Monday, July 17, 2017

ETERNITY AND THE MODERN WORLD



Just finished watching the first season of PLANET EGYPT on Amazon Prime. The documentary is the best one I have seen and gives a very good idea of what life was like in Ancient Egypt and some of the major turning points in Egyptian history.

But the last episode made me chuckle because it is so revealing of the default thinking of the modern ethos. It's called the Quest for Eternity. Here is the description. "From the days of the first Pharaoh's tombs to the end of their era, Egyptians were united by one burning desire: to extend their lives to all eternity. This is why they built the gigantic pyramids"

Yes, true, the huge tombs and pyramids are the manifestations of Egyptian belief in preparing for an eternal afterlife. And the documentary is careful to point out the economic benefits of this Eternity obsession, as if the pharaohs cynically went along with the decades of tomb building not because they believed in the afterlife, but because it kept their treasury full. Of course, this is the modern view of all religion. Moderns view religion as a quaint old way to rip off the peasants by scaring them.

How amusing to listen to the condescending appraisal of the core beliefs of Egypt, a civilization which the documentary itself points out lasted and prospered for thousands of years, much long than anything in modern history. But, prosperous and successful as they might have been, the modern mind finds the mainspring of their whole culture a cynical ploy. The Eternity Con.

It never seems to occur to modernists that the widely held faith in eternity, God and Gods, and the afterlife, which is found in every known civilization on earth, might actually have some basis in fact and experience. In other words, that something more than a fear of plague, drought and thunderstorms might undelay the universal belief in things eternal. Certainly the huge pyramids of Egypt are staggering proof that millions of Egyptians for thousands of years absolutely believed there was such a place.

Yes, we now have a great deal of knowledge of HOW things in nature work, but that does not answer the question of why. Science isn't about why. Politics isn't about why. Technology isn't about why. And the funny thing is those quaint old Egyptians had plenty of sophisticated science, politics and technology, but they also had a very sure sense of why. Maybe they weren't as simple minded as modernists make them out to be. 

SOCIALISM IS ALL THE UNDER THIRTY CROWD KNOWS



The young people I know have no experience of capitalism in the workplace. They have never participated in any kind of profit making venture and so have no idea how capitalism works in action. With so few small businesses left in the this country, the jobs most people must take are usually as cogs in some greater structure. They are far removed from the decision making process and so are ignorant of all the contributing factors to keeping a business afloat and making a profit.

You have to search far and wide to find any vestiges of a capitalism in America today. The workforce is composed of several different types of jobs. First, there are the government bureaucrats, who have no idea what a profit is. Their salaries are paid by plundering the working man, not by creating wealth, hence they view profit as another form of legalized robbery, which is what the government has become for all practical purposes.

Then there is the medical field, where the hands on people, the nurses, doctors, etc. often have very little understanding of or time to figure out how their hospital or medical office pays the bills. Besides, due to the heavy hand of government, they really can hardly practice true medicine on their patients, much less participate in a medical market that might teach them what patients feel works for them and what they don't respond to. It's all about what the government mandates. But, the government never cured anybody of anything.

The education and media fields are both dominated by large, static structures, where decisions are made far away from the actual scenes where the work is done. Dictates for classrooms come from bureaucrats and union officials who have no contact with the people they make rules for. Life in these institutions is all about trying to mesh the gears between ridiculous, unworkable mandates and real life. As might be expected, all innovation is crushed, as are many who are stuck in these misery factories.

Then there are the giant corporations and their nationwide shopping malls or worldwide standard brands for the basic products we use every day. Once again, probably 99% of employees in these giant corporation are nothing more than cogs in the huge machine, which is run by a few hot shots at the top. The result is that nobody gets any real experience with the decision making and the factors that contribute to success or failure, other than what their cog directly above them tells them.

Giant corporations and bureaucracies have infantilized an entire generation, turning them into powerless worker bees. Of course they fear capitalism. Capitalism is all about choice, decision making and learning from your failures and successes. This new generation has been denied all those valuable experiences to the point where they simply believe that the decisions of individuals don't matter. Theirs never have.







