Book Review #25

The status quo is not working!
The Republic is disintegrating!

And all of this was foreseen as far back as the early 1960s.  It is a wonderful, empathetic, humanistic thing for the government to help those in need.  The author saw how socialistic support needed to be overseen and controlled – but wasn’t.

Pay a farmer not to raise a particular crop, to protect the income of other farmers who did.  Pay a single mother, so that she and her child could be assured food, clothing and housing.  Pay welfare to a man put out of work by social or technological changes.

Soon, the farmer neglects the maintenance of his equipment, and can’t go back to his trade, even when it is allowed.  The single mother has another child(ren), to increase her guaranteed monthly stipend.  She feels no urge to obtain a provider (A man, in the ‘60s), an education or training, or a job.  The guy on welfare deals drugs or robs corner stores on the side, because it’s easier than getting a real job.

Human nature being what it is, millions of people get lazy, and get used to the new status quo.  There is no impetus to do for themselves.  They become comfortable letting the government provide a reduced, but assured, standard of living.

The book: Space Viking
The book: The Cosmic Computer

The author: H. Beam Piper

The review:

Originally titled “Junkyard Planet”

Born in 1904, Piper was too young for World War I, and too old for World War II, but he must have observed the mountains of materiėl that was left when peace was finally, suddenly, achieved.  In 1963 and 1964, after the Korean War, he wrote these two cautionary, laissez-faire tales.

In each of these books, both initially set on the same planet, after an interstellar war, the people – the society – are poor.  Despite Billions of (dollars) credits worth of goods and equipment being left behind, aside from the occasional prospector/scavenger, no-one bothers to look for it.  They are so used to Big Government taking care of them, that they don’t rouse themselves to improve their own lot.

The two stories are essentially the same, only in one, Piper offers a social/financial solution, while in the other he shows a more political/military answer.  It’s the Stone Soup Theorem.  In each case, an exasperated, instigator protagonist starts a cycle of getting individuals and groups off their lethargic asses, by promising them something for nothing – if they’ll just put some work into his plan.

His credulous followers do not receive what he promises them – they get something much grander and better.  Companies are started, jobs are created, construction and trade is stimulated, unemployment almost disappears, wages go up, welfare goes down, taxes are paid, and infrastructure is rejuvenated.  The people are given back their pride, self-respect, and an incentive to continue to improve themselves and their society.

If only this would work in real life, but it won’t happen until we get a real leader – an honest visionary – who can convince a populace of passive takers, and a government of enabling vote-buyers, that more projects like the TVA – the Tennessee Valley Authority – and the Hoover Dam, will ultimately give back far more than they cost.

“19 A To Z Challenge – V

AtoZ2019Letter V

 

Stalling, distraction, avoidance, procrastination!

I had a month…. Actually, I had a year from when I chose to do this year’s version of the A To Z Challenge – but realistically, I had a month to get this post for the letter V ready. I had posts composed for the letters T and U, so I had four weeks to get my act in gear – four weeks to choose a V-shaped word, pick a theme, light a flame of composition under it, and bring it to the boil of intelligent presentation.

Did I do that??! OH NO!!

Instead, I spent an inordinate amount of time debating with Christian Apologists. Some guy who styles himself TheistThug, and lives up down to the name, really needed an opinion readjustment, and I was just the guy to do it. Saturday night, instead of dutifully typing, I watched some fool build a log cabin in Alaska, and read part of a book…. because it has 800 pages, and needs to be returned to the Library in 17 days.

A character in the book returned to her tough childhood neighborhood after escaping it at 15, and being away for another 15 years. She observed that the worldly-wise woman that she was now, barely matched the frightened teen who left it years before.

There were all my V-word candidates
venal
vivacious
vapid
vicinity

VENN DIAGRAM

vainglorious
vacuous

Venn

when suddenly “Venn diagram” stood out. Venn diagrams visually indicate how and where two or more different sets of data do, or do not, overlap. They help making decisions which will satisfy the greatest number.

For most of us, the Venn diagram of our early life, compared to our current life, need not be quite as severe as hers, where only a tiny point intersected the two segments. Still, it seems a good idea to strive for continual change and improvement. Get smarter, better, and happier. I know that I am not the same naïve, trusting, callow young man who ventured into the World and wedlock 52 years ago. If I could only enlarge that “Get Projects Finished On Time” section a bit…. 😉

I’m Keeping An Eye On You

eyes-2

No good deed ever goes unpunished. 😯

A young man was convicted of a crime, and sentenced to prison. Shortly after arriving, he became well-known to the prison infirmary. First, his tonsils got infected, and had to be removed, then he jammed his little finger in a press in the prison work-room, and had to have it amputated. His appendix swelled up and almost burst before they operated on him. Finally, he had to go to the prison dentist to have his wisdom teeth pulled.

The Warden followed him in and stood in front of the chair. “I’m onto you Mister! Don’t think that I don’t know what you’re up to. You’re trying to sneak out of here, one little piece at a time.”

Gravity Well

And so it is with me. I had the retina of my right eye operated on, back around New Years. I was told to come back in about 6 weeks for a follow-up, and if things had gone well, I might have the left eye done also. Things went well. The film on the retina had caused a divot which made words and letters fall in, like the Black Hole gravity well above.

The eye still has blurry spots, but is expected to continue to improve. Re-examination of the left eye shows that it can be ignored for some time. HOWEVER….

I was told to go to my local Ophthalmologist after another 6 weeks for a final check-up. Tests last year showed the merest of beginnings of cataracts in both eyes. When she examined them, she was happy with the surgical results, only….

