are called into ‘fast-paced’ companies to coach ‘teams’ of highly motivated and ambitious people to meet ‘deadlines’ – to lead a productive life – the Surgeon General’s definition of mental health – of evermore production and consumption.

We certainly are integrated for the production and consumption of goods and services, most of which we do not need and must be coached to want, but otherwise we feel disintegrated and alienated. The holy bibles are fine encyclopedias for faithful people, especially for those headed to heaven, but everyone does not accept the same bible, and multitudes have even murdered each other in the name of the same god. In any event, it is high time we once again seriously take up the idea of a World Encyclopedia and run with it. H.G. Wells was excited by the future of microfilm technology and prophesied the Information Age in contrast to the Age of Specialization, which he deemed absurd and regressive. We have reason to be even more excited by the Internet, provided we put it to good use.

The World Wide Web was introduced shortly after the advent of the Internet. Futurists who believed the Web was science fiction coming true called it a World Brain. Individuals were thrilled by the prospect of becoming even more “empowered” than Francis Bacon, the King’s powerful High Chancellor, ever dreamed of before he said, “Knowledge is power” and wrote down a system for organizing knowledge that revolutionized the encyclopedia business. Postmodern business people and politicians, seeing in the Internet an extraordinary opportunity for public profit and manipulation, were more than enthusiastic than ever about seizing even more power with this new tool, hopefully with the help of other people’s money. Educators had their grand dreams for the new territory, along the lines of George Washington and John Quincy Adams, for the highest and best public use of the Internet, but as the fantastic new medium for the conveyance of intellectual wealth was given away and commercialized on Jacksonian principles, their dreams gradually faded.

The Internet is not all it was panned out to be. Nevertheless, regardless of our ideological persuasions and even though we might have been badly burned investing in it, those of us who can afford computers and Internet fees like it very much, thank you. And who knows what the future might bring? Perhaps some of the hype will come true after all if the World Brain is put to its highest and best use. This is the kind of cooperative thing Wells envisioned. The Internet “brain” has thousands of human minds designing, manufacturing, operating it, and millions use it at any given moment. If only part of it were devoted to a scientific project along the lines of a Permanent World Encyclopedia.

Since the Internet is an efficient medium for the global transmission of knowledge about things, it is no wonder people already think of it as a World Brain or a vast common library from which all people can get a good education about all things; an education that might, among other useful things, bring the people of the world together in peaceful endeavors instead of vain and vicious arguments and violent conflicts. But that is far from the truth. We might be able to purchase and/or use a good encyclopedia or a course of education on the Internet, but the Internet is not systematically organized to bring people together on common ground to provide them with a well-rounded education conducive to world peace. Unless a student is willing to pay for reliable, systematically organized information, he will waste his time on the Internet and he will become as scatter-brained and ill-informed as the fragmented sources produced by search engines – Garbage In, Garbage Out. No, the Internet is not a universal library or encyclopedia, but it certainly might be an excellent medium for the distribution of a core education as well rounded as our globe. It is high time for us to seize the Internet and put it to its highest and best use.



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Landlord Negligence May Burn You Alive

FIRE PROTECTION IN SOUTH BEACH
June 23, 2015
By David Arthur Walters
PRESS INDEPENDENT

The older I become the more saddened I am by the bad news the media thrives on. The closer I get to the end of my miserable little world, life on the planet that will survive me seems to be getting worse and worse despite the faith in Progress, making of my insignificant life nothing but a vain and meaningless episode.

Many of the disasters could have been prevented. For example, the fire that killed a mother and two of her young children, and left in critical condition the son who tried to save them. The father is of course “paralyzed with grief.”

Incidentally, I am the survivor of two Manhattan hotel fires: in one, a man was burned to death down the hall from me; in the other, a man jumped from the window above my room and was impaled on fencing below.

As an actor and a writer and an overly sensitive person by nature, I tend to put myself in other people’s shoes. Having done so, I could not sleep after seeing the report of the fire fatalities.

“Damn! Why did the media have to show that to people?” I asked out loud.

“Because there is a lesson in it,” I answered myself. “Smoke detectors save lives. Like the guy said, if you do not have one you are going to die.”

I had taken the smoke detector from the ceiling of my squalid studio in the ghetto because it kept buzzing. I am told now that it needs a new battery, so I shall put one in and remount it.

I have finally gotten my typical South Beach ghetto landlord to fix what Florida Power and Light technician and an electrician said was an “extremely dangerous” defective electrical breaker outside. I had been sleeping next to my only door after placing my pants with wallet in pocket and shoes by the door just in case.