Sunday, July 16, 2017

FAKE BESTSELLERS VS REAL WRITERS


The Curious Case of the Cursed Spectacles
by Constance Barker



If you are constantly searching for a good read, free of the taint of Politically Correct orthodoxy, Constance Barker is the writer for you.  

It's so hard to find good writers. If a book is on any best seller list, it pretty much disqualifies it as a book written with talent. I have tried hundreds of those best sellers, only to be not just disappointed, but to wonder how the writer ever got published, let alone hit the best seller list. It took me years to figure out the solution to that mystery. It is what I refer to as the covert government subsidy via public library. Sales to public libraries alone are enough to fudge the numbers so the book looks like a "best seller." Public libraries, as quasi government entities, are not adventurous in their purchases. You can only find books in the library that are published by big, corporate publishers. That is where libraries spend their publicly funded budgets, considering it a safe investment that no one is likely to quibble with. 

So, libraries put the book on the best seller list, the publishers pour money in advertising, with reviewers in the lap dog press heaping praise on their chosen book and author, creating the entirely false impression that this book is actually selling well due to its popularity. Nothing could be further from the truth. The average reader, not being a literary scholar, is duly impressed by the glowing reviews, so that if they are less than enthralled by the book, they blame themselves, and feel that everybody else liked it so they must be deficient in literary taste. 

My Amazon kindle has made it so much easier to find great writers because so many writers who publish their own writing are easily available. However, it requires many hours to sift through all the books you can find there to uncover the talented writers. Fortunately, many people write. I say fortunately, because the problem with books is that you can read them much more quickly than they can be written.  

But, though I do check out writers who are published by big publishing companies, my conclusion is that that are usually third rate talents who the corporate publishers prefer because they are willing to prostitute whatever writing skills they possess in order to get published. This type of "writer" is never exciting and isn't meant to be. Exciting writers are explicitly avoided by corporate publishers because a good writer would make their corporate swill look like that toilet paper it actually is. A true best seller would destroy their stable of hack writers, so carefully developed to fill their book lists with bland, library-plain non-literature. 

I confess to being an obsessive reader. I must read, but I have zero patience for second rate writing. I love everything from the classics to good escapist writing. But my obsession is your good luck, because I sample hundreds of author published books on my kindle, until I find one that is engaging and written by someone who gets what a book should be and knows how to write whatever it is they are writing. Any book that relies on Politically Correct stereotypes is a sure sign of an author with a limited imagination and understanding of life. Those can usually be spotted in the first few pages. 

I am eager to give any book that shows even the slightest spark of intelligent life a chance, so desperate am I for something to read. Of course, my taste is personal and my preferences may not be yours, but I can assure you that the books I recommend are at least written by people with a gift for writing, even if they are not the genre you prefer. 

Some writers make it look so easy, and I have a feeling that, for author Constance Barker, it is easy because she's that rarest of all writers: a natural storyteller. Page after delightful page, in her new book THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE CURSED SPECTACLES she enthralls the reader with her clever plot, engaging and winning characters, and snappy dialogue. And she does all these things with the surest and most subtle touch. The plot is exceedingly clever and satisfying, but not so clever that it strains credibility. And that's quite a feat in a book with ghosts and magic. I never once felt that either of those elements was overdone or used as a plot device.

The characters are memorable and you want to keep them as friends forever, or at least for a few more literary adventures. I loved them all and found them very believable. We know all we need to know about these characters to enable us to enjoy their company thoroughly. Cecelia Parish, the heroine, is a sensible realist who thinks for herself and, even when confronted by the supernatural, figures it out. Clarence, her friend and admirer, is a deliciously unusual, but very masculine presence. Even Uncle Mason, who is never conscious, is a very vivid character who we get to know through Aunt Enid, one of those Mrs. Marple type older women who knows so much more about life than she can make the young people understand.

And the dialogue is snappy and moves the plot along, while introducing us to the characters, without ever being smart assy and showing off.