After the Optical Surgeon poked three needles into the right eye, some of the vitreous humor fluid leaked out, and got on the lens. Apparently, this can stimulate the development of cataracts. Now I am scheduled to go to a local hospital, Thursday, June 13th, to have her peel off cataracts which are developing on the right eye and which made me think that the first operation was not completely successful.

Pirate

First I told my pharmacist that a guy had stuck three needles into my eye. Now I told her that someone is going to use a medical potato peeler to strip off cloudy surface lens material. She is astounded that I can so calmly joke about such a thing. That’s just the way I deal with potentially stressful situations. There’s no sense brooding about it, and driving up my blood pressure. Making fun of it makes it less frightening.

During the first operation, my head was reclined almost upside-down, and all work was done below my field of vision.  For this one, she’ll be coming directly at me.  I wonder how disconcerting that will be.  😯

Like before, I may be incommunicado for a while, but, like Arnie The Terminator – “I’ll be back.” See you then – I hope.   😎

White Cane

Flash Fiction #161

bowl-and-leaves

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

LOUD AND CLEAR

Uh-huh….
So your grandson got an interview for the assistant quality-control position.
Uh-huh….
It’ll be straight day-shifts, and Monday to Friday, and a raise.

Great!  Look, I’d love to stand and talk, but Hubby’s bringing home his boss and wife.  I’m a little tied up right now.  I’m trying to make her favorite salad to impress them.  It has kale and watercress and pine-nuts.

I have to run to the store to get balsamic vinegar.  I don’t know how it will taste, but it’ll look great in my crystal salad bowl.  Call me later.  I’ll tell you how it went.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

2017 A To Z Challenge – O

Challenge2017*

I am an Optimist.  Not a cockeyed optimist.  Not a naïve, ‘everything will turn out right’, optimist.   Not a wide-eyed, slack-grinned, Pollyanna, ‘everything is great’, optimist.  Not a Little Orphan Annie, ‘The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow’ optimist.  Not even one of those Optimist guys who goes to monthly urban-improvement meetings.  I just always hope for the best from people and society.

letter-o

On the other hand, I’m also a flint-hard-minded, cynical realist. I hope for the best, but expect the worst from people, and I’m seldom disappointed, Trust – But Verify.

The optimist thinks that we live in the best of all possible worlds.
The pessimist fears that that statement is true.

During my childhood, alone in my neighborhood, I sometimes reached out to other children (guys) living blocks away, to show them things I’d discovered during my solitary explorations. Almost without exception, whatever was not stolen, was destroyed, preventing further enjoyment by them, me, or the rightful owner.  It’s still an all-too-common attitude in the world today, which I just don’t understand!  😯

I would like to believe that, with the information age, and increasing education and technology, the world is slowly rising to be a better place.  Certainly, within the more civilized sections, torture and arbitrary executions have mostly disappeared.  Then I see militant Islam terror attacks against Christian countries, and one type of Muslim killing and driving out another.

Islamofascists are trying to control/prevent the dissemination of information and concepts that they do not approve of, especially via the internet. That genie (if you’ll excuse the expression) is already out of the bottle.  I hope that the tipping point has been reached, and, no matter how many AK-47s or Semtex explosive they use, knowledge and social freedom will still continue to spread.

In the western world, it seems restricted to acts like a local LGBTF-friendly church recently having its entryway sidewalk graffitied, “The Church Shall Remain Holy.” Since they are welcoming the same sort of social rejects that Christ did, they feel that they are holy, and plan to have another artist ‘frame’ the graffiti, and seal it with a transparent coat, turning it from an act of hate, to an inclusive act of love.

So much of life has become polarized – Blue States vs. Red States – White Supremacists – tear down historical statues – Fundamentalists trying to drag society back into superstitious days.

I hope!
I hope!
I hope!

I don’t think that I will live long enough to see very much total improvement. I’d like to say, ‘Two steps forward – One step back’, but often it seems like 12 steps forward, 11 steps backward.  I hope that progress will continue.  I hope that my children and grandchildren will live in a better world than the one that I did.  I am optimistic!

***

This is the closest that I’ve finished a blog composition before posting, since I wrote my first 13 directly into WordPress. It was completed only a half an hour before my self-imposed schedule said that it was to be published.  I don’t even think it was because of my procrastination – more like, I just couldn’t organize my thoughts, and decide where it was going.  Since I’m supposed to have three, in a Word file, ready to go at all times, I’d better get going at P, Q, and R.  😳

A To Z Challenge – O

april-challenge

Holy moly, we’ve reached the letter

letter-o

To succeed at this elongated A to Z Challenge, I have an obligation to write about some things whose names begin with O.

Let’s start with my blog-stats. That doesn’t begin with O.  Intellectually, I know that they don’t really reflect reality, or are important in themselves. Others have told me so, but still, I have that little bit of irrepressible OCD – that little bit of an obsession to obtain warm proof that I am liked and respected.

Now while it’s true that some of you folks couldn’t care less about whether others like what you write about or not, I like to make room in my rather thick Scottish skull for people who heap abundant praise on me for my writing. I like to believe that people appreciate my wit – but I’m only half right.

When a new reader makes a comment, I’ve been known to gushingly reply, and urge said visitor to return and comment – often.  I don’t know which is worse and more embarrassing, being obsequious – or being obnoxious.

Still, I am optimistic that my writing will improve and become read by more people who say that they love me – and not just in a prison sex kind of way.  I will continue to observe my stat numbers, and keep an open mind.

Well, don’t just sit there. Click ‘like.’  Heap praise.