I had called my landlord several times about a strange electrical phenomenon. When I turned on the switch on the stove, sometimes it did not come on. Instead, a light across the room came on. The AC would buck on and off or not work at all, so temperatures were running an average 90 degrees inside. He said the electrical anomaly was “just a ghost.”

He does not like complaints and can be a bully when they are pressed. He happens to be a Cuban Hebrew with powerful connections in our Cuban and Jewish local and county government. His tenants were almost all illegal immigrants and Hispanic criminals at the time, some of them dealing dope, storing stolen property, subletting out their studios for human trafficking, so he had a hold on them. I got the police department neighborhood liaison officer to inspect the premises and write a report that the property attracted criminals and the locks on gates were removed, but she threw it away, saying it was not a police problem.

His hold on me was a month-to-month lease at $250 below market rate, a big difference in money to me. When I did insist on having the defective toilet in my unit fixed, I had to pay for the parts and he upped my rent $100 per month. That hurt.

I finally resorted to a clever stratagem. My income is way below the poverty level for a single man in the high-rent, so-called chic South Beach. I definitely could not afford an electrician. So I forwarded the notion that it might be an issue external to the building for which FPL was responsible.

I called the problem in to FPL and was given a ticket number I could follow up on. When I called back, a computer told me that linemen were working on the issue and should have it fixed in so many hours.

What? There were no FPL linemen near my building. I did see some in an alley on the next block, so I questioned them. No way, they said, was my issue related to the one they were working on.

Things come in droves, or people notice more incidents when they happen to be having one of that kind. FLP was also working on a problem across the way from the police station garage created by someone running into a telephone pole. A ridiculous urban rumor was circulating, that a drunken cop had almost knocked it down exiting the garage! And there were also fires nearby.

So I kept calling and calling FPL and they finally got a man in a huge truck out to check out my issue. He was great. He came inside to observe the phenomenon and stuck his probe in a few things, saying something about 240 volts, two phases running on one, stuff like that. Then he went outside, saying in these old building the issue is often with the breaker. He stuck his probe in there, and said that was the source of a very dangerous problem, and apologized that he could not do anything about it because it was not his company’s responsibility.

Well, I called the landlord with that report. He said there was no such thing as 240 volts, that it must be a ghost. I said I would do him a favor and get the fire department to come over and fix the breaker since the FPL fellow had said there was a danger of fire.

“No, no, don’t do that. I will come over and look at it.”

“Why go out of your way? Send an electrician or have the fire department have someone fix it. An expert has already diagnosed it.”

He came over, anyway, insisting at first it was a little fuse on one of the wall outlets, but he finally relented, seeing that his whole building could be in danger.

The next day, two electricians arrived, a father and son team. The father could speak no English at all yet the son was fluent and obviously educated in the U.S. They had quite a conversation in Spanish. I know little Spanish, but I know the words for “very dangerous” and “fire.”

As it turned out, FPL saved the landlord some money inasmuch as the electricians wanted to go over the inside of the whole studio to find the short. I insisted it was in the breaker outside. Sure enough, that was the problem, said the son, after sticking his probe in there.

The hardware store was closed. They did not have the right capacity breaker in the truck, so put one with half the needed capacity in, warning me not to run the stove and AC at the same time. They came back the next day with the right breaker. Walla! That danger is over.
The moral of this story: Do whatever it takes to make yourself and your loved ones as safe as possible from fires. Life is not really meaningless; it is a tragedy. Do not make it worse.

Taylor Swift Reveals All – Apple Music Can Kill



TAYLOR SWIFT REVEALS ALL – APPLE HAS KILLER MUSIC

Distractingly Good or Evil

By David Arthur Walters
REVIEW: 

TAYLOR VS TREADMILL COMMERCIAL
‘Distractingly Good’ 
Apple Music
Prime Time Television and Internet
Youtube TRAFFIC: 16,705,043
LIKE 125,563 DISLIKE 21,424 
May 3, 2016 10:21 AM

 

Taylor Swift’s role in Apple Music’s Distractingly Good commercial is that of a clueless young woman singing on a treadmill. Distracted by the music and singing along, she leaps into the air, falls flat onto her face on the rapidly moving belt, is thrown off the end of the treadmill, and winds up prone on the floor.

What immediately comes to mind? Almost everyone remembers that Dave Goldberg was found dead lying in a pool of blood beside a treadmill. He had apparently slipped and hit his head on it as evidenced by a blow to the lower back of his head.

So what? A lot of people are hurt when using treadmills, particularly when distracted by music or television, fiddling with their cell phones, or conversing with others. Here Taylor is singing, obviously distracted by her fabulous voice, and perhaps the thought of how much teens love her songs.