Oh, yes, Destiny's Point is a place you'll want to visit again and again. I know I do. Constance Barker is onto pure gold with this series and it wouldn't surprise me a bit if one day we see it up on the big screen at the local multiplex. It's that good.

I've dipped into another Constance Barker book and it runs true to form. She is a born story teller, it doesn't matter what she writes, you love to listen to her stories, they are terrific!! Wow! Ms. Barker is on her way to being a superstar.




Friday, July 14, 2017

THE TRUMP RUSSIA SOAP OPERA






Well, at last a political topic on which I am something of an expert. My husband, actor Tom O’Rourke, played Justin Marler on the Guiding Light for seven years and many years later came back to see about working as a director. At that time, the show was struggling to survive the downturn in TV viewership, just like all the other soaps and TV shows.

How well I remember his early days working on the show as an actor. In those heady days, the show sometimes had as many as 15 to 20 million viewers on any given weekday and the show was on five days a week. Every week the ratings came out, causing some story lines to fade and some to get beefed up. A good villain was the best ratings ticket for a soap opera. The Guiding Light had Roger Thorpe for a villain played magnificently by Michael Zaslow, who took great delight in constantly scheming to ruin every character on the show’s life. The fiendishly convoluted and conniving traps he enmeshed the most innocent of characters in and their long-suffering struggles to escape his devilish clutches provided endless hours of soap suds. At last, usually when his contract was up, someone would manage to defeat him somehow or accidently kill him. But, no matter how many times he seemed to be dead and gone forever, (while he stuck up the show for a bigger pay check), miraculously he escaped his untimely death to come back to torment the residents of Springfield again, creating daily misery for all.

Every good soap opera needs a rip-roaring villain like Roger. Enter the highly creative writing team at CNN who have devised an outrageous story line of high level perfidy and treason, casting President Trump as their villain, complete with secret Russian spy contacts. They are working hard to sell this story line, with new episodes of Trumpian villainy every day. Hillary is the soap sob queen, robbed of her rightful place in Springfield, I mean, Washington DC.

The CNN soap opera reminds me a great deal of the last days of the Guiding Light. They’d cast a rather strident woman to play a character named Reva. This character was a much maligned, long-suffering, outspoken feminist type, who had harsh words for just about everyone. Her confrontational manner was, of course, always justified by some new wronged woman plotline. While I certainly can understand why some women were gratified by and identified with Reva, that kind of character is not to everyone's taste. But for a while, the novelty of a feminist female soap lead did get good ratings, so they threw more and more of the show to that character.

The problem was that the Reva character was so aggressive and polarizing that many of their loyal old fans would turn on the show, see that it was going to be all about Reva that day, and turn to another channel. The result was that eventually the audience consisted only of people who really got off on seeing an angry woman. They'd lost everybody else. Then the novelty of a feminist soap queen wore off, and they had nothing else.

I suppose you could say they'd put all their eggs in one basket, but it was more complex than that. They'd been desperate for ratings and when the new and somewhat shocking Reva story lines got a pop, they threw the whole show that way. It turned out that once they'd lost their loyal viewers in exchange for short term ratings pops, those viewers, who regarded Springfield as their fantasy hometown, never came back.

CNN and the networks have made the same type of error. They have hung all their hopes on the President Trump is a Russian spy story line. That story line initially had tremendous shock value, so they gave up on all their loyal viewers, who’d trusted them for the real news for years, and went for the short-term pop, and perhaps they will end up just like the Guiding Light: cancelled. Their loyal viewers are learning that they can no longer get even a little bit of real news, like they'd always turned to CNN to see, and may just change the channel, never to return.











Thursday, July 13, 2017

DID YOU SAY....RUSSIANS!!! ???



You want RUSSIANS, I'll give you Russians. Let's do some COLLUSION at the RUSSIAN TEA ROOM and I will tell you a most incredible true story about a famous Russian, and it is wildly more interesting than anything you will hear on CNN or read in the New York Times about Russians etc.

This concerns the famous Russian ballet dancer RUDOLF NUREYEV, who defected to the West in 1961 so he could be free to pursue his art. What a gift from Mother Russia, albeit a very reluctant gift. To many of us, he was the greatest ballet dancer of all time. He was a dancing, theatrical and personal sensation.

I had the great privilege of seeing him perform live on two different occasions. The first time was in 1964 at the Old Met on 39th and Broadway in Manhattan, where he was dancing with Margo Fonteyn in ROMEO AND JULIET. My mother took me, her thirteen year old daughter, because she loved ballet and my father wouldn't have been caught dead going to a ballet.

It wasn't the first ballet I had seen. When I was about eight my mother and grandmother took me to see America's first prima ballerina, MARIA TALLCHIEF, dance the Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker Suite, so, young as I was, I still had been lucky enough to be thrilled by one of the great ballerinas of all time.

Nureyev was beyond compare. Words fail to convey what a superlative experience it was to watch him perform. He was famous for his physicality, his passionately emotional and expressive dancing and his powerful leaps. Naturally, the audience was keyed up to the max to witness the excitement generated by the two super star ballet dancers, one who had made a recent, very dramatic and widely publicized escape from the Soviet Union, and the other a beautiful and highly revered English ballerina, with a half Irish, half Brazilian mother. As Nureyev put it, they danced as "one body, one soul."

And they did not disappoint. The music, the sensual romantic dance pas de deux, the superb and effortless grace, power and emotion were almost unbearable. But at last there came a moment that no one who was there will ever forget. Of course, by then, the two great ballet stars had the audience completely in their power. We were enthralled, hardly daring to breath. And then he did it. Nureyev executed one of his famous leaps, he soared up into the air, and it was incredible, as if he had actually taken flight. We watched in silent awe. And then, just when the leap should have ended in a descent back to the stage, he did the impossible: mid flight, he elegantly muscled his way higher, in triumphant defiance of the laws of gravity. Loudly, and as one, the entire audience gasped, stunned by his magical feat. What a magnificent demonstration of the sheer, raw power of ballet to shock and astonish the human sensibility.

His balletic leap was not merely acrobatic, you felt instinctively that it was the complete fusion of the incredible physical and emotional passion of the man, the music, the role and the woman he was partnered with that gave Nureyev the freedom to fly.

No, I will never forget that. Nor will I ever forget the last time I saw him. In 1978, he performed at the Minskoff theater with the Dutch National Ballet and I got to see him do "Le Corsaire" which everyone agrees is a role that he owned completely. Though he was every bit as remarkable, thrilling and deeply moving as before, I remember feeling a little sad, knowing he was nearing the end of his dancing career and would probably move into choreography in the next few years. But, his story was even sadder than that. In 1984, he was diagnosed with AIDS, then completely incurable. He left this world in 1991.

Now that was a close and truly meaningful COLLUSION of soul with THE MOST PASSIONATE OF RUSSIANS and I don't regret, nor will I apologize for, a single moment that I sat in rapt adoration of the great RUSSIAN ballet dancer RUDOLF NUREYEV.

The blabbering heads at CNN, MSM and most of the people in Congress will never in their entire life give the world what one exquisite ballet dancer gives every single night they perform.

So meet me at the RUSSIAN TEA ROOM and sing OCHI CHERNYE to honor all the great ballet dancers.










Saturday, July 8, 2017

STAYING FOCUSED

Welcome to Hell protest in Hamburg

Quote from "A Big Life in Advertising" by Mary Wells Lawrence." ...but in the sixties and early seventies, you had to work a little harder to stay focused, so many large questions had been let loose--protest, authority, war, death, civil rights, women's rights, freedom, individuality."

Today, for very different reasons, I think it's also hard for young people to stay focused because every time they do something good that should be rewarded with approval, kudos, success and money, some greedy government bureaucrat sucks up the profits and then shakes a finger at them, telling them that they're spoiling the environment, or hurting some body who's different from them, or ruining the world somehow.

It's hard for young people to know what's right and what's wrong. It's hard to know what you can throw your energies into with a good conscience. It's hard to feel good about any success you may contribute to, because there is always somebody in government or the media who's got some long story to make you feel ashamed of feeling good.