The public could care less about poor nobodies hurt or killed in accidents. The Goldberg accident was big news because Dave Goldberg, a technology executive, was the beloved husband of Sheryl Sandberg, and she happens to be the chief operating officer of Facebook.

The scene of the accident was the Palmasola Villas at Four Seasons in Punta Mita, Mexico, where $11,500 per night villas have their own private gym. It was over two hours before Mr. Goldberg was missed and someone came to check on him. Doctors speculated that he was subject to a kind of heart arrhythmia that may have caused him to become dizzy.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that treadmills were the leading proximate cause of gym accidents in 2009, resulting in 19,000 emergency room visits. There were 24,000 injuries reported in 2014. The fault is rarely with the treadmill, but rather with the operator who is not familiar with the device or is distracted.

When I first saw the commercial on prime time television, I wondered out loud, “What is this all about? That’s the goody two shoes singer. She fell off the machine. Oh, there it is, at the very end, the Apple Music brand. What’s that?”

How insensitive or stupid this ad is, I thought. Apple must be running out of ideas. The ad demonstrates how barren a company may become as its growth flattens out at the top of its S-curve.

Well, stupid is as stupid does, and stupid sells nowadays. In fact, commercials are so stupid one hardly knows what is being advertised until the brand pops up. Brands mean everything today. People depend for their own identities on brands. It is not the clothes but the brand that makes the man. The brand sells the product no matter what it is, and it had better not last for long or the economy will collapse, so it is often insubstantial, if not ephemeral trash, garbage or junk consumed for the sake of keeping up the gross national product.


I Googled the Apple Music brand name to discover that you can get 30 million songs handpicked especially for you and streamed to you so you can become a music collector yourself! 

Maybe I am the stupid one. If I were a public relations man, a profession I seemed to have a high aptitude for when I took one of those college subject preference tests ages ago, I would make things seem right, and conclude that this is actually a great commercial with several messages. 

First of all, subscribe to Apple Music for the best popular music, and check out Taylor Swift. Get plenty of exercise, but do not be distracted from what you are doing when on a treadmill. Be sure there are other people around. Have a trainer show you how to operate the machine. Avoid using a cellphone. Stop the treadmill if you must use your phone or go get a drink of water, and so on. Wear proper shoes, and tread from heel to toe.


Think about getting an old treadmill that you will have to power naturally. You might be a lot better off in the long run.

Fungus Man’s Slime Cake

 

DOC HANDLEY’S SLIME CAKE 

RETARDO CULO STRIKES AGAIN!

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS


“Jim, meet Doc Handley. Doc, meet Jim Jefferson,” 

Thus did Manny introduce me to Doc, who extended his right hand to grip mine like a vise. It had only two appendages, a grotesque thumb and one finger, the index finger. I glanced to see if his left thumb were equally large, but instead of the hand I expected to see, he sported a prosthesis, lifting it up and waggling it at me as if he knew what I was looking for. I mental noted another peculiarity, two half-ears: cartilage was missing on each of them; the edges were jagged, as if the missing part had been bitten off. 

He was a muscular man, bald but for a long white queue tied with a small bow of black silk and draped over his shoulder and down the front of his black silk shirt, which was fastened with white death’s-head buttons with ruby eyes. He had a matching Fu Manchu mustache presided over by a Hittite nose and steel-gray eyes. 

“It’s my big toe.” 

“Excuse me?” 

“You were wondering about my thumb. It’s my big toe. Gangrene got the original, and my left foot to boot, but I managed to save the right one, so I took its big toe and made a thumb out of it.” 

“Oh, I’m sorry, but I’m glad the doctors managed to….” 

“I managed the surgery myself, with Manny operating.” 

“Oh. I’m pleased to meet you.” 

“Your pleasure is mine.” 

“My man,” Manny affectionately exclaimed, throwing his arm around Doc’s shoulders. “What’s up for supper?” 

“I thought we’d have plasmodia pancakes.” 

“Great! I love ’em. Jim, have you ever had plasmodia pancakes?” 

“Can’t say I’ve even hear of them. Plasm? That’s an old term for basic substance of life isn’t it?” 

“Good call, Jim,” Doc said. “That’s protoplasm. The plasmodium constitutes the main vegetative phase of the life cycle of slime mold. It comprises cytoplasm or cellular protoplasm with multiple nuclei.”“So we’re having slime for dinner?” I asked incredulously, imagining the slime mold I had found on my lawn a few years back. It didn’t look that appetizing, looked more like dog puke or dog diarrhea.

“Jim,” Manny interjected, “how ’bout a glass of Kool Aid?” 

“Why, sure,” I accepted.