It's an appalling situation, confusing, befuddling, enervating and really pretty tragic for young people. It creates a kind of malaise of the mind, which, combined with the strange antics of the haters burning up everything, leads to hopelessness and chaos. What a miasma of despair these young people have been macerating in for their whole lives!

Nobody is born knowing who they are. It takes lots of time and experience to begin to develop character and ideas about the big themes of life. What have our young people learned recently except that effort is futile and anger is exciting? If they don't trust that Trump can change things, it's because they have been carefully schooled not to trust themselves and their judgement. It's pretty bleak.

As the song says we must "Accentuate the positive, Eliminate the negative, and latch on to the affirmative, don't mess with Mister In-Between." (Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer)

Our young people are the future. If we don't capture their hearts and minds, we've lost everything.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Pray for Charlie Gard



I'm really not the sentimental type. Science is where I'm comfortable, but science has no morals. Science can never tell us what is right or wrong.

Like most of people, I am completely unqualified to judge the science of baby Charlie Gard's condition, but I do know where there is life, there is hope. I also know that there are miracles. Even many doctors will tell you that.

Recently, I read a wonderful book about a miracle. It's by the lovely and completely healthy Michelle Wulfestieg, ALL WE HAVE IS TODAY. This young woman had a devastating stroke at age 11 due to a very rare condition in her brain where the veins were crossed causing a huge aneurysm to develop. After an incredibly painful operation, one part of the problem was fixed, but the surgery damaged part of her brain and she lost the use of her right arm and leg.





This did not slow down the athletic Michelle, who went on to be captain of her volleyball team. And she was a practicing Christian, attending a Christian college.

But she needed another, more dangerous operation, which was very risky, because of the damage that the surgery could do to her brain function. While it might cure her aneurysm, there was a high probability it would leave her a conscious human being locked in a body unable to respond in any way, no walking, talking, finger wiggling, and no volleyball, or ever getting out of bed.

That the remaining aneurysm would eventually burst and probably kill her was certain. However, she was a vibrant, happy young woman and decided to live the life she was allotted to the fullest. She opted not to get the operation, which doctors advised her had such a poor chance of success.

A young man fell in love with her, in spite of everything, and they were married, having a few years of happiness before the next, predicted to be fatal stroke sent her back to the hospital while she was still in her twenties.

The doctors performed the second surgery on her crossed veins with as little hope of success as before. The veins could be fixed, but the collateral brain damage would almost certainly doom her to a vegetative state or kill her.

After the operation, she remained completely unresponsive in a deep coma for over a week. The doctors told her husband and family, that, even should she come out of the coma, she would never walk or talk, have any mental capacity for language, or self knowledge, just a sort of human vegetable. The doctors scheduled her to be removed from life support, but her husband begged them to wait just a few more days. 

Her friends and family prayed and prayed. The result is quite evident at her website ALL WE HAVE IS TODAY. A completely cured and recovered Michelle. The doctors were thrilled to be proved wrong.

How and why was she able to beat the odds and recover so completely? All we can say is it was a miracle.

But science is about pushing into the unknown. Michelle's doctors did what they could and Michelle surprised everyone.

Michelle herself is a god given miracle. Perhaps her recovery was aided by the incredible powers of youth to heal, perhaps she had a unique genetic gift for healing, or perhaps it was the power of prayer; it certainly was the will of God that we have Michelle still with us.

Why not give God and Charlie a chance? If there are doctors and hospitals who say they can do something, why not let them try? Maybe Charlie will be one of those miracles. If not, at least everything that could be done was done and the result was the will of God, not the rules of socialism.

One of the good things you can say about God is that he is not an unresponsive, unfeeling bureaucracy. Like science, bureaucracies cannot tell us what is right or wrong, they can only follow the rules.

Pray for Charlie Gard, and pray for everyone caught in the mesh of uncaring bureaucrats who survive by passing the buck.

Every human life is precious. I often forget that immersed in the daily cares of life, so I'm doing some extra praying for little Charlie.