“I’ll get it,” Doc said, and walked over to the refrigerator – his gait was certainly graceful considering the fact that his left shoe was filled with a prosthesis. “An old acquaintance of mine, Retardo Culo, gave me his Mexican Myxomycete recipe.”

“Retardo Culo?” I queried.

“You know him?” 

“I know a Retardo Culo, a Doctor Retardo E. Culo. He was my chiropractor but he got busted. Good chiropractor, bad insurance thief.” 

“Gee,” Manny interjected, “that name is familiar, something about the E. Oh, yeah, I met a guy in San Diego, a pot dealer by that name, but people called him Mister E, or just E – he carried glossy black business cards with a large gold ‘E’ embossed on them, on its back with the arms sticking up. Weird! He was a friend of his supplier, Paul the Grass Man, a pot dealer from New York who had a fleet of six Mustangs flying loads in from Mexico and through the Grand Canyon. Culo operated out of a rental property in Manhattan Beach owned by a police chief. ” 

“I’ll be,” said I. “Manhattan Beach, you say? That’s the same man. He had a golden ‘E’ on the sign outside his door, but it stood on its arms, like the one that used to be at Delphi.” 

“Yeah, he wanted to get a chiropractor licensed,” Doc added. “You know, he immigrated in a car trunk loaded with Acapulco Gold. He did quite well for awhile. But I recall he was thinking of dropping the marijuana trade after Paul got ratted out while sitting with a load on the tarmac in Columbia. The Columbian police helped Paul’s partner, a guy named Vincento, set him up to rot in prison. Vincento got into the coke trade with them. He bought an Irish pub and eventually became a city councilman in New York. 

“Wow,” said I. “Culo never got a chiropractor license but went into practice anyway. What a small world…. Hey, this Kool Aid is good.” 

I took another swig and smacked my lips. “I thought the FDA made them get rid of the Root Beer flavoring. So Culo gave you the mixo, mixed, mix….” 

“Mexican Myxomycete pancake recipe.”

“Mexicans eat that stuff?”

“Sure. They like it best with chocolate in the afternoons or with cayenne in the mornings.” 

“I hear Mexicans eat so much cayenne pepper that the buzzards won’t eat them,” Manny put in. 

“I don’t know about that, but I do know gringos aren’t too familiar with plasmodia. There was a big alien scare in a Texas border town when plasmodia appeared there.” 

“The slime-mold landed in Moronia, Texas!” Manny chimed in and giggled like a girl—the man is getting silly, I thought to myself, but I was beginning to feel rather odd too, slightly giddy.

“No joke,” Doc persisted. “The sporulation probably occurred on the Mexican side of the border. The sporangia ruptured, releasing the sporangia mass into the surround. A freak wind carried the spores into Texas and by chance into the right environment for release of amoebae, which formed plasmodia, frightening the inhabitants.” 

“Whoa, you’re over my head a bit,” I said. “You’re talking about slime mold, right, a plant?”

“And animal. The Myxomycetes are usually classed with fungi, and fungi with plants, but a fungus is really not a plant.” 

“Fungus I like,” I pronounced—Manny nodded affirmatively. “We got some cool alkaloids out of them in the old days, and I love mushroom and cheese omelets, but I never heard of making slime mold into pancakes. Oh, yummy, mommy, I love Doc Handley’s Slime Cake!”

But I envisioned dog barf again, and felt like barfing.

“So you’re talking about spores here. Maybe the Mexicans got alien spores from outer space!” 

I don’t know what came over us, but at that juncture we all busted out laughing hysterically. 

“Oh, oh, wait!” I got ahold of myself. “I remember the ergot thing, the thing called sclerosis!” 

“Sclerotia,” Doc corrected. “That’s the hardened hypha or purple fungus body that replaces the rye flowers. That’s ergot, though. Slime mold can grow to large sizes as it migrates for food, and, when it starts to starve, it will thicken in spots and rise up into sporangia, or fruiting bodies, to sporulate, or it might dry up and harden into sclerotia, and rest dormant for years. That’s how I keep it, then I grow plasmodia on filter paper wet with nutrients.” 

“So, Doc, what wakes them up?” I asked, emptying my glass of Kool Aid. 

“They love oatmeal.” 

“Oatmeal?” 

“That’s right. Oatmeal flakes.” 

“Ha, ha, hee, hee, hee, that’s too funny!”

“They really feel their oats,” Manny’s huge belly bounced up and down. 

“Mexican plasmodia from outer space!” 

“Hee, hee, so we’ll get spaced out!” 

“Hey, you guys!” Virginia appeared at the back door wrapped in a towel.

“Jim, Manny, come on! Come get in the hot tub!” 



To Be Continued